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How to clean your RV

How to clean your RV

You and your family have had many summer adventures in your RV – and it shows. It’s time to clean your RV, but this task can be challenging. Learn some tips to clean your RV without causing any damage.

Pressure Washers

You may well pressure wash your home, but pressure washing your RV isn’t always the greatest idea. RVs often have overlapping layers or gaskets that aren’t as stable as those on a home might be, which could allow high-pressure water to leak in.

Anywhere there are areas sealed with products like silicone or other malleable materials, pressure washers can pull them loose and cause serious damage to the sealed area. A good brush and hose with a sprayer attachment will usually do the job just as well.

This isn’t to say you can’t or shouldn’t use a pressure washer. It’s just generally a good rule of thumb to maintain a safe distance and have a good working knowledge of pressure washers before you do.

The RV Body

RVs tend to come with three primary exteriors: metal, painted metal, and fiberglass. Each of these may require a special kind of washing solution or brush. We recommend always reading your owner’s manual for manufacturer suggestions to clean and shine your RVs, no matter what type of body they’re clad in.

Metal bodies are common on older RVs and trailers, as well as a certain brands today. They’re commonly aluminum and stainless steel. These are best cleaned with a pre-wash to remove the majority of grime and grit, then cleaned with non-abrasive cleaners and soft-bristled brushes and mitts.

Painted metal bodies can be treated just like your vehicle: standard car wash cleaners will do the trick, as well as some soft-bristled brushes.

Be aware with metal bodies, though. Because they’re clad and riveted, water from high-pressure washers can seep in between the seams. Keep your distance if you use a pressure washer. Otherwise, take care of stubborn stains and grime with elbow grease and a hose with a sprayer attachment.

Fiberglass bodies are more common in modern RVs because they’re lighter—inherently making them more fuel efficient. And though they’re on the lighter side, they’re still perfectly durable. Some are painted, and some feature different decals (like stripes or other decorations). For fiberglass, the best solution is a wash-and-wax product that both cleans your RV and protects it for the future. Most are environmentally friendly as well, which is particularly important if you’re planning to clean your RV in a campground. Again, if your RV has decals, avoid the pressure washer. It’ll peel them right off.

Gaskets and Weather Seals

Every window, door, and slide in an RV has a gasket or flexible weather sealant. They’re rubber pieces meant to protect the RV from the elements. Keeping these parts clean helps preserve them and keep them in working order—meaning fewer replacements of both the gaskets as well as other parts.

Silicone-based cleaners help keep your gaskets from drying out. Many simply spray on and require no wiping or additional cleaning.


RVs tend to come with three kinds of wheels: painted rims, aluminum wheel covers, and chrome rims. Any basic wheel and rim cleaning products will do the trick on these, though each may require its own set of maintenance.

Aluminum wheel covers should be removed periodically to check for signs of rust.

Chrome rims may be easily scratched. You’ll want to avoid using any hard bristles or abrasive cleaners on these to keep them as shiny as possible.


Cleaning the roof of your RV may be the easiest or most difficult part of the entire process. Some RV roofs are walkable, while some aren’t. Check your owner’s manual or with your dealer before stepping foot on (or potentially through) the roof.

RV roofs come in two types: rubber and fiberglass. Rubber roofs are mostly a thing of the past, but are prevalent on RVs from the 80s and 90s. On RVs with this style of roof, you’ll often see black streaks on the roof or running down the sides of the camper. This is grime.

To clean a rubber roof, you’ll need appropriate rubber roof cleaning products from your dealer. Never use a sealant on the roof, as it prevents the roof from flexing appropriately and will cause further damage. Just give it a good cleaning every few months to keep it in good shape.

Fiberglass roofs, on the other hand, clean easily. Likely, you’ll be able to use the same cleaner you’re using on the rest of your RV on your roof.

Article originally posted on Camping World.

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