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Maintaining the new look of your RV

by Tom Jones

The subject of how to wash and protect the surface of your RV is hotly debated, with each contingent favoring their particular method. Listed below are some of the options available, including some used/recommended by forum members. Personally, I apply a liquid car polish to my painted coach twice a year and use the first option below to wash in between polishes. I don't wish to imply that this is any better or worse than any of the other methods, but it works for me.

Washing the rig

  • Rinse off loose dirt and wash with liquid car soap. Some campgrounds allow washing of vehicles while others do not and some charge a fee for water usage.
  • Some local car washes have a special bay for big vehicles.
  • Pressure washers. However, be advised that the high pressure could cause damage to caulking, window and slideout seals and furnance and water heater hardware. Consult your owners manual before using this method.
  • Truck washes using manual labor to wash the coach with brushes and hoses. They'll even wash the roof and hand wipe it down. Blue Beacon is a nationwide chain of truck washes found next to some truck stops.
  • DriWash & Guard, as it's name implies, is a waterless wash which leaves a protective film on the surface.

Removing bugs and black streaks

Bugs and black streaks provide additional challenges. Bugs are easier to remove if you tackle them as soon as you arrive at a destination or campground, rather than letting them dry or bake on.

  • Some forum members have reported using Korkay, a black streak remover. It also takes bugs off very quickly. Spray the area and let sit for a minute, then wipe off. You will have to replace any wax/treatment you have done but it really removes almost anything from the surface.
  • Bug Magic removes bugs and black streaks. Follow the directions and do not apply on hot surfaces.
  • Some folks use mineral spirits to take off the old dried bugs, followed by soap and water.

Protecting the surface and keeping the bugs off

Sun is the biggest culprit in degrading the surface of your RV. The best method of protecting it will depend on whether it's a painted surface or fiberglass with a thin layer of gel coat.

Painted surfaces

  • Liquid car waxes are easy to apply and protect painted surfaces.
  • ProtecAll reportedly does an excellent job of protecting painted surfaces and making it easy to wash the bugs off. Being liquid, it's easy to apply.
  • DriWash & Guard, a waterless wash, leaves a good protective film on the surface.

Gel coat surfaces

  • A heavy carnuba-based paste wax is the best, longest-lasting protection for a gel coat surface. A recent test by Powerboat Reports provides some hard data to support this.

Rubber roof cleaning

Use a sponge mop or RV brush for the general clean-up and a log-handled scrubbing brush for the tough spots. The bristles should NOT be too stiff because the rubber can be abraded fairly easily.

  • Water with a good detergent (Spic & Span granular detergent, Simple Green, Mean Green or similar liquid detergent) and some bleach added. Make sure the detergent you use does not warn against adding bleach - a few types are incompatible.
  • ProtectAll makes a rubber roof cleaner that is reportedly effective.
  • Oxy-clean combines detergent with bleaching action.
  • Avoid mineral spirits and other petroleum-based solvents that can loosen the glue that holds down the rubber.