Motorhome advice: Spring cleaning a motorhome
With the start of the season on the horizon, now is the perfect time to prepare your motorhome or campervan with a thorough clean.
That is unless you were meticulous in your preparations prior to winter storage, thoroughly cleaning inside and out, as well as fitting a cover and sheeting over the interior upholstery.
In most cases, with even a short lay-up in winter, deposits will have landed on the bodywork, including grit and bird deposits along with mould growth and deterioration from atmospheric pollution.
The inside may look in better shape but undoubtedly the upholstery will have collected its share of dust and grit blown in through the motorhome air vents along with any deposits from usage at the end of autumn camping.
Not only will a good spring clean make you feel better about your unit, but it will help keep it in good shape, and prevent the acceleration of ageing and consequential loss of value.
Before you start cleaning your motorhome
It’s always best to use cleaning products specifically formulated for motorhomes (or caravans) as some cleaners can be too harsh for some of the many materials that are used on leisure vehicles.
Choose good-quality brushes, sponges and cloths to apply your cleaning products. A brush with a soft wrap-around head on a long extending handle will safely reach the upper parts of your motorhome.
Alternatively use a sponge with an open texture or a microfibre wash pad or mitt, but take care when using ladders for the upper levels. The aim is to use products that allow dust and grit to work into the applicator fabric rather than remain on the surface and grind into the paintwork.
Cleaning the exterior bodywork of your motorhome
Before washing always hose down the body to rinse off surface dust and grit and this will also wet up more stubborn deposits which come off better when softened with water.
If it’s the first wash of the season it’s worth using concentrated formulations, such as Caravan Magic’s Crud Buster, as these are much better at cutting through stubborn dirt, grease and gunge.
After the first wash you can go back to a regular cleaner.
Avoid washing on a hot breezy day as the dirty washing solution will soon dry on the bodywork before you get to rinse it down with clean water, leaving dirty streaks behind.
Once you’ve washed and rinsed the roof, start at the top of wall panels, one side or section at a time and the water flowing from the top will help soften or swill away heavier deposits of road grime along the lower body.
Rinse off before moving onto the next section.
Apply your cleaning solution by spray, sponge or brush and leave for 30 seconds or so to let deposits soak and soften before agitating the surface with gentle movement of your sponge or brush. Rinse your sponge or brush regularly in your bucket of cleaning solution to release the detritus wiped off the bodywork.
Use an old toothbrush to help clean away the build-up of algae around windows and locker doors.
Don’t forget your retractable steps – give these a good clean as a build-up of grime can clog the mechanism.
For stubborn insect remains, place a cloth soaked in warm cleaning solution over them for five minutes or so and then wash off again.
Alternatively, squashed insects can be dealt with by products like Caravan Magic’s Sticky Bug and Beastie Remover. Similarly, if you have any stubborn black streaks on body panels there’s a handy spray bottle of Black Streak Remover available.
Caravan Magic’s products can be used in a pressure washer if desired, but applying water from a normal garden hose is generally safer. If you do use a pressure washer, keep the pressure as low as possible to prevent damage to body seals.
Cleaning acrylic windows in a motorhome
Acrylic windows are excellent at providing lightweight clear glazing but they are sensitive to crazing from exposure to chemicals and, being a soft material, they are easily scratched. So, rinse well before washing and also after cleaning to ensure there is no cleaning product left on the surface.
Light scratches can be polished out with the use of a specialist product. To get the best finish use a specialist acrylic cleaner.
Motorhome wheel care
Use a specialist brush to make cleaning between the spokes less of a chore. On alloy wheels, it’s best not to use wheel cleaners that contain weak acid, so look for acid-free products. Even weak acid solutions, while they will clean the wheel, may also attack the lacquer coating on the wheel and encourage surface deterioration.
Getting the best finish when cleaning a motorhome
It’s best to dry off washed surfaces to avoid salts in the rinse water leaving a patchy appearance. Use a hydra blade to remove the bulk of the water from panels and finish all surfaces with a microfibre cloth.
Some people like to apply a wax polish at this stage to provide extra protection. If you do this, try spray-on polishes like Spot Wax Finisher, which make the chore much easier and also give a high-shine finish.
Cleaning the interior of a motorhome
Dust and grit accumulating on the soft furnishings will tend to abrade the fabric, so a regular vacuum is worthwhile. To remove ingrained dirt and stains you will need a specialist cleaner like Carpet & Upholstery Wizard.
Applied after vacuuming, its foaming action avoids the fabric getting too wet. Once it has been worked into the fabric, it can be wiped off along with the dirt. The product can also be used on carpets.
Wipe over hard surfaces with a bespoke cleaner, such as Caravan Magic’s All Purpose Power Cleaner wipes or spray to clean and disinfect.
Fridge interiors should not be forgotten and hopefully you left the door ajar during the winter months to prevent the build-up of mould.
Clean the fridge interior with Multi Wash spray or solution to safely clean the plastic interior without any residual taint.
Metal door and locker hinges will benefit from an occasional drop of lubricant to keep them free running and a wipe over will keep them rust free. Be careful not to use solvent-based lubricants which can affect adjacent plastic surfaces so try silicone spray.
A can of silicone spray is also very useful to keep the rubber seals in the toilet cassette and the seals around the external locker supple. However, keep silicone spray away from window seals because of the sensitivity of the acrylic glazing.
Motorhome washroom hygiene
A few times a year it’s a good idea to fill the toilet cassette with a lukewarm solution of cleaning fluid like Crud Buster and leave overnight.
Gently agitate the filled cassette several times as this will help remove any build-up of slime to keep the tank fresh smelling.
To keep your cassette waste tank fresher for longer, use an effective toilet fluid in the cassette waste tank, such as Caravan Magic’s Khazi Kleanse. This product will also help break down the waste and make emptying a better experience.
If you have a top-flushing water tank, Khazi Kleanze can be used here, too, to deodorise the bowl and inhibit the formation of black bits in the tank.
Cleaning the water supply to your motorhome
Cleaning and sterilising of the water supply system is essential to avoid contamination of the water, which can lead to gastro-intestinal and other nasty infections if you go on to drink the water.
Any build-up of limescale and biofilm over the surface of your tanks and pipes will encourage the growth of bacteria.
So, regularly filling up the system with a solution such as Caravan Magic’s Multi-Wash and leaving it overnight will provide biocidal cleansing to remove algae and bacteria. Rinse the system through with clean water and you’re ready to go without any fear of residual tainting of the stored water.
Similar products will also clean out your waste tank and pipes to prevent a build-up of slime and subsequent smells. For best results in both situations use lukewarm water to make up the required solution.
Don’t forget to treat your portable filling container and filler hose in the same way.
And remember, you must never fill up your tank with a garden hose – always use a food-grade hose to avoid tainting the water.
Truma, which produces many of the water heaters found in motorhomes and campervans also recommends descaling its hot water boilers twice a year.
It’s essential to avoid bleach or any product containing chlorine as this will attack the stainless-steel interior of the hot water tank.
On-the-road motorhome cleaning
Finally, don’t forget as soon as you have cleaned your motorhome that muddy site access roads can undo some of your cleaning effort.
And then there’s the ever-present danger of bird droppings, which can be so harmful to paintwork, especially when it’s sunny weather.
The answer is to carry a spray bottle of a product like Waterless Wondershine and a microfibre cloth for quick and easy on-site spruce-ups of the exterior.