RV wash guide: How to clean your RV

Katie DuncanJune 17, 2021

RV wash guide: How to clean your RV

Washing your rig is one of the responsibilities that come with RV ownership. Not only does cleaning your RV exterior regularly keep it looking nice, but it actually helps your RV last longer. Some outdoor elements like bird droppings, road tar, road salt, and acid rain can be damaging and cause corrosion, chemical spotting, and permanent staining if not cleaned. 

In this article, we’ll break down what you need to wash your RV, how to do it, and where to take your RV if you don’t want to clean it yourself.

How to clean your RV exterior

Scrubbing down your RV is a lot like washing your car. Pick a cool part of the day, park in a shady area, gather your supplies, and prepare to get a little wet! 

Where to park

First and foremost, make sure you’re washing your RV where it’s permitted. Many campgrounds do not allow you to use their water to wash your RV. 

rv wash near me

Once you’re sure you’re in the clear, consider these points:

  • Park near a water spigot: It’ll take more than just a few buckets of water to wash your RV. Make sure you’re near a water source.
  • Get in the shade: Not only will parking in the shade keep you cool while you work, but it’ll also prevent soap spots due to evaporation. 
  • Find even, solid ground: You’ll probably be up on a ladder to reach the roof and upper portion of your RV. Make sure the ground around it can support your weight on a ladder without sinking into the mud.

What you’ll need to wash your RV

Before you get started, round up the following supplies:

  • Mild car washing soap
  • Water hose and/or pressure washer
  • Sponge, car washing mitt, or extendable soft-bristle car wash brush
  • Ladder
  • Rubber roof cleaner (if you have a rubber roof)
  • Wax designed for your RV type (painted metal, fiberglass, aluminum, etc.)

Note: If you’re using a pressure washer, be sure to use extra caution. Keep a safe distance away and be careful when spraying around gaskets, seals, and decals. Strong water pressure can loosen these. When in doubt, just use a hose and sponge or soft bristle brush. 

The RV washing procedure

Before you get started, make sure all of your doors, vents, and windows are closed. You don’t want to accidentally soak your interior! Next, follow these steps.

  1. Once everything is secured, begin by rinsing away any loose dirt from the rig. Start at the top and work your way down. 
  2. After that, you can suds up your mitt or brush and get to scrubbing. Again, it’s always best to start at the top and work your way down. If you start at the bottom, dirty runoff will drip all over what you just cleaned. 
  3. As you scrub, be sure to rinse your mitt and/or brush often. Otherwise, you risk damaging your finish by scrubbing your RV with grit. You’ll also want to change your bucket water often to prevent this. 
  4. For a deep clean, wipe down your tires and spray the undercarriage of your RV to eliminate road dirt and debris. 
  5. After everything has been scrubbed down, give the RV another rinse to wash off all of the soap. 
  6. You may choose to wax your RV after as well. This will give you added protection against the elements.  

Cleaning your RV roof and awning

You’ll need to take special care when washing your awning since it’s made from a different material than the rest of your RV. To combat mold, mildew, and dirt build-up, be sure to give it a good scrub with the right soap. For vinyl awnings, avoid anything with bleach. For acrylic awnings, you may need to mix a small amount of bleach with your soap to remove stubborn stains. 

Similarly, your RV roof might need extra care. If you have a rubber roof atop your motorcoach, use a specialized rubber roof cleaner. Cleaning your RV roof is a great time to inspect it for any damage, broken seals, or areas of concern. This simple inspection can prevent costly leaks before they happen and ensure the roof over your head is healthy for years to come.

How to find an RV wash near me

If you don’t have the time or resources to give your RV a good sudsy wash at home or at the campsite, you can look to find an RV car wash near you. 

rv car wash near me

Start by checking a truck wash directory like the one linked here. Oftentimes, truck washes also offer RV services. This is true for the nationwide chain Blue Beacon Truck Wash, which offers services specific to RVs.

If you can’t find one listed in a directory, you can go about finding an RV wash several other ways:

  • Ask other RVers or your local RV dealership: Know other RVers? Ask them where they wash their RV at. If you don’t have any fellow RV friends in the area, contact your local dealer and ask where the best place to go is.
  • Ask the host or front office at the campground you’re staying at: If you aren’t familiar with the area, ask the campground manager or host. It’s probably a question they get often and should have answers to.
  • Look online: The internet can be your best friend for looking up all things local, no matter where you are! Simply go to your browser and type in what you’re looking for like “RV detailing near me” or “RV interior cleaning service near me”. You can browse the search results to find a location that offers the services you need.

How to find a mobile RV cleaning service near me

If you don’t want to go out to an RV wash, get it to come to you! Using the same methods that we mentioned above, you can find a mobile RV cleaning service. Keep in mind that a mobile cleaner may have to use the water wherever you’re parked— so if washes aren’t allowed at your campsite, don’t call them out there!

Squeaky clean and ready to roll

It may not be the most fun activity, but cleaning your RV keeps it ready for any adventure that may come your way. It gives you the opportunity to inspect your RV and ensures that it’s ready to roll when you are. Plus, there’s nothing like that squeaky clean feeling! Don’t want to keep your spotless RV all to yourself? Share the joy of RVing with others by listing it on Outdoorsy.

Katie Duncan, Outdoorsy Author

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