I am an avid RV enthusiast who understands that my life and my safety depend on the condition of my coach's equipment.
If you are young and healthy enough to be able to detail your RV yourself, you’ll be happy to know that although doing this job is labor intensive, it is not difficult.
With prices for detailing skyrocketing in some places, learning how to do a basic detail job can save you a significant amount of money.
Some places charge as much as $39 per linear foot, which means that if you own a 40-foot long RV and want a full detailing job done on it, you’re going to pay $1560, and you’re going to have to pay that amount or more at least once each year for as long as you own your coach unless you can come up with a way to reduce those costs.
This means you need to either
- do the work yourself,
- try to negotiate or find lower prices or
- find a way to average out your costs.
What Will You Have to Pay for RV Detailing provides some good tips that will help you to decide which of the above options will work in your situation.
Learn What You Need to Know
It is important for you to understand that if there are problems such as oxidation or extreme deterioration, you shouldn't try to detail your coach yourself because you will not have the knowledge, materials or equipment to be successful at it.
Barring those issues, you still will need to read the manufacturer's manuals to make sure that the products you'll be using won't harm your coach.
You must make sure that any product you use does not use petroleum distillates, citric ingredients or harsh abrasives and any cleaning tools you use won't scratch the walls of your RV.
Items that I discuss in this article will meet these requirements.
What Does Detailing Entail?
Detailing is a word that has different meanings to different people.
- For some, it is basically giving your RV a good wash and wax once every six months or so.
- For others, it means doing the whole “Monty” once or twice a year.
The whole Monty, in addition to washing, sealing the roof and waxing the coach, would include things like washing and dressing tires, cleaning awnings, steam cleaning the engine and generator compartments, completely wiping, washing, dusting, vacuuming and cleaning the entire interior of the coach including the carpets, upholstery, ceilings, shower, toilet, sinks, and drawer and closet interiors.
The truth is that not all of these things need to be done every time you want to clean up your RV. Instead, you can use an easy way to wash and wax that takes little time and costs almost nothing to do and then clean the interior as needed.
Here is what you’ll need to do if you like this idea.
Wash and Wax Methods
As noted above, if your coach has not been detailed in less than a year, you would do well to pay someone to do this job for you.
If you’ve had this work done within that time frame, then you can use the method discussed here to maintain your coach between professional detailing jobs.
If you look at some of the YouTube videos about washing and waxing an RV, you’ll see that each person (and each detailer) has his own way of doing this job and his own favorite products, so watching them can be a bit confusing.
What I want to show you here is the easiest way to wash and wax your coach to keep it maintained in between professional detailing jobs.
You will not be using heavy duty products with this method, but you will be keeping your coach well maintained and protected from the elements.
If you use this method regularly, you should only have to hire a professional detailer once every 18 months or so.
Park your RV on cement so that you’re not standing in mud while working.
Use methods and products that help you to do the basic job in the shortest amount of time and with the least amount of effort on your part.
Ask at least one other person to help you. More is definitely better!
Understand that there are three areas you’ll need to wash and wax and that they should be cleaned in this order:
- the roof,
- the windows and body and
- the tires.
For the method we are using, you will use the Meguier’s product on all surfaces.
Products and Tools List
This is a list of products and tools that will make your job safe and easy to do:
- a 100 foot extendable hose,
- a tall ladder,
- an extendable long handled brush with a synthetic lambs wool head,
- an extendable long handled soft bristle brush,
- synthetic lambs wool mitts,
- 2 grit guards,
- an all plastic long handled squeegee that has no screws in the head,
- a soft, natural fiber sponge,
- two large buckets and
- several microfiber towels.
- Meguier’s Ultimate Wash and Wax,
- Armor All Extreme Tire Shine,
- roof sealant,
- roof sealing tape or caulk,
- Sonax wheel cleaner and
- Sonax wheel sealant.
Products and Tools Discussion
Here is some helpful information regarding a few of the best tools and products to use when you do your own RV detailing:
A good hose choice would be a 100 foot extendable one because when you’re climbing around on the roof or trying to reach the other side of the coach, the light weight of such a hose makes the job much less awkward.
We have tried standard rubber hoses but they are just too heavy and unwieldy to use, especially on RV roofs.
Cleaning Brushes, Mops and Mitts
There are two types of cleaning tools you might want to use for detailing your RV depending on it's type of exterior walls.
1. The first one is an extendable brush manufactured by Camco. We prefer it to other brands because it has features, such as the water controller, that other types of long pole brushes do not have.
Since Camco is a leader in the manufacture of RV products, my husband and I know that when we buy this brand, it will not harm our RV and will do a good job for us. We also know that it will last us a long time, as all Camco products do.
We know a number of people who use and swear by this product. All of us agree that one of this product's best features is that the extension pole when tucked into itself, makes it very easy to store.
2. The other product is a wool mop head. It comes with a holder that attaches to standard extension poles. This is a must have product to use on units that have clear or gel coated external walls because it extremely gentle. Also, the attachable head swivels which makes reaching areas such as those behind side mirrors easy.
We used this product when we owned a gel coated Country Coach, and it really did protect the finish. I've talked to many other RV owners who said they felt that using this product along with a wool washing mitt made washing their coaches much easier than simply using brushes and rags to get the job done.
You may want to use both products when washing your coach because some areas get dirtier than others and will need brushing action, while others are more delicate and may need mopping action.
For example, you don't want to be using a brush on windows, especially if they have been treated with a tinting product.
A Grit Guard is a gizmo that you place in the bottom of a bucket that separates the debris from the water so that you when you dunk your cleaning tool into the water the debris stays on the bottom of the bucket and keeps your brush or mop head clean.
They are inexpensive to own and really help to eliminate damage to RV sidewalls. You can find them on Amazon or at your local RV parts store.
The Best RV Wash and Wax Product
The best and easiest product to wash and wax Your RV with is Meguier’s Ultimate Wash and Wax. This product saves a huge amount of detailing time and will enhance but not remove your RV’s wax job.
We have tried other wash and wax combo products, but most of them don't make enough suds and some leave a haze behind once they dry. Many other people have told us that they have seen the same hazing issue. Meguire's will not haze.
It also makes a lot of suds which allows us to clearly see where we’ve been and where we need to go! Additionally, the Carnauba wax in its formula really makes our RV shine.
Everybody we've met who has used this product has raved about it, and all of them were right!
Please note, however, that the wax job will not be the same as if done by hand with a paste. However it will protect your unit between professional detailing jobs and keep it looking beautiful.
The attached video will show you how to use this product.
By the way, all of these products are great to use for any vehicle you own!
Directions and Warnings for Roof Cleaning
Warning: No matter what you are cleaning, do not use a power sprayer. Doing so can cause serious damage to your coach.
Use the Meguier’s product to wash and wax every exterior portion of your RV.
- Close all ceiling vents and windows,
- open awnings over slide rooms to protect them from overflowing water
- wear rubber soled shoes to keep you from slipping,
- make sure to step only on the rafters,
- place all cleaning materials on the roof,
- climb up onto the roof.
- Rinse the entire roof off with fresh water.
- start working at the front and slowly move towards the back,
- never walk backwards,
- clean a small section at a time with the Meguire's,
- rinse each section immediately with clear water before moving onto the next one,
- continue doing this until you have finished the entire roof, making sure to wash and rinse carefully around vents, air conditioners and other attachments.
When finished, hand your equipment down to another person, and then climb down.
Once the roof dries, apply a silicone sealant around all edges , seams and attachments to protect against leakage.
You’ve just completed step one of your detailing job!
Washing and Waxing the RV Body
Use Meguier’s to wash and wax your entire unit along with the appropriate items from the above list.
- Spray the entire coach with fresh water to get rid of surface dust and debris.
- Place the grit guard in the bucket that holds the product.
- Put three caps full of Meguier’s into the bucket with the grit guard, making sure to move the hose around when filling to help create more suds.
- Fill the other bucket with fresh water.
- Use the long handled cleaning tools to brush the sudsy water onto one side of the coach.
- Dip it into the fresh water bucket regularly to clean off any debris (Change water as needed).
- Once the first side of the coach is covered with suds, rinse them off.
- Use the long handled squeegee to eliminate excess water.
- Then use your synthetic lambs wool mitts, long handled synthetic mop to wipe off excess water.
- Dry off any remaining water with a microfiber cloth that you fold such that you have 8 surfaces.
- Do the same for the other side of the coach as well as the front and rear panels.
Your RVs exterior body should now be clean, dry and shiny.
If you like, you can open the awnings and wash them down using the same method.
Tire Cleaning and Treating
You have already washed the tires, but do a quick wash again to make sure they are clear of all dirt and debris.
Your next job is to treat them with Armor All Extreme Shine. Doing this will keep them from drying out and cracking and will make them look great. The directions on the bottle will tell you how to do this.
Once you have treated the tires, it’s time to clean and seal the wheels. I have found a fantastic tire cleaning product called Sonax that makes this job so easy to do that is ridiculous. Watch the video and see for yourself!
The same is true for the Sonax sealer that you put onto the wheels after cleaning to keep them from deteriorating. We have used other products for this job, but nothing that compares to this one.
In an RV it’s difficult to do the inside of the wheels unless you can put the coach on a lift, but at least the outside will look great and be protected!
Using Sonax makes detailing your RV's tires extremely easy to do and leaves them wonderfully clean and well protected.
I have shared this video with other RV owners and also told people I've met during camping trips about this product. A good number said they also use it and are very happy with it. After seeing our tires, the rest have said they're going to order some asap from Amazon because what they've been using is much more work and doesn't do as good a job.
The End (for Now)
Although this may seem like a lot of work, it really is fairly easy to do. If you like, you can break it up into three different areas that you do over several days to make detailing the exterior of your coach less labor intensive.
Knowing that you’ll be saving hundreds of dollars should make this job more palatable!
How to Clean and Sanitize the Interior of Your RV explains how to do a basic interior detailing job, so I won’t cover that issue here.
All you need to know is that it's important to take care of the inside of your coach regularly in order to keep it sanitary, looking good and also to help you retain your coach's value.
What I’ve written here is the best and easiest way for people to detail their recreational vehicles in between those times when they have to pay a pro to do a deep detailing job.
Hopefully, this information will help you to keep your RV in good condition while also saving money.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2018 Sondra Rochelle
Sondra Rochelle (author) from USA on April 26, 2019:
You would do the interior the same way as any other RV but only do the hard part of the body on the outside. You may also be able to clean the canvas, but check with the manufacturer to see what will work best.
Margie Anagnos on April 26, 2019:
How to detail interior and exterior on a Pop Up Camper