3 Commonly Neglected Areas of RV Exterior Maintenance

Make sure to maintain these 3 RV exterior sections

Washing an RV exterior
••• Cleaning your RV's exterior will make it shiny and new, just like day you drove it off the lot. Seb Oliver/Cultura Exclusive/Getty Images

Cleaning your RV may seem like a challenge. Most RVs and trailers are the size of a small apartment. If you don't have the time to clean your own home, why should you worry about your RV? RVs are susceptible to wear and tear worse than where you call home. Being on the road often, parking in the dirt, and traveling put your RV through more than your home is ever subjected to in life. With these pro tips for cleaning the exterior of your RV, you can rest assured it looks as good as new on and off the road.

3 Brief Guides for Maintaining Your RV’s Exterior

RV Windows

RV windows can be cleaned, for the most part, like regular windows on your car or at home. You can use a cleaner, such as Windex, to clean the exterior and interior of the window. You’ll wash your RV windows like you’d wash any other window with the following tools:

  • A squeegee
  • Glass cleaner
  • Paper towels or washcloths

A squeegee is one of the best tools you’ll use to clean any windows effectively. Spray window cleaner on the window. Don’t go overboard. Then, move the squeegee in either horizontal or vertical stroke from one side of the window to the other. Pick the squeegee up and do it again. If excess cleaner remains, continue using the squeegee until it’s wiped away. You can also use a paper towel or washcloth to soak up that excess moisture in the corners and against the window frames.

Depending on the type of windows you opt to install, you may need to use a special cleaner recommended by the manufacturer.

Consider that before cleaning your windows to ensure you don't damage them.

Pro Tip: If you have specialty RV windows installed by the manufacturer or down the line, make sure to ask about cleaning instructions. Follow these to the letter to keep these types of windows in tip top shape.

RV Tires

Tire maintenance is an important part of owning a car, RV, or any vehicle.

Cleaning RV tires isn't hard; it takes a bit of elbow grease. Before cleaning your tires, refer to the manufacturer's guidelines for tire care, especially when it comes to all-season tires and snow tires. In general, you'll need the following to clean RV tires:

  • A garden hose
  • A tire brush
  • Tire cleaner

Wash down each tire with the hose. Use the tire brush to get into the hard to reach crevices of the tire, paying special attention to any build up or residue in those areas. Wash the tires down one more time before applying tire cleaner. Let the tire cleaner sit for three to five minutes, then rinse and repeat until your tires look as good as new.

Pro Tip: Not all tire cleaner is the same. Don’t pick up what’s cheapest on the shelf. Do your research for your tires to find the right name brand product to get them looking like new.

RV Roof

RV roofs take punishment from the sun, as our skin on a bright day. Over time, an RV roof can warp, creating break off points. These points lead to cracking. If the cracking is bad enough and not taking care of, parts of your roof can roll off over time. By cleaning and maintaining the roof, you can avoid these issues from the start. Again, check with the manufacturer of your RV about how to clean your roof.

If you have a rubber RV roof, you'll need to stay away from petroleum-based cleaning products. If you have a standard RV roof, using a garden hose or running it through the carwash can make the process easier. Before you begin, for general roof cleaning, you'll need the following:

  • A ladder
  • A garden hose
  • A broom
  • Roof cleaner

Never, ever climb on the top of your RV roof to clean it. Once wet, the surface will be slippery, and you're liable to fall. Use a ladder, move it around as necessary, and take the time to hose down the roof. Once hosed down, use the broom to wash away any excess water and start working some of the buildups on the roof.

Then, wash the roof down again and apply roof cleaner. Let the roof cleaner sit for about ten to 15 minutes depending on how dirty the roof is, and then use the broom to scrub the roof.

Wash down the roof with the hose once more and repeat as necessary. This is a rinse and repeat process, so don’t rush it.

Pro Tip: If your RV roof is cracked, buckled, or warping, take it to a service center as soon as possible. By dealing with roofs issues when they occur, you’ll avoid spending more money on repairs down the line to keep your RV roof in good condition.

Should You Power Wash an RV?

Some RVers swear by power washing their RV; others would never attempt it. It comes down to personal preference and the type of RV you own. Power washing can cause damage to the roof and paint job of some models, depending on how they are built and what type of parts they're made of. Refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines on cleaning your RV’s exterior and consider calling your dealership to ask what they recommend.

You should wash the exterior of your RV at least once a quarter, if not more depending on how often you travel and where you go. Some areas of the country will make your RV look far dirtier than you could imagine, so it's up to personal preference. The cleaner you keep your RV, the easier it will be to avoid the normal wear and tear from traveling throughout the year.