We’re coming out of a wet winter and I was wondering how do I clean mould off my caravan awning?

So I did a little research, and this is what I found to be the only way that actually works:

  1. Pour a mix of 80% white distilled vinegar and 20% water into a spray bottle 
  2. Let the area dry out
  3. Put on a protective mask, goggles and gloves to protect yourself from mould spores
  4. Spray the vinegar mix onto the whole awning (not just the affected area)
  5. Let it sit for at least an hour so it can kill the mould
  6. Agitate the surface with a microfibre cloth and rinse off the awning
  7. Spray again with the vinegar
  8. Let it completely dry before rolling the awning up again

When I was reseraching this I found some interesting things:

Why is vinegar recommended to clean mould from awnings?

To put it simply:

White distilled vinegar kills MOST moulds. It’s a mild acid that kills around 80% of moulds…

…making it one of the most effective things to kill and prevent it from returning.

White vinegar is only good for cleaning caravan water tanks in an emergency

Now, I did read that in a couple of places that it should be the distilled vinegar, not the synthetic stuff. I wasn’t able to find a credible place to confirm it… but the price isn’t too much different so reach for the distilled option.

Better safe than sorry.

Can I clean my caravan awning with bleach?

No, because bleach doesn’t kill mould (check out Mycolab for more myths about mould).

What’s really interesting is that bleach has a high pH so it’s not effective in killing mould… but the mould is smart enough to see it as an attack:

Mould responds to bleach by deactivating it and then using it as a food source…

“So when we put bleach on mould we are actually feeding it.”

Wow!

Apparently it only looks like you’ve killed the mold because the bleach is bleaching the mould. It loses it’s colour so it looks like it’s gone… but the colur returns in about 3 weeks.

Bleach is no good for cleaning mould from caravan awnings

So this means when you use bleach:

  1. It was never really gone, it just lost it’s colour
  2. You’ve fed it, AND
  3. Made it grow back stronger

NOTE:

I find this ironic, because when I was researching the article What Can I Use to Clean My Caravan Water Tank? [The Good, Bad & Dangerous] it’s the other way around:

  1. Vinegar is no good for cleaning out caravan tanks, and
  2. Bleach is the recommended option

It’s completely the opposite!

Are products like 30 seconds good for cleaning mould off a caravan awning?

Here’s a fun fact:

The main ingredient in 30 second is Sodium Hypochlorite

(check out the MSDS)

Caravan Awning Cleaning with 30 Seconds - MSDS

What’s Sodium Hypochlorite you ask?

It’s bleach.

Not only that, most houshold bleaches are between 4-6% Sodium Hypochlorite…

So yeah:

  1. You’re paying more
  2. It’s diluted
  3. Bleach is no good for mould anyway

How can I prevent the mould from returning on my caravan awning?

The question is just ‘how do I clean mould off my caravan awning’, it’s also ‘how do I stop it from coming back’

Here’s a few things you can do:

1. Clean the awning completely (not just the areas with visible mould)

Mould is a bit like an iceberg, you only see about 30%. About 70% of it isn’t visible.

So if you don’t clean the whole awning, it can grow back.

2. Dry your awning completely before you roll it up

Captain obvious. And easier said than done at times.

Some people go to the extra effort of using an old towel.

But just a reminder… if you do roll it up wet, extend it fully when you can to let it dry.

3. Store your van as level as you can

This can help prevent as much water getting in when it rains, which gets soaked up betwen the layers.

4. After it rains extend the awning when you can

It’s amazing how even when the van is completely level, water can still manage to get in. Around the edges at least.

So if you store your van close by, and you have the space, it’s worth rolling it out.

Let it dry, and hopefully this will help prevent mould from growing.

Summary:

Mould doesn’t just look ugly, it can be dangerous.

So how do I clean mould off my caravan awning? With vinegar.

Some chemicals don’t clean it, they only look like they do… and they’re actually making it worse.

But if you follow the above steps, you should be able to get rid of the mould as well as keep it away.

I spent a fair bit of time researching mould… boring! So if you think this article was worth the time, please share it
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