How to Wash RV Roof

clean an rv rubber roofIs your Recreational Vehicle’s roof beginning to lose its sheen? We will show you how to wash the RV roof. Whether it is your everyday motorhome or a vacation camper, maintaining your RV’s roof is critical. The roof is what keeps you and all your belongings dry and safe. An essential part of the maintenance routine is to clean your RV roof yearly.  How to clean your RV rubber roof doesn’t have to be a daunting task.

How to Wash RV Roof thoroughly, you need to know the makeup of your roof. Most manufacturers provide their customers with detailed guidelines about roof care, depending on whether the roof is aluminum, fiberglass, or rubber.

The third is perhaps the most prevalent type of roofing around. The material’s cost-effectiveness and durability make it a popular choice for manufacturers and RV owners alike. On the flip side, rubber roofs require slightly more maintenance than aluminum or fiberglass roofing. Rubber RV roofs, for instance, should be cleaned thoroughly at least three to four times a year. You may need to do it more frequently, depending on how you use and store your RV.

RV rubber roofing is presently available in two variations: your roof may be an EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer), or a TPO (Thermal Poly Olefin) RV Roof. Each has a slightly different procedure of upkeep. Be sure to familiarize yourself with your RV rubber roofing type to optimize your maintenance game.

NOTE: Whatever the type of roof, always remember to keep your safety at foremost concern while cleaning your RV. Cleaning the roof is going to require you to climb up. Walking on a wet surface can be dangerous. Invest in a good pair of grip shoes to minimize the chances of accidental falls. Also, ensure you are using a safe ladder.

If you have a roof rack and ladder ready RV, your deck is heavy enough to allow you to stand on it, but you will still have to be light on your feet. It is also advisable to use particleboards to distribute your weight as you move. If there is no ladder on the back of your rig, your RV probably does not have a walkable roof. In either case, it is in your safety interest to work with a second person, or a spotter, while cleaning an RV rubber roof.

Now that you are ready to clean, read on to learn how to clean the RV roof.


Rely on Water to Clean an RV Rubber Roof

Yes, you read that right. There is nothing as useful as water on a rubber roof. However, if you leave your roof to collect water, you are bound to spoil your roof with mold and mildew. Oxidization and short circuits are potential hazards of water damage. But when it comes to cleaning, plain water can also be your best ally. Cleaning with water is useful when you are regular with your rig’s roof care routine. It is essentially a two-step process:

Sweep the collected debris out. Do this carefully. Make sure to be attentive to fixtures and caulking when you sweep your roof. Invest in a good brush or broom for the purpose. You intend to get rid of the grime on the surface, not leave it scratched or damaged.

Rinse the dirt out once you have dislodged accumulating debris, its time to spray it all off your roof. Use a suitable hose and start by spraying up from the sides and back. Then when you reach the roof, work in a circular motion over small surface areas. Use a medium bristle brush to assist in this rinsing. Wash down the sides again at the end to prevent dirt streaks. Be careful with the pressure you apply on your brush as you clean the roof.

Use Petroleum-free Distillates when you Clean an RV Rubber Roof.

If water rinsing is not sufficient and your roof has more stubborn dirt spots, you might need to use a bit of a cleaning agent. Any mild agent is excellent as long as it is not a petroleum distillate. Petroleum distillates are corrosive and can cause moderate damage resulting in a roof that slowly develops swollen spots and unevenly thick surface areas. Now, if your roofing is EPDM rubber, you need to be careful about staying clear of petroleum solvents.

Your roofing is supposed to last 20 years or longer and probably comes with a decade-long guarantee. But this is only possible if you only clean the roofing regularly with petroleum-free solvents. Remember that it is normal for the EPDM roofing membrane to oxidize slowly and naturally, but petroleum-based distillates can speed this up irreversibly.

So, if you rely on store-bought cleaners on your EPDM roofing, use a mild detergent that does not contain degreasers. Dilute it further (roughly a capful to a gallon of water) and proceed to rinse using the method already suggested. Remember to work through one small section at a time using gentle circular motions. Be extra careful to rinse edges thoroughly to prevent residue build-up.

Vinegar is a Great Natural Cleaner

One of the most potent natural cleaners out there is vinegar. It is a non-toxic substance and hence has the added advantage of being perfectly safe for your pets or for any perchers that may occasionally bask on your roof. It is also a readily available kitchen item. To use vinegar as a cleaning agent, soak your cleaning sponge in it and then spread it over the surface. Be sure to have swept the surface before dabbing it with vinegar.

Vinegar works great on molds. If you are dealing with stubborn mold growth, apply vinegar to the area and its surroundings and leave it soaked for about an hour. Rinse the entire surface off with water. You may have to repeat the process or invest in a strong vinegar to combat severe mold growth. Even if your roof does not have mold spots, it is good to give it an occasional vinegar wash to prevent mold growth.

Try Household Bleach

Another beneficial agent against mold and mildew is your regular household bleach. Mix about a cup of the bleach with about a gallon of water and fill up a spray bottle. Spray stains, accumulating grime and mold with this solution, leave the bleach to do its magic.

Bleach tends to dry off in about fifteen to twenty minutes. Using a soft bristle brush or scrubber, gently scrub out the affected areas. Remember to use the spray to dampen hardened grime, so you do not peal out the roof coating. Always use the circular motion to clean. Once done, rinse out the roof with plain water.

Do not pour the solution on the roof directly. If you cannot use a spray bottle, wet a rag or sponge in the solution and use that instead. Pouring a bleach solution directly on the roof is sure to make the solution drip down the sides of your camper, leaving your paint to possible discolor. Keep in mind that just like harsh chemicals, harsh brushes, or improper pressure while learning how to wash the RV roof can cause damage. Patience is an essential ingredient when it comes to cleaning your RV’s roof or any other part.

Use Your Regular Dishwashing or Laundry Detergent.

If you use mild detergents to clean your utensils and laundry, you do not need to invest in a separate cleaning agent for your RV rubber roof. Most mild detergents work well to keep your roof sparkling as long as you remember to dilute and use them. Create a solution by mixing about 3 oz of your soap in a gallon of water. Apply this using a medium bristle brush on your roof after you have thoroughly swept it.

Scrub gently after about 10 minutes and rinse it off. Remember to work in small sections and to use the circular motion while scrubbing. As mentioned before, stay clear of detergents that use petroleum solvents as their degreasing agent. Besides, it is a good idea to keep away from cleansers that use citric additives. As long as your soap is free of harsh abrasives, it is an ideal cleaner, especially when it comes to tackling chalk accumulations and sticky grime spots. Mild mold build-up is also cleansed well by detergents. Remember to rinse the roof thoroughly to avoid residue build-up on the sides.

Fight Tree Sap with Fast Action

If you use your RV in areas where the possibility of fruit-fall and tree sap (or any harsh environmental fall-out) is frequent, you are no stranger to the kind of dirt they spread on your roof. Tree sap and fruit have an especially sticky gluey consistency, and this can become a nightmare to clean when left too long. The stores offer an abundance of tree sap stain solutions, promising magic results. But do not worry, you do not need a special cleaning agent to tackle tree sap.

What you do need is your cleaning reflex. Tree sap, especially, should be removed as soon as possible, so get your cleaning game on as soon as you notice them. Letting sap accumulate on the roof for an extended period can result in unremovable stains. Bleach and vinegar solutions used repetitively in the manner discussed above will enable you to get rid of the stains. Remember, the best action against tree sap is to remove it when it is still fresh. Do not wait for your next cleaning schedule to handle them.

Use Ice Cubes to tackle Sap Drizzle.

While we are discussing tree sap, we must remember that it is not always possible to clean off sap the moment you see it. Furthermore, the RV added problem is getting spraypainted in a sudden shower of tree sap on a chilly camping day. Shaded Glens is a popular and accessible parking spot, especially during the summer, and while the trees offer a more relaxed camping spot, drizzles from the trees are a known big nuisance.

Sap spray can coat the roof in ungainly stains. These resin splatters are not only unappealing to the eye; they can cause the paint and coating of the roof to erode if left to be as is. When cleaning is not possible immediately, a useful technique for scrapping out the sticky sap is to use ice cubes and freeze -dry it before cleaning it off. For this, cover the roof (or affected area of the roof) with wax paper and top that with ice cubes.

Leave the ice there for some time. Let the stains freeze solid from their sticky state- this may take an hour to a couple of hours depending on the amount of sap on the roof. Once that happens, use a spray bottle to mildly wet the area with any of the solutions discussed above. A warm water and vinegar combination may work best in this regard. Scrub the sap off using a medium bristle brush in a circular motion.



The above is by no means an exhaustive list. But it is undoubtedly one you could follow with minimum risk of damaging your RV rubber roof. As an RV user, you are no stranger to stains appearing because of the weather or environment. Dirt and stains are but expected to turn up on the roof, and learning how to wash RV roof should not be a back-breaking activity.

Regularizing your routine and storing your camper in a dry place to minimize the risk of molds and mildew is the key to a shining sparkly roof. I hope the seven tips discussed above on How to Wash RV Roof makes it easier to clean an RV rubber roof. Do remember to keep your self safe while you reach out for that piece of muck! Remember to clean an RV rubber roof at least 3-4 times a year.