You may have traveled through the Adirondacks and parked under trees that left sticky sap. Maybe you were in Florida for the winter where it’s hot and humid and mold has started to grow. No matter where your travels have taken you it’s important to clean the roof of your RV.
Not only does cleaning extend the life of the roof, but it also provides an opportunity to inspect for any potential damage such as a tear or leak. Cleaning may seem like a simple task but there are some critical steps to take to successfully clean it and avoid damaging the roof.
Steps for Cleaning Your RV Roof
- Remove debris.
- Hose off the Roof
- Apply Soap Mixture, scrub and rinse in sections.
- Apply protectant if needed.
Your RV roof is clean. Simple enough, right? Keep reading as we explore these steps in more detail, as well as safety factors and overall cleaning tips.
How to Clean the RV Roof
The first step is to position a ladder against the side of your RV and remove debris with a broom or leaf blower.
Rinse With Hose
Make sure the roof is free of debris with a quick rinse.
Apply Soap Mixture, Scrub and Rinse in Sections
Whether your roof is made of rubber or fiberglass, a gentle detergent can be mixed with water to get the cleaning job done. You can also choose from several commercial cleaners online or at your local store. If your roof is made of rubber material, avoid using abrasive or acidic cleansers as well as petroleum-based products. Though the rubber can take the wear and tear, these types of chemicals can cause deterioration.
After you have hosed down the roof, apply the soap mixture with a long-handled soft-bristled brush and scrub a small section. Once you have scrubbed a section, rinse and repeat on the next section, working your way around the entire roof.
Apply Protectant if Needed
At this point, you are finished cleaning if you have a rubber roof. Though not necessary, a layer of protection can be applied. Fiberglass roofs must be protected from oxidation and rust. A protectant or a wax should be applied after cleaning if you notice any oxidation.
Caution! Slippery When Wet!
Regardless of the type of roof you have, your safety should come first. A wet roof is a slippery roof. Standing on the roof puts you more than ten feet off the ground. A wet or waxy surface can put you at risk for a fall during cleaning. Also, it's surprisingly easy to get into your work, forget where you are and then take a step backward off the roof. We highly recommend that you not get on the roof at all and work only from the ladder using a brush with an extended handle. Then move the ladder as needed. If need be, wrap some cloth around the ladder to protect the finish of your RV.
Can I use bleach on my RV rubber roof?
For stubborn stains such as mold or mildew, a mild bleach solution can be used to clean your rubber roof. Mix the bleach with water only. Wear gloves and use a soft brush to scrub the roof.
Thoroughly rinse any area where the bleach mixture has been applied. You will also want to avoid having the mixture run down the sides of your RV. The solution can cause streaking and possible damage to your siding. We recommend using a degreaser rather than a bleach solution on your fiberglass roof. Bleach can cause oxidation.
For both types of roofs, there are many commercial products on the market for stubborn stains. That said, it is possible to make your own cleaning solutions and use “elbow grease” to get results.
DIY Cleaning Solutions
There are several commercial cleaning products on the market to clean your RV roof. Commercial products can be expensive and may contain chemicals so many owners prefer to make their own solutions.
Use a simple solution of a common household dish soap (owners swear by Dawn® but feel free to use your favorite brand or whatever may be in your cabinet). Then follow these simple steps:
- Fill a bucket with 1 gallon of water and 1 to 2 TBSP of dish soap
- Rinse the top of the RV with water to remove debris
- Dip your soft brush in the solution and scrub the roof in small circular motions
- Rinse the roof and sides of your RV often
(or have another person on the ground rinsing the sides as you go)
- Inspect the roof and repeat the scrubbing where necessary
Can you pressure wash an RV roof?
Stubborn stains and mold seem like they would quickly fly off the RV roof with a pressure washer. Though not highly recommended, it is possible to use a pressure washer… but with caution. You will want to make sure that there are no tears or cracks or any other issues on the roof. The last thing you need is a leaky roof or water penetration anywhere on your RV. Also, avoid the sides of your rig as you don’t want to damage the paint or any seals.
Use the lowest setting available—1300 PSI or lower. And test a small section first. If you have any concerns, a pressure washer should be saved for another task.
How do I protect my RV roof from leaves and debris?
Sun, rain, and even snow—your RV roof is constantly exposed to the elements. It’s important to keep your roof clean. And, occasionally your rigs’ roof will need some extra protection.
If you are starting to see some chalky residue or used a bleach solution for a deep clean, your fiberglass roof is experiencing oxidation and needs some extra protection. For a regular and shorter-term solution use a kitchen floor type wax and apply to the RV roof as you would a floor. Floor waxes are meant to be walked on, but you should always exercise caution if you are on the roof. Longer-term solutions include painting the roof with epoxy paint or sealing with a recommended manufacturer sealant.
Rubber roofs don’t require additional protection once cleaned but the extra layer doesn’t hurt occasionally. Be sure to use a product that is specifically formulated for your type of rubber roof.
There are many commercial products on the market that combine cleaning and protecting in one step. We recommend you check with your RV manufacturer before applying any product.
Four Seasons of RV Roof Cleaning
You can certainly clean your RV roof as often as you like. A good rule of thumb is clean as the seasons change. But if your rig is in a woodsy area leaves, twigs and dirt will accumulate. Remove debris with a leaf blower or simply sweep off with a broom. Don’t leave debris to decompose on your roof as it will stain, making it more difficult to clean later.
If you are hanging out in a hot, humid, rainy place make sure to rinse the roof regularly to avoid the build-up of mold, mildew, and algae.
It’s a big task that takes some time and care. Regular maintenance, though, will reward you in the long run.
What if you're dealing with an RV roof that's just too old and worn-out to clean? Check out this post - How Much Does Replacing An RV Roof Cost?
Whether your RV adventures have you out on a long weekend or traversing the country for a year, we wish you safe travels. Take care of your RV and it will always provide a roof over your head.