How to keep your campervan clean
Love it or loathe it, cleaning your campervan is something that has to be done from time to time.
Although when and how often you clean your camper might depend on how you use it. Those with rising roof campervans tend to use them more often in the warmer seasons, as the nature of a canvas pop-top can mean it gets a bit chilly.
People who use their campervans seasonally will usually carry out a proper spring clean ahead of their first camping trip, in order to blow away the cobwebs, and also have a good clean up at the end of season.
If you’ve got a permanent high-top campervan then you’re more likely to camp all year round. As a result, you’ll probably find yourself having more cleaning to do.
Luckily, regardless of how much or how little you choose to clean your campervan, help is at hand as there’s a wide range of products on the market that certainly make the job a lot easier.
Getting the exterior of your campervan clean
Let’s face it, camping is a dirty hobby. Head to the countryside and your camper will come back caked in mud and cowpats!
If you regularly go to the seaside then watch out for sand and salt corrosion (as with gritted roads in winter). Driving in itself is a messy business, too. You only have to look at the amount of bugs on your windscreen at the end of a long journey to get an idea of how grotty your campervan is.
As a result, it’s probably the exterior that gets the most attention. Depending on size, you might get away with putting it through the car wash, and some hand car washes will do campervans. However, for best effect, it’s best to DIY it at home and luckily there’s a whole host of products on the market that certainly make life easier.
Use Caravan Magic’s Crud Buster and Black Streak Remover if your campervan is very filthy. Wash Wizard Shampoo and Spot Wax Finisher are for normal circumstances, while Waterless Wondershine is handy for buffing when out and about.
Don’t neglect the soft furnishings in your campervan
Everyone loves that new-car smell but it never seems to last, does it? And if there’s one thing that’s going to make your lovely campervan look tatty in years to come, it’s neglecting the soft furnishings.
If you often travel with messy kids and pets, it’s wise to use seat covers and blankets that can easily be chucked in the washing machine, or replaced. And if the kids have got ice cream up the curtains or you’ve spilled wine on the rock ‘n’ roll bed, sort it out. Carry a bottle of upholstery spray in the camper, and you can deal with it immediately.
The same goes for general cleaning, as it’s easier to do it in situ. At the end of any camping trip, wipe down the cooker and work surfaces, wipe out the fridge and sink, and sweep the floor. Don’t forget to clean the windows, either.
While it’s easy to see how dirty the outsides get, it’s easy to forget that the insides become grotty, too. After all, we live in our campers. That means squished bugs and grubby handprints!
Campervan water tank maintenance
Our campervans are full of all kinds of gadgets and gizmos that enable us to camp in home-from-home luxury. But, like our appliances at home, these need looking after.
Unless you’re an expert, don’t tamper with gas and electrics; instead, take your campervan for a habitation check from time to time.
Most other things are easy enough to maintain. For example, if you have a portable loo in your camper then you’ll be used to cleaning this on a regular basis, with a specific disinfectant product. Likewise, you’ll be familiar with emptying the (grey) waste water tank.
Fresh water tanks and pipework need maintenance, too. Never leave water in the tank at the end of a holiday as this can go stagnant, allowing algae to grow.
When you do fill the tank, run the water for a while in order to rinse pipes through. From time to time, however, (especially if your camper spends long periods out of use) the whole system will need a proper flush with something like Caravan Magic’s Multiwash Concentrate.
If in doubt about the condition of your water systems, to be on the safe side, don’t drink water from your tank without boiling it first. Avoid running cleaning products through boilers, too, as it can cause damage.
Cleaning campervan outdoor accessories
Don’t forget to show any outdoor accessories some TLC, too. Things like awnings, tents and windbreaks have a hard life, as they’re permanently exposed to the elements. If you have to pack up in the rain, make sure you dry things out properly (including pop-tops) once you’re home as damp and mould can cause the fabric to rot.
While awnings and tents offer UV protection and are waterproof when you bought, it’s important to look after them in order to keep them in tip-top condition. Treat them with an awning and fabric reproofer spray.
Once a year should be enough and at the start of your camping season is the ideal time. Pick a warm, dry and wind-free day to put your awning/tent up and ensure it’s free of mud, etc, before you start.
If your camper lives outside, things like bike racks and solar panels will appreciate being cleaned and covered over in winter, too, if you’re not going to use them much. Similarly, it’s a good idea to disconnect the leisure battery.
Make regular checks on your campervan
If your campervan is also the daily runner then it’s more likely to be treated as a car, instead of a leisure vehicle. As such, take precautions where possible to keep your camper clean and in good order throughout.
Avoid parking under trees as leaves and sap make for messy business, not to mention the birds! Covers come in all shapes and sizes, for all makes and models of campervans, and these are really handy for protecting your camper from everything from intense sun in summer through to heavy snow in winter. Windscreen covers are also really handy, and always ensure your windscreen washer bottle is topped up. In winter, carry a good-quality ice scraper and/or a bottle of de-icer.
You’re probably accustomed to regularly checking tyre pressure, but how often do you polish your alloys? Heavy use means brake dust and general road grime quickly builds up, which is damaging to metal surfaces. Cleaning them regularly with a product like Metal Trim & Alloy Cleaner from Caravan Magic should not only keep the wheels on your ride looking sweet but will also prolong their life.
Top campervan cleaning tips from Caravan Magic
Cleaning inside your campervan
Keep the floor and carpets clean
Recycle old beach towels or buy some from a charity shop to make a great top floor covering to collect sand, grass, mud and debris from pets and people traipsing in
and out – simply gather up and shake!
Before starting, clear the clutter
Thoroughly vacuum clean the interior of your campervan before applying any cleaning fluids or spray. That way dust and debris will not be ingrained into surfaces, cracks and crevices. Avoid using abrasive or harsh chemical cleaners – stick to recommended products.
Use the right cleaning product
Use only foaming specialist care products on furniture fabrics and curtains. Avoid heavily soaking fabrics and furnishings with water, as foam dirt transfer systems, such as Carpet and Upholstery Wizard, work best. Keep all worktop surfaces free of grease and food debris to prevent attracting flies & creepie crawlies.
Cleaning outside your campervan
Assemble equipment before you start You'll need a good-quality sponge, microfibre cloths, a good-sized bucket, a lengthy water hose and a sturdy ladder
– preferably a multi-positional ladder that won’t fall on your camper!
Small soft bristle brushes are a boon for cleaning hard to reach places, too, such as under skylights and around tricky window edges.
Wet your campervan before washing
Keep it wet during the washing process to soften grease and algae. On a hot day, try to wash the campervan in the shade, or wash and rinse sectionally. Don’t be tempted to blast off the dirt, it’s better to ease it off using specialist shampoos and cleansers with a quality sponge and microfibre cloth, rinsing as frequently as needed.
Add the finishing touches
Finish the paintwork and panels with a sealer to build up a resistance to dirt and to protect the paintwork from oxidisation. Clean windows with specialist glass and acrylic cleaners only, as general cleaning products may contain abrasives or chemicals detrimental to acrylics. If your campervan spends a lot of time at the beach, it's important to protect the metalwork from sea salt and sand abrasion, too.
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