How to Clean Your Campervan

Some simple tips tips to help you get your campervan looking pristine

Hiring out your motorhome is a great way to pick up some extra money, particularly in the peak seasons for campervan holidays. It does require a little effort on your part, though! To earn as much as you can, you want to ensure each set of hirers has the best possible experience with your vehicle. Now, put yourself in your hirers' shoes: You want to find your vehicle sparkling clean at the start of your adventurous vacation, don't you? But as the owner, what's to be done if the last hirers had some very muddy shoes?

You have to clean your motorhome! It's not glamorous, but it is necessary. Let us help! With our extensive experience, we've assembled a comprehensive cleaning guide that you can use to tidy up your rental quickly and painlessly. With these tips and a little practice, you should be able to get even the biggest motorhome shiny and fresh in no more than half an hour.

As you can see, this article is oriented towards campervan owners who hire out their vehicles. But even if you keep a campervan strictly for your own use, you may pick up some useful cleaning advice here!

Simplify The Job With Smart Preparation

motorhome cleaner

Like many jobs, cleaning a campervan goes much faster if you take the time to prepare wisely before you get started.

Find a place to park your motorhome where you have easy access to every side of the exterior. The best campervan parking spot for a cleaning job should be on a slight incline; this encourages water to drain off the vehicle faster. (It doesn't matter whether the front or the rear is lower. Just remember you'll want to wash the low end last with your pressure washer.)

You also want to have easy access to water in your cleaning spot. Don't hesitate to invest in a longer hose if it's needed to reach your motorhome; the investment will pay for itself many times over during your camper rental career!

To clean efficiently, you need to start at the top and work down. We don't recommend walking on the roof of your motorhome. Some vehicle roofs are delicate, and you're going to be making the surface slippery in the washing process. So make sure you have a good stepladder handy before you start cleaning. You might also consider buying a work tower if you're cleaning your motorhome frequently.

Quality Cleaning Tools

Your primary scrubbing weapon should be a wrap-around-head soft brush. Make sure it has soft bristles that won't scratch your vehicle's finish. For wiping down the body panels, use a noodle mitt or a microfibre cloth. There are many cleansers on the market specifically formulated for motorhome use. These products will remove stubborn dirt like bird droppings without hurting your vehicle's paint, so we recommend using them if at all possible.

Here's a good kit of basic cleaning tools that will all come in handy:

* One or more buckets

* Folding ladder w/scaffold plate

* Pressure washer with a soft setting (or a hose)

* The above-mentioned soft brush and microfibre cloth or noodle mitt

* Chamois or flannel for drying

* Cleaning solution (ideally, formulated for motorhomes)

* Acrylic window cleaner

* Black streak remover

* Wax

Clean Out Before Washing Up

The first step of your cleaning routine is to see to the motorhome's interior. This process should start during the handover, as you want to check for any interior damage and expended inventory items. (Making this check promptly ensures that you can discuss problems with the last hirer.) As you do this check, also take stock of what needs special cleaning attention inside the vehicle.

clean a motorhome

First, remove the materials that you can clean at home. Running all of your vehicle's dishes and cutlery through your dishwasher ensures that your next hire has a sanitary kitchen experience. If you provide bedding when you hire out your campervan, this also needs to be washed. For maximum efficiency, you should have at least two sets of linens so a clean set will be waiting every time your motorhome returns. If you only have one set, get it running in the washing machine before you move on to your other cleaning chores. Remember to clean and/or rotate dishcloths and tea towels along with bedding.

Check all the vehicle's trash bins and empty any that need it. When you hire out your motorhome, it's customary for hirers to empty the water and wastewater tanks before returning the RV. Check to make sure this has been done! (It's also a good idea to provide instructions on these tasks when you hire out your vehicle.)

Cleaning Upholstery

Your vehicle's user manual should include specific care instructions for upholstery, cushions, and other fabric surfaces. Always follow these directions. These general upholstery tips should help for every motorhome:

Upholstery, covers, and pillows should be vacuumed every month using an appropriate vacuum attachment.

When steam cleaning is required, always remove the items to be cleaned (if possible) to avoid increasing interior humidity. To preserve the colour of interior upholstery, do not dry it in direct sunlight.

Clean leather and vinyl upholstery with products designed for the specific material mounted in your campervan.

In many motorhomes, cushions and seats are protected with removable fabric covers. (This is an attractive arrangement to look for if you know in advance you'll be hiring your vehicle out!) Check for cleaning instructions for these in your user's manual. Generally speaking, they can be washed in an ordinary washing machine, but they need to be air-dried.

Leave Curtains To The Professionals

Many RVs have window blinds, and many models also have full-length interior curtains for privacy. These should be removed and turned over to a professional dry cleaner for seasonal cleaning. Dry cleaning keeps the colours sharp and minimizes the amount of wear and tear on the material.

Carpets And Steps

In most cases, you can treat the floor of your motorhome just like the floor of your permanent home. Vacuum carpets during every routine cleaning session. Use carpet foam to deal with minor stains.

Pay a little extra attention to any steps and rails around the entrance to your campervan; these surfaces are magnets for dirt, stones, and mud. A stiff hand brush works wonders for cleaning out unwanted debris.

cleaning products

Speed Is Vital With Upholstery Stains

Check for fresh stains every time a hirer returns your motorhome. The faster you address upholstery stains, the easier they are to clean and the better the results are.

Use the type of stain-treating product recommended in your owner's manual. Test it in an inconspicuous area before you commit to using it. Once you've found a product that works well and causes no damage, keep it in stock so you have it ready when it's needed.

Wipe Down Interior Surfaces

Try to be as thorough as possible when dusting down your motorhome's interior surfaces -- there are a lot of them! Regular practice and routine will help you here. Feel free to make a checklist if you're cleaning a particularly large and complex vehicle.

Don't neglect hidden surfaces like fold-away tables; you don't want to leave dust and dirt waiting to ambush your next traveller! Wipe them down with a microfibre cloth for a quick clean.

While cleaning the surfaces in your kitchen area, take an extra moment to lift the burner cover and clean out any debris accumulating there. A clean stove will cook better for your guests!

Make your last surface-cleaning job the dashboard and steering wheel. Give a little extra attention here, as your travellers will be seeing and using these areas a lot. Apply some cleaning motorhome cleaner to a microfibre cloth and it will be as good as new.

Exterior Cleaning, Step-By-Step

Hopefully, your last hirer will turn over your motorhome needing minimal exterior cleaning attention. If they encountered rough weather, though, you may need to ready yourself for a more thorough job.

As already noted, the smart move is always to start with washing the motorhome roof of your campervan. This way, any drips coming off the motorhome roof will not spoil the already-cleaned sides. Be sure to focus on cleaning your solar panels as they need to be clean to function as best as possible

Avoid using a pressure washer unless you have one with a soft setting -- carefully test out a new pressure washer before committing to its use. This can damage rubber seals like window seals.

The most reliable way to scrub the motorhome roof is with a bit of elbow grease and a telescoping soft brush, ideally the sort that connects directly to your hose. This delivers plenty of soapy water right where you want it! (Many of these brushes have oversized heads -- make sure you have an adequately-sized bucket to rinse it and avoid a pressure washer.)

If you've been enthusiastic about cleaning your motorhome's roof, you may have water running off the sides. This is a good thing; you've already got a head start on scrubbing the vertical surfaces!

A wise word on your campervans wheels: Wheels and tires don't necessarily need to be cleaned between every hire. Road and brake dust is to be expected. A thorough wheel cleaner wash can take time and care; the right cleaning products for your wheels are quite abrasive and you don't want to splash them on the bodywork. (You need to pick the right product based on the sort of wheels you have, too -- lacquer-coated alloy wheels in particular need special attention.

Use your own judgment on whether to give your wheels a quick spray with the hose or a deeper clean. Bear in mind that few RV renters will mind seeing a little road dust on the wheels -- particularly if the rest of the motorhome looks shiny and fresh! Be sure to clean brake dust build up as it can damage the paint on your alloys. To get into really tight areas try a non scratch wheel brush.

Cleaning Motorhome Windows

solar panel

Clean acrylic windows don't just make your motorhome appealing, they're also a safety necessity. Dirty acrylic windows -- and especially a dirty windscreen -- impeded the driver's vision and increase the risk of major and minor accidents. So this is one part of the cleaning process you don't want to short-change!

Cleaning the windscreen is especially important, but it can also be the toughest window-cleaning job on your campervan. Here's a trick for softening up an extra-dirty windscreen: Apply an ample coat of your favourite cleaning product and leave it to work on the build up while you clean a few of the other acrylic windows. When you return to the windscreen, you'll find that even stuck-on bugs or bird droppings have loosened up.

An Important Window-Cleaning Note

Many motorhomes have acrylic windows. Using an ordinary glass-cleaning product on this material is a bad idea; the chemicals can cause the acrylic to stiffen, discolour, or crack over time. If your vehicle has acrylic windows, invest in a glass cleaner formulated for them. Maintaining your motorhome windows is a must and is easily done with the correct cleaning products.

Cleaning Awnings

A lot of RVs come with handy awnings for external sun protection when they're parked. If your vehicle has an awning, it also needs to be included in your cleaning regimen. A simple hot water rinse is enough to get rid of light soiling. For tougher stains, the right cleaning product will depend on the material of the awning. Check your motorhome owner's manual; you should find guidance there on the right way to care for awnings and clean build up.

Keep Your Vehicle Shiny

Over time, the paintwork on the exterior of your motorhome grows dull. This is called bloom in the automotive industry; it's an inevitable process caused by oxidation under sunlight. Fortunately, the oxidisation can be corrected with a good polishing product.

Polish should be applied slowly to the painted exterior surface, working a thin layer into the paint in overlapping circles. Do your best to avoid getting the polish on trim pieces made of plastic or on rubber window seals. Add pressure while applying the polish to remove minor scratches and scuffs. Polish should be left in place for 15 to 20 minutes, then buffed away with a finishing cloth.

The good news is, polishing isn't part of your everyday cleaning routine. Polish only needs to be applied about once a year to keep your vehicle's paint in top condition. (Check the manufacturer's directions on your product to confirm the frequency of application.)

The shine-maintaining procedure that you do want to do more frequently is waxing. Wax is applied similarly to polish, but it does not clean and maintain your campervans finish coat. Instead, wax forms a protective barrier to discourage dust and preserve colour. Wax typically needs to stay on your vehicle a little longer (about 30 minutes) before you buff it.

Restock The Interior

After you've got the outside of your motorhome sparkling, it's time to re-install any interior items you removed for cleaning (dishes, bedding, seat covers, and so forth). This is especially easy if you rent a campervan Dublin.

Make Sure You're Road-Ready

At the end of the cleaning process, make sure everything is in good order for your next hirer. Everything should be in its proper place (particularly the user's manual and other important documents) so that you can direct your guests straight to them.

Consider finishing your cleaning routine with a little goodwill gift for your next travellers. Complimentary tea, coffee, and/or biscuits can make a great first impression!

The first few times you go through you clean a motorhome, it will take longer than you expect. Don't get discouraged and don't cut corners! With a little practice, your cleaning routine will become, well, routine, and you'll be able to get through it in no time at all! Check out our article on the common mistakes that people make when cleaning your campervan.