A guide to cleaning your motorhome

Published in Caravan Guard News, Motorhoming Top Tips on   - 65 Comments

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  1. julian wallis says:

    Never stand on motorhome roofs, they warp over time and cause water ingress, use one of the many Motorhome cleaning solutions and use long telescopic brushes, as for pressure washers be careful! they are quite powerful and can force water into seams and seals causing ingress, if you have to use one stand well back and mist water onto the surfaces reducing the force.
    Rinse cloths in clean water frequently to reduce abrasive contaminants. Retired valeter.

  2. Glen tipping says:

    If you’re in the Hampshire area I own a mobile valeting company. 37 years experience. We valet motorhoms and caravans to suit the owners cost. I am a Motorhome owner myself so understand the vehicles and how much pleasure we get out of our Motorhome, so a lovely nice clean Motorhome or caravan is important for the season. Just to add to your reader’s comment about roofs – I always clean from the sides and never walk on the roofs it’s safer in the long run. if you would like any advice on your Motorhome or caravans call glen GT VALETING 07747030489 Hampshire

  3. Margaret Krukowski says:

    As a very middle aged lady motor home owner I don’t like standing on ladders to clean the roof! So I use a solution of Pampervan, generously (and quickly) applied to the roof and left on for about 30 minutes!
    Having already parked the van in front of a first floor window, a use a cord to pull the hose up to the open window and rinse the solution off. May not be up to the standard I like for the main parts of the van but it gets rid of algae and moss and leaves the roof lights clean
    PS another tip for when away in van
    I buy puppy training pads and use them as disposable bath maths when showering
    Keeps your feet off the wet floor and keeps the bottom of your trousers dry when dressing!!

  4. Roy Holden says:

    Great tips here but I see listed a pressure washer. I was advised and agree never ever use a pressure washer? Elbow grease loads of it is much safer.

    • Liz @ Caravan Guard says:

      A pressure washer can be used in the front cab area but we’d advise using a hose around the habitation area and to be particularly careful around seals and windows.

  5. Paul Gleave says:

    I decided to wait until my birthday and then get my three children (all adults) to chip in to get my Motorhome professionally cleaned.

  6. Kevin says:

    I have just purchased my first motorhome so a bit new to all this. However the previous owner use to park the home under trees and now the roof is cover in black tree sap, it is not coming off with ordinary shampoo products. Is there a product that you could recommend other than a pad and elbow grease?

  7. David Burdon says:

    For the roof I recently cut the bristles off my old telescopic car cleaning brush and wrapped the head with a piece of old Axminster carpet(not looped).I used self tapping screws to attach it.
    Worked a treat at removing green stuff.

  8. Peter Sansom says:

    Very useful tips, thanks.
    The only issue I would have would cleaning the windows with an ordinary window cleaner. My handbook specifically says not to as it can cause damage to the polymer material causing starring etc. There are special cleaners which cater for motorhome windows.

    • Craig @ Caravan Guard says:

      Thanks Peter, that’s a good caveat. Always worth checking your handbook before applying any sort of cleaning products to surfaces of your motorhome.

  9. Motorhomevalet says:

    On my ladder I always use lengths of pipe insulation, this prevents marking the side of the van and it won’t slip. Walking on roofs:- if an owner prefers me not to then I won’t but on every job I make a judgement on wether its ok to walk on the roof. I had a customer who was up on his roof every day, which resulted in all his rooflights leaking, so like most things in life moderation is the key.

  10. Brian Lakin says:

    I use a step ladder leaning against the side of the van with two foot of the grey fibre/plastic pipe lagging pushed on to each leg of the ladder. The lagging has a slit cut right through it and clips around the legs perfectly. Cut a notch where the top step meets the lagging.

  11. marshall k says:

    Instead of using a ladder why not go onto the roof?

    • Craig @ Caravan Guard says:

      Marshall K,
      I know some owners do. I guess it depends if the owner feels confident enough to be stood on the roof. Plus could there be a chance of damaging the roof?

  12. Paul Collins says:

    Following on from my comment about the pressure hand spray, it is the same style as the one for watering gardens or spraying fence paint, but it comes wit a soft brush and 2 spray heads. The stream is not very fast, but on the go, I would think it might be ideal for those awkward areas etc.

  13. Paul Collins says:

    Have just been sent details of this http://www.robertdyas.co.uk/king-pressure-spray

  14. Paul Collins says:

    I don’t know if you have tried it on the mould and stubborn dirt, but I have used a handheld steamer before, as there are no chemicals, just hot water! And they are great inside the van as well. I have also just purchased a window vac from aldi’s at a fraction of the price of a well known brand and they are rechargeable, so you can take it with you.

    • Lucie @ Caravan Guard says:

      That sounds like a good idea Paul! Mike – is this technique commonly used?

      Caravan Guard

  15. ian sheerman says:

    never use a pressure washer/never stand or climb on the roof ,it may seem okay but causes dips in the roof and then inevitably water ingress.
    the more you can sluice on the windows before washing the less scratches will happen especially rear windows.

  16. Maurice Hardy says:

    Reply to Peter Gough: You can’t get the moisture out of the windows on a Duetto or anything else that uses similar units. They are double glazed but not sealed units – if you look you can see the little vent plug in each unit. As temperatures inside and outside the units balance the moisture should disappear.

  17. Maurice Hardy says:

    Wheel cleaning preparations require you to use them first, while the wheels are dry, or they don’t work. Then if it’s the first wash after the winter, Fenwicks tell you to start at the bottom and work upwards with caravan cleaner or you will get streaks running down the dry lower paintwork that are hard to remove. After that, always wash from the top and never use a pressure hose on GRP or tyres or around the fridge / gas vents.

  18. Mike Payne says:

    Mike, you recommend Mer Deep Gloss Finishing Wax but if you read the back of the bottle/container it says “do not use of plastic trim”. What is the point of buying an expensive wax if you can’t use it on all parts of the motorhome? Or dare I ask if you ignore the warning?

  19. Nigel Wallbridge says:

    Thanks for all the tips and ideas but I am mainly concerned about the mould that seems to collect beneath the silicone seams around some joins on the bodywork. In particular I get it above the windscreen where the cab joins the body. Even rubbing with a toothbrush and concentrated shampoo doesn’t seem to work. I was recommended HG bathroom mould spray but I am worried it might damage the seals. Anybody else used this?

    parts of the bodywork

  20. Mike@motorhomevalet says:

    I would not recommend any waterless wash system including greased lightning as it can grind dirt into the surface of your van making it worse the small scratches will hold any dirt. This is especially true with the recent arrival of Sahara sand. Moisture in the plastic windows can be removed quite easily, there is usually one or two small bungs on the edge of the window, if you remove these on a nice fine day and leave for a few hours all the moisture will be gone. don’t forget to replace the bungs afterwards

  21. Peter gough says:

    How do you get the moisture out of plastic windows on a auto sleepers Duetto ?

    • Lucie @ Caravan Guard says:

      Hi Peter, that could be tricky especially if there’s damage to seals. Any ideas Mike?



  22. Owen Cadman says:

    What about greased lightening, no water required. Has anybody used this?

  23. Ewan Finlay says:

    best tip for tyres and black plastic trims is to use “Leather Genie! because not only is it ideal for Leather upholstery both in the house but in vehicles but Ive found it is perfect for rubber trims and seals round the windows

  24. Mick McGuire says:

    Let the wife do it. She`s a lot better at cleaning.

  25. Barry Keylock says:

    Having given the roof a thorough clean, the final rinse will show that there is debris and green staining beneath the solar panel. I use a long handled emulsion pad (as used for painting behind radiators) to clean beneath the solar panel. Just use it gently, using plenty of water and soap, and work carefully around any seals and cables. Finally, direct a low-pressure hose beneath it and watch the muck come out.

  26. richard says:

    if you get polish on your black trim or stripping round the sides of the van, just put a very small amount of autoglym tar remover on a small corner of a sponge, it will dissolve all the polish…i know it took me ages to find some thing that would do it
    happy camping.

  27. Mike@motorhomevalet says:

    Peanut butter on bumpers doesn’t last very long, an alternative use for it is removing polish from door handles and rubbers

  28. Rita Rankin says:

    I will try the peanut butter method – after all, there aren’t many cleaning products you can eat if you are not satisfied with the result.

  29. Keith Head says:

    I use auto glym engine cleaner to remove black streaks from my motorhome I also use peanut butter smooth to bring my front bumper back to black a lot better than the other products on sale for the same job.

    • Lucie @ Caravan Guard says:

      Thanks Keith – here’s the Glym Cleaner if anyone wants to take a look, but Peanut Butter? How does that work?

      It’s certainly original!

      Caravan Guard

  30. McKinlays says:

    Every bit of info is most welcome, we are in the middle of touring Spain & Portugal at the moment some sites let you wash down but not a lot. The hardest part of cleaning is the roof and with solar panels in situ you have to be careful. Thank you all for your comments. Chris & Angela McKinlay

  31. p knill says:

    I agree with Paul Hooper that the guy on the ladder should have the steps facing the van, less risk of the steps going over, especially if the brush jams against an obstruction. (Every force has an equal and opposite force, or something like that!) Can the guy not stand on the roof?

  32. Mike@motorhomevalet says:

    Nigel try Aldi black streak remover

  33. barbren says:

    We wash our motorhome after everytrip, and sometimes while we are away with a bucket and a cloth. We use a good car/motorhome cleaning soap, then ALWAYS put a coat of wax on. He puts it on I take it off. Even after a long winter stored on our drive, our motorhome is cleaner than our car which is regularly washed during the winter. As for standing on ladders, we have the platform type ladder, but I always hold the ladder for my other half while he cleans the roof. We have had an experience with a previous motorhome where the seals in the roof lights were damaged and we had horrendous problems with leaks, thankfully we were able to have this sorted but we would NEVER use a power wash, it is not needed if the van is cleaned regularly….

  34. Ken needham says:

    Try using WD 40 it gets rid of most common dirt on motor homes and caravans…it contains fish oil…and is not harmful to the exterior of your vehicle …

  35. Alan King says:

    I would agree with Paul Hooper,March 28th, on use of ladder. Needs to be used face on not sideways as shown. Safer to use a normal ladder to access the roof with padding to protect the paintwork.

  36. Nigel Wallbridge says:

    Any body know a safe way to get rid of mould/algae staining on the silicone sealed seams on a motorhome?

  37. Mike@motorhomevalet says:

    The before and after photos are some of the vans I have valeted. Its amazing how quickly the green stuff can accumulate. Both vans were surrounded by trees which would account for all the green stuff. By the way pressure washers aren’t bad its the way they are used that can cause problems, always use a wide fan, never a jet

  38. James Smith says:

    I quite agree with the comments about pressure washers – when we bought our home the dealers used one and the first time we had rain it leaked because they had broken the seal! I have an extended brush that fits with a hose and take the cleaning liquid I use for my home windows that is ideal for reaching the tops of the motorhome. I can believe anyone would let their motorhome reach the state in the “before” picture!

  39. David C. Marsh says:

    An answer for Peter Perkins. We pay around £100 for a half decent clean but for a full valet and a guard protective clean around the £500 mark. Sometimes it’s less. But we only have it done once a year and as the vehicle is garaged it really doesn’t get a lot of dirt, bird droppings scattered hither and yon. I wash it at most twice a year in between valets. The company we use say it how it exactly is and what’s needed and to be fair they always do a fantastic job. Basically, I’m a bit of a lazy bar steward and would much rather someone else clean it, simple as that.

    • Lucie @ Caravan Guard says:

      Hi David,

      Sometimes it is worth to pay to have a professional do it. If your motorhome is stored in the garage an annual clean should be more than adequate.

      Caravan Guard

  40. Derek Williams says:

    As someone who used to market pressure washers, I would advise extreme caution when cleaning a motorhome if you do not want leaking seals..

    • Lucie @ Caravan Guard says:

      Hi Derek,
      That’s right, as we mentioned in the article, it’s best not to get too close – or have the pressure levels set to the maximum – as water ingress may cause problems.

      Caravan Guard

  41. Peter Perkins says:

    A response to David Marsh – what do you mean by “doesn’t cost too much”?
    I use a demoted washing-up brush to get the green mould from edges of fitments such as cycle racks, ladder fixtures etc.

  42. sam hopwood says:

    Mitch says,’ditch that old sponge’ as they hold particles of grit and a couple of paragraphs later we are told to clean the windows with a sponge.

  43. Paul Hooper says:

    When standing on a step ladder, the guy shown in the photo washing his van should have his Mrs hold the ladder for extra stability, and hose the wheels later. There are too many ladder and stepladder accidents. And as we get older we are not so agile and our sense of balance deteriorates.

  44. Derek Riggall says:

    I always use rain water from my rain tubs.using a submersible water pump attached with a water hose to a through flow brush.and just let it dry,No wiping down or leathering.it always looks good when finished no spots or streaks and doesn’t take long to do.I do keep on top of it,and wash when I return from a trip.

  45. David C. Marsh says:

    For me the cleanliness of my motorhome is of paramount importance. So, I get a company in from Wigan or Preston who specialise in doing the job. It doesn’t cost too much and the results are far far better than I could ever achieve, plus they use their own water, detergents and polish.

    • Joseph Nicholson says:

      Hi, Could you give me the Email Address of the Co. in Wigan or Preston?

      • Craig @ Caravan Guard says:

        David Marsh got back to me with the details of the motorhome cleaner,
        David said “The chap I use is Mark Williams and he is based in Barnoldswick 07975 586094”.
        Hope this helps.

    • Craig @ Caravan Guard says:

      Hi David, could you advise on the name and contact details of the company you use to help a fellow motorhomer?

    • Craig @ Caravan Guard says:

      Thank you very much for providing details of the cleaner. I have posted your response on our blog.
      Kind regards

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