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How to Clean a Rubber Roof on an RV + Best Cleaners

How to Clean a Rubber Roof on an RV + Best Cleaners

If your RV has a “rubber” roof, it’s important to remember that the surface isn’t impervious to damage. Cleaning it properly includes knowing which are the best RV rubber roof cleaners to use for the task. 

It’s also important to be cautious when cleaning your RV roof to avoid tearing the material, which could lead to leaks and potential water damage to your rig.

This is why it’s important to use the right products and techniques to properly clean a rubber RV roof.

So, let’s dive right into the details of how to clean a rubber roof on an RV and the best rubber roof cleaners for getting the job done right.

What’s a Rubber RV Roof?

You may have seen our post: the complete guide to your RV roof. There we detailed the various types of roofing materials from which most RV roofs are constructed.

EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) and TPO (Thermoplastic Polyolefin) are among those materials.

These are the two most common types of rubber roofing found on an RV, and both are made from synthetic polymers.

EPDM

EPDM is a membrane typically used on flat roofs. It’s a very common choice for roofing an RV and is generally made from recycled materials such as tires, sawdust, and slate dust.

While EPDM is lightweight and affordable, it can be torn fairly easily. Puncturing the material seriously compromises the integrity of the roof, opening your rig up to leaks.

Punctures to EPDM rubber roofing can be repaired, and you’ll want to tend that as quickly as possible. For more on RV roofing, check out our post on repairing RV roof holes. You’ll find a section specific to repairing rubber roofing.

If you have an EPDM roof on your rig, it’s likely very smooth. That means it can be slippery when wet. So, when you wash or do other types of work up there, be sure to use caution.

You’ll also want to only wear soft-soled shoes when working on your EPDM roof so as not to cause damage just from walking on it.

EPDM is among the types of RV roofs that tend to cause black streaks that run down the sides of an RV. If you have issues with black streaks, check out our post on RV black streak removers.

TPO

TPO roofs have been common on RVs manufactured since the 1990s.

While more puncture-resistant than EPDM, it can still be torn. TPO is also UV- and mold-resistant.

This material is usually textured, so not as slippery as EPDM. A TPO roof often has a similar texture to orange peel.

TPO is also less likely to leave black streaks running down the sides of your rig, though this can happen with all RVs, regardless of roof type.

Damage to roof sealant is possible with any type of roof. That’s why we’re so big on regular roof inspections at least a few times a year.

Roof sealants can be repaired fairly easily as long as you know it’s needed. That’s where routine inspections come in.

We share this video with some frequency to demonstrate the potentially devastating effects an undetected RV roof leak can have over time:

How to Clean a Rubber Roof on an RV

Keeping your RV’s rubber roof clean will help it last as long as possible.

If you use your rig often, as we do (we’re full-timers, so that’s kind of an understatement!), you’ll want to clean and condition it ideally every 3-6 months.

Here are the steps to properly clean a rubber roof on an RV:

  1. All RV roofs can be slippery, especially when wet. When you work up there, wear soft-soled shoes and use caution.
  2. Gently sweep away any loose dirt and debris using a broom with soft or medium bristles.
  3. Use a cleaner that’s specifically designed to be safe to use on your roof’s material. (We’ll highlight some below.) Avoid abrasive cleaners or those with petroleum distillates or citrus, as they can damage the membrane. (This is why choosing the right type of cleaner is so important.)
  4. Following the instructions on the cleaning product you’ve chosen, use a soft or medium bristle brush or a sponge to scrub away any dirt and grime. You may need (a little!) “elbow grease” to remove sap, leaf stains, mold or other stubborn stains.)
  5. Rinse the roof once you’ve finished cleaning. Also. rinse the rig’s sides, front, and back, which will likely be a mess after cleaning the roof.
  6. After thoroughly cleaning the roof, use a rubber roof protectant that repels dirt and protects it from damaging UV rays. (This step is optional but many owners of RVs with rubber roofs swear by the effectiveness of these products. We’ll link to a popular one below.)
  7. PRO TIP: When washing your RV, always clean the roof FIRST, before washing the rest of the rig, because (did we mention this already?) roof-cleaning makes a mess of everything else!

What Are the Best Cleaning Products to Use on a Rubber RV Roof?

Again, it’s important not to use abrasive cleaners on rubber roofs.

It’s best to use only gentle, non-abrasive cleaners and cleaning tools.

Let’s take a look at the best cleaning products to use on a rubber RV roof.

Valterra Rubber Roof Cleaner

Valterra’s rubber roof cleaner is safe for use on both natural and synthetic surfaces, including EPDM and TPO. It can remove bird droppings, stains, and light oxidation.

It not only cleans, but also conditions and protects the roof material in a single application. 

Valterra V88548 Rubber ROOF Cleaner, 64OZ
  • Safe for use on all synthetic and natural rubber surfaces
  • Deep cleans, conditions and protects in just one application

Thetford Premium RV Rubber Roof Cleaner & Conditioner

A similar RV roof cleaner from Thetford also gets excellent reviews.

It cleans, conditions and contains a UV blocker. It’s also non-toxic, non-flammable, and biodegradable.

Sale
Thetford Premium RV Rubber Roof Cleaner & Conditioner - Non-Toxic - Non-Abrasive - Biodegardable - 1 Gallon 32513
  • fit type: Universal Fit
  • Thetford's Premium Rubber Roof Cleaner cleans conditions and protects in one easy step; Non-petroleum formula; Removes tough stains as well as bird...

Camco Pro-Tec RV Rubber Roof Care System

This rubber roof care system from Camco is a two-step treatment.

Step one cleans and conditions rubber RV roofs.

Step two applies a substance that helps to resist dirt, protects against UV rays, and reduces roof chalking.

Important note: Camco recommends against using step two of the system on TPO roofs, noting that only part one is needed for TPO.

Both steps one and two are recommended for EPDM roofs.

Sale

Dicor Deep Cleaning Rubber RV Roof Cleanser Spray

This cleaner from Dicor sprays on, then you use a medium bristle brush to lightly scrub the roof, followed by a rinse. 

It’s safe for use on all roofing types, including EDPM and TPO.

Dicor RP-RC320S Deep Cleaning Rubber RV Roof Cleanser Spray, White
  • USE: Helps care for your RV roof by cleaning off dirt and grime
  • RV MAINTENANCE: Make sure your RV is ready for applications of coating and more

Here’s the same formula in a gallon container:

Sale
Dicor RP-RC-1GL Deep Cleaning Rubber RV Roof Cleanser Spray Refill, White
  • The package length is 57 inches
  • The package height is 8 inches

Dicor Roof Guard RV Roof Protectant Spray

Dicor recommends following their cleaning spray with their Roof Guard Roof Protectant.

It repels both water and dust and has no petroleum distillates, oils, waxes, silicone, or glycerin, so that it’s safe for rubber roofing.

Sale
Dicor RP-RG-1GL Roof Guard RV Roof Protectant Spray, White
  • A Finish that Repels Dust and Water
  • Will Not Harm Rubber Roofing

Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Wash

Many RVers like to use the same cleaner on their roof that they use to wash the rest of their RV. That’s a great way to keep the number of cleaning products down to a minimum and to save space.

But it’s only a great idea if your roof and the rest of your RV require the same cleaning methods.

After nearly two decades on the road full-time, our favorite RV wash is Meguiar’s Gold Class. We think our motorhome’s condition er… reflects (pardon the pun) well on how good it is.

It makes thick suds that work well even on tough road dirt and other contaminants. 

Meguiar’s also contains paint conditioners that leave your rig shining while preserving the protection of your wax.

Meguiar’s Gold Class is made from biodegradable detergents that are safe on all types of paint and clear coats and on your RV’s rubber roof, whether it’s EPDM or TPO.

Meguiar's Gold Class Car Wash, Car Wash Foam for Car Cleaning - 1 Gallon Container
  • CAR WASH FOAM: One-gallon container of Meguiar's Gold Class Car Wash designed to both wash and condition paint in one step for easy car care
  • CLEAR COAT SAFE: Made using safe, biodegradable detergents (1), this car cleaning foam is safe to use on all paint types and clear coats ((1)...

Carrand 93086 10″ Bi-Level Soft Fiber Car Wash Brush

Using a soft-bristle brush is important when cleaning the roof of your RV.

This one is soft enough to be safe on all surfaces, including rubber roofs. It’s a 10-inch bi-level brush that can be used as a regular dip-in-the-bucket brush or as a flow-through when connected to a hose.

Carrand 93086 10" Bi-Level Soft Fiber Car Wash Brush , Yellow
  • 10 inch bi-level brush head
  • Use for flow-thru or dip brush

Protect All RV Rubber Roof Treatment

Once you’ve cleaned your RV’s rubber roof, especially if you’ve used a product that doesn’t offer a high-grade protectant, you may want to consider using a separate rubber roof protective treatment like Protect All.

This will coat your RV’s rubber roof with an anti-static polymer that helps prevent road grime and other contaminants from sticking. This not only protects but also helps reduce roof chalk. (That’s the powdery substance that leads to stubborn black streaks.)

It also has a UV light barrier to protect your rubber roof from sun damage as well. 

Protect All recommends applying every 3-6 months, depending on the climate where your RV spends most of its time. You’ll probably want to use it more frequently if you’re in places with lots of sun, heat, and/or humidity.

Protect All is biodegradable, non-abrasive, and non-toxic. 

Protect All RV Rubber Roof Treatment - Anti-Static - Dirt Repelling - UV Protectant - 32 oz 68032
  • Reducing Powdery Roof Chalk: Protect All Rubber Roof Treatment coats the roof in a tough polymer with anti-static properties, preventing grime from...
  • Less Maintenance of the RV Roof:  Reduces maintenance up to 75% - More protection, less cleaning required.

RV Rubber Roof Cleaning Demonstration

Here’s Mark Polk of RV Education 101 to demonstrate how he cleans and protects an RV roof.

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Lou

Friday 20th of January 2023

As a note, Alpha Systems TPO roof suggests only cleaning with mild cleaner such as diluted Dawn dish soap and no conditioner/coating afterwards. In fact, some other items will void the warranty, so there's that concern, too.

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PLEASE NOTE: We're handy RVers, not professional technicians. We're happy with the techniques and products we use, but be sure to confirm that all methods and materials you use are compatible with your equipment and abilities. Regardless of what we recommend, consult a professional if you're unsure about working on your RV. Any task you perform or product you purchase based on any information we provide is strictly at your own risk.

We participate in the Amazon affiliate program, which provides a means for us to earn a small commission by linking to products there. But our opinions are our own and we only link to products we can recommend to friends with complete confidence. And using our links won't cost you an extra penny!

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