Washing your RV when on the road


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.


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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.


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.


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.


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