Keeping your canvas in tip-top condition requires regular maintenance with special canvas cleaners for pop up campers. Since the canvas material itself is the major barrier between you and elements, it's important that you continually treat it to a gentle cleaning as this will help it both last longer and perform well.
Pop-Up Camper Canvas Maintenance
Regular maintenance with canvas cleaners for pop up campers will prolong the life of the canvas. Pop up tent trailers have a canvas tent enclosure that can get dirty or damaged with mildew, dirt, and debris during use and storage.
Preventing dirt and mildew is most important. Avoid parking your pop up camper underneath trees that drop wet or messy fruit, pods, and leaves. Always make sure the canvas is completely clean and dry before rolling down your pop up camper for storage. Check for leaks in the camper top frequently while storing and using the pop up.
Canvas has some built-in waterproof qualities, but in addition, most canvas is treated with a waterproof repellant. After you clean your canvas you may need to re-treat it with a flouropolymer or petroleum product. Do not use any product that has silicone as this may break down the canvas.
Before you begin to clean your canvas, check it for rips, tears, holes, loose grommets, zippers, or fasteners. Repair any problems first so they will not incur more damage during cleaning.
How to Clean the Canvas
Cleaning your pop up camper's soft walls might feel like an in-depth task, but you can conquer it in no time using these simple steps or watch this YouTube video below for a great visualization of what the process looks like:
- Brush the loose dirt off your canvas before cleaning.
- Use a broom and sweep of the dirt.
- Gather together a large bucket, a car washing sponge, a soft scrub brush, and a hose.
- Follow the directions on the container of canvas cleaner.
- Dry the canvas completely before putting the pop up down.
Homemade Canvas Cleaner
Canvas cleaners can be made with household products. Mild, non-detergent soaps are perfect for cleaning canvas, as detergents may ruin the canvas finish and should be avoided. Some people suggest that you pour in a fourth of a cup of liquid soap to a gallon of water for the best ratio. Mild soaps such as Lux or Ivory soap make good canvas cleaners. Here are a few easy recipes of cleaners you can quickly mix at home or on the go:
Use this vinegar-based cleaner for vinyl and fabric surfaces to get a deep clean.
- 1 gallon warm water
- 1 quart vinegar
- A few drops of dish soap
- In a large bucket, combine the warm water and vinegar.
- Add a few drops of dish soap and mix together.
Baking Soda Cleaner
This baking soda cleaner is another homemade alternative to traditional cleaning products that you can use on fabrics.
- 1 quart warm water
- 1 cup baking soda
- Mix the two ingredients together to create a paste.
- Rub the paste on fabrics to clean away mildew and grime.
Mold and mildew can eat away at your canvas. Remove signs of mold and mildew as soon as possible. Vinegar is one of the best canvas cleaners for pop up campers. Mix a bucket full of two parts water and one part vinegar. Dip a scrub brush into the vinegar solution and scrub the mildew off the canvas. Let the canvas dry in the sun without rinsing off the vinegar. If vinegar does not work, try soap and water. Bleach should be used as a last resort, as it may leave white spots on the canvas.
Store Bought Cleaners
When purchasing a canvas cleaner, take a look at the ingredients. All ingredients should be biodegradable and safe for the environment. Make sure the product states it is safe to use on canvas and will not bleach or discolor it. In addition, the product should be safe to use on chrome, vinyl, aluminum, and gel coat finishes, as it will surely drip or get sprayed on other parts of the pop up camper. All-purpose cleaners should state that they get rid of dirt, grime, mold, and mildew.
Try an all-purpose oxygen cleaner that does not bleach the fabric, but removes stains. Oxygen cleaners claim they:
- Will not bleach fabrics
- Are safe for animals and the environment
- Brighten fabric
- Can be mixed safely with other cleaners
- Act as a disinfectant
Oxygen cleaners should be much safer to use on canvas than bleach, however still check to make sure they will not discolor or ruin your canvas, gel coat, chrome, aluminum, plastic, or the environment by testing the product on a small, inconspicuous area of the canvas. Some of the products on the market include:
- Clorox Oxy Magic
- Stain Solver
- White Wave
- Ajax Oxygen Bleach
Where to Buy Canvas Cleaners For Pop Up Campers
Most home supply or auto supply stores have a good selection of canvas cleaners for you to choose from. You can also purchase canvas cleaners online, and some of the ones you can find online include:
- Winsol - Winsol provides a cleaner for vinyl materials, so if you have an entirely or partially vinyl pop-up camper, you can purchase a bottle of their cleaner for around $35.
- Mer-Maids - Mer-Maids Professional Cleaning Products is a cleaner company which has been in business since 1986 and offers a variety of camping and boating cleaners, perfect for the person with multiple outdoorsy gadgets.
- Lowe's - When in doubt, your local hardware retailer, such as Lowe's, has multiple options for outdoor cleaners meant to erase dirt, grime, and mildew from materials such as canvas and vinyl.
A Little Cleaning Goes a Long Way
The great outdoors can be particularly brutal on both natural and synthetic materials, and pop up campers with their soft walls are no exception. While these vinyl, canvas, and other pop ups are made to withstand most of Mother Nature's wrath, they do perform best when they've been given a little TLC. If you want to get the most out of your pop up camper, make sure that you properly clean it before putting it to use. Just like with your car, putting in a little elbow-grease for some biweekly maintenance can go a long way to keeping it in top condition for years of camping adventures.