Wash your rig with dish soap?

21

By Russ and Tiña De Maris

When RVtravel.com ran a video that espoused the idea of cleaning RV exteriors with water and liquid dish soap, it didn’t take long for a reader to respond. We were well chastised for the suggestion. “Dish soap is known to soften automotive paint,” came the comment. “Never ever, ever use it on a painted surface.”

To these writers, who’ve been using Dawn in a bucket on their trucks and cars for years, it was a “new wrinkle.” But you learn something new every day, so we set out to find out the facts behind the stories. And it’s hard to pin down a truly authoritative “horse’s mouth” on the subject while there are, admittedly, a lot of other horse’s parts ready to spout off on the matter.

The consensus of opinion from what we’d consider the professional sources seems to boil down to this, as lifted from autos.com: “Dish washing detergent, for the most part, is safe for car finishes. Nothing in dish washing detergent will actually harm your vehicle’s finish, but there are some differences between dish washing detergent and soap that is made specifically for vehicles. One of the differences is that some of the ingredients in dish washing detergent will also effectively strip the waxes and polishes you may have applied in the past off of your vehicle’s paint.”

Will you “hurt the paint”? Doesn’t sound like it. Will you make yourself more work? Pretty likely. If you want a shiny surface, you’ll be back to rewaxing after you wash your rig with liquid dish soap.

But hang on — How many of us have RVs with a finish job like on our toad cars? Not too many. In fact, the swing in industry is to fiberglass with gel coat. What about using liquid dish soap? Here again, the consensus is similar: It won’t actually harm the rig itself, but dish soap will wipe out any wax, leaving you with a need to rewax to get that old shinola back.

If you have a fiberglass-sided rig that’s been seriously neglected, a bit of bleach and dish soap in your water bucket may actually clean the nastiness off the rig. And then you’ll have an opportunity to build up your biceps doing the Mr. Miyagi (“Wax on, wax off. Wax on, wax off” — from “The Karate Kid”).

In any event, if you want to preserve the wax finish, spend a couple extra bucks and pick up soap designed for auto or fiberglass washing.

##RVT778 ##RVDT1285

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Gordy
6 months ago

RUSS AND TINA, LOVE YOUR ARTICLES, KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK! AS FOR WASHING WITH DISH SOAP, I HAVE USED BLUE DAWN FOR YEARS ON ALL MY RV’S AND CARS. I HAVE NEVER HAD A PAINT PROBLEM, I ALSO WAX ONCE A YEAR WITH HARD SHELL TURTLE WAX LIQUID (EASY ON, EASY OFF). I HAD ONE PARTICULAR VEHICLE I DIDN’T LIKE THE COLOR OF AND THEREFORE DID NOT WAX FOR THREE YEARS (I DID WASH IT REGULARLY). IT WAS INVOLVED IN AN ACCIDENT AND NEEDED ONE SIDE REPAINTED. I THOUGHT THAT WOULD BE A GOOD TIME TO REPAINT IT A COLOR I LIKED, IT TOOK THREE GALLONS OF WAX REMOVER TO GET IT WHERE IT COULD BE REPAINTED.

Ken
6 months ago
Reply to  Gordy

Hi Gordy, a gentle heads up, in case you didn’t remember or didn’t know. Writing in all capital letters in internet forums is considered to be the same as shouting in a face to face conversation. As such, it is considered bad form. FYI

Admin
RV Staff (@rvstaff)
6 months ago
Reply to  Ken

Thank you for your very gentle and considerate reminder, Ken. I was going to mention that but you beat me to it. Some of our readers aren’t aware of the ramifications of typing in all caps, and you explained it very well. Have a good night. 😀 —Diane at RVtravel.com

kenray
1 month ago
Reply to  RV Staff

And I seriously doubt, at this late stage of “interneting”, that people actually think someone typing in all caps intends to be SHOUTING at the reader! (Much more effective and to-the-point when “capping” a single word here and there, don’t you agree?) Some people, like my elderly, ELDERLY parents, had never typed in their lives until we forced a computer on them, and they still struggle, always will. Finding a shift key for an upper case letter?….Well, forget about it, so they type in caps. OWIE, MOMMY! With all the problems in our world today, including right here in our good ol’ USA, I think we can let go and quit preching at people for typing in all caps, don’t you?

kenray
1 month ago
Reply to  RV Staff

“Ramifications” Really?? What ramifications?…..the “ALL CAPS POLICING MILITARY” comes to your house, breaks the door down and hauls dangerous people like Gordy away to CapShouting Prison? RAMIFICATIONS! That was me, raising my voice, but I think that was clear to every reader, unlike Gordy’s innocent all-caps post that had no shouting in it, NONE, ZERO, and I think every reader realized that, too.

Admin
RV Staff (@rvstaff)
1 month ago
Reply to  kenray

Sheesh, kenray. “Ramifications” just means the consequence of an action. I’m 73 and don’t do much social media stuff, but I heard a long time ago that when someone puts their message in all caps it usually means they’re shouting. This commenter obviously wasn’t shouting and I thanked the person who explained it to him for doing it so nicely. So you’re jumping all over me for that? Can’t find anyone else to pick on at the moment? Sorry my innocent comment got you so riled up. Have a good night, and stay healthy. —Diane at RVtravel.com

kenray
1 month ago
Reply to  RV Staff

Good for you, but I am weary of people getting on others about silly things that really don’t matter, often to make themselves feel important or knowledgeable at the expense and embarrassment of another…..FOR WHAT? We have real problems going on all over this country right now, terrible things that threaten to tear us apart as a nation. So, what I’m saying is maybe we can put the all-caps etiquette critique in mothballs, and give a brother (who meant no harm and did no harm) a break. Maybe a “thank-you for your input and for sharing your experience with us” would’ve been a better response. Maybe we can put alot of “stuff” aside in favor of kindness for one another.

kenray
1 month ago
Reply to  Ken

And I seriously doubt, at this late stage of “interneting”, that people actually think someone typing in all caps intends to be SHOUTING at the reader! (Much more effective and to-the-point when “capping” a single word here and there, don’t you agree?) Some people, like my elderly, ELDERLY, 80-something parents, had never typed in their lives until we forced a computer on them, and they still struggle, always will. Finding a shift key for an upper case letter?….Well, forget about it, so they type in caps. OWIE, MOMMY, I think they’re shouting in caps! With all the problems in our world today, including right here in our good ol’ USA, I think we can stiffen up our oh-so-touchy sensitivities and quit preching at people for typing in all caps, don’t you?

Alvin
6 months ago

Owned a lot of RV’s, cars and trucks. boats too, and have used a couple drops of sunlight dish soap in the pail and went at them with vigor. Have never had one single paint related problem.

If it’s worth anything from a guy who spent his working life repairing and painting automotive bodies, here’s my opinion.
The clearcoat on your car and truck and SOME recreational vehicles is bullet proof -there’s very few chemicals regardless of how strong they are that’ll touch that finish. Rest assured also there’s no soap safe for a ladies hands in the kitchen that’ll touch modern clearcoats either.

If you go nuts and use more than a few drops in a bucket – yes I suppose you could remove some paint protectant – which you really don’t need, but some of us do anyway,- I guess because dad did – eh?
Good topic.

Dick and Sandy currently at Lazy Days RV Resort FL
6 months ago

Everyone has a different way of washing and keeping their rig looking great. Our DP Class A has full body paint. We use a wash and wax product that is used on boats with a gel coat outer surface. Just rinse a small section, wash using the gel coat wash/wax solution with a long handle soft brush, rinse off and let air dry. No muss no fuss wiping or waxing. Google Gel coat wash and wax. Yes it is expensive but it does the job for us and it works. At our age we are beyond the work of wiping down and hand waxing.

Keeping your RV roof clean should be done at least once a year. We contacted the manufacturer of our seamless one piece roof material to find out their instructions on cleaning the roof. For us they suggested we use mild soap such as Dove. Rinse off a small section.scrub lightly with a soft long handle brush, then rinse off. Our roof does not require any additional UV coating. Knowing your roof material will help with cleaning, patching and if additional UV coating is needed.

Safe travels to all

A Pseudonym
6 months ago

Okay, Russ and Tiña, it’s time to reinforce what I’ve been thinking and saying for years. Youz guyz are the BEST! Thanks for both the wit and very usable information.

M. Will
6 months ago

Have used Dawn or a similar dish soap to wash every vehicle and RV that I have ever owned including rubber roofs. It works best in a hot or warm water but use it in cold if I don’t have any available. Have never had any paint or surface problems on any of them.

Will
6 months ago

If you’re waxing your fiberglass rig, you’re wasting your time. Please research fiberglas polishing products that contain PTFE (teflon) that are specifically intended for fiberglass and gelcoat.

They go on very easily and last a long time. Can’t find a similar product locally? Look for it in a marine/boat shop or on line at a place like West Marine.

Travis
6 months ago
Reply to  Will

Yes I use the Collinite product. Best wax around for me anyways.

Bob Lambert
3 years ago

I read where Spic N Span was good to clean a rubber roof. Mine had some areas that had turned a darker color, so I tried it, rinsing very well, then washing the RV sides with Blue Coral wash n wax. Seemed to work very well, better than anything else I’ve ever used.

Bob Godfrey
3 years ago

I once had a discussion with a representative from Dicor about how best to clean my rubber roof and I was told that Dawn dishwashing liquid was as good as anything to clean the rubber roof. Just be sure to rinse the sides of the RV well immediately so that the soap does not harm the wax job.

John Ahrens
3 years ago

I suggest check your rig’s owner’s manual. Tiffin recommends using baby shampoo to clean the outside. They also recommend using sheepskin, no brushes or fabrics with plastics. Microfiber is made from polyester, a plastic.

Curt L Coffee
3 years ago

What about the rubber roof

Nathan
3 years ago
Reply to  Curt L Coffee

I have been using about half a cup All HE Laundry detergent, half cup bleach, in about 3 gallons of water. I mop it on with a car wash mop let is sit for a few minutes and rinse. The roof comes out very clean with little effort. I use the same solution in a 2 gallon garden sprayer on the awning. Spray on, roll up, wait 5 – 10 minutes then rinse.

Nathan
3 years ago
Reply to  Nathan

I forgot to mention I have a vinyl roof though.

Drew
6 months ago
Reply to  Curt L Coffee

Curt, Bleach will get it clean but it’s not recommended on rubber roofs (and I wouldn’t use it on any other kind either). I always just used car soap or whatever I used to wash the rv. Apply with a soft brush on a long handle and rinse. There are rv specific products for roofs but not necessary to use in my opinion.