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How to Clean an RV

Whether you own or rent a motorhome or trailer you will need to clean it as you camp and at the end of each trip. The best advice is to tackle it from the top-down and to work in sections. A useful tip for RV owners is to take the time to look for any maintenance or moisture issues as you clean. If you are renting you will not be required to wash the exterior, but you will be expected to tidy the inside and to drop it off in the condition it was at the time of pick-up.

Interior

A spring clean will certainly be more thorough than a good cleanse at a trip’s end. Below are some helpful suggestions for both.

The Essentials:

  • Multi-surface cleaner and/or biodegradable dish soap
  • Window cleaner or vinegar and water solution
  • Vacuum with attachments (generally not included in rentals)
  • Broom and dustpan
  • Paper towels, sponges, cloths
  • Squeegee
  • Optional – bathroom cleaner, disinfectant wipes, magic sponge

Air out the RV and wipe and dust all vents and filters, including the air conditioning unit. Set the cushions outside then vacuum or brush them off. Helpful tip: If travelling with a pet, bring a hand vac!

Wipe down and inspect the ceiling. Look for any spider webs and signs of moisture, such as bubbling.

Remove the window screens and gently hose them down outside. Wash and squeegee windows with a household window cleaner or vinegar and water.

Vacuum any drapes or blinds or remove the drapes to let them ‘breathe’ and shake the dust off outside. Dry clean when necessary.

Wipe down the kitchen cabinets with the recommended product and a soft cloth (wood cleaner or polish for wood, damp cloth for veneer or a mild cleanser for vinyl). Dust or wipe down the insides.

Use warm water and a degreasing soap to clean the stove and range hood. Remove the hood filter to clean it and let it fully dry before putting it back. For burnt-on stovetops or sticky countertops use a product and/or sponge more specific to the finish.

Clean and squeegee the shower area and use a toilet brush for the bowl. You may wish to purchase a biodegradable toss-in tablet to deodorize it. Mop or wipe the floor.

Broom and/or vacuum the floors and inside any closets and the under-the-bed storage if you have used it. Shake and air out all area rugs outside. To simplify cleaning in between trips, use a no-rinse floor cleaner for vinyl floors or floor wipes.

Exterior

Pick a cool day and, if possible, park the RV in shade when you clean it. Start with one side and work in sections, then tackle the roof, the other side, then the front and back. Scrub down the RV as you go and rinse off any soap.

Only apply wax in the shade and when the RV is dry. Work in small sections; wax on with one cloth, wax off with another.

The Essentials:

  • Hose with spray attachment (Pressure washers are NOT always recommended as they can loosen sealed/silicone areas; if you choose to use one do so on a low setting from a good distance, avoiding any areas with seals.)
  • Large bucket
  • Biodegradable soap or cleaning product for RV or marine use
  • Cleaning product for tires (specific to rubber)
  • Sponges and soft thistle brushes
  • Long-arm extendible brush for debris removal and scrubbing
  • RV cleaner wax (to remove soap spots, add lustre and help block UV rays)
  • Terry cloths for waxing
  • Clean cloths for wax removal

When cleaning any tires let the product set for a few minutes before rinsing and/or wiping them down. Avoid abrasive brushes or cleaners on chrome rims.

Do not scrub down the awning as this can weaken the fabric. A good ‘hose down’ with soap and water should do.

RVs will develop black streaks, which are caused when moisture runs down the sides of the unit and pulls dirt and pollutants with it. There are specific products on the market to clean these streaks, many of which are safe for the environment.

Rinse off any and fully dry out any RV or tire covers before setting them aside.

More useful tips:
RV Maintenance Tips for Keeping Your Exterior in Top Shape
7 Steps to Getting Your Camper or RV Ready for the Camping Season