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What Is RV Detailing?

What Is RV Detailing?

There’s not much better than that new RV look and smell. Luckily, with some quality RV detailing, you can have your RV shining like new all over again. Let’s get started!

What Is RV Detailing?

RV detailing is the equivalent of a day at the spa, but for your RV. That new RV smell that you remember will quickly return once you detail your RV. But it’s about more than just a fresh scent. Good detailing will also mean a clean RV inside and out. 

A proper RV detailing will return the interior and exterior to as close to like-new as possible. It’s essential to protect your RV’s exterior to avoid being turned away from a campsite. Damage from extended exposure to the sun and harsh environments can do a number on an RV’s appearance in a hurry.

What Does RV Detailing Include?

A proper RV detailing will include cleaning some essential components, plus a few extras. Whether you’re hiring a professional or doing the job yourself, be sure to pay attention to the following areas.

Roof Cleaning

You should clean off the roof at least once a year. Make sure any materials or chemicals used on your RV’s roof won’t cause damage. Wash it first to dislodge dirt and grime.

After your roof is clean, inspect for issues in caulking or sealing. Climb up and look for cracks, tears, or pealing. If you spot problems, address them as soon as possible to avoid further damage.

How To Detail An RV | A step by step guide to detailing an RV

Exterior Wash & Wax

An exterior wash and wax are essential to protecting your RV’s exterior for the long haul. You’ve likely collected dirt, dust, and who knows what else in the course of your adventures.

A good wash will remove build-up. And a quality wax will prevent your RV’s exterior from oxidizing and potentially keep parts from getting brittle and breaking. 

Bug Removal

Did you know there are some bugs, especially in the south, whose guts are capable of eating away at paint and coatings? The longer these bug guts sit on your RV, the more likely they are to do damage.

It’s essential to remove them as soon as possible to avoid issues. That’s why proper RV detailing will include bug removal. 


If you retracted your awning while it was wet, you could find mildew build-up. A proper RV detailing will use safe chemicals to treat any build-ups and restore the original look and condition of your RV’s awnings.

This service will include the awnings used to provide shade, as well as slide toppers. Be sure to mention those slide toppers when scheduling a detailing.

Tire Cleaning

Cleaning your tires means removing the dirt and grime that builds up from traveling. Only use chemicals specifically designed for tires. You’ll also want to apply UV-coating to protect your tires from harmful sun rays. Keeping your RV tires in tip-top shape can help avoid an expensive blowout down the road.

Interior Detailing

Don’t just wash the exterior of your RV; clean the inside as well. If you do it yourself, it is best to start at the top and work your way down. Cleaning top-down allows any dust or grime to fall to the ground and get cleaned up later. You might start at your vents, eliminating any cobwebs that have gathered in the corners near the ceiling.

Then move on to the walls. A damp cleaning rag can remove a good chunk of the dirt and build-up that gathers over time. Pay special attention to door jams, light switches, and other high-traffic areas. Also, clean the counters and shelves.

Finally, break out the broom and sweep up your floors, or use an RV vacuum. A floor cleaner can help remove any dirt stuck to the floor that sweeping couldn’t get. Before you know it, your floors will sparkle again.

Deep-cleaning the interior of your RV might seem like a daunting task. This is where you might want to call an RV detailing service to professionally remove all the dirt and grime that has accumulated during your RV’s use. (Tip: A clean RV might also get you a better price if you are looking to sell your RV.)

Mobile RV Detailing Service Versus Service Center

Choosing between a mobile RV detailing service and a service center is often a matter of convenience. You’ll probably pay more for a mobile service to come to you rather than taking your RV to a service center. A service center will likely focus more on the outside and may not even offer any cleaning for the interior. Many service centers cater to large semi-trucks and trailers. That means they can easily wash your tow vehicle as well.

A mobile RV detailing service may be able to come right to your campsite. Verify with the campground that RV washing is allowed. Some campgrounds or RV parks require RVers to purchase a permit to wash their RV to help offset the water necessary to complete the job. Because of this, some mobile RV detailing services may bring their own water.

How Much Does It Cost to Have Your RV Detailed?

The cost of RV detailing will depend on the size of your RV. The average RV costs between $150 and $200, but that’s only for the outside. Interior will be an additional $50 to $150. Generally speaking, based on the average size of an RV, you can expect to pay somewhere between $200 and $350 for a thorough job.

How To Price RV Detailing Jobs - RV Detailing 101

Do You Tip RV Detailers?

Tipping your RV detailer, much like tipping a car detailer, is a debated topic. Some say you shouldn’t tip if the detailer also owns the detailing company. He’s built his cut into the labor cost already. However, you should probably tip employees if you feel your detailer did an exceptional job.

DIY RV Detailing

Perhaps you prefer to take matters into your own hands. Let’s take a look at a few things you should consider before doing your RV detailing yourself.

What Tools Do You Need to Detail Your RV?

There are a few tools you’ll need for the job. The nice thing about these tools is that you’ll have them for any future DIY RV detailing once you purchase them.

Get a quality pole-mounted brush to help reach the hard-to-reach places on your RV. If your brush isn’t long enough, you might also need a ladder. Choose a brush with soft bristles so that you don’t damage your exterior.

DocaPole 11 Inch Medium Bristle Deck Brush with...
  • 12’ LONG-REACH MEDIUM BRISTLE BRUSH – Offering up to 12 feet...
  • DRY-USE AND WET-USE – Use the DocaPole brush with soap and...

Also, pick up a pole-mounted squeegee so you can wipe off excess moisture from washing. A washing mitt can also help make this process painless. They soak up water and soap suds but also scrub your RV without damaging it.

Lastly, pick up your waxes and washes. Make sure they’re safe for your RV’s exterior. You don’t want to go through all of this effort only to damage your RV with harsh chemicals. You might be able to check with your RV’s manufacturer for recommendations.

Best Waxes and Washes to Use on Your RV

Not all waxes and washes are appropriate for use on RVs. Here are a couple that are safe to use.

The Gel-Gloss RV Wash and Wax helps protect your RV’s exterior and won’t remove previously applied waxes. Plus, you don’t need to worry about streaking or water spots. The 128-ounce bottle can last you several washes, so you’ll need to store it between cleanings. 

Gel-Gloss RV Wash and Wax - 128 oz. -...
  • Cleans and waxes in one step
  • Contains caranuba wax for great protection
  • Biodegradable

The Aero Cosmetics RV Wash Wax ALL can clean not only your RV but also your boat, motorcycle, or car. The kit includes a gallon of Wash Wax, plus a spray bottle with more of the product, plus four microfiber towels. The company claims you can clean up to 36 cars with this kit.

Wet or Waterless Car Wash Wax Kit 144 oz with Bug...
  • SIMPLY THE BEST WATERLESS CAR WASH. Gently Cleans and Protects...
  • Highly performance Aircraft Quality Wax for your Car, Boat, and...
  • Water Based - Alcohol & Ammonia Free. Our plant-based...

You don’t have to break the bank to get that freshly detailed look and smell.

Make RV Detailing A Part Of Your Regular RV Maintenance

RV detailing, whether done professionally or by yourself, is a great way to keep your RV looking, feeling, and smelling like new longer. It also makes sense financially – a rig in better condition gets a better price when you go to sell!

Enjoy your RVing experiences more in a clean, spiffy RV by adding RV detailing to your regular routine maintenance schedule!

We want to know: Would you rather have your RV professionally detailed or do it yourself? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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About Mortons on the Move

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of “Go North” on Amazon Prime Video, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for and an Arizona travel guide.

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Saturday 22nd of October 2022

I prefer having my Tear Drop professionally detailed while I'm out having a good time