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What Is RV Detailing?

When they ask us what exactly is RV detailing, the answer is pretty simple, but at the same time very complex thanks to many of our beloved bloggers out there.

Let’s just forget for a moment all the “terms” and exact “meanings” of detailing and focus on what exactly is it. 

First of all, RV washing and detailing are two different things and while detailing includes the washing part, it doesn’t go the other way around.

Now that we’ve separated these two things, let’s break down the concept behind RV detailing.

So, RV detailing and detailing in general, is the process of vehicle cleaning, paint correction and generally vehicle care.

Let’s put it this way. 

A car washer can simply wash your car. 

A detailer can clean your car in several ways, such as standard, deep and bio. Also a detailer can apply a paint protection and correct paint damages (paint correction).

The car washer is the army shower and the detailer is the luxurious spa. 

Most of the times, RV owners hire professional detailers to do the job for them simply because there are many parts of your huge vehicle that are not known to you and require a lot of detail and time in order to be fully clean.

How Much Does RV Detailing Cost

How Much Does RV Detailing Cost​

The standard cost of a 25 feet RV is about $250.  The wash and wax cost about $150 – $200, while the inside costs between $50 and $150.  This makes the cost of RV detailing  between $200 and $350.

Cost According To Size

Of course, the cost of RV detailing depends a lot on the vehicle’s size:

  • Small RVs
    For RVs smaller than 21 feet the price ranges from $100 up to $200.
  • Standard Size RVs
    A standard size RV that is 21 to 27 feet, costs between $200 and $350.
  • Large RVs
    A large RV is 28 feet to 39 feet in length and costs between $300 to $400.
  • Extra Large RVs
    RVs that exceed 40 feet are considered extra large and cost between $400 to $600 in order to be fully detailed.

What To Know Before Setting A Price For Your Services

Setting your RV detailing prices is not an easy task, so the best thing you can do is make a menu-style pricing to keep things simple. A very smart way to set your detailing prices is by the price-per-foot method, in which basically you charge your client by the size of his/her vehicle. 

For example, you can start by charging $5 per foot for a standard exterior clean. After that, you can move up to premium detailing, which includes polishing and wax. For the premium service you can easily charge $15 – $20 per foot. 

Always remember, the bigger the vehicle, the higher the pay check. 

But, is this size the only thing to consider? Alright, think about this. A customer calls you and asks you to detail a RV that is heavily oxidised and with a dirty interior. It is obvious that the standard pay-per-foot method will leave you underpaid, so you’ll need to come up with a new plan.

Take a moment and think about other variables, such as: 

  • The type of RV 
  • The level of oxidation
  • The stains (if they are permanent or not)
  • The last time the RV has been cleaned

What i am trying to say is, instead of thinking about the RV’s size, conduct a detailed examination of the depth of the damage that has been made. 

That’s why, the best thing you can do is to design multiple services, in order to cover any damage or need.

For example, you can create 3 different washing services:

  • Basic (Simple wash)
  • Advanced (Better shampoos used)
  • In-Depth (Detailed cleaning)
Let me put it this way. The best way to set your prices is by considering the required hours and difficulty level. Don’t have a fixed price per foot and someone asks you to clean a RV that hasn’t been cleaned for 15 years.

Variables To Consider Before Charging

  1. RV Size
  2. Level of Oxidation
  3. Permanent Stains
  4. Last Time Cleaned
  5. Workspace (Will you do there or the client will come to you)
  6. Type Of Service
  7. Materials Used (Type and Quantity)
  8. Any Other Special Requirements

8 RV Detailing Things you should know

My mother used to say “As long as you live, you learn” and she was right. It doesn’t matter if you are a detailing grandmaster or a newbie, knowledge is useful. That’s why we have 8 RV detailing things you should definitely know.

Get the proper equipment

If you are taking the whole detailing business seriously, you should definitely start by purchasing a high quality pressure washer for washing large vehicles like RVs.

For starters,  a gas powered pressure washer with wheels is a great idea. 

There are a few other products that you will want to pick up as well, such as:

  • Large water tanks for mobile detailing
  • Car shampoo with neutral pH
  • Wax
  • Large 5 gallon bucket for roof cannon
  • Foam cannon for your pressure washer

Know how to clean an RV roof

Unlike cars, RV roofs are made out of rubber like EPDM (Ethylene Propylene-Diene Monomer). These are commonly white and tend to be the dirtiest part of an RV, which is why special attention is required. You must be extremely cautious when cleaning your roof standing up and even consider handwashing using kneepads if it’s possible.

Use the proper product for cleaning plastic roofs

Most people don’t understand the difference between a regular dish soap and a specific car shampoo, like Mr. Pink. Now, for cleaning an RV roof, you’ll need to pick up a jug of RV rubber roof cleaner that is specifically formulated to both clean and protect your roof from UV rays.

Prep work before cleaning the roof of an RV

If you’re used to washing cars, bear in mind that an RV roof requires different experience and preparation. Here are a few useful tips:

  • Wear shoes that can grip when wet.
  • Close off vents to avoid water entering the cabin
  • Do not stand on the roof
  • Be careful around antennas and any seals to prevent damage or leaking
  • Work front to back, and avoid putting weight on the front cab (which may not be able to support your weight)

Be patient

Detailing a standard size vehicle takes about 2 hours, meaning you should probably expect at least 6 hours to wash and detail a RV thoroughly if you are on your own. 

Be confident when drying the RV

Drying a RV is almost impossible due to evaporation and it’s usually not worth your time as long as you use the right products. 

Many RV owners tend to wax or use some other type of protection in order to prevent or reduce water spots.

Definitely use a foam cannon

Like we said before, time is crucial when detailing RVs. By using a foam cannon you can surprisingly save time. 

While dirt is best removed by hand, RVs can be cleaned better if you apply a nice thick foam. 

Purchase high-quality mitt & brush

A superior quality wash mitt is highly recommended if you plan to charge more money and do not care about the speed and convenience of a foam sprayer. While we generally don’t recommend any kind of brush, RVs are the exception, as long as you use a soft brush and avoid bristles.

Use lamb's wool to prevent scratches

Many RV manufacturers recommend lamb’s wool for washing, which basically is a great idea for most vehicles. RVs can get pretty dirty, and a stiff bristled brush you may have washed your car with can cause spider webs (light scratches) and generally not recommended in a RV.

It’s best to use a lamb’s wool or a high-quality microfiber towel in order to avoid any scratches or marks.

Think about truck wash

If you don’t use your RV regularly, you should definitely consider visiting a truck wash. If you don’t know what a truck wash is, it offers similar services to car washes but designed with larger bays to fit RVs and semi trucks. You can find truck washes just about anywhere, and usually start at around $50.

How To Wash A RV

I am not going to lie. RV washing is one of the hardest processes you will ever experience. It takes a lot of time, a lot of energy, lots of shampoo and of course, lots of patience.

However, if you are a geek like me and are willing to spend your day cleaning your beauty, here is how to do it:

How To Wash The Exterior

First, you should start by cleaning your RV’s roof. If you go for the body first and then head for the roof, all the soap and dirt from the top will simply fall down to the cleaned body.

ROOF

  • For non-painted metal RVs: Metal RVs, must be washed with attention. Using wrong cleaning products will cause rust or other damages. In order to do it properly, you must first apply a pre-wash to remove the majority of dirt and grime. Apply the pre-wash over all of your RV, and scrub it with a soft-bristled brush. After you finish, spray a non-abrasive cleaner and with the help of your brush, remove any trapped dirt. 
  • For painted metal RVs: If your RV is metallic but painted, then simply wash it like a car.
  • For fiberglass RV consider buying an RV cleaning product. There are two options now, you can either buy a product for each section of your RV or you can buy an all-in-one product that cleans and protects. 
  • Work in sections: It is better and safer to work in small sections, rather than trying to clean the entire RV at once. 
  • For the vents and other tough spots: Use your soft-bristled brush to clean any trapped dirt. The small hairs of the brush are more than capable of removing all kinds of contaminants in almost any place. Screw holes and tiny edges are no longer a problem.
  • For drying: When you are done washing your RV, the best way to dry it is by using a microfiber cloth, because it’s ultra-soft and won’t hurt your surfaces.

BODY

  1. Rinse the entire RV. Rinsing your RV makes cleaning easier, while it removes any surface dirt and helps the cleaning solution lift up additional debris. 
  2. Work in small sections. Working in smaller sections makes washing easier and more precise. Start at the front and work your way around the body of your RV. 
  3. Apply your RV cleaning product. Once you’ve picked up your RV cleaning product, it’s time to apply it all over your beauty. Spray the cleaning product onto the sides of your RV. You can use a squirt bottle for the application.
  4. If you want a pro wash use a foam cannon. Using a foam cannon, you ensure that all the sides of your RV will be covered with soap. Depending on the thickness of the foam, cleaning becomes easier, faster and a lot better. Pro detailers prefer foam cannons because the result is a professional, spotless clean. 
  5.  Dryer sheets are great for removing any bugs. It is totally normal for bugs to stick in front of your RV. Don’t worry though, using a wet dryer sheet will remove easily any stuck bugs. Simply scrub in a circular motion. 
  6. A soft-bristled brush is the key to removing the dirt. Once you’ve applied your RV shampoo or preferred cleaning product solution, use your soft-bristled brush to scrub off the dirt and debris, but always remember to work in small sections. The extension pole will help you reach high areas at the top of your RV. Work quick and in back-and-forth motions.
  7. Rinse each section for the final time. Grab your hose or high-pressure washer and rinse the entire RV without missing a spot. It’s highly important to do it precisely because if you leave soap on top of your surfaces it’ll oxidise them.

WHEELS

  1. Every manufacturer sets his own rules. Check the manufacturer’s manual in order to purchase the correct cleaning product for your tires. While most of the tires have a similar product line, we recommend you to do your homework before grabbing the brush. 
  2. Use a wheel cleaner to perfectly clean your wheels. Brake dust is an archenemy of your wheels, because it penetrates the layers and oxidise them, causing rust and holes. By using a cleaning agent, you ensure a deep cleaning without any remaining residual. 
  3. Apply a high-gloss polish to make your wheels shiny. After you clean your wheels, spray them with a high-gloss polish in order to make them shiny. To remove any polish residue use a clean, dry microfiber towel.
  4. Protect your tires from UV rays by covering them with a rubber dressing.  Spray the dressing onto a clean dry towel, and rub it into the sides and tops of your rubber wheels. Work in a circular motion in order to be spread evenly across your wheels. If you don’t wont to buy a special product for your tires, you always learn 3 homemade tire shine products that produce the same result.

AWNINGS

  1. First, open your awnings. Opening your awnings will make the entire cleaning process a lot easier, safer and better.
  2. Use a cleaning product that will not harm your textile. We highly recommend researching your fabric first, because you never know what can damage it or not. After that, you can buy a cleaning product specifically designed for your awnings, or even use an all-purpose cleaner safe for fabrics. 
  3. Rinse the awnings before you apply the cleaning product. Rinsing off your awnings before you clean them will help you remove any surface dirt and debris, thus making the entire cleaning process easier. Do not use a high-pressure washer because it may destroy the fabric.
  4. Spray the cleaning product onto the surface of your awnings. It’s very important to apply the cleaning product evenly throughout the entire surface. Before you start scrubbing, make sure that you’ve covered the entire awnings.
  5. Scrub using soft-bristled brush. In circular motion, scrub the awnings to remove any dirt or debris stuck on the fabric. 
  6. Rinse any remaining residue. Once the cleaning process is done, rinse the awnings for the final time and make sure that it’s completely cleaning before letting them dry.
  7. The drying part. That’s the easy part. Simply let them open to dry on their own. 

The Best RV Wash and Waxes of 2021

I love my ride. It takes care of me, it takes me where i want, when i want and only asks fuel for return. Well, if you are like me, you want to give more to your babe than cheap gasoline, that’s why we carefully searched for the best wash and wax products that are suitable for your RV. 

Here are the 5 top products that you should definitely check out: 

​Aero Cosmetics Car Wash Wax Kit
$ 37
95
*Price may change
  • Simple to wipe off.
  • Proven viable by a few clients for more than thirty years.
  • Flexible since it works immaculately for both dry and soggy surfaces.
  • High-performance wax ensured to advance a flying machine quality, too.
  • Water-based – Expect it to be secure and free of noticing salts and liquor.
​Gel-Gloss RV Wash and Wax
$ 20
01
*Price may change
  • ​​Performs its aiming work without any water spots or streaks.
  • Economical, each quart of the item can create up to 16 gallons of the cleaner.
  • Idealize for irregular applications, guaranteeing that your settle remains in marvelous condition for a long time.
  • Highly flexible – can handle all sorts of surfaces.
  • Produces a significant and clean sparkle.
​Meguiar's M4965 Fiberglass Restoration System
$ 45
99
*Price may change
  • ​Uses a specialized 3-step system, bringing back the original look of surfaces coated with fiberglass gel.
  • Works quickly when organizing fiberglass gel coats.
  • Productive as an oxidation remover – It arranges of scratches, stains, and oxidation.
  • Advances long-lasting and robust security.
  • It leaves an exceptional finish.
​TriNova Waterless Car Wash & Wax Kit
$ 37
95
*Price may change
  • ​​Expels all earth and grime without hurting the paint.
  • Maximum security given – much obliged to its built-in defensive coat.
  • Repulses water and squares UV rays.
  • Thoroughly cleans a standard-sized vehicle.
  • Helpful to utilize – It is usable without the necessity for buckets and hoses and without causing a mess.
Bio-Kleen M01109 Super Suds RV Wash
$ 27
49
*Price may change
  • Quickly removes scum lines, dirt, grime, insects and water spots
  • The rich high foam rinses freely, leaving a clean, streak-free surface
  • Cleans without removing polish and sealant or regular waxes
  • Specially incorporated polymers leave behind added protection and shine
  • Use on boats, RVs, planes, trains, bus fleets, cars, trucks, trailers and mobile homes

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Constantine Stephan

Constantine Stephan is the Founder and Chief Editor of Nanex.

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