Cleaning Your RV’s Exterior

Cleaning Your RV's Exterior

After a long winter stored, you need to give your home on wheels a good washdown before embarking on a new journey. Keeping your RV clean not only will make it look fresh and nice, but it will also protect it from damages caused by dirt and debris that are sitting on your paint.

Make sure you have the right tools for cleaning and take advantage of this to inspect all roof and body seams, window seals that may allow water to leak into your RV.

After sharing some cleaning tips for your RV’s interior, we’ve added some helpful hints on how to wash the dirt and road grime off of your RV and keep the exterior looking new.

1 – Read the instruction manual: Using the correct cleaning products and techniques, according to your RV manufacturer’s information, is the best way to get started and protect your vehicle’s surfaces and finishes from possible damage.

2- How to clean your RV roof: First, park your RV in a place not in direct sunlight. To make it easier you can wash it earlier in the morning, or later on in the evening when temperatures have dropped. A sunny day can dry your vehicle too quickly, resulting in water spots. Next, spray it with water to help remove dirt, dust, and with a long-handled brush with soft bristles and a mild car-washing soap or cleaner (specific for your rubber or fiberglass roof), start scrubbing (from top to bottom). Use a garden hose to rinse the soap off of the surface and let it dry naturally.

Note: Pressure washer requires less elbow grease but it can cause serious damage to the RV paint and its sealed area. A good brush and garden hose will get the job done just fine.

3- How to clean your RV’s body: Before you keep using good old fashioned elbow grease to get the RV’s body cleaned, it’s important to know what it’s really made of.

RV’s walls are built of metal, painted metal, and fiberglass. 

A metal sidewall is made from aluminum or stainless steel, and it’s usually found on many older RVs. To clean the sides of a metal RV, you just need a bucket with water and the appropriate amount of mild soap (or non-abrasive cleaner), a soft-bristled brush and car-washing mitt. To extend the life of the finish, you can use a good quality automotive wax after your metal sides are clean.   

A painted metal RV can be cleaned just like your car: using a car-washing soap (or a cleaner designated for metal-bodied RVs) and a soft-bristled brush to remove trapped dirt. As with aluminum siding, you can find specific gel-coat-type waxes to make your RV sparkle. 

Fiberglass is the most common material used in modern RVs. It’s lighter and much easier to maintain. A wash-and-wax product and a long-handled brush (or a large sponge) are all that is needed for cleaning your fiberglass RV, then just rinse off all sides using your garden hose.

4 – RV gaskets and seals: That’s a great time to inspect the gaskets or flexible rubber seals from your RV door, windows, and slide-out room. These seals protect the RV from wind and rain, so it’s important to keep them clean and soft. Once washed with soapy water, apply a rubber seal conditioner to all sides of the seals. It’ll prevent the seals from cracking or deteriorating and helps prevent the drying effects of sun exposure.

5 – Scrubbing your awnings: Here’s a tip to make things much easier and faster: to clean the awnings, remove the legs! Leave them locked into their holding clamps on the side of your camper, that way the awning itself falls flat against the wall of the RV, and you can easily scrub it. Before you start scrubbing, rinse off your awnings to help remove dirt and grime, next use a long-handled brush with soft bristles (or a large sponge) and apply a mix of mild soap and water, then hose off. You can also use cleaner designated to remove dirt, mold, mildew, and tree sap from your specific awning (acrylic or a vinyl awning), but always check your RV manufacturer’s information to make sure you’re getting the right product. And remember to never put your awning in while it is still wet.

6 – Washing the wheels and rims: There are three main types of RV wheels: painted metal, aluminum, and chrome. You can wash painted metal wheels using a basic wheel cleaner and a soft-bristled brush or a foam sponge. Aluminum wheel covers require the use of specific cleaners. Chrome may be easily scratched so to avoid stripping the shine right off, you’ll need a soft-bristled brush and a chrome wheel cleaner.

Keeping your RV clean should be a top priority on your regular maintenance checklist. Not only does this help ensure a great trip, but a long-lasting RV. 

Happy camping!