Last updated and verified on February 24th, 2023
A pop-up camper canvas can accumulate dirt and debris when in regular use. Another significant problem with them is that they are susceptible to mold and mildew, which can cause potential health problems if left untreated.
If you are an avid traveler or simply haven’t been taking care of your camper because you don’t need it at the moment, it’s time to inspect the camper and work on cleaning it. The faster you get it cleaned, the easier it will be.
We have specifically created this article to guide you about the process of cleaning your camper canvas, removing mold and mildew, as well as waterproofing your canvas after the cleaning is done.
Standard Camper Canvas Cleaning
The pop-up canvas of your camper is there to protect you from the outside elements such as dust and dirt. This means that it will get dirty frequently and require regular and gentle cleaning or maintenance. To clean the canvas, you will not need any unique products. You can simply use a detergent to do the job. It is, however, recommended to spot clean small portions of your camper canvas before you apply the detergent to the entire area. This will ensure the product is suitable and won’t damage the canvas.
For standard detergents, you can follow these steps:
- You will need about 2-3 gallons of water.
- Add a cap full of the preferred detergent into the water and mix.
- Use a good sponge to scrub off the dirt and dust from the canvas.
- Next, use a different clean wet sponge to rinse off the detergent mix and dirty water.
- The final step is to use a water hose to wash off the detergent entirely.
We will recommend using a brush if there are patches of heavy dirt on the canvas. A soft sponge will not help in this case. However, hard scrubbing is not recommended as it might cause damage.
After you follow the last step, you must thoroughly check the waterproofing to see if the droplets are getting beaded on the canvas and are not soaking through it. You will need to waterproof the canvas properly if the water soaks through.
The Best Canvas Cleaning Detergent
My Choice: 303 Multi-Surface Cleaner
When you talk about bang for buck, this cleaning detergent is high-quality and can be used for most of your camping gear and not just cleaning your camper’s canvas.
Easily pour into an empty spray bottle or bucket with a sponge at the ready.
Check the price on Amazon
How To Remove Mildew From Canvas
Cleaning mold and mildew can be tricky, so we recommend using a specialized mildew cleaner. These cleaners also come with preventative agents or ingredients that will help to avoid future mildew growth. If you don’t want to buy a product, you can make your mildew remover. You have to make it by mixing bleach, dish soap, and water.
You can either buy a product or make one. It generally doesn’t matter. If you do not know how to use these removers, then follow the steps below:
- It would be best if you sprayed the mildew remover onto the affected area of the canvas.
- Now let the product sit for a while until the mildew stain disappears.
- Rinse the area with fresh water to remove the product and the stain.
You can also follow the instructions on the products for the best results.
Waterproofing Your Camper Canvas
As mentioned before, you always need to check the waterproofing after cleaning the canvas. Sometimes, overzealous cleaning or heavy-duty cleaning can cause the removal of the waterproofing layer, which is essential in all camper canvases.
This waterproofing layer can also be damaged with regular use as it is susceptible to wear and tear. It can be incredibly delicate around the joints and areas of frequent movement.
If you’ve lost the waterproofing layer, the canvas runs the risk of getting soaked due to the moisture in the air. This can cause further trouble like mold, mildew, and extensive camper damage.
If you do not fix the problem, you will face issues when using it in the future. It will also later cost you a lot of money in maintenance. Checking for waterproofing is a reasonably easy task. You have to spray the canvas with a hose to see if the water is getting soaked or if it’s forming droplets on the canvas. You should waterproof the problem areas even if the entire canvas doesn’t require waterproofing.
How To Waterproof Your Canvas
Now waterproofing a canvas can be even more tricky. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you should buy a high-quality waterproofing product to waterproof your camper canvas.
A good waterproofing product will ensure no leakages, and the product will hold well even after extended use. Cheap products will need constant replacement due to getting worn out frequently.
There are two ways in which you can apply the waterproofing treatment to your canvas:
- If the waterproofing has come off in only small spots, you can use a spray bottle with the limited product. This will save you money and make sure no product is wasted unnecessarily.
- If the waterproofing has come off in large sections, it is recommended to use a paintbrush or a sponge roller. This method will use more of the product, but the coating will be even more consistent.
You should limit the waterproofing to the canvas area only in both these methods. Make sure you avoid spraying it on vinyl or other materials. If the product gets on the vinyl, then it will get both discolored and damaged.
To protect your vinyl, you have to tape it all over with masking tape before applying the treatment.
Extra Tips Worth Reading
While you are cleaning and waterproofing your canvas, you should also take time to give your vinyl some care. Even the vinyl can have damage and wear despite being durable and weather-resistant.
Maintaining your pop-up camper’s canvas and generally looking after it will hold its value in the used market. Please look at the guide we created on the price of new, used, or pop-up rental campers.
It is not very difficult to clean and protect your vinyl. You can use multiple products which are generally used as car cleaning products. You have to spray it on and rub it off with a clean cloth. Don’t forget to buff it off with a different cloth as well.
Written by Den Kyle, verified, and edited by David Myer.