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How to Remove Oxidation From RV Fiberglass

Fiberglass is a common material used in constructing RVs. It’s durable, lightweight, and looks incredible. However, over time the fiberglass on your RV can become dull and chalky due to exposure to the elements. This is called oxidation. If you want that shine to return, you must remove oxidation from your RV. While it’s not complicated, it’s going to take some effort.

Today, we’ll walk you through all you need to know to remove oxidation from RV fiberglass and get your RV shining like new. Let’s get started!


What Is Oxidation? 

Oxidation results from a reaction between a substance generally coming into contact with oxygen or another substance that can cause a loss of electrons. While it’s most commonly observed in metals that rust or corrode, it naturally occurs in many materials and even RVs.

The layer of protective gel coating on an RV spends a tremendous amount of time in the sun, which can accelerate the oxidation process. The constantly changing conditions on the surfaces of your RV aren’t ideal for this protective layer that keeps your RV (or any surface) looking like new.

Escape fiberglass camper parked next to lake.
Fiberglass campers are popular in the RVing community, but overtime they can oxidize.

What Does RV Oxidation Look Like?

If you have had an RV for a while, you might be asking why is the surface looking dull or chalky. An RV experiencing oxidation will have a dull finish on surfaces that were once bright and shiny. It’s common for this layer to become chalky or even cloudy in some places, especially if there hasn’t been any regular or proper maintenance. If you run your hand along the surface, it may have a white chalk like substance on your fingers.

Taking preventative steps is the key to preventing RV oxidation from becoming a problem for your RV.

Pro Tip: Keep your RV looking good as new with this guide on How to Repair RV Fiberglass Exterior Damage.

What Causes Oxidation on RVs?

Extended exposure to the weather and extreme elements like water, air, and sunlight are the primary causes of oxidation for RVs. Since keeping your RV out of the harsh weather elements isn’t always possible, washing and waxing the surfaces is critical. If not, your precious and expensive RV will show its age much faster than you’d like. Keeping a fiberglass gel coating on the surface of your RV will help minimize the chances of oxidation occurring on your RV.

Close up of oxidized fiberglass camper
A dull finish on a fiberglass camper is a sign of oxidation.

How Do You Get Oxidation Off Fiberglass? 

We’ve got both good and bad news for removing oxidation from fiberglass. The good news is that if you catch it in time, there’s a good chance you can remove and fix most of the oxidation that’s occurring on fiberglass. Unfortunately, the bad news is that it will take tremendous elbow grease.

You’ll need to use some oxidation remover designed for RV and marine applications and a non-scratching sponge or an electric buffer if you have one. Restoration kits will typically contain the oxidation remover, polish, and wax. However, you’ll have to supply the elbow grease to remove the oxidation.

Pro Tip: Unsure if a fiberglass camper is right for you? Check out these 5 Reasons Why People Love Fiberglass RV Campers.

Fiber glass camper parked at campsite
Removing oxidation from a fiberglass camper is easy, but does require some elbow grease.

What Is the Best Oxidation Remover?

Some oxidation removers are better than others. Trying to save a few bucks by buying a generic oxidation remover will likely result in you having to work harder. Work smarter, not harder, by selecting one of these oxidation removers to help you get the job done.

3M Marine Restorer and Wax

This restorer and wax formula from 3M has been our favorite compound for removing oxidation. We have had great success with it on RVs and boats. It comes in 16-ounce and 32-ounce options. Products under the 3M brand have a reputation for being high-quality items that do the job well. This specific product contains rubbing compounds and wax to help remove some of the heaviest instances of oxidation. It’s perfect for RVs and marine applications to help restore shine and bring back the original color.

One customer, Teri, said, “Super simple to use; wipe it on until it fades away and all that oxidation is gone.” If you want to avoid making your repair harder than it needs to be, choose 3M’s marine restorer and wax.

3M Marine Restorer and Wax, 32 oz
  • Removes heavy oxidation
  • Polishes to restore shine and color
  • Unique formula combines rubbing compound and wax
Fiberglass Boat Polishing (3M Marine Restorer & Wax)

Meguiar’s Heavy Duty Oxidation Remover

Meguiar’s is a name you can trust when it comes to helping to keep your RV or vehicle looking good. This specially formulated heavy-duty oxidation remover is perfect for RVs and boats that spend most of their time outdoors. The unique formula will help restore color and add a brilliant shine to older fiberglass surfaces and coatings. 

It comes in 32-ounce and 128-ounce containers so that you can conquer the largest jobs and always have some on hand. It’s safe and effective to apply by hand or machine and will keep the surfaces looking great for years to come.

Meguiar's Marine/RV Heavy Duty Oxidation Remover,...
  • MADE FOR SPECIALIZED FINISHES: This versatile boat polish clears...
  • POWERFUL FORMULA: While diminishing polishing compound abrasives...
  • RESTORE COLOR: Restore the original color of older fiber glass...
Meguiar's Marine and RV Heavy Oxidation Scrub

McKee’s 37 RV MKRV-521 Oxidation Remover

This product from McKee’s is a 128-ounce of oxidation remover. It will remove not only oxidation, but also grime and any gunk sitting on the surface of your RV, boat, or vehicle. The chemicals are state-of-the-art, which means it’s safe to use on practically any surface. This product can do the trick if you need to remove oxidation or scum from your canopies, sinks, or rubber fenders. 

Zack, a professional detailer, purchased McKee’s 37 RV MKRV-521 and said, “This mildew remover just flat out works. I tried several other store-bought products, but they just didn’t perform.“ If a professional trusts it to get the job done, you can.

No products found.

McKee's 37 Marine & RV Heavy Duty Cleaner Wax

Bio-Kleen M00705 Oxidation Remover

The Bio-Kleen M00705 Oxidation Remover comes in a 32-ounce spray bottle. It removes the yellow hue and stains that fiberglass boats and RVs can experience as they age. This biodegradable formula helps clean the surface, restore faded surfaces, and remove any mineral buildup on the surface. 

Bio-Kleen M00707 Oxidation Remover - 32 oz.
  • Removes yellow hue and stains from fiberglass boat hull
  • Removes dull, light chalking from RV exterior
  • Removes water mineral buildup, spider stains and droppings
Oxidation Remover on Water Scum Line and Teak Wood

Will Vinegar Remove Oxidation From Fiberglass?

Vinegar can remove oxidation from fiberglass. However, it’s typically only successful with removing minor occurrences of it. It’s not very effective against tough and severe instances of oxidation. It also won’t provide any extended protection for the surface and would likely need to be paired with a wax.

If you can catch the oxidation early, or that’s all you have available, vinegar might do the trick. However, it’s best to find a quality restorer and wax that you can trust to remove the oxidation and provide protection in the future.

Man cleaning fiberglass camper
Buy a fiberglass restoration kit with oxidation remover, polish, and wax to have your RV looking brand new.

How Do You Whiten Yellowed RV Fiberglass?

In some extreme cases, RV fiberglass will turn from white to yellow. Reversing this process can be impossible in some of the most severe instances. However, like many of these issues, if you catch them in time, there’s a chance you can minimize or entirely reverse the damage.

If the yellowing is just on the surface, then it may be possible to cut it off and get that brilliant white back. If however, the yellow goes deeper, no amount of work will fix it. In that case, a new gelcoat or paint will be the only solution.

To test if the yellow can be removed, you will need to wet sand down the gel coat in an inconspicuous area. We usually start with 800 grit, but if you want a more aggressive cut, you can use 400 grit. As you remove the top surface, you should see the gelcoat whiten or restore color. If it remains yellow, it’s too far gone.

If sanding works, you will need to sand down the entire surface with progressively finer sandpaper. Then to restore gloss, you will need to run a cutting compound than one of the waxing compounds recommended above.

3M Perfect-It Gelcoat Heavy Cutting Compound,...
  • USE WHAT THE PROS USE – Restore heavily oxidized gelcoat into...
  • SAFE FOR GELCOATS AND FIBERGLASS – Marine compound is...
  • FAST CUTTING FORMULA – Removes chalky residue and scratches,...

Conquer your RV in sections if you have a large area of your RV’s fiberglass that has yellowed. Rushing the process is likely not going to deliver the intended results.

Wet-Sanding Fiberglass Boat Gelcoat
While this is a black boat the general process he describes is what is needed to sand gelcoat to remove yellow

Pro Tip: Keep your RV looking good as new with these tips on How to Wash and Wax Your RV Like a Pro.

Is It Good to Remove Oxidation From an RV?

Removing oxidation from an RV can help it look just about as good as the day you got it. Keeping oxidation off can help it retain its value, which is essential if you plan to sell or trade it in. Will it be easy to remove oxidation from an RV? Likely not. However, just because it’s going to take some work doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. 

If you do it right, you’ll be beaming with pride as your RV shines prettier and brighter than before.

Do you have a fiberglass RV? Share your tips on how to remove oxidation in the comments!

The Benefits of a Fiberglass RV

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About Tom Morton

Tom, a Pacific Northwest native, is our technical genius. Born in Washington and raised in Alaska before settling in Michigan. He's the man who keeps our operation running, both figuratively and literally.

With a background in Electrical Engineering, Tom specializes in RV solar systems and lithium batteries. He made history as the first documented individual to use a Tesla battery module as an RV battery. Tom has personally assisted countless RVers with system installations and has educated thousands more through his videos and articles.

Cinematography is another of Tom's passions, showcased in his work on the Go North series. You can see his camera skills on display in The RVers TV show on Discovery Channel and PBS where he also stars as a co-host.

Tom's mechanical expertise extends beyond RVs to boats, planes, and all things mechanical. He's renowned for taking on maintenance and repair projects single-handedly and is often spotted underneath RVs, making him the technical backbone of our endeavors.

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Tuesday 3rd of January 2023

Hello friends! I bought a fixer upper which I’ve yet to start on. It’s a type c and the van part has a good bit of oxidation. Will these products that you tout for fiber glass work on the metal of the van? Thanks!