If you live in a motor home, learning how to clean an RV is a must. While there are a lot of car wash services only a few are available for RVs given their size. That doesn’t mean you have to put up with a dirty RV, as I’ll show you the most practical ways to keep your motor home clean.
How to Clean an RV in 17 Steps?
1. Make Sure You Have Plenty of Space
The biggest challenge is the size. Whether it’s a class A, B or C, you’ll need plenty of space to clean your RV. Some campgrounds may allow you to clean the windshield and remove the bumper dirt. But a thorough cleaning requires lots of soap, water and other cleaning solutions.
That is going to take a lot of time and space, something few campgrounds are willing to provide. The best approach is to do the cleaning in your own home where you can take your time and use as much water as necessary.
2. Change Your Cleaning Water Regularly
You’ll need to change water regularly as sediment, grime and dirt accumulation can do a lot of damage. If you don’t replace the water you’ll just be moving dirt from one place to another. This not only leaves the RV dirty but makes it vulnerable to scratches.
3. Be Careful when Using Pressure Washers
Use pressure washers only when it’s needed. Too much of it could cause gaskets to leak. You also have to be careful when pressure washing on malleable sections as they could come loose.
In most cases you’ll just need a sprayer hose and a brush. Reserve that pressure washer for dirt that the hose and sprayer cannot remove.
4. Start With a Hose Down
Begin by hosing down to eliminate as much of the dirt, grime and dust. This cuts down the amount of cleaning you have to do as most of the dirt will come off.
5. Cleaning Methods according to the RV Body
Your RV will have one of the three body types below.
Older RVs and trailers are made of metal, with the newer ones made from stainless steel or aluminum. A pre-wash should get rid of most of the dirt, then use mitts and soft bristle brushes to remove what’s left. Use only non-abrasive cleaners.
7. Painted Metal Bodies
You can use soft bristle brushes and regular car wash cleaners. Wash and clean as you would regular cars. Be careful when using pressure washers on meta bodies however. Because they’re riveted and clad there could be seeping in the seams.
Maintain some distance when using a pressure washer. Use only the appropriate attachment and use only when a regular hose and sprayer won’t work.
Majority of RVs today are built from fiberglass because it’s lighter than metal and more efficient fuel wise. Fiberglass is also built to last. The surface also makes it easy to apply decals.
The best way to clean a fiberglass RV is to use a wash and wax product. Apply as directed and the dirt will come off. Do not use a pressure washer if your RV has decals because these will come off quickly.
9. Remove Black Streaks
Those exterior black streaks are unsightly but easy to remove. There are several commercially available products made specifically for them. Use your spray cleaner to apply the solution on the black streaks. Clean with a soft brush afterwards to remove any traces. Use the threaded hole in the brush to affix a broom and clean the hard to reach spots.
10. How to Clean the Awnings
The only time you’ll really get the awning dirty is if you frequently camp in dusty locations. Even so you just need to hose the surface and the dirt will come off. Do not scrub the surface as it might damage the fabric. For light dirt, just dust it off and roll up. If it’s quite dirty, hose it down, let it dry and roll up.
11. Cleaning the Gaskets and Weather Seals
All the doors, slide in and windows on your RV has a weather sealant or a gasket. Use silicon based cleaners, and it’s easy as you just need to spray them. No need to wipe or do extra cleaning or wiping.
Clean the gaskets on a regular basis and they will last longer and require less frequent replacements.
12. Cleaning the Wheels according to Type
There are 3 types of RV wheels, the chrome rims, aluminum wheel covers and painted rims. You can use any rim and wheel cleaning product. Aluminum wheel covers should be taken out every now and then and inspected for rust.
Do not use harsh chemicals on chrome rims because they’re susceptible to scratching. Avoid abrasive cleaners and hard bristles as they might dull the surface.
13. How to Clean the Roofs
The roof may be the most hardest or easiest part to clean up depending on the design. If you can walk on the roof then it’s easy, but if it isn’t you’ll have to exert more effort. Do not get onto the roof of your RV until you’ve checked the owner’s manual and verified you can walk on it.
RVs from the 80s and 90s have rubber roof while modern RV roofs are made from fiberglass. Rubber roofs often end up with dirty black streaks on the sides. The simplest way to clean this is to use rubber roof cleaners.
Do not apply sealant as it will cause more damage and prevent it from flexing. All you need is a thorough cleaning every 3 months or so. If you’ve got a fiberglass roof you can use the same cleaning solutions you use for the rest of your RV.
14. Inspect the RV for Needed Maintenance and Repairs
As you clean the RV, use the opportunity to inspect the RV. Check for signs of damage. Have them repaired as soon as possible so your RV will not only be clean but also in tip top shape.
15. Do You Need Cleaning Contractors?
If you’re far from home – or your RV is your home – and staying at a campsite, you may get offers from cleaning contractors. They come with supplies, water and other essentials, so if you’re busy you can let the contractor take care of your RV.
Before you turn over the reigns to the contractor, ask the following questions.
- Does the cost include the windows, roof, awning and rims?
- Will they use a pressure washer?
- What types of detergents will be used?
- Will soft bristle brushes be used?
If you’ve got other questions, write them down and make sure you get satisfactory answers before signing a contract.
16. You Must Use The Right Cleaners
I cannot emphasize this enough. You must only use the right cleaning solutions and chemicals. Purchase only those that are formulated for RVs and are compatible with your rig’s paint and bodywork.
At the very least you’ll need an all-purpose everyday multi-surface cleaner, a toilet bowl cleaner and disinfectants.
If you want to go natural, use lemon to eliminate bathroom hardware water stains. Ammonia can be used for stovetop cleanup while vinegar and bleach are suited for cleaning a washing machine.
Don’t use harsh chemicals on your RV toilet as it could damage the plumbing. Use only those that have been specified for it.
17. Don’t Overlook the Grounds and Surrounding Areas
As you clean your RV some stains may end up on the ground and surrounding areas. Use the appropriate cleaning solution and rinse the surface with water. Don’t leave dirt, grime or dust on the surface.
Tips for Cleaning the RV Interior
- Use a vacuum cleaner to remove dirt on the floor. You don’t need a large unit as today’s compact models have become more powerful.
- A wet or dry mop comes in handy for cleaning laminate, wood or tile floors. These are inexpensive but effective for entryway and kitchen cleanups.
- If your mop does not come with a wet and dry microfiber pad, buy a pair. You’ll find them useful in wiping furniture dirt and dust.
- Place a doormat outside or better yet, an indoor / outdoor mat to trap dirt and keep them outside your RV.
- You can simplify a lot of cleaning chores by buying a multipurpose cleaner. These are available online and designed specifically for RVs.
- Have a bunch of microfiber wipes and cloths nearby. They are versatile and cost effective.
Cleaning your RV is essential. It’s not just for aesthetic reasons as it’s crucial for lifespan extension. A clean rig is going to last lo last longer, and even though there is a limited number of services, washing solutions and cleaning chemicals are within reach.