Cleaning & Maintenance
When it comes to cleaning products, you need to be sure that the ones you use do not cause unnecessary wear to your camper. We sell what we use, so if it doesn't work out in the shop, we don't sell it. Each product we sell has a specific purpose, so be sure to ask us what would work for YOUR situation. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list for cleaning and maintenance - just a few select thoughts regarding recurring problems, and products we often recommend
Let's start at the top. Of your camper, that is. Your air conditioner requires regular maintenance. Over time, dirt and debris can collect on the condenser and evaporator coils of your air conditioner. This will substantially cut the efficiency at which your air conditioner is able to cool by restricting the air flow. Cleaning the AC is a fairly simple process. To remove heavy dirt and debris, you may want to start with water or an air hose. When using water or an air hose, be very careful that you do not bend over or damage the fins. 3X Chemistry makes a great product for regular maintenance outside of heavy dirt and debris. Their Coil Clean is able to be sprayed into the coils without having to rinse or wipe afterwards.
All RV roofs require regular maintenance. Your roof should be cleaned on an annual basis at minimum. The most common type of roof on the market is the rubber roof. The majority of rubber roofs prior to 2015 are made with EPDM rubber. EPDM rubber has a couple of inherent problems. Due to the fact that it is soft and slightly porous, it is a higher maintenance rubber roof. Mildew loves EPDM roofing. You may see mildew stains on your roof and think you need to scrub it clean. However, you will not get the mildew stains off of your roof without substantially deterioration your roofing material - you will merely scrub the top layer of EPDM off of it. Therefore, your goal at this juncture should simply be to keep your roof clean and conditioned to avoid further deterioration. For this cleaning, there is only one product on the market that I trust. Bio-Kleen's RV Roof Cleaner and Protectant. This 32oz spray bottle will clean your roof 1-3 times, depending on the length of your unit and its degree of cleanliness at the outset. You should not use just any cleaning product that says it is for RV roofs. Many of the products on the market are far too abrasive and will deteriorate your rubber roofing material.
While we are talking rubber roofs, I have to bring up RV roof coatings. Don't use them. Ever. Let me say that again, more clearly: DON'T PUT ANY TYPE OF COATING OVER YOUR RUBBER ROOF! This is the worst possible thing you can do for a rubber roof, short of trying to damage it intentionally. There are a few problems with these products - they don't stick, they seal in moisture and mildew, and they can cut your roof's lifespan by as much as 75%.
TPO roofing, a PVC based material, is generally what you will find on most campers newer than 2015. This material is fairly easy to keep clean, and is quite durable. I also recommend Bio-Kleen's RV Roof Cleaner and Protectant for this type of roof.
While you are up there cleaning your roof each year, check your roof sealer. The typical roof sealer will start to separate and crack over time due to high heat and sun exposure. This is normal and expected wear. Just because water is not dripping on your head in your camper does not mean your roof sealer is good to go. If you see cracks in your sealer, you need to touch it up. The product required for this maintenance is Dicor Lap Sealant. Just clean the existing sealer (no need to remove the old stuff - just clean it with an alcohol based cleaner!) and slap on some Lap Sealant. Be sure to NOT use anything silicone based, or anything that can be bought at your local lumberyard or hardware store. These products are not made for this application and will cause more problems in the long run.
Moving down the camper, we come to your awning. Most awning fabrics are vinyl-coated fabrics, which are susceptible to damaging UV rays and mildew, much like a rubber roof. Awnings should always be dry when you roll them up. I understand that this is not always possible. However, moisture rolled up in your awning fabric creates a prime environment for mildew to grow. This weakens the fabric, which may also deteriorate and stain. To clean your awning fabric, start with Bio-Kleen's Amazing Cleaner, and then finish with Bio-Kleen's Amazing Armor, a protectant and conditioner with SPF 70 UV protection
Now we come to general exterior cleaning. If your camper is sitting on a permanent site, or has been parked under a tree for an extended period of time, you may need to do some deep cleaning. Regardless, your camper will eventually need a bath. So I will start with products that will remove stains, oxidation, and heavy buildup from fiberglass exteriors, and then move on to general cleaners. This is not an exhaustive list, though, so feel free to give us a call for help if this doesn't address your situation.
Heavy Buildup (Fiberglass Only) - Bio-Kleen Fiberglass Cleaner
Staining & Black Streaks (Fiberglass Only) - Bio-Kleen Black Streak Remover
Oxidation (Fiberglass Only) - Bio-Kleen Oxidation Remover
Baked on bus, heavy road grime (Fiberglass Only) - 3X Chemistry Bug Blaster
Almost any problem (Aluminum siding) - Walex Green Hornet
General Cleaning - 50% Walex Green Hornet, 50% Bio-Kleen Super Suds
Detailing (all siding types) - Bio-Kleen Quik Shine Detailing Spray
Polish/Sealant (Fiberglass Only) - Bio-Kleen Polish & Sealant
And while you are cleaning your RV, keep an eye on a couple select components. Your rubber seals, as found in all slide-outs, can dry out and get brittle. This makes them not seal properly. We carry two spray-on conditioners for slide-out seals. They have similar functionality and price, and we would recommend either one. They are Thetford's Slide Out Rubber Seal Conditioner, and 3X Chemistry's Seal Saver
Look for gaps and areas where exterior moldings (specifically your corner moldings) are pulling away. This could be an indication that you are starting to get rot nearby. If this is the case, give us a call to have it properly inspected and sealed. Rot does not just go away, it gets worse. And where there is water damage there is generally black mold. However, if your caulk just needs a bit of a touch-up, and is starting to crack, we recommend that you use Proflex RV by Geocel. It is an exterior RV caulk, and comes in quite a few different colors to match your RV. We have found it to be the best product for this application.
Wheels & Axles
One of the most neglected areas of maintenance on most RVs is the wheels and axles. Replacing your tires on a regular basis is not a gimmick to get you to buy more tires. Tires that are not used regularly become brittle and they deteriorate from weather. Seven years is the maximum lifespan of any trailer tire, regardless of its appearance. After 3 years, you should start checking the tires regularly for cracks, bulging, and uneven wear. Regardless of their appearance though, they need to be replaced after 7 years. We know this from experience, as every year we see dozens of campers come through our service department for repairs due to tire blowouts.
Sanitation is one area where there is a vast array of products available on the market. We have used most of the brands available in the service department, and have come to trust a few different brands.
The main sanitation product that any camper is going to use is holding tank treatment. These products are designed to dissolve waste, eliminate odors, remove or prevent buildup, and lubricate waste valves. Buildup in your tanks can lead to very costly repairs, which is the best reason for using a good quality tank treatment product. For general use in this application, I make my recommendations based on your preference for liquid or dry chemicals.
The top liquid products I recommend are Kleen Waste by Bio-Kleen, Aqua-Kem by Thetford, and Kronen Liquid Holding Tank Treatment. All of these products are excellent, with only slight difference in odor elimination scents. In my opinion, Bio-Kleen's Kleen Waste smells the best, and Kronen comes in next with a very mild scent.
If you prefer dry chemicals, the easiest products to work with are drop-ins. We prefer Kronen and Aqua-Kem for our toss-ins, as both work very well and are cost-effective.
If there is heavy build-up in your black tank, we recommend using an entire 32oz bottle of Aqua-Kem, and letting it sit in the tank full of water for at least 2-3 days. Then flush it out with water and you should be good to go. If that doesn't take care of it, give us a call. There are extreme situations that may require additional steps.
There are additional products on the market designed for grey water systems. However, we have found that the liquid chemicals listed above for black tanks also work well for these applications. You can generally get away with using less product for the grey tank than you will for the black tank.
RV and Marine toilet tissue is specially designed to be highly bio-degradable. This means that the chemicals you put in your tank will break them down faster and more efficiently than regular toilet paper. Using this specialized toilet paper in your RV will prevent blockages and costly repairs due to build-up.
Inside your camper, there are many general household cleaners that you can easily use as you do in your home. We do have a few suggestions and preferences that we have found work exceptionally well
Glass Cleaner - Bio-Kleen Glass Kleen (ammonia free, & and all surface cleaner!)
Dirty Screens & Electronics - Bio-Kleen Screen Kleen Technology Cleaner (great for cars and boats, too!)
Leather/Vinyl Furniture - Bio-Kleen Amazing Armor
Stains (Interior Mildew & Carpet) - 3X Chemistry Stain Magic
General Camper Funk & Smells - 3X Chemistry Single Shot (Disinfects, Deodorizes, Sanitizes)
Rodent & Bug Repellent
Camping with friends and family is wonderful. Camping with bugs and mice, not so much. So what do you do when your vacation has been invaded? We have tried quite a few different things, and we suggest Sniff'n'Stop. Their products are safe for pets and children, and use natural essential oils. Their ingredient list is printed on the package so you know what you are using.
Sniff'n'Stop has a line of products that includes a personal bug spray, granules to spread on the ground to keep bugs away without having to light smelly candles, and, best of all, pest repellent pouches that you can use anywhere. These pouches are wonderful for campers, as well as sheds, garages, homes, and shops. We use them in our shop to keep the mice away. The top selling brand of pouches on the market is supposed to be replaced every thirty days. The Sniff'n'Stop pouches remain effective for 6 months to a year. Bottom line, they work.
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