Washing your RV when on the road

10

By Russ and Tiña De Maris

dirty road
deltaMike on flickr.com

If you pull your rig in the wintertime, you know the drill: Doesn’t matter what color your rig was when you started out, it’s probably an entirely different one at the ‘other end’ of the road. It’s one of those cosmic humor things – RVs are designed to attract dirt. The standing joke about RVs coming back from Alaska is they’re all “chocolate brown.”

If the ‘end of the road’ for you means your back yard at home, then it’s just a matter of getting up the gumption to wash the rig. But for those on the road, washing the RV while traveling can become a big issue. In the desert Southwest (and now, in many parts of California) where water is a bit on the scarce side, there are plenty of RV parks that just aren’t allowing guests to wash their rigs in the park. Most do-it-yourself car wash bays are just too small to accommodate a rig. What’s the answer?

There are some possible alternatives:

One RVer says he looks around for a large shopping center with say, a “Big Box” store and politely inquires of management if he might wash his rig out in a distant corner, using his own water. “Some say fine, others no,” he explains. Where he gets a “yes,” he pumps water from his own tank supply and washes his unit down. If you try this, and your rig is muddy, be sure to station your rig close to a water catchment so you can run the muddy water down the drain and not leave a mess on the asphalt.

Double check with the RV park manager. Some say they’ve seen signs posted that rig washing is not allowed, by on checking, find that in some cases for a few extra bucks, management will allow the rig to be washed.

In areas heavily visited by RVs, like Quartzsite, Arizona, you may find folks that will come and wash your rig for you. They bring the water and the labor, you provide the money. Often times there’s a pretty spendy price tag for the job, so make sure you understand exactly what the cost is, and what services will be provided, before you give the nod.

Truck washes: Several RVers have commented favorably about outfits that wash 18-wheelers. No, we’re not talking about an oversize “suds-it-yourself” outfit, but rather, you roll your rig in the bay and somebody else does the dirty work. One firm that’s widely commented on is the Blue Beacon Truck Wash franchise. One source told us their big fifth-wheel and truck was cleaned up nicely for less than $40. Another mentioned that they’ve had good success at the chain, but they ask for (and receive at no extra charge) a “heavy rinse,” because experience has told them without it, they don’t always get all the suds off.

And here’s a ‘do it before you get it dirty’ thought: Going heavy on the wax if you do your own washing at home may stand you in good stead down the road. Some comment that heavy wax on the rig makes the dirt come off easier down the road.

##rvt750

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TravelingMan
3 months ago

We’ve been users of Blue Beacon in the past. Usually $40-60 dollars. Tipping on top in advance to the lead usually helps a lot (Usually $10 or so – It’s divided by the pool – usually).

When I wash/dry, it takes about 3-4 hours and I pay for it with body aches and pains for a few days afterward. It’s usually spring or fall. Never summer or winter. That’s where BB is a real help.

We have had 1 or 2 experiences where the BB wash was not that great but its not the normal. And, they are usually done is 20 minutes or less. You just have to get in line with truckers. Sometimes, there is no one there and that’s when we get the best wash!

Waxing is done by me 2 to 3 times a year. We have full body paint.

TravelingMan
3 months ago
Reply to  TravelingMan

Tip: I use the Scratch Doctor by NuFinish for branch scrapes, etc. It works wonderfully on MOST scratches!

https://www.amazon.com/Nu-Finish-NFS-05-Scratch-Doctor/dp/B000AME50Y

wanderer
3 months ago

My experience with Blue Beacon in Florida was not that great. Waited in a long line for 40 minutes, paid $90. Was told they ‘don’t do’ roofs. 7 guys stood around blasting the sides with pressure hoses, marring some of the decals. Plenty of love bugs remained when they were ‘done’.

I do better washing it myself at a park that does allow washing, or is unattended and no one cares. I do NOT wash at a river or lakeside spot, too easy for the soap to get into the waterway.

One hospitable place which says ‘of course you can wash your rig here’ is Carolina Crossroads, a nice park in eastern North Carolina. I’ve noticed a few others now allow it for a small extra fee because the alternative is a park full of increasingly cruddy seasonal and permanent rigs.

Ace
9 months ago

After the rv wash hint: For easy bug removal; once the rv is clean, wipe the leading face with Pledge (wood polish). It has a slightly slick finish and bugs do not stick to it. I owned airplanes for years and summer bugs were decimated on the leading edges; I always wiped the edge with Pledge after a wash and it works wonders. No, it does not hurt paint, aluminum, fiberglass. Do a test area if in doubt.

TravelingMan
2 months ago
Reply to  Ace

Don’t get that on your slide seals…Ours melted into goo….I tried it after another reviewer made the recommendation. I tried the Dollar Store knock off as well. Both reacted the same. It’s slide seal approved products only from now on…Not all seals are created equal I guess.

Brian
4 years ago

Along with the idea of extra heavy rinse with the Blue Beacon spot free rinse we find some of their facilities do offer drying for an extra charge. Sometimes we try to do our own drying. Do not leave and hit the road immediately as water that has seeped between slides and awnings will seep back out an streak the sides of the rig (some call Blue Beacon “Streakin Beacon” but you can prevent the streaks y allowing drying time. If we do get streaks we use a mixture of vinegar and water in a small pump spray bottle to hit the streaks and then immediately wipe and most streaks are gone. We do not like the Blue Beacon tire stuff. I think all Blue Beacons are company owned – not franchises.

We try to wash before we get too dirty. We now know of the RV parks where washing is allowed and we favor those locations. We wax using a relatively new product called RejeX which we find especially good on the front as bugs are very easily removed. We find no one can get our RV cleaner than we can.

diane
1 year ago
Reply to  Brian

How frequently should one wash the RV while full time on the road? Just trying to get a sense as I plan my trip

TravelingMan
3 months ago
Reply to  diane

It’s discretionary… Do you want a clean rig or not? We Blue Wash or equivalent (Blue Beacon Truck Wash) 2-3 times per year full timing on full body paint. We (I) hand wash 2 times a year. Some parks won’t let you wash. I do wax about 2 times a year. Usually spring and fall when temps are more conducive.

Funny thing about washing your own rig…You get a chance to inspect the rig for sealant and seal deterioration.

https://bluebeacon.com/view-all-locations/

George
4 years ago

We travel from Canada down I-15 through Las Vegas to Yuma for the winter. We ALWAYS stop at Blue Beacon in Vegas 1 block west of I-15 and 1/2 block south of Cheyenne Ave. They do a great job on my truck and 5th wheel for $35.

Bill
4 years ago

I live in an apartment complex with not access to a water source so finding someway to wash my rig is really tough