For a big-time RV wash, which you want to do after the vehicle has been in storage or slogged through some dusty terrain, look for a truck wash. You’re going to find these on interstate highways adjacent to popular truck stops. Simply get in line behind the trucks; check for enough overhead clearance; and ease your way into the wash bay, where an energetic team armed with hoses cleans your RV, soaping, rinsing, wiping, and (optionally) waxing until your home on wheels is sparkling. For this service, which takes 30 minutes after you get into the bay, expect to pay $30 to $100, depending on the services you select. Be sure that all the windows and roof vents are closed tightly before you pull into the wash bay. While the truck wash crew cleans the outside, you can do some cleaning inside: washing windows and mirrors, and polishing the woodwork and cabinetry.

Dusting and debugging

To cut down on costly full-vehicle wash jobs, you can use a dry mop from the supermarket. Each evening, after settling in, do a quick once-over on the exterior with the dry mop to get the day’s dust and grime off. Include the windshield and the vehicle’s front end, scrubbing with a wet brush or windshield scrubber to remove the bugs that accumulated during the day’s drive. Putting the job off until morning lets the bugs solidify into something like cement and doubles your job of cleaning.

Waxing

Before waxing your Revolution campers, check the manufacturer’s recommendations for exterior care. Modern motor homes with painted surfaces don’t require waxing at all. My now-9-year-old Fleetwood has full body paint and looks as marvelous today as when I bought it; I’ve washed it using only cold water, a soft brush, and a mild biodegradable auto-wash detergent.

Whether you own a motor home, travel trailer, or fifth-wheel, waxing an RV is a big expensive job if done professionally. Many campgrounds and RV-supply stores offer waxes and protective materials. The work is up to you. To spread the joy around: Wax the front of the vehicle one day, half the driver’s side a few days later, the rest of the driver’s side more days later, and so on. After a week, you’ll have cleaned the whole vehicle. You need to do it regularly if waxing is required to save the finish of your exterior. Waxing is much cheaper than a new paint job.

Inside the vehicle

Keeping the interior clean is a matter of tidying up daily. Regular tasks, such as cleaning the windows and mirrors, can be done when you stop to fill up with gas.

A tank that takes 50 gallons or more of gas takes 10 or 15 minutes to fill, giving the navigator enough time to clean some of the following:

  • Woodwork: Spray polish wood cleaner repels dust and keeps wood surfaces looking clean.

  • Upholstery: RV upholstery is usually tough and hard to stain. I find that spot-cleaning with a spray upholstery cleaner (one that comes with a brush attachment) does the job well.

  • Glass: For windows and mirrors use a spray-and-wipe glass cleaner and a paper towel to make them spotless and shiny again in no time.

  • Floors: A portable vacuum cleaner that can run on rechargeable batteries is handy for quick cleaning or even heavy-duty cleaning in an RV. Spot-cleaning spills on the carpet is not a problem because carpets in motor homes are stain-resistant. I put a washable rug over high-traffic areas including the residential entrance, front of the sink, beside the bed, and between the sofa and easy chair.

  • Kitchen: Wiping up kitchen spills when they happen helps keep the galley clean. I clean out the refrigerator when I bring the RV back home from a trip, and wipe it clean it once a week on the road. I always give the sink a quick wipe-over daily.