Best RV Washes: Maintain and Protect Your Camper
Effectively wash away all the dirt on your RV with these cleaners
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Taking care of a recreational vehicle requires a lot of time and effort to keep it in good shape. It gets exposed to harsh weather elements and often gets dirty if you are a frequent camper. RV wash products help make your work easier because they are great for cleaning the RV’s body, and most are formulated to add a layer of protection. Our buying guide features some ideal RV wash options for your consideration.
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Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of RV Washes
- Protect from weather and damage. Along with cleaning the surface, an RV wash also leaves a protective coat. The film that sits on the surface after the application prevents damage from weather elements and keeps dirt, dust, and debris away. It also prevents scratches, paint chips, fading, and more.
- Prolong RV lifespan. By keeping your RV clean at all times, you prolong its overall lifespan. A clean surface is more protected and resistant to damage, which means it will stay in top shape longer.
- Reduce maintenance. An RV wash will also help you prolong the time between cleanups. By washing your vehicle regularly, you keep it in top condition and reduce the need for excessive, time-consuming cleanups. The maintenance becomes easier and saves you money in the long run.
- Enhance vehicle appearance. Many RV washes contain conditioners and waxes that make the vehicle's surface shiny. By using them, you can achieve showroom results and show off with a sparkling-clean RV during your camping adventures.
Types of RV Washes
Spray-on washes are the easiest to apply. They come in convenient bottles with spray nozzles that quickly spread the liquid onto the surface. You can spray with one hand and wipe the product clean with the other by using microfiber towels or pads.
The downside to this RV wash type is the cost. Spray-on washes usually come in compact bottles that are convenient for passenger cars but too small for large RV surfaces. Therefore, while you may want to keep a spray-on wash for spot cleaning, you might need several bottles to wash the entire RV.
This type makes the most versatile option for cleaning RVs. Liquid washes come in large 32-ounce or 1-gallon bottles, and you often get to choose the size according to your needs. They can be applied by hand or a power tool, which makes cleaning very easy.
Typically, one bottle of liquid RV wash lasts for several applications on most vehicles. However, those who have big vehicles and travel frequently might want to consider getting a large bottle just in case.
Pastes are those RV washes that have waxes, usually carnauba. They clean and maintain the surface efficiently, leaving a thick film for more protection over time. They’re an excellent choice for those who want to achieve shiny results.
However, pastes are sometimes challenging to apply and wipe clean. Most RVers opt for spray-on or liquid washes that contain waxes instead of getting real pastes for cleaning their vehicles. Still, some people like to use them occasionally for enhancing the vehicle's look.
Chemical Guys is a company that specializes in car-care chemicals, washing accessories, tools, and more. It was founded in 1968 and is based in Southern California. With a long tradition of top-notch automotive products, Chemical Guys remains one of the first choices among drivers. The Chemical Guys Citrus Wash & Gloss is one of the company's most purchased and best-rated cleaning products.
TR Industries was founded in the 1970s as a division of Granitize Products Inc. It's a family-owned company located in South Gate, Calif. We find it highly popular among drivers who need reliable products for cleaning, protecting, polishing, and waxing their vehicles. The Gel-Gloss RV Wash & Wax is one of those products that allows for a cost-efficient and effective vehicle cleaning.
Meguiar's was founded in 1901 and is located in Irvine, Calif. Being on the market for more than 100 years with high-quality and affordable products, the company gained a special place in the automotive industry. Meguiar’s Marine/RV One Step Cleaner Wax is one of its products that makes an excellent choice for RVers.
RV Washes Pricing
- Under $20: The most inexpensive washes come in small spray-on and liquid bottles. They’re efficient and durable, but in most cases not large enough for cleaning RVs thoroughly. For spot cleaning or detailing, RV washes at this price point are hard to beat.
- $20 and up: For a couple more bucks, you can get large cleaner bottles or kits with washes, conditioners, and waxes. Some of them even come with cleaning pads and towels. For the higher price, you get everything you need to wash your RV and make it shiny for the long term.
First and foremost, it's crucial to determine the RV wash’s compatibility with the vehicle's surface. Not all of them are suitable for all material types, so it's important to choose carefully to avoid accidental damage.
Some RV washes have versatile formulas that work on plastic, glass, metals, and more. These are great for a thorough cleanup of the entire RV, and they make a smart investment. Therefore, consider whether you prefer getting an all-purpose cleaner or several different products for washing and maintaining your vehicle.
Another important thing to consider is the protection an RV wash offers. Those who travel several times a year might want to get a product that provides strong weather protection. If you travel during summer, you want to get a wash that repels UV rays.
On the other hand, winter demands a conditioner that will protect the surface from low temperatures, water, snow, ice, and more. Some products offer protection from all possible weather threats, but they’re usually more expensive.
RV washes are highly popular because they not only wash the surface, but also keep it clean for a long time. They’re known to create a protective coat that repels dirt, dust, and debris from the vehicle. However, the longevity of the protective film differentiates from one product to another. Some will last longer than others, which is why it's essential to consider each product's durability before buying.
An RV wash should be free from chemicals and abrasives that could damage the surface. Toxic formulas might scratch or dent the paint as well as cause corrosion and premature aging. Look for nontoxic products with high scores in scratching and hazing tests.
We also recommend getting washes with biodegradable and environmentally friendly formulas because they’re safer for the planet. Moreover, after the purchase, make sure to test the product on a small area before applying it to the entire surface.
- Application. The ease of application shouldn't be neglected, either. Not all RV washes are easy to spread and wipe clean; some of them require quite a bit of elbow grease. Before buying, consider whether you want a spray-on, liquid, or paste wash. There are even waterless products you can use for when a water source is not nearby.
- Tools and Accessories. For efficient and thorough surface cleaning, it's important to get accessories such as pads, brushes, and fiberglass towels. All of these work wonders on RVs and make washing surfaces simple. If you have a large RV and travel frequently, you might want to consider getting a powerful tool like a pressure washer.
Best RV Washes Reviews & Recommendations 2020
- Most RV wash agents leave a residue if applied on a warm or hot surface. To prevent this, you can wash your RV under shade or on a cloudy day and ensure that the surface is cool before applying the wash.
- Do not use a hard-bristled scrubber or brush to apply the RV wash. Some harsh chemicals may remove the wax or the paintwork, and the scrubber may leave scratch marks on the body. Instead, use a cloth or a sponge to work the wash over the surface.
- If you are using a pressure sprayer to rinse the wash, hold the nozzle at correct angles to avoid detaching or breaking the side mirrors and windows. Change the pressure setting to low when you get to those parts.
- Consider using a ladder when cleaning the roof of the RV. You should have someone else around to hold the ladder for you and dry the steps as you come down. Get on all fours to avoid sliding off the roof.
Q: Can I use an RV wash to clean the interior?
A: Most RV washes can be used to clean insect residues, food stains, and other dirty surfaces in your vehicle’s interior. However, most of the cleaning agents have a strong smell that you may not want lingering in your vehicle’s interior. Do not use it to clean your upholstery. Check the instructions on the packaging to determine where you can use the product.
Q: Will RV wash remove car polish?
A: It depends on the chemical formulation of the product you choose. Avoid using products with harsh chemicals if you want to preserve your RV’s original wax coat. A safe bet would be an eco-friendly cleaner with no harmful chemicals that may strip off the polish. However, most eco-friendly products aren’t the best at removing tough stains.
Q: How often should I wash my RV?
A: Ideally, you should wash your RV with a high-quality RV wash and wax at least twice a year. If it’s a great product and you don’t use your vehicle often, your RV will look clean and glossy for most parts of the year. You can clean it more often if your RV is often exposed to dirt to keep it well protected from weather and road elements.
Our top pick is the Chemical Guys Citrus Wash & Gloss. It’s helpful when removing dirt from your RV and offers long-lasting protection from harsh road and weather elements.
The Gel-Gloss RV Wash & Wax is a budget-friendly RV wash that’s capable of maintaining the mint condition of your vehicle. It’s protective and adds a layer of UV-resistant carnauba wax.