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Old 05-23-2012, 04:35 PM   #1
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How to wash, polish and wax your RV or Motorhome

How to wash, polish and wax your RV or Motorhome

I received an e-mail with some questions about how-to take care of the exterior of smaller, C Class RV's

With the permission of April, I've posted her inquiry here to our forum with my answers and links to products that will make the job of cleaning, polishing and maintain an RV faster and easier while maximizing the owners time, efforts and investments.

Originally Posted by April
Hi Mike,

I'm writing an article for Small RV Life with recommendations on how to care for small RV's, especially now when love bugs are already out.

I like how your site as well as your discussion forum offers help and education and would like to offer a guide of sorts to my readers, including links to specific products, or maybe some kits that contain a collection of product to tackle RV specific projects.

Here are some of my questions, which may take more than one article to present adequetly...

Hi April,

Here at Autogeek we carry over 60 brands with thousands of products all of which work great and our customers all have their favorites. Too keep things easy, I'll try to show examples from just a few lines of products and if your readers have any questions or want more information about the below products or any other products we carry then I encourage them to call our Customer Care Hotline where our expert staff is always available to help.

Originally Posted by April
1. What are steps throughout the year, like a calendar, of regular RV care maintenance? What are the recommended products and equipment?
Because of the large size of most RV’s, most owners will want to take regular care of their RV but use high quality products so the work is done right the first time and thus will endure over time. Things like using a quality wax or sealant on the exterior pays off because it will last longer and protect longer so the owner doesn’t have to wax the RV as often.

Again, due to the size of most RV’s, even small RV's, washing and waxing an RV can take a day or a couple of days depending upon what’s involved and most RV owners would rather do it right the first time so they won’t have to do this type of maintenance often.

Exterior RV Maintenance
With that said, where the RV is stored and how the RV is stored are HUGE factors as to when to perform maintenance.

If you live in a wet climate, like my parents who live in Florence, Oregon, it rains a lot and my Dad like to machine apply a coat of wax to his RV twice a year, once at the end of summer before the rainy season sets in and then a second time in the spring before summer temperatures begin to climb.

If you live in Arizona, rain is not a concern but exposure to the harmful UV rays from the sun, plus dirt and dust in the air caused the windy conditions are factors that must be addressed.

A good rule of thumb for either geographical and environmental regions is to wash your RV as often as needed to maintain a clean appearance and wax your RV at least once a year or more often, like twice a year as this will ensure the exterior doesn’t deteriorate plus looks new throughout the year.

For washing RV’s, you want to use non-detergent washes formulated to clean without stripping previously applied waxes and/or paint sealants and also because they are less harsh to gel-coat surfaces which can become dried out when using a detergent like dish soap. When gel-coat has become dried-out it will oxidize more readily, so it’s very important not to wash gel-coat finishes with detergent soaps.

Another option is to use a waterless wash, with a waterless wash you spray a heavy coat of product onto the surface and then wipe the surface clean. A quality waterless wash will hyper-lubricate the surface to prevent instilling scratches while cleaning and then wipe off to a bright shine.

Recommended products
Many of these products are from our Detailer's Pro Series line of professional grade products but they are completely compatible with materials and coatings used in the assembly of RV's.

Detailer’s Pro Series Auto Bath Shampoo

Detailer’s Pro Series Xtreme Foam Formula Shampoo - For use with Foam Guns

Autogeek's Foam Gun - For use with a Garden Hose

Detailer’s Pro Series Waterless Wash Concentrate & Secondary Detail Spray Bottle

10" Montana's Boar's Hair Brush - More Styles & Sizes of Montana's Boar Hair Brushes

5-Gallon Bucket with Grit Guard and Dolly with Lid

Extendable Handle

Dress and protect tires
The rubber used to make tires is actually very complex in its composition. To help prevent weathering and cracking, the rubber formula includes an ingredient called antiozonant. As your tires rotate under speed, the antiozonant works its way out to the surface of the sidewall to replenish old antiozonant. When this antiozonant is exposed to the atmosphere, the ozone in the air turns the antiozonant on your tire brown.

That's why you see tires turn brown, it's a chemical reaction between the life-extending ingredient antiozonant deteriorating when it meets ozone. To restore a dark, black look to your tires all you need to do is scrub the sidewall with a safe, but effective cleaner to remove the brown residue also called blooming, and then apply a tire dressing.

Detailer's Pro Series Cleanse-All Exterior Cleaner

Detailer's Pro Series Wheel Cleaner

Detailer's Pro Series Gloss Tire Gel

Cobra Flex Foam Tire Dressing Applicators 3 Pack

Daytona Speed Master Wheel Brush

Lug Nut Brush

Finger Pockets - 3 Pack

8 inch Montana Original Boar’s Hair Wheel Brush

Utility Tire & Wheel Brushes

Mike Phillips - Director of Training

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Old 05-23-2012, 04:36 PM   #2
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Re: RV Exterior Maintenance Guide


A good choice for protecting the exterior is to use what is called a Cleaner/Wax, that is a wax that will clean, polish and protect in one step. One-step products are popular for large items like RVís and Boats because it takes too long and requires a lot of extra work to do a multiple-step process such as using a dedicated cleaner, a dedicated polish and then follow with a dedicated non-cleaning wax.

If your RV has a neglected finish, that is it shows signs of oxidation, swirls and scratches, which is especially common to RVís with gel-coat finishes, (which oxidize easily), then a quality product for this is the Pinnacle XMT 360 Cleaner/Wax which is formulated for machine application with easy to use tools like the Porter Cable 7424XP. The XMT 360 is available in both 16 ounces and 32 ounce options

If your RV has an automotive clear coat finish in excellent condition, (common to high end RVís), then a long lasting paint sealant like Detailerís Pro Series Poli-Coat Paint Sealant which is available in both 16 ounces and 32 ounces for large items like RVís.

Typically youíll need at least a half a dozen polishing pads to restore a neglected RV finish with a cleaner/wax. You can wash these pads and re-use them but from a "time" point of view, it will be a lot faster to replace a pad that has become dirt with oxidation and wet with product with a clean, dry pad then it will be to wash and dry the pad for re-use.

If you're working on an RV and the exterior finish is in new or excellent condition, then you can probably get away with 2-3 pads to machine apply a paint sealant to an RV with a clear coat finish.

The Porter Cable 7424XP is lightweight and easy to use and takes all the work out of applying wax but it doesn't come with a backing plate so you'll need to get one separately, and you'll also want to stock up on some "Polishing" pads, in the Lake Country Line of pads these are the "white" foam pads and they are very versatile yet safe to use.

Porter Cable 7424XP

Lake Country 5.5Ē Foam Polishing Pads

Lake Country 5Ē Backing Plate

Originally Posted by April
2. What are steps to take for bug removal for Class C RVís where there is the automobile finishes of the bumper/hood, and then the gel-coat, fiberglass, decals, etc of the coach? Does this approach apply to tar and sap as well?
Bug Splatter should be removed as soon as possible because the acids inside the bug can actually etch clear coat paints and stain gel-coat surfaces. If the bug splatter has dried then the best way to remove it is to first soften it with water and products specifically made to dissolve and remove dried bug splatter.

Diamondite Bug Eraser Kit

Poorboy's World Bug Squash

Safe Scrub Bug & Tar Pad

Removing tar usually requires a solvent that will dissolve the tar so it can be wiped off without harming gel-coat or painted surfaces.

Tar Remover

Removing tree sap can often be done by using a tar remover but different types of trees emit different types of tree sap and different types of tree sap can either come off easily or with great difficulty. If someone runs into problems removing Tree Sap from their RV we recommend they either call us or post their questions to our RV forum here,

Autogeek Discussion Forum

Originally Posted by April
3. How can an average RV owner clean the high spots, in particular the cab-over area that is subject to insects, but the where the hood is in the way of a ladder? Some had used the Black & Decker 18-volt Power Scrubber with a 14ft reach, which is now discontinued.
In order to wash, clean and wax the elevated areas of a Motorhome safely, you really need to invest in the right scaffolding that will enable you to stand and work at elevated heights. I don't recommend trying to do this kind of work using a common ladder as it's too easy to fall and get hurt.

Pressure washers are another option and work really well with the right cleaning soaps and tools like the Foam Cannon.

Detailerís Pro Series Xtreme Foam Formula Shampoo - For use with Foam Guns

Autogeek Foam Cannon - For use with a Pressure Washer

Here's are some examples of scaffolding available at your local hardware and home supply stores,

Originally Posted by April
4. What are the must-haves while out on the road where there are limitations to space (length, weight and volume), and no access to a water hose?
Keeping your RV clean without access to a source of free flowing water is often a challenge; this same issue often confronts mobile detailers, people that live in apartments and condos, areas under water restrictions or in drought conditions.

The good news is there products now available just for this purpose. They work by using high lubricity cleaning solutions to loosen and remove dirt while leaving a scratch-free finish with a shiny, just detailed look.

Detailer's Pro Series Waterless Auto Wash = Ready To Use

The key to getting great results using a waterless wash is to have plenty of premium quality microfiber towels handy so as you remove dirt and road grime off your RV and onto the microfiber towel, you can set dirty towels aside and switch to a new, clean microfiber towel.

Cobra Supreme 530 Microfiber Towel - Pair

Originally Posted by April
5. Any thoughts on Thetfordís Premium RV Black Streak & Bug Remover? Does this product strip wax? What is it comparable to in your lines?
I've never used this product but we carry comparable products.

Duragloss Black Streak Eliminator

Mothers Black Streak Remover

Originally Posted by April
It is my intent is to give my readers actual useful information that they won't get everywhere else.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Thank you for considering and contacting as a resource for helpful how-to information for your RV audience, our Customer Care Hotline is always available to answer questions and share even more helpful videos, articles and resources for helping your readers clean, polish and protect every square inch of their RV.

Mike Phillips - Director of Training

Click on a book for more information or to add to your library.

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Old 08-22-2013, 09:54 PM   #3
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Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Bluemont, VA
Posts: 141
Re: How to wash, polish and wax your RV or Motorhome

Great information.

I have a question about the type of paint you find on enclosed trailers. I was told by a dealer that the paint is vey thin and is enamel. I have a customer who has one of the trailers with oxidized paint. How is the bet way to remove the oxidation and bring the shine back. The color is black by the way.

Thanks in advance.

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