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Looking for an RV Black Streak Remover? Look No Further!

Looking for an RV Black Streak Remover? Look No Further!

Many an RVer has cursed the black streaks that accumulate on the sides of their rigs. But there are ways to deal with RV black streaks, and the best way is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. In this post, we’ll look at the oh-so-handy product (the RV black streak remover), and how to deal with those stubborn black streaks that you may have now. More importantly, we’ll show you how you can keep those black streaks from forming, so you won’t have to deal with them again in the future.

Let’s get right to it!

What Causes RV Black Streaks?

RV black streaks have a few different causes, but they’re generally caused by water, (especially hard water).

Water from rain and air conditioning units tends to run down the sides of the RV. Once the water dries, what’s left behind are the dirt and various minerals and pollutants that were in the water (especially what it picked up as it ran across the roof of your RV). That dirt and debris are the basis of those black streaks that stain the sides of your rig.

If RV black streaks remain on the surface of your RV for a long period of time, they literally bake in and can actually become oxidized into the surface, so that even when you remove the black streaks, an outline of those streaks remains… like a faint shadow.

Older RVs like this van conversion are more likely to need an RV black streak remover.

We’ve often heard it said that older RVs will inevitably have black streaks like these on the paint surface. We couldn’t disagree more, and our 17-year-old rig is proof! Prevention is key!

How Can I Prevent RV Black Streaks?

Generally, RV black streaks build up and cause staining if an RV isn’t washed frequently, and/or if it sits outside without protection for lengthy periods of time.

We’ve read that RV black streaks are inevitable on older RVs, but we couldn’t disagree more. Our motorhome is 17 years old and there’s not a streak to be found on our rig. We’re full-timers, so our RV has only rarely been in storage in our 17 years of ownership. This means that it spends 24/7/365 (or thereabouts) outside in the elements.

We’ve never had to deal with black streaks because we haven’t allowed them to accumulate.

Here’s what we do to prevent RV black streaks.

Wash and Wax Your RV Regularly

We wash our motorhome regularly. That’s probably the most important preventative, in fact.

We give it a thorough wax job about once a year, but we keep the rig as clean as possible throughout the rest of the year. We have a few tools that we use toward this end, and we’ll share them with you here.

First, you can check out our post on the 5 best RV wash and wax products, and you can also check out our annual RV maintenance and spring cleaning video for additional details:

After washing, we use a water blade to squeegee the water off of the surface of the rig, thus dissuading the formulation of streaks. This is ESPECIALLY helpful when you’re washing your RV in an area with hard water, as the more you leave behind, the more hard water spots will form… which can lead to more pronounced black streaks forming.

One Pass Water Blade

One Pass Original Water Blade, Classic 12 Inch T-Bar Squeegee with Extension Pole Adapter
  • Patented T-Bar edge removes over 90% of standing water
  • Included Pole Adapter gives extended reach

We also dry the surface using a soft drying chamois cloth.

Cleantools Drying Chamois

With 20 years of experience washing and waxing an RV under our belts, our favorite wash and wax products are these from Meguiar’s. We use them exclusively for the cleaning of our motorhome.

Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Wash

Meguiar's G7101FFP Gold Class Car Wash - 1 gallon
  • 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)...

Meguiar’s Ultimate Liquid Wax

Sale
Meguiar's G210516 Ultimate Liquid Wax, 16 oz, Black
  • IMPROVED FORMULA: Improved formula delivers a glossier finish, increased protection and more water beading action in one easy step
  • EASY TO USE WAX: Easy spread on and wipe off application – even in full sun

Keep Your RV Roof Clean, As A Way To Prevent The Need For An RV Black Streak Remover

You may have seen our post offering the complete guide to your RV roof. In that post, we discussed the different types of RV roofing and how to best care for each type of roof, including keeping them clean.

Among the benefits of keeping your RV roof clean is that it helps to prevent black streaks. This is because dirt, debris, minerals, etc. accumulate on the roof and then wash down the sides of your RV when it rains. As that water dries/evaporates, the dirt, debris, minerals, etc. are left behind to stain the sides of your rig.

So, keeping your RV roof clean helps substantially to prevent the formation of black streaks.

Keeping your RV roof clean can eliminate the need for an RV black streak remover

Keeping your RV’s roof clean is one of the keys to keeping black streaks from forming on the sides of your rig.

Store or Cover Your RV During Long Periods of No Use

During periods when your RV isn’t being used (which for many includes the winter months) unless your rig is stored indoors, it’s a good idea to cover it.

Now – we’ll admit that there are pros and cons of RV covers, and we wrote about it in the post we just linked to, but buying the proper type of RV cover can be very helpful toward the preservation of your rig’s paint and appearance.

If you’re in the process of researching the possibility of covering your RV, our post on RV covers may be helpful.

What’s the First Thing To Try To Remove RV Black Streaks?

As we mentioned, the best defense against black streaks on your RV is to mount a good offense and regularly clean it. However, if you’ve already got some stubborn stains to deal with, or if you’ve purchased an older RV that has black streaks you’d like to remove, we’ve got a couple of suggestions.

Before using any type of specialized streak cleaner, we’d suggest trying to remove the streaks with a product like the Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Wash linked above.

Using a soft fiber car wash brush on an extension pole can be very helpful, so you don’t have to climb up a ladder to reach them. We use these:

Carrand 10″ Bi-Level Soft Fiber Car Wash Brush

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

Mr. LongArm Pro-Pole Extension Pole

Mr. LongArm 3208 Pro-Pole Extension Pole 4-to-8 Foot
  • Fluted fiberglass handle for a comfortable grip in any climate
  • Medium duty pole with 1-1/16-Inch composite fiberglass handle

Power Pressure Washer

One of the tools we’ve found helpful in keeping our RV looking new over the years is an electric power pressure washer. This allows us to use a higher-pressure wash of the rig’s surface as well as the roof and engine and generator bays, while also saving water!

Karcher K2.150 Electric Power Pressure Washer with 20-Feet Hose, 1500 PSI, 1.3 GPM
  • The Karcher Promise: Cleaner. Quicker. Best-in-class cleaning performance.
  • Bonus $30 DirtBlaster Spray Wand Boosts Cleaning Power by up to 80%

PRO TIP: be VERY careful when using a pressure washer on your RV. Getting the spray nozzle too close to a soft surface (EPDM/TPO roof membrane, Dicor/caulk seals, slide toppers, or awning fabric) COULD damage them.

Professional Wash Stations

We are boondockers at heart, and we spend lots of time in areas of the desert or forest where dust and dirt can easily accumulate on our rig. It goes with the territory, and simply means that we need to get to the business of washing the RV when possible.

For the first 12 years of our RV ownership, we washed our rig ourselves… exclusively. But about five years ago, after hearing lots of fellow RVers raving about professional truck washes, we decided to try one out for ourselves. And wow – did we love that pampering! For about $40, we’ve been able to get our rig professionally washed & dried, and it was well worth the cost.

Here’s our video showing you exactly how it happened – and why we found it worthwhile.

Of course, a place like a truck wash isn’t going to be able to do anything to remove existing black streaks from your RV’s finish. But knowing that a quick, easy, and relatively inexpensive wash is available may help you to keep those streaks from forming in the first place!

PRO TIP: our 2005 Newmar was built before some of the newer, deep-gloss finishes started being used on RVs. As such, it’s more resistant to light scratches/hazing that can occur with brushes that are commonly used at truck washes. Coaches from about 2008 and newer often have a softer clearcoat finish that MAY be more prone to scratching if not washed gently… so be aware!

What If Washing Isn’t Enough? What RV Black Streak Remover Should I Use?

If you’ve tried to remove your rig’s black streaks by washing and scrubbing, and the stains persist, you may have no choice but to resort to a dedicated product designed to remove RV black streaks.

Reliable 1 Super Spray All-Purpose Cleaner As RV Black Streak Remover

Since we don’t allow black streaks to form on our RV, we don’t have personal experience with this product. But Reliable 1 gets very good reviews from RVers who’ve had to deal with the plague of the dreaded RV black streaks. It’s safe, non-toxic, and biodegradable, so it won’t cause harm!

Dealing With Stubborn, Baked-On Black Streaks

If, after all of the above, your RV is still left with hints of black streaks showing, you may need to step things up a bit. If the streaks were left on the finish for an extended period, and/or if your RV was left out in the sun for a long time, they may be baked into the surface as oxidation. While the steps/products above may have helped minimize them, they won’t address the oxidation that’s occurred.

Instead, you’ll need to use a product that’s able to remove the oxidation from the fiberglass gelcoat or clear coat paint finish. Because most of those products are abrasive and, if not used correctly, can leave scratches/swirls in your RV’s finish, we recommend Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound:

Meguiar's G17220 Ultimate Compound, Color & Clarity Restorer, Scratch & Swirl Remover, 591 ML, 1 PT 4 FL oz
  • RESTORE CAR PAINT: One 1 pint 4 fl oz bottle of Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound restores color and clarity by removing moderate oxidation, swirl marks,...
  • IMPRESSIVE PERFORMANCE: Revolutionary formula surpasses the performance of car rubbing compound and car polishing compound tools by reducing the time...

It’s exceptionally suited to removing RV black streaks WITHOUT causing scratches/swirls. Once removed, just be sure to thoroughly wax the treated area to protect the finish (the Ultimate Compound will have removed any/all protective finishes that were on the surface). We really like Meguiar’s Ultimate Liquid wax (available on Amazon), because it goes on easy (use only a very thin coating)… and comes of the same way! No hard scrubbing required, and the finish lasts a LONG time.

No One Likes Dealing With RV Black Streaks!

While they are annoying (and all-too-common), black streaks on your RV can be dealt with fairly easily. And, with some more regular washing, can even be prevented. We hope the tips and products we’ve outlined above help you to achieve your perfect “RV black streak-free” nirvana!

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Sara B

Sunday 15th of May 2022

I’ve been wanting to try a truck wash, especially since our class c doesn’t have a ladder to easily get on the roof, but I’ve heard some negatives. Is there a particular truck wash brand you would recommend?

TheRVgeeks

Monday 16th of May 2022

Hi Sara. Truck washes can be a love 'em or leave 'em scenario... and, unfortunately, it can vary a lot by location (and the staff on duty). We've had good luck with Blue Beacon... but we also stay outside (and visible) while they're washing to keep an eye on things, remind them NOT to use the pressure washer too close, etc. But, as with ANY service-oriented business like this, so much of it depends on WHO is doing the work. Everyone has a bad day every now and again.

TJL

Monday 9th of May 2022

Two words for black streaks: Magic Eraser

TheRVgeeks

Tuesday 10th of May 2022

Good suggestion, TJL! Though we'd caution that it's advisable to TEST first on an inconspicuous location to ensure they don't scratch and/or leave swirl marks on full-body paint. For white gelcoat/fiberglass, we'd bet they do a great job!

Jim Poland

Monday 9th of May 2022

What are your thoughts re the use of waterless products for cleaning your RV, such as Wash Wax All? As I understand it, if your rig is excessively dirty or you've been near the ocean, you should at least rinse of the dirt/salt with water before using the waterless product for final cleaning and waxing. Thanks as always.

TheRVgeeks

Tuesday 10th of May 2022

Hi Jim... we tend to rely primarily on normal car wash soap and do a full-on washing to get our rig cleaned. But, yes, the waterless wash-and-wax products are convenient (especially for upkeep between major washings). Just like you said, be careful to ensure you're not using them on a rig that's TOO dirty/salty, as that could lead to scratching. If we were in that situation, we'd definitely want to rinse off the worst of it before using a waterless product.

Suzanne

Monday 9th of May 2022

Thank you for this information on the how and when, but I have one other question, and that's the "where." Since you guys are full timers, where do you find a place to do this work as shown in the photo with the covered awning? Since many RV parks don't allow it, and smaller campgrounds don't want you using their water, just curious as to the "where" for the benefit of us full timers. Thank you.

TheRVgeeks

Tuesday 10th of May 2022

Hi Suzane. The "where" can be a challenge when you're fulltime. But we've found that we can find RV parks in our travels that allow it. Occasionally it will require paying a small fee ($5-10) to allow it. But it almost always requires calling the office ahead of time to confirm... before booking a reservation. As for the "covered awning"... that's just our RV's patio awning extended to provide some shade for us on the sunny side of the rig. It wasn't a covering at an RV site.

When we've been in desperate need of a wash, but couldn't find an RV park that allowed it (with or without an extra fee), we've either looked for self-wash car wash locations that have a bay at the end (without any overhang) or that were tall enough to allow us to pull in without hitting anything. Those places usually require washing the RV in stages... pulling the nose in and washing the front half of the RV... then pulling through (or backing out and turning around) to get the back half. Takes a while to do... and a lot of quarters 😉... so we PREFER to do it on a site at an RV park whenever possible.

John Schretlen

Monday 9th of May 2022

"With 20 years of experience washing and waxing an RV under our belts, our favorite wash and wax products are these from Meguiar’s."

Agree with you, Meguiar's makes excellent cleaning products. In fact I tend to buy them at home because they are not stocked at some places we visit on the road.

But I have not tried their Gold Class car wash in my foam cannon (on my pressure washer). Do you have a foam cannon and if so have you tried Meguiar's products with it?

TheRVgeeks

Tuesday 10th of May 2022

Hi John. No... we haven't tried the Meguiar's car wash in a foam cannon. We don't have one for our pressure washer and just rely on the tried-and-true "mix some soapy water up in a bucket" technique. We're old school like that! ;)

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