Master The Skill: How to Wash an RV Efficiently and Safely

how to wash an rv

Whether you’ve recently purchased an RV or have been an RV owner for years, one of the most important tasks to keep in mind is washing your RV. Not only does regular washing help maintain the appearance of your vehicle, but it also prevents damage caused by dirt and grime buildup. In this article, you’ll learn how to wash an RV efficiently and safely while taking into consideration the environment. Follow these steps for a well-cared-for RV that will last for years to come.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways:

  • Regular RV washing is essential for maintenance purposes.
  • Gather the necessary cleaning supplies before starting the washing process.
  • Properly prepare the RV exterior before washing.
  • Follow a step-by-step guide to ensure an efficient and thorough clean.
  • Pay attention to detail when cleaning specific exterior features and the RV interior.
  • Protect and preserve the RV exterior after washing.
  • Be aware of common challenges that may arise during the RV washing process.
  • Take safety precautions and be environmentally conscious while washing.

Why Regular RV Washing is Essential for Maintenance

When it comes to RV maintenance, regular washing is essential for keeping your vehicle in top condition. Dirt, grime, and other buildup can not only make your RV look unsightly but can also cause extensive damage to the exterior over time. By washing your RV regularly, you can protect it from wear and tear and keep it looking like new.

So how often should you wash your RV? That will depend on a few factors, such as how frequently you use your RV, the climate you live in, and the conditions you drive in. In general, it’s recommended that you wash your RV at least once every three months, but more frequent washing may be necessary if you frequently use your RV or drive in areas with extreme weather conditions.

Gathering the Right RV Cleaning Supplies

To effectively wash an RV, you’ll need to gather the right cleaning supplies. Here’s a list of essential items you should have:

Item Description
RV-specific cleaning solution Regular car washing soap can damage the RV’s finish, so it’s essential to use a specialized cleaning solution that’s safe for your RV’s exterior.
Soft-bristled brush Use a soft-bristled brush to scrub the RV’s exterior and remove dirt and grime. Avoid using abrasive materials that can scratch the surface.
Sponge A sponge is useful for applying cleaning solution and getting into tight spaces.
Bucket Use a bucket to mix cleaning solution and rinse your sponge or brush.
Drying towel Choose a soft, absorbent towel to dry your RV after washing it. Microfiber towels work great for this purpose.
Extension ladder You’ll need an extension ladder to reach the RV’s roof and other high areas.
Rubber gloves Washing an RV can be a messy job, so protect your hands with rubber gloves.

With these essential cleaning supplies, you’ll be ready to tackle the task of washing your RV and keeping it looking great.

Preparing the Exterior of Your RV for Washing

Before you start washing your RV, it’s important to properly prepare the exterior to ensure a safe and effective cleaning process. Here are some steps to follow:

  1. Remove any loose dirt and debris from the RV exterior. You can use a soft bristle brush or a leaf blower to accomplish this.
  2. Cover any delicate surfaces or parts of the RV, such as decals or rubber seals, to protect them from damage during the washing process.
  3. Make sure all windows and doors are closed, and block off any areas that you do not want to get wet, such as vents or furnace openings.
  4. Ensure proper water drainage by leveling your RV and positioning it in a way that allows water to flow away from the RV.

By following these simple steps, you can ensure that your RV is properly prepared for washing, which will make the process easier and more effective.

Step-by-Step Guide to Washing Your RV

Washing your RV can seem like a daunting task, but with a step-by-step approach, you can make it a breeze. Follow these simple instructions to get your RV looking squeaky clean:

  1. Start with the roof: Before you begin washing the sides of your RV, it’s important to start at the top. Use a soft-bristled brush and gentle cleaning solution to scrub away any dirt or grime from the roof. Make sure to rinse thoroughly to prevent streaking.
  2. Prep the sides: Once the roof is clean, move on to the sides of the RV. Rinse down the sides to remove any loose dirt or debris before applying any cleaning solution. This will prevent scratches or damage to the paint.
  3. Work in sections: Divide the sides of your RV into manageable sections and wash one section at a time. Apply your cleaning solution with a soft-bristled brush, working from the top down. Make sure to rinse each section thoroughly before moving on to the next one.
  4. Clean the wheels and tires: The wheels and tires of your RV can accumulate a lot of dirt and grime. Use a specialized tire cleaner and tire brush to scrub away any buildup.

Tip: Be sure to clean the underside of your RV as well. This can help prevent rust and other damage over time.

Paying Attention to Details: Cleaning the RV Exterior Features

When it comes to RV washing, paying attention to details is crucial. While cleaning the exterior of your RV, it’s essential to give special attention to specific features to ensure a thorough clean. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Cleaning windows: Use a glass cleaner and a microfiber cloth to avoid scratches. Avoid using newspaper or paper towels as they can leave streaks.
  • Cleaning awnings: Before cleaning, ensure the awning is fully extended. Use a soft-bristle brush and mild soap to avoid damaging the fabric. Allow the awning to dry completely before retracting it.
  • Cleaning vents: Use a soft brush to dislodge dirt and debris from the vent. Avoid using water to clean it, as it can lead to leaks.
  • Cleaning slide-outs: Use a non-abrasive cleaner and a soft brush to clean the slide-outs. Rinse it thoroughly with water and dry it with a clean cloth.

By paying attention to these details, you can ensure that your RV’s exterior is thoroughly clean, and all the features are well-maintained.

Don’t Forget the Awning: Cleaning and Maintaining

Your RV’s awning is an essential feature that provides shade and shelter on sunny and rainy days. However, it’s also one of the features that can accumulate dirt, stains, and mildew. Regular cleaning and maintenance can ensure your awning remains in top shape and lasts longer. Here are some useful tips to keep in mind when cleaning and maintaining your RV’s awning:

Get the Right Cleaning Products:

Before you start cleaning your awning, make sure you have the necessary cleaning products. Look for cleaning solutions specially designed for RV awnings, which are usually mild and safe for use on vinyl, acrylic, and other materials. Avoid using harsh chemicals, such as bleach, that can damage the awning material.

Start with a Dry Cleaning:

Use a soft-bristled brush or broom to remove loose dirt, leaves, and debris from the awning’s surface. Be gentle to avoid scratching or tearing the material. You can also use a blower or compressed air to remove stubborn debris, such as spider webs or dried leaves.

Deep Clean the Awning:

Once you’ve removed the loose debris, you can proceed to deep clean your awning. Mix a solution of water and RV awning cleaner according to the product’s instructions. Use a soft sponge or cloth to apply the solution onto the awning’s surface, starting from the top and working your way down. Let the cleaner sit for a few minutes, then rinse thoroughly with a hose or pressure washer. Repeat if necessary.

Remove Stains and Mildew:

If your awning has stubborn stains or mildew growth, you can use a specialized cleaner or a homemade solution of white vinegar and water. Apply the solution onto the affected area and let it sit for a few minutes. Gently scrub the area with a soft brush or sponge, then rinse thoroughly with water. Avoid using abrasive tools or brushes that can damage the material.

Dry the Awning:

After washing and rinsing your awning, allow it to dry completely before retracting it. Use a clean towel or cloth to remove excess water and speed up the drying process. Avoid leaving the awning wet for extended periods, as this can promote the growth of mold and mildew.

Inspect and Maintain the Awning:

After cleaning your awning, inspect it for any signs of damage, such as tears, holes, or loose seams. Address any issues promptly, as they can worsen over time and require costly repairs. Additionally, consider using a UV protectant spray or wax to prevent sun damage and prolong the awning’s lifespan.

By following these tips, you can keep your RV’s awning clean, attractive, and functional for years to come. Regular cleaning and maintenance can also help you save money by avoiding premature replacement or repair costs.

Protecting and Preserving the RV Exterior

After a thorough RV washing, you want to make sure that your efforts are not in vain. One of the best ways to protect and preserve your RV’s exterior is by applying a coat of wax.

Waxing your RV every three to six months can help protect the paint and clear coat from UV damage, oxidation, and other environmental factors. It also provides a layer of protection against dirt and grime buildup.

When choosing a wax product, go for one specifically formulated for RVs. These products are usually easier to apply and remove, and can protect your RV for longer periods.

In addition to waxing, you can also use UV protectants on exterior surfaces such as rubber seals, plastic trims, and tires. These protectants can prevent these materials from drying, cracking, or fading due to exposure to sunlight.

Other best practices for maintaining your RV’s exterior include avoiding parking under trees or near bird droppings and keeping the RV covered when not in use.

By following these simple steps, you can ensure that your RV looks its best for years to come.

Cleaning the Interior of Your RV

Keeping the interior of your RV clean is just as important as the exterior. By regularly cleaning and maintaining the inside of your RV, you can ensure a comfortable and healthy living space for you and your family. Here are some helpful tips for RV interior cleaning:

Dusting and Vacuuming

Dust and dirt can accumulate quickly inside your RV, so it’s important to dust and vacuum regularly. Use a soft cloth or microfiber duster to gently clean surfaces, including countertops, tables, and cabinets. For carpets and upholstery, use a vacuum with a soft brush attachment to remove dirt and debris.

Sanitizing Surfaces

Sanitizing surfaces is essential to maintaining a hygienic living space inside your RV. Use a disinfectant cleaner to wipe down surfaces such as countertops, sinks, and toilets. Pay special attention to high-touch areas such as doorknobs, light switches, and handles.

Cleaning Appliances

Regularly cleaning appliances inside your RV can help extend their lifespan and ensure they function properly. Use a mild cleaner to wipe down the exterior of the refrigerator, stove, and microwave. For the oven, use a specialized oven cleaner to remove grease and grime.

Managing Odors

RVs can develop unpleasant odors due to cooking, moisture, and other factors. To keep your living space smelling fresh, consider using odor-neutralizing products such as air fresheners, deodorizing sprays, or diffusers with essential oils. Additionally, open windows and doors to allow for proper ventilation.

Preventing Stains

Stains can be a common problem in RVs, especially on carpets and upholstery. To prevent stains, consider using protective covers for furniture and mats for high-traffic areas. In case of spills, be sure to blot them immediately with a clean cloth to prevent the stain from setting.

Regularly cleaning the interior of your RV can help maintain a comfortable and healthy living space. By following these tips and techniques, you can ensure your RV stays in top condition for years to come.

Tips for Maintaining a Clean RV Interior

Keeping the interior of your RV clean and tidy is essential for both hygiene and comfort during your trips. Here are some tips to help you maintain a clean RV interior:

  • Dust and vacuum regularly: Dust can accumulate quickly in an RV due to the confined space. Regularly dust and vacuum to keep surfaces and carpets clean and free of debris.
  • Clean up spills immediately: Spills on upholstered furniture or carpets can quickly become stains if not cleaned up promptly. Keep a portable stain remover handy for quick spot-cleaning.
  • Organize and declutter: It’s easy for clutter to accumulate in an RV, making it feel cramped and disorganized. Make sure everything has a place and is put away after use.
  • Sanitize frequently touched surfaces: High-touch surfaces such as door handles, light switches, and countertops should be sanitized regularly to prevent the spread of germs.
  • Protect upholstery and surfaces: Upholstery and surfaces in an RV can be prone to wear and tear due to frequent use. Consider using protective covers or mats to help extend the life of these surfaces.

Following these tips can help you maintain a clean and comfortable RV interior.

Additional Tip:

If you have pets, consider using a handheld vacuum or lint roller to quickly clean up pet hair and dander.

Remember, regularly cleaning and maintaining your RV interior not only keeps it looking and smelling fresh, but it also helps prolong the life of your RV’s surfaces and furnishings.

For more RV maintenance tips, check out our article on RV maintenance.

Cleaning Techniques for Different RV Surfaces

When it comes to cleaning your RV, different surfaces may require different techniques. Here are some top RV cleaning techniques to help you get the job done:

Cleaning Fiberglass Surfaces

To clean fiberglass surfaces, start by rinsing your RV with water. Then, apply a fiberglass cleaner, using a soft brush to scrub the surface gently. Rinse the surface thoroughly and dry it with a soft cloth. You can also use a fiberglass wax to protect the surface from future damage.

Cleaning Aluminum Surfaces

To clean aluminum surfaces, rinse your RV with water to remove any loose dirt. Then, apply an aluminum cleaner, using a soft brush to scrub the surface. Rinse the surface thoroughly and dry it with a soft cloth. To protect the surface, apply an aluminum wax or polish.

Cleaning Rubber Roofs

To clean a rubber roof, start by sweeping away any loose dirt and debris. Then, apply a rubber roof cleaner, using a soft brush to scrub the surface. Rinse the surface thoroughly and allow it to air dry. To protect the surface, apply a rubber roof protectant.

Remember to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on any cleaning products you use on your RV. Using the wrong products or techniques could result in damage to your RV’s surfaces.

Troubleshooting Common RV Washing Challenges

Washing an RV is no easy feat, and while following the steps outlined in this article can greatly improve your chances of getting a successful clean, there are still potential issues that may arise. Knowing how to troubleshoot these common washing challenges can help you overcome them quickly and efficiently.

Streaks and Water Spots

If you find yourself with streaks and water spots on your RV after washing, the likely culprit is hard water. Hard water minerals can leave behind unsightly marks that are difficult to remove. To combat this, try using a water softener in your wash bucket or investing in an RV water softener for your whole RV system.

Stubborn Stains

Some stains, such as tree sap or bird droppings, can be particularly stubborn and difficult to remove. For these stains, try soaking a cloth or sponge in warm water and placing it over the stain for a few minutes. This should help loosen the stain and make it easier to remove.

Trapped Dirt

Even after a thorough wash, you may find that there is still some trapped dirt in hard-to-reach areas, such as around decals or on textured surfaces. For these areas, try using a soft-bristled brush or a toothbrush to gently scrub away the dirt. Alternatively, you can use compressed air to blast away any trapped dirt.

Uneven Cleaning

If you notice that certain areas of your RV are cleaner than others, it may be due to uneven pressure while washing. To ensure even cleaning, make sure to apply the same pressure and amount of cleaner to all areas of the RV. It may also be helpful to work in smaller sections, rather than trying to clean the entire RV at once.

By knowing how to troubleshoot these common RV washing challenges, you can ensure that your RV stays looking its best for years to come.

Safety Precautions While Washing an RV

When it comes to cleaning your RV, safety should always be a top priority. Here are some important safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Wear protective clothing, such as gloves and safety glasses, to protect your skin and eyes from chemicals.
  • Use a sturdy ladder and have someone else hold it steady while you work to prevent falls.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and watch out for low-hanging branches or power lines that could pose a danger.
  • Read all product labels carefully when choosing cleaning solutions and follow the instructions for safe use.
  • Never mix cleaning chemicals – this can create dangerous fumes.
  • Use a soft brush or sponge to avoid scratching the RV’s surface.
  • Avoid using high-pressure washers, as they can damage the RV’s exterior.
  • Make sure that your RV’s windows and doors are closed to prevent water from entering the vehicle.
  • Always use caution when working on the roof of the RV, as it can be slippery and unstable.

By following these simple safety precautions, you can ensure that your RV washing experience is not only effective but safe as well.

Time-Saving Tips for Efficient RV Washing

Washing an RV can be a time-consuming process, but it doesn’t have to be! With a few time-saving tips, you can make the most of your RV washing experience and get professional results without spending all day. Here are some best practices for washing an RV efficiently:

  1. Organize your cleaning supplies: Before you start washing your RV, make sure you have all the necessary cleaning supplies within reach. This will save you time and prevent unnecessary trips back and forth to your cleaning kit.
  2. Clean from top to bottom: Start with the roof and work your way down, so you don’t have to re-clean areas that get dirty from above. This will save you time and ensure a more efficient cleaning process.
  3. Use a pressure washer: A pressure washer can help you clean your RV faster and more thoroughly than a traditional hose. It can blast away dirt and grime from hard-to-reach areas, including the roof, gutters, and wheels.
  4. Wash in sections: Break up the RV washing process into manageable sections. This will help you work more efficiently and prevent you from feeling overwhelmed. For example, you could clean one side of the RV, then move on to the other.
  5. Invest in a quality RV cleaning solution: Using a high-quality RV-specific cleaning solution can save you time and effort. These solutions are specially formulated to remove dirt and grime from RV surfaces quickly and easily.
  6. Work in the shade: Working in direct sunlight can cause your cleaning solution to evaporate too quickly, making it harder to clean your RV. Instead, work in the shade to help your cleaning solution work its magic.
  7. Use a drying agent: After washing your RV, use a drying agent to help prevent water spots. This will save you time and effort later on, as you won’t have to go back and re-wash areas that have been marred by water spots.

By following these time-saving tips, you can make washing your RV a breeze. Not only will you save time, but you’ll also get professional-quality results that will keep your RV looking its best for years to come.

Environmental Considerations for RV Washing

While washing your RV is important for maintenance purposes, it’s also essential to consider the impact it has on the environment. By following these RV washing tips, you can reduce your water usage and minimize pollution:

  1. Choose the right location: Wash your RV on gravel or other permeable surfaces to prevent runoff from entering storm drains and nearby waterways.
  2. Use eco-friendly products: Choose cleaning solutions that are biodegradable and non-toxic to minimize the environmental impact.
  3. Minimize water usage: Use a low-pressure sprayer and turn off the water between rinses to conserve water. Consider using a waterless or low-water wash system.
  4. Avoid washing during drought conditions: Check with local authorities to ensure that washing your RV is allowed during periods of drought or water scarcity.

By implementing these RV washing tips, you can maintain a clean and well-cared-for RV while also reducing your environmental footprint.


Now that you have mastered the skill of washing your RV efficiently and safely, you can ensure that your vehicle remains in top condition for years to come. Remember, regular washing is essential for proper maintenance and can prevent costly damage caused by dirt and grime buildup. By following the step-by-step guide and utilizing the right cleaning supplies, you can make the process quick and easy.

Don’t forget to pay attention to the details, including cleaning the exterior features and awning, and protecting and preserving the RV exterior. Keeping the interior of your RV clean is just as important, and with the right techniques and tips, you can maintain a spotless living space.

If you encounter any challenges along the way, remember to refer to the troubleshooting section and take safety precautions to protect yourself and your RV. By using time-saving tips and considering environmental impact, you can wash your RV efficiently and sustainably.

Congratulations on learning how to wash an RV like a pro! With these skills and knowledge, you can enjoy a clean and well-cared-for vehicle on all your travels. Happy washing!


Q: How often should I wash my RV?

A: It is recommended to wash your RV at least once every three months or whenever it becomes visibly dirty. Regular washing helps maintain the exterior and prevents damage from dirt and grime buildup.

Q: What are the essential cleaning supplies needed to wash an RV?

A: Some essential cleaning supplies for washing an RV include RV-specific cleaning solutions, brushes, sponges, microfiber towels, a hose with adjustable nozzle, and a ladder or step stool for reaching higher areas.

Q: How should I prepare the exterior of my RV before washing?

A: Before washing your RV, it is important to remove loose dirt and debris using a soft brush or broom. Protect delicate surfaces such as decals and windows with painters tape, and ensure proper water drainage by closing all windows and compartments.

Q: What is the recommended step-by-step process for washing an RV?

A: The step-by-step process for washing an RV includes starting with the roof, then working your way down to the sides, front, and back. Use a gentle RV wash solution, rinse thoroughly, and dry the surfaces to prevent water spots.

Q: How do I clean specific exterior features of an RV, such as windows and awnings?

A: To clean RV windows, use a non-ammonia glass cleaner and a soft cloth. For awnings, use a mild detergent and a soft brush, scrubbing gently to remove dirt and grime. Rinse well and allow to dry completely before retracting.

Q: How do I clean and maintain my RV awning?

A: Regularly clean your RV awning by using a mild detergent, scrubbing gently with a soft brush, and rinsing thoroughly. Allow the awning to dry completely before retracting to prevent mold and mildew growth. Consider applying an awning protectant to extend its lifespan.

Q: How can I protect and preserve the exterior of my RV after washing?

A: Protect your RV’s exterior by applying a high-quality wax or UV protectant after washing. This helps to maintain the shine, prevent sun damage, and provide a protective barrier against dirt and grime.

Q: How do I clean the interior of my RV?

A: Clean the interior of your RV by dusting surfaces, vacuuming carpets and upholstery, and sanitizing countertops, floors, and appliances. Use appropriate cleaning products for different surfaces and follow manufacturer’s guidelines.

Q: How can I maintain a clean RV interior between deep cleanings?

A: To maintain a clean RV interior, reduce clutter by organizing and storing items properly. Use air fresheners or odor absorbers, regularly wipe down surfaces, and promptly clean up any spills or stains to prevent odors and permanent damage.

Q: What are the top cleaning techniques for different RV surfaces?

A: Cleaning techniques vary depending on the surface. For fiberglass, use a gentle cleaner and a soft brush. Aluminum can be cleaned with a mild detergent or aluminum cleaner. Rubber roofs may require a specific cleaner recommended by the manufacturer.

Q: What should I do if I encounter challenges while washing my RV?

A: If you encounter challenges such as difficult stains or trapped dirt, try using specialized cleaners or gentle scrubbing with the appropriate tools. Follow manufacturer’s instructions and consider seeking professional advice if needed.

Q: What safety precautions should I take while washing my RV?

A: Take safety precautions by using appropriate protective gear, such as gloves and eye protection. Use stable ladders or step stools, avoid overreaching, and be cautious when working at heights. Use cleaning products as directed and store them safely.

Q: How can I save time while washing my RV?

A: Save time by organizing your cleaning supplies and having everything easily accessible. Plan your cleaning process efficiently, work in sections, and use time-saving tools, such as power washers or extendable brushes.

Q: What are the environmental considerations for RV washing?

A: Minimize water usage by using a bucket instead of a hose when possible, and consider using eco-friendly cleaning products. Properly dispose of any waste materials and avoid washing your RV near bodies of water to prevent pollution.

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