Cleaning outside the vehicleAlthough car owners are accustomed to wielding a hose in the driveway or in one of the little wash-it-yourself bays at a car wash, cleaning the outside of a motor home by yourself is akin to bathing an elephant; you can’t do it in a short driveway or the average car wash even if you want to. Even using a coin-operated car wash with an extra-large bay is difficult but doable if the facility has enough height clearance. It’s easy to run out of quarters and patience long before the job is done. Most campgrounds don’t allow you to wash the vehicle at the campsite. Always check and comply with the rules.
To cut down on costly full-vehicle wash jobs, you can use a dry mop from the supermarket. Each evening, after settling in, do a quick once-over on the exterior with the dry mop to get the day’s dust and grime off. Include the windshield and the vehicle’s front end, scrubbing with a wet brush or windshield scrubber to remove the bugs that accumulated during the day’s drive. Putting the job off until morning lets the bugs solidify into something like cement and doubles your job of cleaning.
Whether you own a motor home, travel trailer, or fifth-wheel, waxing an RV is a big expensive job if done professionally. Many campgrounds and RV-supply stores offer waxes and protective materials. The work is up to you. To spread the joy around: Wax the front of the vehicle one day, half the driver’s side a few days later, the rest of the driver’s side more days later, and so on. After a week, you’ll have cleaned the whole vehicle. you need to do it regularly if waxing is required to save the finish of your exterior. Waxing is much cheaper than a new paint job.
- Woodwork: Spray polish wood cleaner repels dust and keeps wood surfaces looking clean.
- Upholstery: RV upholstery is usually tough and hard to stain. I find that spot-cleaning with a spray upholstery cleaner (one that comes with a brush attachment) does the job well.
- Glass: For windows and mirrors use a spray-and-wipe glass cleaner and a paper towel to make them spotless and shiny again in no time.
- Floors: A portable vacuum cleaner that can run on rechargeable batteries is handy for quick cleaning or even heavy-duty cleaning in an RV.
Spot-cleaning spills on the carpet is not a problem because carpets in motor homes are stain-resistant. I put a washable rug over high-traffic areas including the residential entrance, front of the sink, beside the bed, and between the sofa and easy chair.
- Kitchen: Wiping up kitchen spills when they happen helps keep the galley clean. I clean out the refrigerator when I bring the RV back home from a trip, and wipe it clean it once a week on the road. I always give the sink a quick wipe-over daily.
If you’re not on an extended stay, keep the black-water outlet closed when you’re hooked up to the sewage drain in a campground. The gray-water outlet can remain open. When the gauge informs you that it’s time to empty the tanks, close the gray-water outlet to allow water to build up in the tank, and empty the black-water tank first. Flush out the tank at the end by pouring three gallons of water in the toilet. When finished, close the black-water valve. Next, run about a gallon of fresh water into the gray-water tank from the kitchen faucets; then open the gray-water valve. This flushes the hose as the gray-water tank empties. Close the valve, unhook the hose, and flush the hose again before storing. Wear disposable rubber gloves when handling sewage hoses and fittings.
When storing the vehicle, do the following:
- Clean and defrost the refrigerator, leave the door open, and put an open box of baking soda inside.
- Disconnect the coach and vehicle battery.
- Empty the holding tanks, leaving a bit of water and deodorizer in the tanks to keep the seals moist. Add 2 gallons of RV antifreeze when you’re storing the vehicle where temperatures fall below 40°F; one surprise hard freeze can do a lot of damage.
- Close the propane-tank valve.
- Draw all the shades and close the windshield curtain to keep the shaded and interior cooler.
- Lock all doors and outside compartments.
- Fill the lead-acid batteries to the top of the split ring with distilled water.
When you store an RV in a cold climate, drain all the freshwater supply tanks, add some nontoxic RV antifreeze to the black-and gray-water holding tanks after they’ve been emptied and cleaned, empty the water heater, and pump antifreeze into the supply lines to each faucet. If you’re not well versed in doing these jobs, I recommend using the services of a licensed plumber, camping-supply store’s service department, or an RV dealer that offers this winterization service. If the work is done properly, the annual cost of about $200 can save you many costly repairs in the spring.