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Question Of The Week

How To Wash a Truck Camper Rig

Everyone who owns a truck camper has had the experience of getting out of their truck camper after a long drive, looking at their front nose, and finding a fresh insect mosaic on their camper nose and front wall.  I mean, you knew your rig was a bug out vehicle, but this is ridiculous!

What follows are truck camper cleaning methods that run the gamut from common sense, to quite clever, to something that might be compulsive cleaning disorder.  As someone who compulsively cleans, I’m in the third camp.  You better wash it buddy!

How to Wash Your Truck Camper Rig:

“I wash the camper after every trip when I return home.  I use the garden hose, a bucket and car wash soap.  I have a medium sized step ladder so I can reach the roof line.  I have rubber roof wash for the top and some special cleaner for the awning.  I prefer to remove the camper from the truck as it makes it easer to wash both of them when they are separated.

I avoid using a pressure washer as I do not want to blow water past any of the seals in the camper.  I just wet the camper down to get rid of any loose dirt and then wash it by hand using elbow grease and a car wash mitt made from microfiber.  I try to inspect the camper as I am washing it.  I’ll look at the seals and anything mounted to the camper.

On longer trips, like the month long trip we took in May to the southwest, I washed it at commercial car washes.  I was still careful not to get the nozzle too close to the camper and the seals.  I like to try and keep the rear clean as I don’t like to grab a dirty door and track dirt inside the camper.

I will wax the exterior of the camper once or twice a year.  This makes it easier to wash and protects the finish from oxidation.


I don’t have a picture of me washing the truck as all of the helpers seem to disappear when the cleaning starts, but here is an example of why it needs washed.” – Ron Tennyson, 2013 Dodge Ram 3500, 2014 Arctic Fox 865

“After each trip when we get home I wash down the nose and front.  Someone gave me a great tip (can’t remember who).  If you use old dryer sheets and warm soapy water, the bugs and all the grime come off real easy in just one swipe with no hard scrubbing at all!  I love how easy it is to keep it clean.

Maybe once a year I give the nose and front a good wax.  That also helps to keep the bugs off and the rain washes most of them off with ease.  Two to three times a year, or when needed, I’ll wash the whole truck camper.  But, that doesn’t get as dirty as the front and nose does with each trip.  Happy day!” – Kim Scott, 2005 Ford F350, 2006 Northern Lite 10-2000

“I personally do not wash or wax my current or past Lances.  Now saying that, I am on a three month regular schedule that the truck and camper go in for an exterior wash and wax with a local automotive detailer who advertises that they do RVs and boats as well.” – Mike Tassinari, 2002 Ford F350, 2016 Lance 1172

“Yes, I wash my camper about twice a year in the fall and spring.  Last spring I broke out the pressure washer and gave it a good bath.  I don’t use the full power of the pressure washer, but it does clean it better then just the hose pressure.  I have a RV brush and I use Dawn dish soap with a little bleach in the water and scrub away!  Then, I rinse with the higher pressure.  It works out well.  I also clean the roof with a rubber roof cleaner.  I usually put a coat of wax on it in the fall.” – Jeff Hagberg, 2002 Ford F250, 2006 Travel Lite 800SBX

“I do one really complete wash and wax when I put the camper in storage for the winter. It gets washed when I take it out of storage and then washed as needed.  I try to keep up with the bugs on the front after every trip.” – Erwin Greven, 2002 Chevrolet 2500HD, 2002 Lance 921

clean-camper-bugs-b-gone“It’s washed as needed.  We carry a jug of Bugs-be-Gone (the cleaner made by SeaFoam, not the insecticide from Ortho) to remove midges, mayflies, and grasshoppers from the front of both the pickup and camper.

Our Lance’s roof is made of a hard and slippery-when-wet plastic.  Rain storms keep it fairly clean, but a soft long-handled brush and detergent is all that’s needed up there.  The same brush is used to wash the sides.” – Philip Tron, 2009 Chevy 3500, 2012 Lance 1050

“When we picked up our 42 year old fiberglass camper last year in Portland, Oregon, it was dull and literally covered with green moss.  It was pretty nasty and gross.  I started scrubbing it with Comet cleanser and a brush, and then used a power washer.  It was 100% better, but still lacking in the shine department.  I tried different polishes and compounds, but nothing really seemed to bring back the gelcoat’s shine.

I decided to use colored sand with thousand grit sandpaper followed by an aggressive compound.  It made the surface look like new.  All that was left was to go over the surface with Gel-Gloss.  Except for where the bugs splatter on the front end, all it takes is plain water to bring it back to looking sharp.  A mild car wash soap seems to be enough to get rid of the bug goo.  And to answer your question, I prefer to wash the truck in the driveway by hand.” – Tony Tabacchi, 1973 Ford F350, 1973 Ford American Road

“We have always washed our camping house; tent trailer, travel trailer, fifth wheel, and now our truck camper.  Usually we hand wash it at home with an electric pressure washer.  Washing it at home is on our own time doesn’t cost any extra than our monthly water bill.

On occasion we have driven to a regular car wash (after checking the clearance) when time was short.  We treat the rubber roof at least once a year; twice a year if we are feeling ambitious.  Just like a car, keep it clean and do your preventative maintenance and it will last many, many years.” – Pam Conner, 2015 Ford F350, 2015 Arctic Fox 1150

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