RV Life – Getting the Outside Clean

Cleaning the Outside of the RV - Garies Girl

Now that Spring finally arrived in Georgia, it is time to start thinking about camping again. We loved tent camping when we lived in South Africa and thought we would upgrade to a Travel Trailer or RV, like they call it here. Basically what we called a caravan in South Africa. So, after a very adventurous RV rental trip in Colorado, we bought our own RV a couple of years ago so we can experience camping United States style.

We bought an RV!


A couple of weekends ago, we took our RV out for a quick weekend and brought it home for it’s annual cleaning. Now that both kids drive and we deal with their cars at home as well, there just isn’t enough space to store the RV here at home. So we rent a parking spot at a local RV/boat storage facility and keep it there.

Full House at Home

It does get a bit dirty throughout the year, so we have to make time to clean it – inside and out. This year, we did some research on the best way to clean the black streaks that appeared on all sides of the RV. We wanted to know what we should use that is both affordable and didn’t require too much elbow grease. The top three cleaning solutions listed out there for cleaning your RV were:

  • Dishwashing Liquid
  • Simple Green
  • LA’s Totally Awesome

So Pieter and I decided to have a little fun with this project, use all three products and compare the results. Our RV was pretty dirty, with black streaks everywhere down the sides. We picked the dirtiest side and tried all three cleaning solutions. To keep it fair, we used the same cleaning pads, and the same amount of pressure with all three products. Pieter even agreed to be on camera for our first RV video about this whole process. Here is a link to the full video on YouTube: https://youtu.be/FmxSIV3LCoI

Cleaning Solutions for Removing Black Streaks

First up – Dishwashing Liquid

We added a bit of dishwashing liquid directly to our magic eraser pad and started on a smaller area of the RV. We scrubbed left to right, and up and down. The dishwashing liquid made quite a bit of foam. After we cleaned our preselected area, we used water to wash it all away.

Not a bad result, but dishwashing liquid only made the steaks a bit lighter. It didn’t erase them completely.

Dishwashing Liquid

Second – Simple Green

I love this cleaning solution and use it all over the house. I usually dilute it for use around the kitchen, but wanted full strength for our experiment. Mine is in a spray bottle, so we sprayed it directly onto the side of the RV and used a new magic eraser pad to scrub this area. It too made some foam, so after we cleaned, we used more water to wash it all away.

I had high hopes for Simple Green, but it barely lightened the streaks. It almost looked as if we didn’t clean that section at all. Very disappointing.

Simple Green

Third Product – LA’s Totally Awesome

Now this product just sounds…awesome. Right? With a name like this, what can we expect?

This also came in a spray bottle and can be diluted, but we used it at full strength, spraying the side of the RV and wiping it with a new magic eraser pad. Again we used the same side to side motion as with the previous products.

Now here we saw the best results. LA’s Totally Awesome is just that – totally awesome when it comes to cleaning the outside of your RV. It removed the black streaks, much better than the previous two products.

We had a clear winner!

LA’s Totally Awesome

Getting Started with the Cleaning Process

As with a lot of our projects lately, they seem totally overwhelming at the beginning. The only way I know how to tackle these daunting projects, is to break it down into smaller projects and focus on a little bit at a time. In this case, it meant section by section. I would start a cleaning session with one large area in mind, and focus on just cleaning that area start to finish. I started with the back of the RV the first evening, and focused on getting that completed. The second evening, I tackled part of the one side, and so on.

RV Back – Before Cleaning

I’m not the tallest camper out there, so I needed my step ladder to reach the top of the RV. Starting at the top, I would spray a 2 x 2 foot section with the cleaning solution, then use my magic eraser to give it a good scrubbing. Since our RV sides are corrugated, I mostly cleaned horizontally. Some of the streaks were more intense, and for those I used some up and down cleaning too. After cleaning my 2 x 2 foot section, I would wipe it down with paper towels, then, depending on the streak intensity, would do a second pass with more solution and clean paper towels.

LA’s Totally Awesome

Since I’m not very comfortable up on a ladder, I completed sections from the top down, until I only had the lowest areas to do. I would skip those, and move the ladder to do the next section, top to bottom again. All the way until I can move the ladder out of the way completely, and finish all the lower sections while back on solid ground.

RV Back – After Cleaning

We have a 36 foot travel trailer (can sleep 10, so quite large) and in total, it took me 7 hours to clean most of it. The biggest bulk of my time was spent one Saturday when Pieter was at work. I had my music playing and was enjoying time outside, away from my desk. I did as much as I could on that Saturday, but didn’t make it to the 100% mark. Pieter got back into it on Sunday and was able to do the last section on the right side and the front part of the RV.

Final Step

After the whole RV was cleaned with LA’s Totally Awesome solution, we had to go back and clean some new lines where all the solution wasn’t wiped down completely. Pieter then used regular car wash soap and water and washed the whole RV again top to bottom. Making sure to rinse away all the soap when he was done.

By Sunday afternoon we were all done with cleaning the RV and it was time to return it to the storage facility and free up space in our driveway. It is now ready for it’s next camping trip.

RV after Cleaning

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