Learning how to wash an RV is necessary because RV wash services are few and far between. Unlike a car where you can just drive over and have it cleaned and scrubbed, with a motorhome you can’t find a lot of services that can handle their size. But if you know how the cleaning process works this won’t be a concern.
The Challenges About How to Wash an RV?
There are a lot of challenges that arise from washing a motorhome. This is not just about the size but other factors. In this guide I’ll make things easier by going over the most significant areas so you’ll know how to clean them.
1. RV Size
RVs come in all shapes and sizes, but even the smallest RVs are way bigger than a car or van. A pop up camper is going to be quicker to clean than a Class A motorhome, but you’re going to have a hard time finding a campground that will give you the water and space to give it a thorough cleaning.
The best solution is to clean the RV at home. At home you have access to all the water you need and the materials as well. Plus you’ll be able to take your time. If you plan to live full time in an RV, you have to plan ahead as to how you’re going to do a thorough cleanup. Just like with a real house, you will need to go about this carefully.
2. Changing Water
Change the water regularly so dirt, grime and dust don’t just go to other areas of your RV. Scratches will also appear if you don’t replace the water. So if you don’t want your RV smudged, smeared and scratched, change the water.
Before you start the cleaning process, keep in mind you’ll be using a lot of water. Remember that in this process RV water pump is very important. And you should have a source ready ahead of time so you don’t have to look for a water source.
3. Pressure Washers
Do not use pressure washers near the gaskets as it could produce leaks. You should also avoid using the pressure washer on areas with malleable materials like silicone. Those sealed areas could come apart due to the pressure.
To be on the safe side just use a hose with sprayer and a brush. Bottom line, using a pressure washer isn’t always going to save you time. There are cases and instances wherein pressure washers will do nicely, such as removing large amounts of dirt and grime. Nut otherwise keep its use to a minimum.
4. The RV Body
How you wash the body depends on what it is made of. Check your owner’s manual for details and use the products recommended there.
A metal body is common for old RVs, typically stainless steel or aluminum. You start with a pre-wash to get rid of most of the grit and dirt. You then use soft brushes, non abrasive cleaners and mitts to clean the rest.
Fiberglass bodies are common in modern RVs as it is durable yet lighter than metal. Some have decals and others are painted. Regardless the best cleaning solution is the wash and wax as it cleans and protects the material at the same time. Be careful when washing the decals as they could come off with water pressure.
Painted metal bodies can be cleaned with any type of car wash cleaning solution. Just remember to use soft bristle so as not to damage the material. With all metal bodies you have to be careful when using pressure washers to avoid damaging the material.
Your RV could be made up of other materials apart from the three mentioned here. In that case consult the owner’s manual for information on what types of materials you can use on your RV.
Awnings are easy to clean as they only get dirty if you camp for long stretches at a time. Even then the most that they will accumulate is dust. In that case the only thing you need to do is dust it off. In some cases you’ll need to scrub the fabric but even that is easy to do.
While awnings are easy to clean, don’t neglect them. Just like with the rest of the RV, don’t wait for dirt to build up before doing something about it.
6. Gaskets and Weather Seals
The gaskets and sealants have the same purpose, protect your rig from the elements. That’s why you have to be careful when cleaning these parts. If the gaskets are damaged you’ll need to have them replaced and that can be a hassle.
RV wheels come in three types, chrome rims, aluminum wheel covers and painted rims. All of them can be cleaned using regular rim cleaners. If your RV has aluminum wheels, take them out every now and then and check for rust. Don’t use any abrasive cleaners on chrome rims as they’re very sensitive.
The roof needs to be cleaned thoroughly as bird droppings, dirt, dust and other stuff accumulate there. If you’ve got an old RV it likely has a rubber roof. Black streaks are the most common form of dirt and you’ll need rubber cleaning products to remove them.
9. Cleaning Contractors
If you’re busy and don’t have the time to clean your RV you may consider hiring contractors to do it for you. If you do opt for this route you’ll need to do some research and ask a series of questions.
Ask what type of cleaning materials they use and how much experience they have cleaning RVs. Ask what detergents, brushes and methods will be used on your RV. As I mentioned earlier some materials like chrome and parts like decals and gaskets need special care.
By asking these questions and listening to their answers, you’ll know how good they are and if you can trust them to take care of your RV.
Quick and Dirty Tips For Easy RV Washing and Waxing
If you have decided to do the cleaning yourself, here are some tips to get you started. The first thing you should do is buy the right supplies and tools. Second, wait for the right time to do the cleaning. This means avoid washing on rainy days and when there is excessive heat.
1. Wash and Wax Regularly
RVs come off the factory with protective coating, but constant exposure to the sun, wind, rain and roads cause it to wear off. By washing and waxing on a consistent basis your RV will still look good even when the factory gel coating comes off.
You only have to wash and wax twice a year to keep your RV in tip top shape. Not only that but the dirt and bugs don’t stick as easily on the surface either.
2. Don’t Use Dish Soap
Dish soap contains harsh chemicals that cause protective gel deterioration. Dish soaps may be cheap, but you will end up paying more once the gel comes off and the surface starts to deteriorate. Do your RV a favor and use a real cleaning solution.
3. Wash with Baby Shampoo and Vinegar
Baby shampoo and vinegar work well together as a cleaner. Unlike dish soap, baby shampoo and vinegar doesn’t leave film or other undesirable substances on the surface.
4. Try Waterless RV Washing
Want to take a different approach to cleaning your RV? Try waterless cleaning. It is an environment friendly solution and is also effective. This is gaining popularity among those who live in RVs full time who don’t want to consume too much water.
5. Don’t Use Microfiber Towels or Brushes
Microfiber cloth and brushes contain polyester, a material that can wear off your RV protective gel. This damage can be permanent so it is better to use materials like lambswool or cotton baby diapers. To be on the safe side you should use only materials that are proven safe.
6. Get Rid of the Bug Juice
Ever seen a bug strike your RV? Yes it happens quite a bit, and each time that happens acidic substances are left on the surface, damaging the gel coat. As the bug juice accumulates it causes serious scratches, so remove those as soon as possible.
7. Finish with Floor Wax
Floor wax isn’t just for floors as it is also good for your rig. Apply the wax after washing and your RV will look as good as new. Don’t apply too much, just enough and only according to the instructions.
Of course you don’t need to apply the floor wax if you have used a wash and wax solution. As long as the cleaning solution is for RVs you don’t have to worry about damaging the effects.