Caravan Cleaning Tips, Advice and Methods

Posted on Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Your caravan is your pride and joy and your “home away from home”. Taking good care of it is essential – not just because it will make it look nicer, but also because cleaning it will help you to prevent weather damage and decay, and help you to identify general maintenance issues before they become serious. Here is a quick overview of some of the most common caravan cleaning tasks, the tools you need for them, and how to do them.

Cleaning Caravan Exteriors

Cleaning the outside of the caravan is just like cleaning the outside of a car. It is something that you should do on a regular basis, and you should take the time to carefully inspect the caravan while you are doing it. Cleaning the caravan prevents the build-up of dirt, algae and mould, and will stop the more fragile parts of the caravan from rusting. With proper care, you can extend the lifespan of your caravan by several years.

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Cleaning Roofs and Awnings

Awnings naturally accumulate dirt from day-to-day use, so it is important to clean them regularly. It is best to clean your awnings on a dry day. Start by unfolding the awning onto a clean surface (such as in an empty car park) and rinsing it with warm water.

In addition to rinsing the awning cover itself, clean the draught skirt and the wheel arch cover. Carefully inspect each peg point, and if any of the eyelets or straps are damaged, replace them immediately. Rinse the pegs in warm, soapy water then lay them out to dry.

If you have an inner tent that is made of cotton, you can clean it by closing all zips and folding the tent up then putting it into a pillow case and putting it in the washing machine. If it is too big to machine wash, carefully hand-wash it.

The frame of the awning can be cleaned with a damp cloth. Replace any damaged springs or connectors that you find while cleaning the awning.

If you need to use a detergent to remove oil or grease stains, or bird lime, be sure to re-apply any weatherproofing to areas that were exposed to the detergent.

Cleaning the Outside of the Caravan

Use a high quality cleaning solution to clean the caravan’s exterior, and work from the top down, cleaning the roof first, then working down the walls. This will prevent you from having to re-clean certain parts of the caravan because dirty water from the roof has run down the recently-cleaned walls.

Try to pick a day that is dry, but not too hot, to do the cleaning. Do not wash your caravan’s windows when the sun is directly overhead. This will help to prevent water streaks and marks from appearing. After cleaning each area, use a microfiber towel or a chamois to mop up excess water.

Common Mistakes

The two most common mistakes when it comes to cleaning the exterior of a caravan are failing to do it often enough, and using a pressure washer at too-high of a setting. You should clean your awnings regularly throughout the holiday season, because bird lime and tree sap can set into the fabric when it dries, and can be stubborn to remove. The more often you clean the awning, the less likely it is for stubborn patches of grime to build up.

Pressure washers can be used to clean the exterior of a caravan, but they must be used carefully. If you position the nozzle too close to the caravan, or use too much pressure, then you run the risk of damaging fragile panels and seals. If you are going to use a pressure washer, limit its use to areas like the wheels, and make sure you are not standing too close to the caravan when you operate the hose.

Cleaning Caravan Interiors

After your caravan has been left unused throughout the winter it will most likely smell musty, and maybe even a little damp, even if you were careful to properly winterise it. These tips will help you to get it back into great shape.

Cleaning Carpets

Start by vacuuming the carpets with a normal household vacuum cleaner. If there are signs of damp stains or mould on the carpet, use Polycell’s stain remover or a similar product to treat the stains. You can vacuum other soft furnishings too, and it is a good idea to do so. If you notice and stains or stubborn dirt on any removable covers, check the cleaning instructions and hand wash or machine wash them as appropriate.

Cleaning a Caravan Toilet

You can clean a caravan toilet in much the same way that you would clean a normal toilet, however you should not use normal household bleach, because this may damage the system. Use a mild, soapy solution instead.

In addition, if you have plumbing in the caravan, flush the system and clean it with a suitable specialist cleaning product, then run more water through it.

Cleaning Interior Walls

Interior walls can be wiped down with a mild soapy solution, as long as they do not have delicate wallpaper. Use a mould and mildew remover if necessary. Pay attention to corners and the area near doors and windows to look for signs of damp. You may want to use a dehumidifier to dry the caravan out. Try to identify what caused the damp, however, to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. Common issues are broken or damaged seals, vents that were left open, windows that weren’t fully closed, and damage to panels. Take mould and mildew seriously because it can present a health risk, especially to young children.

Cleaning Vents and Lights

Make sure that light fixtures are dry and check the bulbs. Check plugs to make sure there are no signs of oxidation. Open all vents (if you remembered to close then before putting the caravan into storage for the winter), and check their seals to make sure they are not letting damp through.

Use a vacuum cleaner or compressed air to clear any blockages in the vents. Change any lights that are damaged. If you have gas lights, make sure that they are free from dust and obstruction, and that they are burning well. If there are black sooty marks around the lights then this is a sign that the flame may not be getting enough oxygen. You should have the system tested immediately because you could be at risk of suffering carbon monoxide poisoning if you use gas appliances in an area with poor ventilation.

Accessories, Tools, and Equipment Needed

To give your caravan a thorough cleaning, you will need:

  • A suitable car or caravan shampoo product
  • A bucket and sponge
  • A chamois
  • A vacuum cleaner
  • A long handled brush
  • A step ladder
  • A small, soft-bristled brush
  • Clean, soft cloths
  • Liquid car polish
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Spare batteries and bulbs

Cleaning Checklist

Remember that you should clean the whole vehicle, not just the parts that you can see. This checklist will help to ensure that you clean all of the important areas.

Outside:

  • Check that the lights are clean and fully operational
  • Check that the power sockets are clean and not corroded.
  • Make sure that the tow hitch is clean and that the handbrake assembly works.
  • Clean the tyres and check that the treads are sufficient and that any wear is even. Check that the tyre is intact, and that the pressure is appropriate.
  • Tighten the wheel nuts if necessary.
  • Wash the walls and windows
  • Clean the roof, paying particular attention to the area around the sunroof.
  • Clean the awnings.

Inside:

  • Clean the carpets
  • Check the furniture for signs of damp, and clean the upholstery
  • Vacuum all soft furnishings and upholstery
  • Clean the sink and any cupboards.
  • Flush the water system and clean it with an appropriate sterilizer. Inspect the water filter.
  • Clean the fridge using a solution of bicarbonate of soda.
  • Clean the toilets using a soapy solution.
  • Check all appliances are operational, and test the batteries in the smoke alarm.
  • Test the cooker to make sure that the flame burns clear and steady. If it is not a strong blue flame, have the cooker tested to make sure it is working properly.
  • Fit a carbon monoxide detector if you do not already have one.

Regular maintenance will keep your caravan in good condition, and will prevent damp, mould and mildew from taking hold. It could also save lives in the case of things like checking tyre treads or having a gas cooker serviced. Make sure that you give your caravan a thorough cleaning and servicing at the start of every season, and again before you put it away for the winter. Perform occasional smaller cleans throughout the season to keep everything looking as good as possible.

 

 

 

Dave Steer
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Dave Steer

Director at Ryedale Leisure
Dave is one of the directors of Ryedale leisure and has over 29 years experience in the caravan industry dealing with all aspects of the business.
Dave Steer
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