Can you steam clean canvas?

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Can you steam clean canvas? We will explain how you can properly clean the canvas of your pop-up, pop-top, tent trailer or hybrid trailer. 

Can you steam clean the camper canvas?

Yes, it is possible to steam clean your camper canvas. This cleaning process is easy to use and very efficient against bacteria and mould. Canvas steam cleaners are very effective and unlike other cleaners, these particular models do not necessarily require a high temperature. 

Most of these devices have a versatile model that can clean different types of surfaces. You must first check whether the machine offers a vacuum mode. Indeed, the latter is the most effective in removing dust and other impurities that have accumulated on the camper canvas!

How to steam clean camper canvas?

It is easy to steam clean camper canvas. To benefit from its advantages and ensure its durability, it is recommended to follow each step carefully:

  1. Pour water into the tank and plugin the cleaning device.
  2. Press the button which activates the heating. When the device indicates that it is ready, install the mouthpiece. The latter varies depending on the cleaning to be carried out. Once ready, cleaning can begin.
  3. Choose the option that ejects as little water as possible to avoid soaking the canvas. Some devices also have different modes depending on the surface. In this case, the “fragile” mode is recommended;
  4. Now activate the vaporization.
  5. To save time, go from the left end to the right, following a very vertical path. Never go back to a part that has already been cleaned in order to avoid cleaning the parts that are already clean. It is recommended that you clean the canvas of your camper in a well-aired area so it can dry faster.

The simplest way to clean the camper canvas

Tent trailers and pop-up campers are popular amongst people who like to travel freely while still having some of the luxuries of home. The trailer part provides additional weather protection, as well as basic kitchen implements and a mistake-free place to rest or eat. 

Sitting outside under the canvas tent portion of the trailer is nice, but not when the canvas is dirty and smelly. Regular maintenance keeps the canvas clean, which, in turn, helps the material to last longer.

Here’s how you clean the canvas of your camper:

  1.  Brush leaves, dirt and debris onto the canvas with a broom. If the canvas material gets wet, let it dry completely in direct sunlight. Brush the surface again to remove mould spores.
  1. Mix two cups of mild wool detergent with 1 gallon of lukewarm water. Dip your natural bristle brush into the mild detergent solution and scrub the surface of the canvas to remove dirt and stains.
  1. Rinse the canvas trailer with a hose until all of the detergents are washed off. Allow the canvas to dry completely.
  1. Apply a protective spray to the canvas with a water repellent coating that keeps water out of the trailer and reduces mould growth. Follow the instructions on the package to apply the spray effectively.

Some additional tips:

  • Mix lemon juice and table salt together to form a fine paste. Apply the paste for stains on a rust cloth. Allow to dry, then brush to remove rust.
  • Clean your canvas before each use and each time you break camp. Leaves and other debris left on the canvas when it is folded up causes stains and encourages mould growth.
  • Never fold down the trailer canvas when it is wet. If this is unavoidable due to the weather at your scheduled departure time, then open the trailer as soon as possible to allow the canvas to dry.

The easiest way to wash a pop-up canvas is to first brush the canvas of this outdoor shelter with a sponge soaked in soapy water or dish soap. It should then be rinsed thoroughly with a jet of water to remove all the soap. Note that the application of solvents is not recommended, as they considerably reduce the impermeability of tent canvases.

Once all the soap residue is removed, the tent can be air-dried. It should not be exposed directly to the sun since UV rays are harmful to the coatings of the fabrics. This is also the perfect time to air out the tent and remove any bad odours.

Once properly dried, the pop-up can be folded up and stored in its cover. Otherwise, it may be prone to unpleasant odours and mould. It is also recommended to store it in a dry place, which is not too exposed to humidity.

Clean canvas stains with suitable products

Washing your camper canvas is an opportunity to check for the presence of particular strains, such as traces of resin, mould, or rust.

  • To remove a resin stain: Resin is a viscous liquid that sticks, which makes it very difficult to remove. When camping in the forest, especially in the mountains, it is possible that drops of this liquid fall from the trees on the canvas. To clean it, you must first wait for the resin to dry. Once dry, place an ice cube at the inside face of the tent canvas on the resin stain. As it dries, it becomes brittle and comes off easily if it is gently scratched.

A detergent based on pine resin can also give good results.

  • To remove a mould stain: After camping in a forest and damp area, the camper may have mildew stains. To clean them, the solution is to:
  • Dab the canvas of the tent using a cloth soaked in ammonia or hydrogen peroxide;
  • Sprinkle baking soda on the mould stains before rubbing them lightly and rinsing them with vinegar water;
  • Apply a slurry of mustard, flour and cold water to the mould stains. Leave to act for at least 3 hours before cleaning with a damp cloth.

While the sun will eventually help dry out your trailer and get rid of large raindrops, some water can get trapped in the corners and sides of the camper.  Once you do, this can lead to mould and mildew that can ruin the look of your trailer. To prevent this from happening, you need to clean up the mould and get rid of all the dirt on your trailer.

  • To remove a rust stain: To clean rust stains, you should use a laundry rust remover that is applied directly to the tent fabric, before rinsing with a damp cloth.


Besides cleaning your camper canvas, it is important to regularly inspect it for tears, holes, and fix the damage as soon as possible. Also, remember to clean the rubber seals with a sponge soaked in water, without bleach or vinegar. 

If your pop-up camper has canvas covers, you should not apply any cleaning products to it. If you do, the canvas will lose all of its waterproofing and water will pass through. Steam cleaning is an easy and great way to maintain your camper canvas!

Please feel free to ask any questions you may have about the content.

FAQ on Can you steam clean canvas?

Can you pressure wash a pop-up camper?

It is not recommended to pressure wash a pop-up camper, as it can damage the canvas, as well as the fibreglass. Likewise, pressure washing can damage the gaskets and caulking around your pop-up camper vinyl windows. If you pressure wash your RV, you might accidentally force water in it or even remove the decals.

How do you clean plastic tent windows?

To clean plastic tent windows use a soft cloth, warm water, dishwasher soap or a water-based window cleaner. Do not use abrasive products and make sure you rinse the products well. 

Can you use vinegar to clean vinyl windows?

Yes, you can use vinegar to clean vinyl windows. Use one part white vinegar to 2 parts water in a spray bottle. With a gentle cloth clean thoroughly the vinyl windows. 

How do you get mould off a pop-up camper vinyl?

To get mould off a pop-up camper vinyl, you can use one part vinegar mixed with two parts water. After cleaning the vinyl, make sure you dry it well. Also, check your camper canvas for holes, tears and water leaks. 


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