Tips For the Care and Maintenance of Caravan Awnings
Caravan awnings can be quite expensive and can also take a lot of your time as you decide on which is best for you from the various types available. After you may have spent so much time and money getting that perfect awning for your caravan, it would be a shame if something bad were to happen to it, especially if it is something you could have prevented.
Given this, it is very important that you know how to take proper care of your awning, so you can enjoy many years of outdoor bliss.
Let’s now go ahead to look at a few tips for the care and maintenance of caravan awnings.
Before You Set Out
So you are all set to get to your site and enjoy the charms of the outdoor life. We understand and share in your excitement. However, do you have your repair kit packed?
A repair kit can be the difference between a wonderful time out and a really horrible and stress-filled camping. Some caravan awnings come with repair kits. A typical repair kit will usually include items such as: a spare guy line, a small section of pole, adhesive and patches of fabric.
If your awning does not come with a repair kit, you can easily put one together for yourself. In addition to the items mentioned above, you can also add some extra pegs, a gaffer tape, plastic cable ties, a peg puller and a mallet. With these in your repair kit, you are ready to take care of minor repairs that may be needed during your camping.
Once you get back home, do not forget to effect permanent repairs on any temporary repairs you may have done at the campsite.
Setting it Up
The very first thing you need to know is how to ensure your awning is well set up. When you get to your intended site, before setting up your awning, do the following:
- Look around the site for old pegs, stones or anything that could cause damage to the awning or the ground sheet if you are using one.
- While pitching, ensure the guy lines and storm straps are positioned in such a way that there is no allowance for the fabric to flap. If the awning fabric flaps, it will increase the chances of getting the fabric damaged. You should however not tighten it so much that it causes unnecessary stress to the fabric.
- As a result of the changes in temperature and weather conditions you may be forced to deal with, it is important to regularly check the guy lines to ensure the tension on them is just right.
- Lastly, always check the direction in which your pegs are pointing. They should be positioned in such a way as to make it difficult for the pegs to pull off the ground or the guy lines to slip off.
Cleaning Your Awning
It is much more efficient to clean caravan awnings while they are setup. This will make it easier to access every inch of it. Do not be tempted to toss your awning into a washing machine. Your awning will likely be damaged as will your washing machine.
The first thing you need to know about cleaning your awning (okay, the second thing) is this: do not use just any cleaning product on it. Awnings have waterproof surfaces that can be compromised by a lot of cleaning products.
Only use products recommended by the manufacturer. If none is recommended, then the next best thing is warm water and a soft brush.
Wait! Before using water, it is best to carefully scrap off any dirt (mud splatter, bird poo etc.) with a piece of card (an old credit card) or a flat-bladed knife. This is best done when the awning is dry. When you are done with this process, you can then go on to cleaning with water or the recommended cleaning product.
If you are using a cleaning product you are not sure of, it is advisable to try it out on an obscure part of the awning to see how it reacts with the fabric. You can determine from this little test if it is safe to go ahead with that cleaning product.
It may become necessary to use a cleaning product when only water is unable to remove the stain. Just remember to first test whatever product you decide to go with on a hidden section of the awning.
After cleaning, make sure you allow the awning dry naturally under direct sunlight.
Dealing with Mould and Mildew
There are times when your awning needs more than just the regular cleaning to get rid of dirt. You may also need to get rid of mould and mildew. Getting rid of these requires a suitable product.
First, check with your awning’s manufacturer to see if they recommend any product for treating mould and mildew. If they do not, then you can try this home recipe:
Mix 1 part of diluted chlorine bleach with 4 parts of water. This solution should be sprayed on the mould and mildew and then the awning should be allowed to dry. Once dry, carefully wash off the diluted chlorine bleach and then allow the awning dry again.
The concentration of this solution should be the same as the liquid used for sterilizing baby bottles. While this solution may not be strong enough to remove any stains caused by the mould and mildew, it will at least kill them off and also rid the awning of their mouldy smell.
After these treatments, your awning’s waterproofing may become degraded. Reproof your awning with a reproofing liquid recommended for your awning’s fabric type. This does not only serve to ensure your awning remains waterproof, it also helps prevent a recurrence of mould and mildew as some of these reproofing products contain mould and mildew inhibiting compounds.
Do not apply a reproofing liquid under intense sunlight as this will not allow the fabric absorb the liquid before it dries up. Also note that reproofing liquids are usually flammable, so take care to keep any open flame away from the treatment area. After applying the reproofing liquid, allow the awning dry naturally.
Finally, you are done with the cleaning and reproofing. It’s now time to put your awning in storage until the next season. Note the following tips:
- Only store your awning when it is dry. It should not be damp as this will promote the growth of mould and mildew.
- Store your awning in a dry and airy space.
- It is not a great idea to leave your awning in the caravan especially through winter. Condensation may encourage the growth of mould and mildew on it.
- Properly inspect every inch of your awning before storing. You do not want an unpleasant surprise when you eagerly unpack it for your next camping season.
- The poles also need to be dry before being stored. Aluminium or steel poles should be wiped with wax polish or silicone to prevent rust. Fibreglass poles just need to be wiped with a slightly damp cloth.
- Do not leave your awning in storage for too long. If it has not been used for about six months, get it out of storage and spread it out to check for mould and mildew.
There you have it. While these are by no means all that you need to know about the care of your awning, these tips are sufficient to help you keep your caravan awnings in good shape and ready for the next camping season.