Washing and Waxing Your RV

 

If you are like I was, it suddenly hit me a few days after we purchased our first Motorhome. Now that I bought that huge beast, how should I take care of the outside? Will it need waxed just like my automobile? Wow! It’s almost overwhelming.

First: Let’s approach this subject similar to trying to eat an elephant. The best way is one bite at a time. The first step requires a good plan. You can’t wash one of these monsters just anywhere. Some folks live in areas or in RV parks that won’t allow them to wash their rigs with running water. For these there are options. One is take it to a truck wash, or find a local car wash with a tall enough bay. Even the small town we live by has an outside wash area at the local car wash where we can wash our motorhome if we choose to.

Second: Make sure before you start you have the right tools and products for the job:

A professional strength bug remover. (Tip: Some folks have found that bounce dryer sheets work pretty good for this task). Tar Remover, Wheel cleaner. Garden hose (hooked to good pressure), long handle car wash brush with soft bristles (Tip: buy a telescopic one). A good wash mitt or long handled RV combination sponge/squeegee, Several drying towels. (Tip: We use our old bath towels wrapped around the end of the telescopic car wash brush to dry her down after washing). Finally make sure you have some products that work as far as washing, getting rid of black streaks, bugs/tar, and that will be kind to your paint.

Third: Many RVers complain and rightfully so about black marks that start to appear on the top and down the sides of their coach. This is normal. It is caused by run-off from rain water washing off the road grime and dirt collected on the roof and some are simply spots of mildew.

Perhaps you may even have a chalking condition. (We used to get those with our other RV).

So it makes sense for the first step in washing, to periodically spend a little time and wash the roof off with a good soapy mixture and rinse extra good. Notice I said, periodically. Most folks I know don’t wash their roof every time they wash their rig. Usually once or twice a year. If you can’t get the black marks off of the sides by washing, there are a number of suggestions by folks who have had the same problem. So don’t feel alone.

Note: Some folks like to use a power washer to assist them in washing the roof and the entire motorhome including the tires etc. A word of caution. I personally don’t use a power washer for the following reasons.

If you are like I was, it suddenly hit me a few days after we purchased our first Motorhome. Now that I bought that huge beast, how should I take care of the outside? Will it need waxed just like my automobile? Wow! It’s almost overwhelming.

If you are like I was, it suddenly hit me a few days after we purchased our first Motorhome. Now that I bought that huge beast, how should I take care of the outside? Will it need waxed just like my automobile? Wow! It’s almost overwhelming.

If you are like I was, it suddenly hit me a few days after we purchased our first Motorhome. Now that I bought that huge beast, how should I take care of the outside? Will it need waxed just like my automobile? Wow! It’s almost overwhelming.

  • High pressure can and will:

    Loosen caulking.
    Loosen seals.
    Loosen and peel graphics.
    Loosen and lift cracked paint.
    Force water into any small joint cracks.
    Leave a light dirt film that can only be removed by hand washing.
    Splash up under seals.
    Peel Paint (If pressure is too high).
    Spray the surrounding area with RV grime (Makes for upset neighbors)

  • Some RV Parks do prohibit their use as well.
  • But hey, it’s only my opinion. It’s your motorhome, wash it however you choose.

So let’s get started on washing this baby:

First – If you are going to wash the roof, it would be the place to start.

Roof & Black Streaks - Washing Products that folks recommend are:

Hot soapy water and a good stiff deck brush

Softscrub

Mild bleach and water (be careful with this one)

Tough Spots (automobile rubbing compound followed by waxing)

Thetford RV Black Streak and Bug Remover ( Camping World)

Gel-Gloss H.D. RV Wash and Wax

Protect All Rubber Roof Cleaner and Rubber Roof Treatment

Note: The newer Tiffin RV’s use a one piece fiberglass roof system. This helps eliminate black streaks and chalking.

Sides - Second

Hot soapy water and wash mitt or Car Washing Soft Bristle Brush (Telescopic)

Protect All Quick and Easy Wash

Premium Gel-Gloss Wash and Wax

Dri Wash ‘n Guard Ultra-ion - www.dri-wash.us/eti/dwgultra-ionic.htm

Meguiars Boat/RV Gel Wash (Any auto or boat store, Wal-marts)

Waterless Wash and Wax - www.worldklass.com

RV Power Powder - www.campingworld.com

Tires and Wheels - Third

You need a good stiff long bristle brush

Good tire and wheel cleaner ( Wal-Mart’s or Auto Store)

Elbow Grease

Lug Cover Pliers (Camping World catalog # 6837) saves your fingers and/or scratching your chrome wheel nut covers trying to remove them with water pump or channel lock pliers.

Windows/Mirrors - Last

Some folks like Windex, some vinegar and water. Hey, whatever your poison, go for it. I personally use Windex and paper towels. (Tip: Before I start washing the RV, I take a sheet of bounce and remove all the bugs on the entire front cap including the windshield, lights, etc.)

Now lets talk a bit about waxing your rig. Most folks either use a wash/wax product or they wax it similarly as they do their car. Starting with the top on down to the bottom. I have done it probably every way imaginable including paying my grandkids to do it. No matter how you choose it still is a big job. I personally wax our twice a year with Meguiars. Why? Because I like their products. But truth is any good automobile/boat wax will work. Some are just easier to apply and wipe off. Remember little grasshopper. Wipe Wax On (Right hand), Wipe Wax Off (Left Hand). Please don’t try to wax in the direct hot sun. The results will not please your eye. What I have found works best for me is to get up early in the morning and do about a side or end section. Starting with the side that faces away from the morning sun. Then in the evening do the side away from the afternoon/evening sun. In short, take bites instead of doing the whole elephant if one fail swoop. I don’t get near as tired and our marriage seems to get along much better. Besides you’re supposed to be enjoying the lifestyle not working yourself to death.

One Final Tip: If you want to extend the wash cycles as well as the wax cycles, then visit your friendly Wal-marts or Automotive Store and purchase a large (16”) “California Duster”. I have used one of these for years on my automobiles. I can wipe down the outside of our Motorhome in the same time it takes to fuel our rig. Just don’t wipe it down unless the surface is dry. Even the morning dew will cause mud balls or smears. When you're through, just shake your duster and put it away until next time.

Finally, your chrome or mag wheels – I personally like “Mothers” products: (Available at Wal-Marts or any auto supply store) but there are several other polishes on the market that probably will do just as good. I usually do my wheels about every 4 months or so. One time I paid a homeless guy who knocked on our door at an RV Park, the asking price of $25 to polish them. Best $25 bucks I ever spent (he even furnished the Mothers, and he was happy cause he earned enough money for his needs. Course I like shiny wheels, some folks are satisfied just to wash them. Whatever floats your boat, works for me.

 

Submitted by Mike Sundberg - 3/14/06
 

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