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Ask Dave: Can I use a pressure washer to clean my RV?

Dear Dave,
Can I use a pressure washer to clean my RV, both the top and the body? —A. Ramirez, 2019 NeXus RV Phantom, Ford E-Series

Dear A.,
You can use a pressure washer to clean your Class C Phantom. However, you need to make sure the pressure is somewhere around 1000-1200 psi. There are several areas you need to be aware of on your rig, such as the rubber roof membrane, sealants, and lights.

The best pressure for pressure washing an RV

There are two ways to dial down the pressure. Most portable pressure washers have an unloader that regulates the pressure, and you can dial this down to get the softer pressure. Most car wash locations have approximately 1200 psi at 2.6 gallons per minute, so they do not peel off the car paint. Another option is to use a tip that will provide the proper pressure.

Tips come in a variety of ranges from fan size to orifice diameter. Pictured here is a yellow tip, which indicates it is a 15-degree fan size and has the marking on the side that shows 15050. This means it is an orifice size of 050 and for this unit is 2000 psi at 3.6 gpm. The green tip means it is a 25-degree fan size and the 100 is a larger opening and only provides 500 psi at 3.6 gpm. So, if you have a removable tip for the wand, you can get any fan size, but will want to get an orifice that provides 1000 psi, which, in this case, would be a 075.

Be careful…

Be careful on the roof of your RV as your rubber membrane is a soft material, and you can cause damage or introduce moisture underneath if there is a slight bubble or pinhole in the material. Check all seams carefully and do not apply close, direct pressure to the material or seams. Keeping the wand back several feet is the best. Check all sealants around vents, at the front cap, and sides to make sure there are no cracks or pinholes where pressure could cause damage. And be careful around any clearance lights, as this is another area that moisture could penetrate.

On the sides and front cap, inspect any decals for curled edges or cracks, and be careful with direct pressure as you could peel those up, as well. I typically fill a 5-gallon bucket with soap and Dawn dish soap to do most of the heavy cleaning and scrubbing, using a hose or low psi pressure washer to soak it down first, then scrub the rig with a soft brush, and rinse it off.

One tip: Keep the sides, front, and back wet while cleaning the roof! Caulking material from the roof will run down the sides and if they are dry and in direct sunlight, they will stain. That will be horrible to clean, trust me.

Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club.

Read more from Dave here

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