Ten Ways to Keep Your RV Clean and Tidy

Make every camping trip more enjoyable by keeping your RV clean and tidy

Almost everything about camping in an RV is great—except for cleaning it. The dreaded chore can put a damper on the fun. Spring cleaning, prepping before your next trip, and cleaning up when you get home are all important and often unpleasant tasks.

Being on the road often, driving, and parking in the dirt and traveling through various weather conditions all put your RV through a lot. The cleaner you keep your RV, the easier it will be to avoid the normal wear and tear from traveling throughout the year. (You should aim to wash the exterior of your RV at least once a quarter, if not more depending on how often you travel and where you go.) 

An RV seems like a lot of work to clean but doing little things frequently will make it seem like less of a daunting task and help you take pride in your ride.  

Here are 10 tips that can help to take the hassle out of cleaning your RV.

1. Read the instruction manual

Your RV’s instruction manual is a treasure-trove of information that can give you tips and tricks for cleaning your RV’s exterior and interior. This includes what type of cleaners you should and shouldn’t use and any specialized care instructions. For further information, try your RV manufacturer’s website for extra tips on cleaning and making your RV sparkle. Failure to read the instruction manual could lead to damage to your RV’s surfaces and finishes. 

2. Ditch the brand-name products

Most RV materials aren’t any different from other vehicle or living material types. It’s easy to want to purchase a brand-name cleaner or solution that’s made exclusively for RVs but the truth is many common and generic household cleaners work perfectly well to keep your RV sparkling, including dish soap, window cleaner, even distilled white vinegar. Those fancy products at the RV superstore are appealing but they’re typically more expensive. 

Dawn Dish Soap © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Spring cleaning

Make sure to have a clean start for your camping season. A deep clean each spring makes your entire summer of camping so much better.

Give the exterior of your RV a thorough cleaning and waxing.

Don’t forget to wash the awning, too. It is easy to forget about this important accessory because it is usually folded in when you are at home doing maintenance and cleaning on your RV.

Clean your RV’s tank sensors to keep them working all season long. Use a cleaning wand to blast the gunk out of your black tank. You can also soak your black and grey water tanks by adding a cup of Dawn dishwashing detergent to a tank that is ½ full of water and then driving around to agitate. There are also commercially available enzymatic tank cleaners that help to remove a dirty tank.

By the way, I have a series of posts on spring cleaning:

4. Clean out the storage area

Your RV’s storage areas can hide nasty messes and smells. It can also host mold, mildew, and other nasty critters. Clean out your RV’s storage areas, including external storage, often to avoid build-up of any dust or the accumulation of dirt and debris. Always check the nooks and crannies of your RV’s storage areas to make sure nothing is left behind that can turn to stink. 

Dump the black and then the gray water tank © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Dump those tanks

Your gray and black water tanks can be the source of many nasty odors and while tanks don’t directly affect your RV’s appearance, a poorly maintained tank will bother you while hanging inside and outside your ride. Dump and flush your tanks as necessary to keep your whole ride refreshed. Keep a supply of disposable vinyl gloves, a hose, a bucket, and other necessary items stored away exclusively for dumping and cleaning your tanks. 

Here are some helpful resources:

Reduce moisture with dehumidifiers © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Prevent mold and mildew

Mold and mildew are major enemies of RVs and since they thrive in moisture reduce moisture within your RV. This includes running yo ur air conditioning in humid environments, opening windows and doors when possible, and buying moisture-absorbing packets for closets and storage areas. If you have an item that reeks of mildew, avoid detergent as it can feed the critters. Wash mildew-smelling clothing in a washer with a couple of cups of distilled white vinegar to kill off the bugs and leave your clothes smelling fresh. 

Be sure to read How to Reduce Moisture and Condensation in Your RV.

Take good care of your tires © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Give your tires some shine

Over time, your RV tires start to fade and wear out as they are increasingly exposed to the elements and road debris. Tires withstand a lot of abuse and can sustain scuff marks and small cracks which ages them and frankly makes your vehicle less attractive overall.

Use a product that’s specially designed to spiff up your tires. The best tire shine brands not only clean your tires but also produce a nice, glossy look. When used as a regular part of your maintenance routine, tire shine not only makes your tires look better, it can also protect them from UV rays and other damage. 

There is quite literally more tire dressing products on the market than you can count. Recommended products include Meguiar’s Ultimate Insane Shine Tire Coating, Chemical Guys Galactic Black Wet Look Tire Shine Dressing, and 303 Aerospace Protectant.

Here are some articles to help:

8. Don’t forget the roof

The roof of your RV is one of the most important parts to maintain to avoid interior leaks and other issues. Many modern RV roofs are constructed from membrane roofing, but you still see plenty of metal roofs on the road. If yours is metal, you can wash like you would your RV’s exterior, but if your RV is made of modern membrane roofing, it’s recommended to use specialized cleaner found at RV and camping stores. A twice-yearly cleaning of a membrane roof is usually enough to keep it in good shape. Take this time to inspect the roof for any tears, cracks, rips, or other damage. 

Start with a clean RV

9. Before you head out

Starting out each trip with a clean RV makes the entire trip much more enjoyable.

Clean all of the surfaces of the interior. Use a mild cleaning solution like a mixture of vinegar and water to wipe down every surface, wash walls, and clean all the nooks and crannies.

Clean camping toys in the dishwasher with about a cup and a half of vinegar.

Make sure the sponges in your RV are free of bacteria by microwaving damp sponges for one to two minutes.

10. When you return home

Take a few minutes when you get home to do a quick tidy up so your next trip is that much easier.

Check everywhere for dirty laundry or stray dishes. Move cushions and open cupboards to make sure nothing gets left in the RV between trips.

A quick wet mop on the flooring cleans up all of the dirt that is bound to accumulate during a camping trip.

Clean the toilet with a gentle, natural cleaner so it doesn’t break down the seals around the toilet and cause a leak.

Throw all bedding in your home laundry so it is ready to go when you are.

Keeping your RV clean doesn’t have to be a huge chore. When everyone pitches in, it shouldn’t take too long to get your rig back up to scratch.

Worth Pondering…

Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing up is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.

—Phyllis Diller