How To Make Your RV Shine Again

RVs tend to lose their shine over time. There are a variety of commercial products as well as DIY techniques that RV owners utilize to get their RVs’ shine back. 

In this piece, we’ve compiled the very best of these solutions for you. We’ll discuss several methods to polish a fiberglass RV and make the exterior shine, again.

There are 3 main steps to making your RV shine again – washing, removing oxidation, and polishing.

If you follow the steps mentioned in this guide religiously, your RV will look like it’s still in mint condition.

Without further ado, let’s dive right into it.

How to Make Your RV look new again

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As mentioned above, it’s a 3-step process. It all begins with a proper wash.

All the steps below apply to fiberglass or gel-coating RVs.

If you have a metal RV then the products you use should be carefully selected. For example, you can only use non-abrasive cleaner for an Airstream.

Step 1: Washing

How to clean your rv roof

Washing removes all the surface dirt. This is the first step for cleaning any RV. You should pay attention to any stains that might require more cleaning or even wet or dry sanding to scrape off.

Keep in mind that it might look challenging, but once broken down into chunks, cleaning an RV camper is a fairly easy process, though pretty time-consuming depending on the size of the vehicle.

  1. Park your RV in an open area so that you have access to all sides and the roof. The preferred way is to wash it on grass.
  2. Get brushes, a cleaning solution, a ladder, buckets, etc. ready. The brushes should be soft-bristled.
  3. Best way to clean RV roof is by climbing on it and scrubbing it thoroughly. You can also use a pre-wash to get rid of stubborn road grime.
  4. Using a cleaner such as 303 RV Wash & Seal (view on Amazon) is more effective than what’s available in your home. Mix this cleaner in water (1 oz. in 5 gallons of water) and use a wash mitt to scrub the whole surface gently. Once done, rinse thoroughly with a hose and dry with a drying towel. Split the work into sides, so you wash one side first and dry it, then move on to the next one.

    303 RV Wash & Seal - Clean, Streak-Free Finish, pH Neutral with High Foaming Formula, Provides A Deep Gloss Finish on RVs, Campers, Pop-ups, and Motorhomes, 1 Gallon (30240)

  5. For wheels and rims, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Typically, using a generic spray tire cleaner and foam sponge will be sufficient.

Step 2: Removing Oxidation

The next step is removing the oxidation layer and uncovering the clean layer underneath.

The process is straightforward: You use an oxidation remover or cleaning compound. This compound will set on the surface (only apply where there’s visible oxidation).

Once dry, you can simply peel it off to remove the oxidation, thus revealing the clean and shiny layer of the fiberglass gel coat underneath.

  1. Make sure you have first cleaned the surface.
  2. Get a good marine oxidation remover such as Meguiar M4916 (view on Amazon). It’s good for gel coats and fiberglass surfaces and adds to the surface’s brilliance and shine while restoring colors.
    Meguiar's M4916 Marine/RV Heavy Duty Oxidation Remover - 16 Oz Bottle
  3.  Mix the product with water and apply it with a soft-bristled brush but I recommend a buffer for this step.
  4. Move the buffer gently until the whole surface has a thin coat.
  5. Wipe off any remaining gel and see if there’s any area that needs a second pass. Once satisfied, it’s now time to move to the polishing step.

Oxidation is an additional buildup on the surface that’s a result of chemical reactions, mostly due to wind and moisture.

You can be pretty confident in peeling this layer off once it’s ready to come out. None of your fiberglass or paint is getting pulled off with it.

Step 3: Polishing

Polishing is the third and last step that protects your RV’s fiberglass surface.

After cleaning and oxidation removal, you now need a powerful polishing agent.

Use the same machine and replace the buffing pad with a polishing pad before following the steps below.

  1. I tend to stick to the same brand for both, buffing and polishing. Meguiar’s M4516 (view on Amazon) is a great RV polish and gloss enhancer.
    Meguiar's M4516 Marine/RV Polish & Gloss Enhancer - 16 Oz Bottle
  2. The process is pretty similar to buffing/oxidation removal. Use the buffer to spread the polishing gel thinly and evenly throughout the RV’s surface. Keep it on a slow setting for the best results.
  3. Once the gel coating is done, it’s now time to remove any excess residue with a piece of cloth.
  4.  An optional step now is to replace the polishing pad with a waxing pad and use an RV-specific wax to protect the gloss for longer.

Once polishing is done, you can seal the whole body with a protectant and wax it. The ideal temperature to wax an RV is 86-104°F. Note that the wax should stay on the surface for at least 10 minutes before you start wiping it off.

How Do I Keep My RV Shiny?

Once you have achieved that new look, it’s important to take preventive measures to ensure that the shine stays for as long as possible.

Let’s talk about some steps you can take to keep your RV shiny like a new one.

  • Use wax to protect the paint. Waxing should be done at least once every 6 months. Car wax shouldn’t be used on fiberglass surfaces or gel coatings of your RV. You can use it on painted surfaces.
  • Use RV-specific products only. There are lots of general-purpose products on the market that RV owners use. I myself used to buy marine wax (originally intended for boats) to protect the fiberglass surface. But since I’ve shifted to RV-specific products only for all cleaning and upkeep needs, I’ve had such a better time.
  • Tires can be protected with rubber dressings. I’ve used Adam’s Graphene VRT (view on Amazon) water-repelling UV protector before and loved it.

Adam's Graphene VRT 16oz Vinyl, Rubber, Tire & Trim Dressing - Durable UV Protection and Water Repellent - Graphene Ceramic Infused Formula - Dress Tires or Trim Without Worry of Slinging (Combo)

Conclusion

It’s crucial to adhere to a few crucial steps in order to restore the luster to an old RV.

To start, thoroughly wash the outside to get rid of any dirt and grime that has accumulated over time. After that, sand off any oxidation that has developed on the surface or use a specific solution to eliminate it. The RV should then be polished to bring out the brilliance and shield the surface from further harm.

You can restore an old RV to its former splendor and make it appear brand new by following these key steps.

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