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How To Wash A 5th Wheel Camper

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If you've ever owned any vehicle, you know that keeping the exterior clean is an important part of maintenance. As a new 5th wheel owner, you might be wondering what the best process is to get this camper clean. We researched various methods of washing 5th wheels so you'll know for sure how to get the job done right.

Washing the outside of a 5th wheel camper can be accomplished by completing the following steps in order:

  1. Gather your cleaning supplies (buckets, wash mitts, etc.)
  2. Scrub roof
  3. Wet, scrub, and rinse sides
  4. Clean awnings
  5. Clean tires and wheels
  6. Wash undercarriage

Now that we know the steps to getting the 5th wheel camper washed, we'll take a closer look at each one. You might also be curious if it's okay to use a pressure washer on a camper or if you can use dish soap to get it clean. For the answers to these questions and more, read ahead in this post to see what we've discovered in our research.

A fifth wheel trailer rv camping in front of a mountain range with the awning extended, How To Wash A 5th Wheel Camper

Cleaning The Exterior Of Your 5th Wheel Camper

One of the great things about washing your camper is that you get to kill two birds with one stone; not only will you get your camper clean but you'll also be inspecting it for wear and damage.

A good and thorough exterior washing will most likely be an all-afternoon project. If you wax it, count on a second afternoon to complete that task.

Above we listed the steps in getting this job done. Let's take a closer look at each of them so you'll know exactly what each one entails.

Men Pressure Washing RV Camper Van Roof Equipped with Solar Panels

1. Gather Your Cleaning Supplies (Buckets, Wash Mitts, Etc.)

Before you start the job, make sure you have all that you need laid out in front of you. To clean the camper, you'll need the following:

  • Two wash buckets
  • An approved cleaner
  • Garden hose
  • Extendable brush
  • Wash mitts
  • Bug remover
  • Tire cleaner

2. Scrub Roof

It only makes sense to start from the roof. Otherwise, you'll have all the dirt and grime from the roof drip down and dirty the sides that you just cleaned. With a metal roof, have the same cleaner you'll use on the sides. But if it's a membrane roof, avoid any petroleum-based cleaner or those containing any citrus.

Using a ladder, carefully reach the rooftop with your hose and extendable brush attachment. Wet the roof thoroughly, and scrub all the dirt away from it. Avoid climbing onto the roof unless you are careful and only put your body weight on the trusses. 

Chances are, the roof is going to need a LOT of attention. Scrub it thoroughly several times before giving it a final rinse. Note the condition of the seals and gaskets. Any that needs to be repaired/replaced should be done only after the roof is completely dry.

3. Wet, Scrub, And Rinse Sides

Using the hose, wet down the sides of the camper. The wash mitts can be plunged into the buckets that are filled with a solution of water and an approved cleaner.

How long this takes will depend on how dirty the sides are. If you are having trouble with stubborn bugs that won't be removed with the mitts, use an approved bug cleaner.

Washing and scrubbing the sides will take some time, but it will certainly go faster if you have someone to help you here. When finished, wash the suds off the sides.

Fifth Wheel RV Recreation Vehicle 5th Slides Out Pulled By Diesel Truck Towing Camper Trailer

4. Clean Awnings

Chances are, your 5th wheel camper has retractable awnings. These, too, should get a proper cleaning. Vinyl awnings should be cleaned with a fabric cleaner. Using your extendable brush from your hose, gently scrub it. Stubborn stains might need a stronger cleaner.

Fabric awnings can be cleaned with mild soap and water. 

5. Clean Tires And Wheels

Using your hose, spray all the dirt and grime from the tires and wheels. A mild detergent should be used as a cleaning agent. 

While you are cleaning the tires, this is a great time for another inspection. Be certain that they are free of cracks or other damage.

6. Wash Undercarriage

You're almost finished! This step will most likely get you the dirtiest, however, as it entails you getting on the ground underneath the camper.

Using the hose and brush, scrub this area thoroughly. All the junk your camper's frame picks up from the road accumulates and can cause rust over time. If you know what you're doing, a pressure washer can be used in this step only.

Now your 5th wheel camper is all clean! As soon as it is completely dried, any repairs needed that you noticed should be done. Applying wax to the exterior walls should also be done only after the camper is dry.

Can I Use A Pressure Washer To Clean My Camper?

Earlier in this post, we mentioned that you can consider using a pressure washer to clean the undercarriage of your camper. The steel frame of the camper is strong and will not be harmed by this cleaning technique.

This is not true of the rest of your camper. And if your 5th wheel has vinyl sides, you will expose it to a lot of potential damage from the sprayer.

Gaskets and seals can be harmed by using a power sprayer. The force of the spray can allow water to shoot through these damaged components, settling inside the camper. Over time, mildew and other worrisome issues will arise.

Post Season RV Motorhome Camper Van Washing Using Pressure Washer

Can I Use Dish Soap To Wash My 5th Wheel Camper?

A solution of dish soap and water will work great to clean fabric awnings on your camper. But this solution should never be used as the cleaning agent for the body of your 5th wheel. Here's why.

Dish soap will slowly eat away at the protective coating that manufacturers apply to the exterior. It will also leave a film that is difficult to get rid of.

Only use an approved cleaner for the exterior surfaces of your 5th wheel.

How Much Will It Cost To Have My 5th Wheel Camper Professionally Washed?

Maybe you don't have the time to invest in cleaning your 5th wheel, or perhaps you don't have a proper location for this task. That's okay. Some places can do this for you at a reasonable rate.

The size of the 5th wheel will determine how much it will cost to have it professionally washed. On average, consumers report that campers and RVs will cost between $2 and $5 per linear foot. 

That is the cost of just a wash, however. If you are wanting it waxed as well, count on the total cost being as high as $12 per linear foot.

What Is The Best Way To Protect My Camper From The Sun?

Keeping the sun from damaging your camper's exterior will take a bit of work, but it's important all the same. The harmful UV rays from the sun will fade and crack the material unless you continue to find ways to block them.

Sun on blue sky with clouds

Making sure that you have layers of protective wax on the surface of the camper goes a long way in keeping those UV rays from penetrating the material. It's recommended that you wax your 5th wheel every time it is washed.

Park your camper in the shade as much as possible. And when your store is during the off-season, a location that shelters your camper from the sunlight is strongly encouraged. 

Final Thoughts

A fifth wheel trailer rv camping in front of a mountain range with the awning extended

Washing a camper is a bit of a chore, but it's important for several reasons. Though it will take the better part of your day, it will prolong the exterior life of your 5th wheel as well as make it look its best. Be mindful of what you use to clean it, and avoid certain cleaners on certain parts. Drive safe!

We hope this post answered all of your questions. For additional information on 5th wheels campers, we suggest reading the following posts:

Do You Need A Diesel Truck To Pull A 5th Wheel [Including 5th Wheel & Pick-up Models]

What Is a 5th Wheel Lube Plate (And Does Your RV Need One?)

Should I Buy a 5th Wheel? (Pros and Cons Listed)