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Pressure washing an RV? Well, it sounds reasonable enough, but questions are sure to linger in your mind if your RV can actually withstand the physical force of the water being aimed right at it and all its parts. So, is pressure washing an safe ? Read on to find out.
Is It Safe to Pressure Wash My RV?
Actually, the simple answer is, no. Pressure washers can be harsh on any RV, it’s paint, decals, seals, and caulking. Many areas, such as vents or windows, need re-caulking or additional caulk and seals will need to be replaced. This happens as a normal course of maintenance without even the thought of pressure washing the RV which could speed up the need for such repairs.
RV tires should never be pressure washed. A tire could endure damage or a slice from a power washing.
On most RV’s you’ll notice a number of decals. This gives the RV a design, a flare or notoriety as a particular brand or model. Power washing can flake off edges of the decals, chipping or fading them, thereby, giving the RV less value at the time of sale or trade-in. It’s a much better idea to wash and wax the RV with a high-quality product, one that contains UV blockers, to maintain decals and paint from fading or chipping.
But You’ve Heard That Pressure Washing Your RV Works!
We’ve certainly read about or heard of those that are convinced that pressure washing their RV is the way to go. If you are thinking of trying this, I leave you with one thought to keep in mind– PSI. The term “PSI” stands for pounds per square inch. You most likely are familiar with this term when it comes to air pressure for your tires. Pressure washers also come with a PSI rating.
A gas-driven pressure washer can produce upwards of 3,000 PSI for cleaning; while an electric pressure washer will exert about 2,600 PSI. Both of these numbers equate to a heavy-duty cleaning which should never be performed on an RV.
If you still wish to wash your RV in this manner, finding a pressure washer that gives you a PSI of 1,200 to 1,300 is the maximum rating that an RV could be cleaned with. Avoid usage on RV roofs and tires. It’s best also to stay away from window seals, outside vents and caulking.
If this is giving you second thoughts about pressure washing, here are a few other options for keeping that RV looking shiny and new.
Pressure Washer Nozzle Color Chart
How About Soap and an RV Rinse?
RVs have layers or gaskets that overlap as well as areas that are sealed with silicone or other pliable material that will not withstand the pressured water that is forced out by a power wash. It’s just not the same as washing your home or sidewalk.
From a logistics standpoint, many RVs will need to be washed by a mobile service due to the RV being located in a storage facility. Most campgrounds will not allow washing of RVs while on the campsite. There may be some that have an area where this can be done for an additional charge, however. If you are fortunate enough to house your RV at home, a good brush and hose with a sprayer attachment is your best bet for getting the RV cleaned safely and effectively.
There are many commercial products available for washing your RV on sites such as Amazon or at your local RV dealer. With that said, keep in mind that simple baby shampoo, with a small amount of distilled white vinegar added to a bucket of water, is a productive, basic and non-toxic soap to use to clean your RV. Baby shampoo leaves no film, while the vinegar helps boost the cleaning power and eliminate water spots. Biodegradable car wash products are also safe for RVs. Vinegar can also be added to any car wash products. Dish soap should never be used because it will leave a film. The longer this film sits on a gel-coated finish, the faster the gel-coat will deteriorate, even if you regularly wax the RV.
It is recommended to change the water often while washing an RV. The last thing you want to do is swirl dirt particles around on the RV’s surface, causing abrasion, streaks or adding additional dirt while you’re trying to remove it. With each water change, re-add an appropriate amount of soap and vinegar to the bucket.
Always have your hose handy for rinsing the RV off as you go. It’s also best to work from the roof down to thoroughly clean your RV and prevent any streaks or dirt marks from drying on the sides. A soft-bristled, long-handled brush will help with hard to reach places. A hand mitt, the type used for washing vehicles, or a soft-bristled hand brush will work for lower areas of the RV.
Once your RV is spic n span clean, a final RV rinse can be done by adding 1/3 cup of white vinegar to a bucket of water. You can use a one-gallon hand pump sprayer (used only for the RV). The vinegar rinse will add shine and help eliminate water spots.
It’s still a good idea to at least lightly dry off the RV as best you can, and apply a good wax one to two times a year.
Washing Without Water
We wanted to touch lightly on a product that has received great reviews and claims to clean your RV without water. What, no water? Well, almost. The Aero Cosmetics Waterless Wash Wax Mop Kit, while a tad pricey, may certainly come in handy at times for touching up areas of the RV that need cleaning while you travel. Reviews do state, it’s best that your RV not be “too dirty.” In my viewpoint, that rather eliminates the idea of a waterless wash, however, I wanted to bring your attention to this product as it seems it could definitely prove useful in certain instances.
While traveling, keeping bugs and road dirt off the RV front cap extends the life of the paint, gel-coating, decals, and the waxed finish.
RELATED READING: Check out our article called Is Mobile RV Washing and Detailing Worth the Cost? Mobile washing services use waterless wash methods to conserve water but is that best for your RV?
A Personal Choice
We all love RVing and wish to keep our cherished RVs in tip-top shape inside and out. We advise you to check with your manufacturer, and/or RV dealer for their recommendation on using pressure washers on your RV.