Cleaning and Maintaining the Exterior of a Pop Up Camper

Cute Little PopUp Camper with a Clean Canvas

How to Clean and Maintain the Exterior Camper Canvas

Owning a canvas camper provides an affordable and convenient way to enjoy family adventures, offering more comfort than tent camping while still embracing the great outdoors. However, to ensure your camper remains in excellent condition and free from unpleasant odors, regular cleaning and maintaining the exterior of a pop up camper are essential. Here’s an in-depth guide on how to clean and maintain your canvas camper to extend its lifespan and enhance your camping experiences.

Importance of Regular Cleaning

Canvas campers require relatively little maintenance, but neglect can lead to brittle canvas, the canvas leaking, and potential tears. Even if structural damage doesn’t occur, a dirty canvas can develop a musty odor, making your camping trips less enjoyable. Swift and regular cleaning can help keep the canvas in top condition, ensuring your camper remains a cozy and pleasant retreat.

Cleaning the Canvas

Prior to Cleaning the Exterior of a Pop Up Camper

  • Sun Exposure: Start by setting up your camper in a sunny area. Sunlight helps loosen dirt and kill any mold spores present.
  • Dry Wipe: Use a dry cloth to wipe down the canvas, removing loose dirt and debris.

Cleaning Solution and Stain Treatment

  • Mild Detergent: Use a mild detergent that is gentle and effective for cleaning canvas, such as: Woolite. Fill a 5-gallon bucket halfway with water and add a capful of Woolite.
  • Stain Treatment: If you have mildew, use a stronger solution like dish soap, bleach, and water, check your manual for manufacturer recommendations. Avoid bleach for regular cleaning as it can damage the waterproofing.

Cleaning and Washing the Pop Up Camper Canvas

  • Sponging: Use a sponge to wash the canvas with the solution you made. Rinse with clean water using another sponge.
  • Stubborn Stains: For black marks or tough spots, use a product like 303 Multi-Surface Cleaner. Apply with a white eraser sponge and scrub the stains away. This cleaner is water-based, pH neutral, and leaves no residue.

Thoroughly Rinse When Finished

  • Thorough Rinse: Use a garden hose to rinse off any soapy residue. This also helps you spot-check the waterproofing. If water beads up and rolls off, the canvas is still water-repellent. If it soaks in, it’s time to reapply the waterproofing.

Waterproofing the Pop Up Camper Canvas


  • Clean Surface: Ensure the canvas is thoroughly cleaned and dried before applying any waterproofing product.
  • 303 High Tech Fabric Guard: This product is recommended by many RVers for treating their canvas campers. It’s available on Amazon and in some hardware stores and helps to restore water and stain repellency and it is simple and easy to use.

Applying Waterproofing Material

  • Spray Application: Spray the Fabric Guard onto the canvas in a crisscross pattern. Use a piece of cardboard to protect vinyl areas from overspray. Wipe up any overspray immediately to avoid damage.
  • Hand Application: For areas that need extra attention, pour the Fabric Guard directly onto a clean rag and apply it by hand.

Allow to Dry in the Sun

  • Sun Dry: Allow the canvas to dry in the sun for several hours after applying the waterproofing product.

Cleaning and Maintaining the Vinyl on Your Pop Up Camper

Cleaning and Protecting the Vinyl

  • Protectant: Use a protectant to clean and protect the vinyl parts of your camper. You can find product online such as Protect All from Amazon. Spray it on, rub it in with a clean cloth, and buff it out with another clean, dry cloth.

Regularly Check Your Camper

  • Spot Checks: Check the waterproofing once or twice a year and retreat as needed. Areas with high friction, like those touched by bungees or moving parts, may require treatment more often.

By following these steps, you can keep your camper’s canvas and vinyl looking and functioning like new, ensuring a comfortable and dry camping experience. Regular maintenance and proper cleaning will extend the life of your camper and protect your investment.