A New Tool In Our RV Cleaning Arsenal

TheRVgeeks Cleaning 38 Comments

Do It Ourselves is a mantra we try to live by as much as we reasonably can. Paying someone else to do something we can do ourselves is usually anathema to us. However, there are times when expedience is the better part of valor (if that’s not already an actual saying, we are hereby copyrighting it).

Washing the RV is a prime example of a DIY task that usually requires only the most basic of skills: the willingness to do it. Since special training isn’t generally needed, it’s the kind of thing that just about any able-bodied person can do themselves.

But what about those times when water isn’t available, like when we’re dry camping, or facing drought or washing restrictions? Sure, we could leave a boondocking-trip’s worth of dirt on the RV, and sometimes we have no choice but to do that for longer than we’d prefer. But just as we’re eager to take good mechanical care of our rig, we also like taking good cosmetic care of it.

Even though it’s always nice to have someone tell us that they can’t believe our motorhome is over 12 years old, the primary reason we’re neat freaks is for our own personal satisfaction. We just like things neat, tidy and orderly, and something about a rig covered with dirt simply rubs us the wrong way.

When an RV park that has hook-ups and allows washing (a rarity) isn’t available, we used to make a regular habit of finding a do-it-yourself car wash with a high clearance or outdoor wash bay.

But over the past couple of years, we’ve been trying out a new way to get the rig clean. And so far, we’ve found that there are times when “DIY satisfaction” can be successfully (and without guilt) supplanted by “DDIY Satisfaction” (as in “Didn’t Do It Myself… But I’m Happier Than If I Had”).

Check out the video to see how getting our rig clean without lifting a finger has now become a really satisfying, if occasional, indulgence for us. Learn more about Blue Beacon here.


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Comments 38

  1. Do you only have them use the warm water soapy water or do you request their exclusive citrushine product and/or their exclusive brightener product on your aluminum wheels. We live 45 miles from a BB and have wanted to try them.

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      Hi Nancy. When we go to Blue Beacon we just tell them we’d like an exterior wash, along with the toad, and that’s it. We never have any special treatments with the possible exception of the occasional towel dry afterward. Our wheels are specially coated, so we are careful not to use any unknown product on them, and we don’t know what’s in their wheel brightener.

  2. I have an older coach (2000 Fleetwood Discovery) the graphics stripes and decals are beginning to oxidize and fade. Is there a product or process that I can purchase and apply to bring the shine back and reseal to protect the shine from fading back?

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      Hi Thomas,

      Unfortunately, we don’t have any suggestions for you. Our current RV has full body paint… and we didn’t own our original 2002 Fleetwood Bounder Diesel long enough for its decals to begin to fade. This is an often discussed topic on RVing forums… but we haven’t seen anyone with a solution to fixing the faded decals (the happiest campers seem to be the ones who remove the faded decals and reapply NEW ones which sounds like quite a project).

      The only common thread is that products like ProtectAll or Aerospace 303, which have UV protectants in them, are the best way to prevent this from happening in the first place.

      Sorry we can’t be of more assistance.

    2. Sadly I am in the same boat with the decals!! McQuires carnuba works well but with the age it will not last for more than a week. Nowadays I wax the coach the day before we go on a trip, friends comment on how well it looks, then 4 days later on the way home it looks like a chalk board in 3rd grade!!!! If you are near Los Algodones, Near Yuma, Az, cross the line and get the decals painted.

  3. Amazed how many times we have passed up a Blue Beacon and did not know it. Thanks for the heads up. I’ve looked up the locations in California and plan to use them next time in the area. I noticed you used the Karcher pressure washer to wash the engine compartment. How far in do you pressure wash and does it get to the ECM and stuff? Do you just wash with water or use some sort of cleaning solution also? Have you tried washing the battery compartment? I’ve wanted to pressure wash the radiator fan which has built up some dirt on the unit. I’ve heard pros and cons on washing in these areas but lack the knowledge (courage) to try it! Any suggestions is appreciated.

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      Hey Rod! We’re definitely “Truck Wash Converts” and are really happy… hope you have the same experience with the California location(s).

      When pressure washing in the engine bay, we pretty much wash down the whole engine (so fairly far back), but we’re always careful not to linger around anything that looks sensitive/electrical. Luckily on our coach, the ECM (Engine Control Module) and TCM (Transmission Control Module) are located outside of the engine bay in a separate, enclosed compartment and don’t get wet from washing in there. If your RV is configured differently, we’d just encourage you to be very careful and not pressure wash to vigorously in their vicinity… just to be safe.

      We also wash our battery compartment down to rinse out the dust/dirt that gets in there. Because we have AGMs, we don’t have to worry about any acid build up, etc. Before we switched to AGMs, we’d just neutralize as much of the acid as we could (you can pick up neutralizing spray at a local auto parts store… or order some on Amazon, like this CRC Battery Cleaner with Indicator). Spray the cleaner on and it turns pink if it has reacted with acid. Rinse off the batteries with a lot of water and repeat until the spray stops turning pink. Just be sure that you rinse any possible acid away from the metal battery tray, etc… as leaving acid there will corrode the metal and could cause a problem.

      Cleaning the radiator is a delicate procedure. We haven’t tackled it yet, ourselves, but because we have a side radiator unit, it tends to stay cleaner. A couple of notes we’ve picked up from other RVers and from reading about cleaning it out:

      • Most people/places recommend NOT using a pressure washer, as the high pressure could easily damage the thin/delicate aluminum fins of the radiator and end up causing a leak. We’ve heard that you’re better off using large volume, low pressure water right from the hose or a nozzle.
      • You want to use a gentle cleaning agent that won’t damage/corrode the aluminum of the radiator. From what we’ve read, Simple Green Extreme Aircraft and Precision Cleaner is your best bet. Spray a lot of it onto the dry radiator and let it soak. Gently wash it away with a lot of water and repeat the process until the water runs clear.
      • We’ve heard conflicting information about which direction to wash the radiator in. What seems to make the most sense is to wash the radiator in the opposite direction of the air flow… so that the water is pushing the dust/dirt back out the way it came in, rather than forcing it farther into and through the radiator. Depending upon your RV’s setup, it may be hard to do if the engine cooling fan is in the way… or if you have a stacked radiator where several radiator components are stacked together (where the air flows through them all from one to the other).
      • Some people say to soak the radiator with your cleaner, rinse it out with lots of water, then run the engine to get the cooling fan to push the dirt and water mixture out of the radiator. Repeat the process a couple of times to get everything out or until the rinse water runs clear.

      Sorry we don’t have first-hand experience with this one yet, but hope if you tackle it it comes clean easily (maybe we’ll stop by for you to repeat the process for us, LOL!).

      1. Thanks for the additional information. I don’t plan now on washing the radiator as it looks too hazardous for it’s health. I was thinking of the fan unit. I believe it’s hydraulic motor and has accumulated a lot of dirt around the unit. Probably does not cause any problems but just like to keep things clean. I have a 2001 Dutch Star and the ECM and stuff is located to the right side of the diesel. I assume you just use straight water spray with no chemical solutions. I will definitely get the battery cleaner as mine are lead acid type batteries. Thanks again for the great ideas.

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          No worries, Rod. And we know how you feel about the radiator… it’s on our list to tackle, but seems to keep getting “bumped” by other (easier) projects, LOL! We’re not experiencing any problems… but like to stay on top of things, and keep them clean, too. We never use any cleaning solutions with the power washer (i.e. none that are injected into the water being pumped through the washer), but occasionally use it in conjunction with spray-on cleaners like Simple Green (if what we’re washing is oily/greasy).

  4. And Trona Pinnacles dirt is loaded with salt!!!!! Always good to get that stuff off!!!! Newman the Newmar looks great!!!! And always better to do the roof yourself. The care needed around solar wiring is important.

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  5. Blue Beacon is a very good truck wash in an RV wash but they also known as the streaking Beacon if you don’t get it towel-dried

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  6. Good to know that you don’t have to disconnect the car and I’m thinking that they could even do it with my bicycles on the receiver hitch between the motorhome and the towbar. That’s always held me back. I thought it would also be much more expensive. Wanted to ask if you use any particular wax on your rig.

    Blue Beacon also has a app for the iPhone and Android to download a location near you.

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      Hi Larry! You’re probably right… but you may want to call whatever location you plan to visit first, just to confirm (and thanks for the tip about the app… going to download it now).

      As far as wax goes, we use Meguiars NXT Generation Tech Wax 2.0 advanced polymer wax and LOVE it ( you can get it at most auto parts stores or online here at Amazon: http://rvg.tips/meguiars-ultimate-wax ). Goes on easy, wipes off easy, leaves the coach nice and shiny, and seems to really last!

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  7. We are on the road six months of the year doing health lectures with our RV. In 2015, we bought a new Pleasure-Way Prestige and like you, we didn’t want to pull up to a presentation riding in a giant dirt ball. Our solution was Blue Beacon also and they worked great. As the Pleasure-Way was 22’9″ and we had to take down and makeup the bed every night, we decided to go a little bigger this year and got a 2012 Itasca Reyo mini-Class A at 25′ 5″ with its own bedroom. To our dismay, upon reading the Winnebago-provided instruction manual, truck washes were prohibited and would void the warranty. The reason specified was that the pressure washers used would be using too much pressure, and I could only assume they were talking about seals and caulking and water getting into vents. Winnebago customer service was not helpful with a further explanation as they just referred us back to the manual. As we are beyond our warranty period, do you think that this is just an over-protective stance by the Winnebago engineers who perhaps wanted to do limit warranty liability? Or, do the high-pressure nozzles of truck washes have the potential to harm certain features on the outside of an RV? We used Blue Beacon with our Pleasure-Way Prestige in 2015, 2016 and 2017 without incident.

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      Hi Ray! We can’t say for sure what Winnebago’s motivation is for including that restriction in their manual, but your speculation about limiting warranty liability sounds plausible. We’ve been using Blue Beacon and other truck washes on our RV for about the past 2 years, and so far haven’t had any concerns about the risks of the pressure washers. For the most part, they keep the wands pretty far from the surface of the coach, and move them over the surface pretty quickly… so we can’t imagine that they are any greater a risk than when we use our own pressure washer to wash the RV. They seem to use the pressure washer primarily for applying soap and removing the initial heavy dirt, and then for rinsing after using the brushes to wash.

      While there certainly is the potential for high pressure water to penetrate weak/old seals and/or to damage vents, etc… it hasn’t been our experience (perhaps because we are fairly diligent about inspecting and maintaining our seals, etc).

  8. Thanks once again for your video. Other than once where we dis a total wash and wax while in Vegas, we have been DIY. I usually do the shady side in the early AM then the other side in the PM. Only problem is as you stated a lot of RV Parks do not allow washing. So we sometimes go a month without a cleanup other than front end to get bugs off, after a driving day, using a bucket. Luckily our wax coating is still very good and beads so well that a heavy rain does an amazing job washing the coach. I was always curious about truck washes and after your video we are going to try it when a Blue Beacon is convenient for us. Thanks for the heads up on Blue Beacon.

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      Hey Guys! We’ve often thought it might be worth it to get soaked in a good rain storm and go out and use the rain water to wash & rinse the RV. If the trend for RV parks to keep restricting guests from washing continues, we may have to give it a try! ;)

  9. This is my 3rd year of owning, “Liz” ( 2006, 31′, gas, Monaco Monarch) and I follow most of your suggestions and products.

    I own a used 2006 MH and I attempt to shore up any seals that have become cracked or dry over time, but I am sure not all of the coach is “waterproof”.

    I was wondering about someone other than myself using a pressure washer and forcing water in any cracks or seams.
    What are your thoughts or suggestions?

    Thanks for sharing,
    Oliver

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      Hi Oliver,

      We appreciate your concern, and would definitely recommend doing your best to ensure that any/all seals and sealant are properly maintained. It’s not just smart for when going through a truck wash, as Mother Nature has a nasty habit of ensuring that weather doesn’t always stay outside! LOL!

      From our experience over the last couple of years, we haven’t seen anything that has led us to worry about the truck washes we’ve visited. We’ve kept a good eye on them while they were cleaning the coach (either in the mirrors when we stayed inside or from outside the bay looking in), and haven’t seen them get too aggressive. They’ve always kept the sprayers far enough back from the coach surface that it wasn’t applying much force… and they move the wands rapidly so it’s not on any one area for long. The fact that they do the primary cleaning with the soft brushes means that they don’t have to get too aggressive with the wands: they use them to apply soapy water at the beginning, and then to rinse the brushed RV at the end.

      COULD there be a problem? Sure. But we haven’t seen any evidence of it on our coach… and for $40, we’re willing to take a little risk to get the RV cleaned when we can’t.

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      Good question, Robert. We’re pretty sure they’ll wash just about anything you can drive into the bay! 🙂 But we’d suggest calling before you go, just to be sure.

  10. Blue Beacon is my preferred wash. Easy in and out, reasonable ($36 for RVs) and if you are an FMCA member, free RainX if you want it. They do a very good job.

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  11. Do you have any problem with truck wash getting water in vents? We used BB once and they got water in refrigerator vent and caused it to shut down.

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      We haven’t had that issue… that we’re aware of. We used to have an RV fridge, but switched to a residential unit, so of course it won’t go out. We do however still have the roof vent (which we’re talking about sealing up), so if water got in there, we might not even know about it.

  12. For me it’s been difficult finding DYI car washes that have the headroom to wash a large coach so I’ve been using truck washes for the past year or so. $40-50 and all I need to do is apply the tire dressing when they’re done.

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  13. Our experience is similar to yours. Blue Beacons are our primary RV wash source. Once a year we also get our coach waxed. We do NOT let the RV washes use Rain X unless we are nearing the 1 year time on the last wax. We always tell them to avoid spraying directly into any vents after the first time we had water come through the microwave vent onto the counter. We also caution them to avoid excessive use of brushes on wheels. We’ve had a couple valve stems twisted a bit when they were “hammered” by the brush heads. Still…we agree with your assessment.

    We did have a problem with a couple non Blue Beacon “RV” washes. The biggest problem was that there was an EXTREMELY narrow entrance that gave us about (and I am not kidding) 1/2″ clearance for the mirrors on each side. We have never seen that be a problem at Blue Beacons.

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      Thanks for all the great additional tips, Don! It sounds like the incredibly narrow RV wash you visited is one to be avoided. And you’re right about Moms. They do know best. :)

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