Washing the RV – How the Beast gets Gleaming Clean
Every now and then even the most hardened outdoorsy girl needs a wash. The RV and us are pretty zen about the whole deal and don’t think about it too often, but sometimes we do long for that lovely, shiny lustre…just to show off a bit, you know. We dry-camp quite a bit so when we go for a wash we sometimes have to be creative, and with a good 40 feet of beast to clean we do need to plan ahead. Here’s some of our squeaky clean secrets & a few alternatives to boot:
1/ Have Others do it for You – On the road there are quite places you can hand off this little task to others. Typical cost is ~$2/foot for a simple wash to upwards of ~$10/foot for wash & wax. If you have a rubber roof beware of the cleaners used to wash the RV (see #2 below).
- Mobile RV Washers: Some of the bigger RV park will have connections with mobile RV washers that come to your site. They tend to book out so ask before you arrive to set-up an appointment.
- Stop-Over Locations: For go-to places a lot of RV service shops will offer washing plus many truck stops will offer it too (e.g. Blue Beacon). Believe it or not we even saw an automatic, brushless drive-through RV wash in Sevierville, TN (first one I’ve ever seen), so apparently they do exist. However, the regular service stops are more common. Again, book ahead for an appointment.
2/ Do It Yourself – This is more our style and we usually bring out the ‘ol elbow grease every 3-4 months for just this job. Some private campgrounds allow you to wash with a hose, but many don’t (or charge a fee for it). You can also find do-it-yourself car washes with special large bays for RVers. We’re usually off in a State Park or forest somewhere so hose-cleaning is not an alternative for us. Here’s what we do:
- Body Cleaning – With a bucket, an extendable brush, and a cloth you can pretty happily clean just about any RV anywhere. We use a small amount of biodegradable car cleaner (Turtle Wax ICE) diluted in water. If you want a little extra cleaning power 1/3 cup of white vinegar will help prevent spotting. Then just dip the brush in the bucket, scrub and wipe to dry. NOTE/ Never, never using regular dish-washing or other detergents on your RV. They will strip wax and eventually dull the surface.
- Bug Cleaning – Like all roving bodies in the wild, we pick up a lot of bugs especially on the front of the RV. You can use bug cleaner or WD40 to help get these off, but our favorite method is a regular dryer sheet (the type you throw in the dryer for clothes). Dip the sheet in water and rub…bugs come off like magic. Then rinse & clean as normal.
- Roof Cleaning – If you have a EPDM rubber roof it’s a separate beast from the rest of the RV. The most important thing to remember is to avoid all petroleum distillates. Mild soapy water and a soft brush does the job. More on roof cleaning here.
- Waxing – Every year we’ll wax the monster to help protect and beautify. For a serious shine I like RejeX and we’ll usually knukle down for an all-over with that once a year. Another easy product to use is ProtectAll, which Walmart carries it in their RV section, as does Camping World. We use it for in-between cleans & touch-ups on the whole RV.
There’s plenty of other methods and cleaners out there (including a whole plethora of “waterless” cleaners), but we stick with the bucket, brush and cloth approach. With a few free days, and a little help from your friends you can have your girl gleaming like a new-born RV.