Spring is here which can only mean one thing, the outside of your motorhome is due a good old clean!
Cleaning a motorhome isn’t the easiest of tasks; unless you’re a professional contortionist or you own a cherry picker, it can be quite tricky getting to those hard to reach places.
This guide explains how to clean the outside of a motorhome in a few simple steps, plus there’s expert advice from Mike at www.motorhomevalet.co.uk.
Follow the steps and your motorhome will be in tiptop shape this season and could save you from potential problems in the future.
You will need:
- Hose / bucket(s) of water / pressure washer
- Multi-functional or V-shaped ladder with platform / scaffold plate
- Extendable or long handled brush / mop
- Flannel or towelled mop head
- Sponge or wash noodle mitt
- Body shampoo
- Window cleaner or spray
- Wheel and tyre cleaner
- Finishing wax
- Toothbrush / felt brush
- Chamois leather or microfibre drying cloth
- Plenty of elbow grease!
It may sound obvious but always remember to clean your motorhome from top to bottom, starting on the roof and working your way down.
Manufacturers may advise against using certain cleaning products or techniques so always check your handbook before you start.
Mike says: Clean your motorhome on an overcast day
“Cloudy days with little wind are the best for cleaning your motohome as it will not dry out before finishing each step of your wash. “
“If it is sunny or windy wash one side, rinse, then wash the back, rinse, working your way round the motorhome. “
“This will probably take a lot longer to do but will result in a streak free finish.”
Many say that hosing down with a pressure washer is the best way to begin as it loosens dirt relatively quickly, just be careful not to get too close to the windows as water could seep through crevices and damage seals. Otherwise spraying with a hosepipe or throwing buckets of water over the motorhome is a good start.
Start by applying cleaning solution to the end of your long-handled brush. Which solution you choose depends on the desired finish. Shampoo and cream cleaners are popular choices. Care-avan’s Motorhome Body Shampoo (RRP: £9.99) is great at removing algae, moss, streaks and stains.
Set the ladder’s platform or scaffold plate at the right height so you can reach across the roof. Make horizontal strokes across the top of the roof and apply pressure to lift residual dirt and grime that could cause mould or damp.
Move the ladder around the motorhome and repeat if necessary.
Once you’ve cleaned the surface of the roof take a bucket of hot water and pour across the top to remove the dirt lifted plus any stubborn insects and bird mess.
Mike says: Make sure that you use an adequate amount of water
“When I valet motorhomes I always use snowfoam (a canister filled with detergent attached to a special nozzle that’s connected to a pressure washer) to release dirt. This isn’t always an option though so it’s best to use plenty of water when cleaning and make sure you soak your motorhome before washing with a shampoo.”
Cleaning the sides of your motorhome requires much of the same techniques used to clean the roof. Use a soft brush, microfibre cloth or noodle mitt to clean down each panel thoroughly. Let the solution soak for up to ten minutes before washing off with a flannel or towelled mop head.
Mike says: Ditch that old sponge
“Sponges are very good at holding minute particles of grit which can scratch your van. It’s far better to use a Noodle wash mitt as they don’t hold the grit when rinsed in the wash bucket. Noodle mitts are not very expensive and last much longer than sponges.”
Never use washing up liquid to clean your motorhome as it can be corrosive. If used by mistake, apply a layer of polish straightaway to preserve the motorhome’s protective coating.
Softly hose or sponge your windows down to remove any grit using plenty of water. When you’re happy you’ve removed all trapped, stubborn dirt, wash the suds off using a microfibre cloth. Once dry use everyday glass or window cleaner to add shine.
To remove light scratches, dust grease and other markings try using Autoglym Fast Glass (RRP: £9.99) cleaner.
TOP TIP: Avoid using a hard brush on polycarbonate (plastic) windows that’s likely to scratch easily.
Once you’ve finished cleaning the motorhome’s exterior you can choose to let it dry naturally or use a drying cloth to speed things up.
Mike says: Use a microfibre drying cloth
“Chamois leathers can be expensive and are not that motorhome friendly. For easier drying use a microfibre drying cloth which is cheaper and softer. Plus if you buy one of the larger ones you won’t be wringing it out every two minutes.”
Sparkly wheels are a must if you want to achieve that perfect spring-cleaned look.
There’s a range of spray-on tyre and wheel cleaners available that get rid of brake dust and road grime nicely. Dual action products designed to clean tyres and wheels are especially handy.
3M Wheel And Tyre Cleaner (RRP: £5.99) is a good choice if you want to remove dust, tar and grease for example.
Once you’ve applied cleaner use a non-scratch wheel brush to get in-between wheel spokes to tackle stubborn dirt. And for that ‘newly buffed’ rubber look, try Turtle Wax Wet ‘n’ Black Tyre Dressing (RRP £4.99).
If the rooflights in your motorhome consist of two layers moulded together, an old toothbrush or flexible felt brush will remove mould or dirt from the around the edging easily. For the best clean, get into each nook and cranny and wipe away with a damp cloth.
Some roof lights have small vents on them that attract dust very easily. You can use a tooth or felt brush for these too although a compressed air cleaner may be a quicker option just remember to direct the dust outwards.
Working from a stepladder inside the motorhome should make those hard to reach spots easier to clean.
Finishing and final touches
For a final touch apply polish or finishing wax to guarantee the best shine. Mer Deep Gloss Finishing Wax (500ml RRP: £14.99) costs a little more than other products but tends to last longer.
Apply the solution to a flat wool mop end or cloth and use the same horizontal motion across the roof as when you were washing. Remember a little wax goes a long way!
TOP TIP: Apply overwintering spray to your motorhome once clean and you’ll find that algae and dirt will wash away easier next time round. Fenwicks is a popular choice.
Don’t have time? Then speak to a professional!
If you would prefer to have a professional clean your motorhome, use a valet company or speak to your dealer as some offer a wash and wax service. Certain storage sites provide wash facilities too.
Want more advice on motorhome maintenance? Check out the blog posts on:
How do you clean yours? Tell us your cleaning methods and top tips below.
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