Apr 9, 2020

Deep Cleaning Your RV, Inside & Out

By Ann Eichenmuller

Summer is just around the corner—and with it, some of the best camping of the year. While the coronavirus has put many vacation plans on hold, you’ll want to be ready to go when campgrounds reopen. With all this extra time on your hands, there’s truly no better time to deep clean your RV.

Ready to get your RV in order? We’ve put together a list of tips and tricks to get your RV super shiny and clean, so all you’ll have to do is pack and turn the key when it’s time to hit the road again.

Let’s start with a few tips on cleaning the inside of your RV.


  • Mold can grow just about anywhere when your RV isn’t being used. Wipe down ceilings, walls, hard surfaces, and appliances with a multi-surface cleaner that is EPA registered to disinfect and remove bacteria, viruses, mold, and other allergens. Choose one that is safe for your whole interior, including finished wood, granite, and stainless steel.
  • Let’s face it—most of us have no idea what is in the back of our RV’s drawers, cabinets, and closets. Now’s the time to empty, vacuum, and wipe out storage areas. Haven’t used an item in a couple of years? Get rid of it. And toss out any old or expired foods or spices. Not sure if that mac and cheese is still safe to eat? Get the USDA’s FoodKeeper app for shelf-life guidelines.
  • With use, cabinet pulls get surrounded by a buildup of oil and dirt. Mix 2 parts baking soda and 1 part coconut or vegetable oil and use an old toothbrush to gently scrub away the gunk.
  • Strip and wash bedding, vacuum the mattress, and spray with an aerosol disinfectant before remaking the bed.
  • Window tracks, valances, blinds, and cloth lampshades all capture dust and dirt. For tracks, vacuum with a thin nozzle, then dip Q-tips in white vinegar or window cleaner and wipe out every nook and cranny. Vacuum blinds, valances, and lampshades with a soft brush, then go over with an adhesive lint roller.
  • Still see signs of last year’s vacation on your carpet and couches? Begin by removing small spots with a damp, soapy cloth. For hard-to-remove grease stains (think pizza), scrape with a knife, then layer paper towels on top of the stain. Using the lowest heat setting, iron the paper towels to lift the grease, then gently scrub the spot with a mix of dish soap, white vinegar, and water. Finish your routine by steam cleaning.
  • To flush your freshwater system lines, connect a clean water hose to your home’s outdoor faucet and connect the other end to your RV city water connection. Open your gray tank, turn on all the faucets, and run until the water looks, smells, and tastes clean. Use an RV freshwater deodorizer to flush your freshwater tank.
  • Smell something? It could be dried waste stuck to the sides and sensors in your black water holding tank. Some campers swear by the ice method—dump a few buckets of ice cubes down the toilet, then drive along and let the ice clean the sides. For a proven fix, purchase a wand-style tank rinser, hook up to a hose or faucet, and lower into the tank to wash away debris. For tanks mounted directly under the toilet, get a straight wand. If you have bends in your plumbing or an offset tank, choose a flexible wand.


  • Start at the top. For fiberglass roofs, use a soft brush, hose, and any wash-and-wax product to remove grime. While you’re up there, look for any loose or cracked sealant and follow the manufacturer’s directions to remove old caulking and repair. If you have an older RV with a rubber roof, you’ll need specific rubber roof cleaning products.
  • Know what you’re made of - metal or fiberglass. For painted or polished metal bodies, use a pre-wash to remove grime and grit, then clean with a non-abrasive cleaner, soft-bristled brush, and microfiber cloth or mitts. High-pressure washing is not recommended because these RVs are clad and riveted, and water can seep in between the seams. For fiberglass, use a wash-and-wax product with UV protection. Again, beware of the high-pressure washer—it can damage slideout seals and peel exterior decals. For seriously faded decals, gently scrub with a wet no-scratch fiberglass pad. This will brighten them but also shorten their lifespan.
  • Use a silicone-based cleaner on all window, door, and slide-in gaskets or flexible weather sealants. Most spray on and don’t require any wiping or additional cleaning. Don’t neglect your awnings—they need a rinse, too. Extend and hose off, but don’t scrub—it can weaken fabric and remove protective finishes.
Before tackling any cleaning jobs, check your owner’s manual for specific recommendations. Remember, spring cleaning is an opportunity to look for any problems and give your RV the attention it deserves. And considering we all have a bit of extra time on our hands, let’s use it to our advantage. A little TLC now equals comfortable, worry-free vacations in the months ahead. Happy cleaning!

Have any cleaning tips of your own? Let us know your methods in the comments below.

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