How to Clean and Maintain Your RV Roof

RV roof maintenance is one of the most important tasks you need to do on your motorhome or camper. Knowing how to inspect, clean and maintain your RV roof will help keep it in top notch condition. Because if you don’t do regular maintenance on your RV roof, you’ll have bigger problems that may result in water intrusion.

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How to Inspect, Clean and Maintain Your RV Roof

SAFETY FIRST! Anytime you get on your RV roof, make certain you a spotter or someone present.

Climbing Up to Your RV roof

RV Roof - Solar Panels

Before undertaking this RV maintenance task, appreciate that getting onto the roof of an RV is not for everybody. If you can’t safely get onto your RV’s roof, ask someone else to do this task for you. But, make certain they know what they’re doing and that it’s done properly.

If you’re the one who’s getting not the roof, just be cautious of every step you take. Conduct an overall survey of the roof area to determine where you can step. There will be lots of obstacles to step around.

Ensure that you don’t step to close to the roof’s edge, onto sky lights, vent covers, or solar panels. They are fragile and are not intended to support any weight. Also, avoid leaning on or grabbing onto antennae or pipes.

Inspecting your RV Roof

Inspecting RV Roof using binoculars

If you’re using your RV full-time, traveling or parking in locations of severe weather elements, you’ll want to inspect, clean and maintain your RV roof at least 3 times a year or more.

In addition to periodical roof inspections, you’ll also need to inspect after it has been exposed to extreme weather conditions like drought, hail, snow, rain, wind, intense sun and excessive heat.

Be aware, if you keep your RV in climates of hot sun, be aware that your roof will show signs of wear faster.

Onto your RV roof inspection, it should be completely free of debris and show no rubbings, cracks, tears or holes. Also inspect all vent covers, skylights and roof air conditioners for cracks, chips and peeling. They too are subject to whatever your RV’s roof is exposed to.

Take a hard look at all caulk and sealants around the vents, skylights and rooftop components to ensure it is still pliable and in good condition.

If the roof sealant is showing any cracks, tears, peeling, lifting on the edges or even missing, you’ll need to properly replace it to preserve the water tight integrity of your roof immediately.

RV PRO TIP: If you’re a little squeamish about getting onto your RV roof just to take a look around, look around for a close building or a hill that’s higher than your RV. Take your binoculars with you up there to inspect your roof.

How to Clean your RV Roof

How to Clean Your RV Roof

The amount of cleaning and inspection will depend on where you park your rig. For example, if your RV is parked under trees, exposed to freezing temperatures, high heat or direct sunlight, you’ll need to pay closer attention.

You should clean your RV’s roof at least 2-3 times a year. If it sits out in the elements or under trees that drop debris, sap or stains, you probably will want to wash your RV’s roof more frequently.

RV roof cleaners must not have any petroleum distillates, citric ingredients or harsh abrasives.

My best suggestion is to use specific RV roof cleaners prescribed per type of roof. If your fifth wheel or towable RV has a rubber roof, make certain you use roof cleaning agents made specifically for rubber roofs. You may need to also use a spot cleaner for hardened on stains.

I can’t stress this enough. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions listed on any RV roof cleaning product. Pay strict attention to the dilution ratio of cleaning solution to water.

Cleaning your RV roof should really be a two-person chore; one of which should be a spotter to hand you tools, cleaning supplies, water hose, etc. Also, if you’re using any ladder, you’ll definitely want a spotter.

And, be very overly cautious with every step because the cleaning solution combined with the water will make the rooftop very slippery. Avoid stepping close to the rooftop edges as you move around the top of your RV. And to help avoid tripping, never step inside the bights of roping or loops in your hose. 

Getting all of your supplies on your roof can be tricky for one person which is why cleaning your roof should really be a 2-man process.

Transporting a 5-gallon bucket, long-handle brush and specific rubber roof cleaning solution can be done by hoisting your gear using a rope. Be careful not to damage or scratch the sides of your RV or roof edges while hoisting them.

Hoist your kink-free hose to the roof top area with the same rope. You may want to loop the hose around a sturdy roof top fixture or secure with a bungee cord to keep it from slipping off the roof. This will also prevent you from struggling to hold it in place while you clean.

Use a telescoping handle soft brush and wash mitt to get the dirt, mold and stains. Never use steel wool or scrubbers that can scratch or damage the roof surface.

Work in a small area at a time to ensure the cleaning solution does not dry onto your roof. You’ll need to scrub the rooftops of all slide-out tops as well as the main rooftop. Take care when rinsing the slide top areas so you don’t force excess water into the seal areas.

If you have slide toppers, it’s a good idea to clean and inspect those and the actual slide out rooftops. You may have to get on your hands and knees to get a good look at them.

Also be conscious of any cleaning solution running down the sides of your RV. It’s important that you rinse the roof and sides of the RV thoroughly with plenty of water to prevent wax removal and streaking on the sides of the unit.

After you’re finished washing your roof, rinse thoroughly and allow to dry completely before proceeding with any roof repairs, caulking or resealing.

This is a good time to give your roof a thorough inspection when everything is clean. Again, look for splits or tears, peeling or lifting of caulk or sealing; making note of places that need new sealant or caulk.

PRO TIP: I don’t recommend using a power washer or pressure washer anywhere on your roof. The water’s PSI will permeate seals and damage your roof causing water intrusion. Why You Should NEVER PRESSURE WASH Your RV

RV Roof Repairs

Knowing your RV’s Roof material will dictate what RV roof caulk products to use.

Typically towable like fifth wheels and travel trailers have a rubber roof membrane while older towable travel trailers and motorhomes have fiberglass sheeting roofs. So, make sure you read the fine print on which application is recommended for your RV’s roof.

You should have a readily-available RV roof repair kit in your RV at all times. Because roof damage can happen at any time. You certainly don’t want to be scampering for roof repair supplies in times of dyer need.

Your RV roof repair kit should include:

If you notice any rubbings, cuts or tears on your RV roof’s rubber membrane, you need to repair those before further washing. Allow the roof to thoroughly dry before repairing to avoid water entrapment which will later cause rot under the surface.

Then piece on white Eternabond over the blemishes. This preventative measure will help alleviate potential leaks or further damage.

Be cautious of the fact that Eternbond is highly adhesive. Once it sticks, quite literally, it ain’t coming up. So, be extra sure of placement.

After you finish your roof repairs, it’s time to bring all of your gear down with you safely and call it a day.

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Recoating your RV Roof?

Recoating an aging camper roof is another standard part of RV roof maintenance. Typically, your camper’s rubber roof will need a fresh coat of RV roof coating every three to five years depending upon the condition of the roof. Make sure you follow the complete application instructions as outlined by the manufacturer.

If there are several weak spots and damaged areas (repair them first!), then it is better to re-coat the entire RV than doing spot RV roof repair. Once you finish and allow to dry, your camper’s roof will look brand new again!

After RV Roof Coating

Recapping how to clean and maintain your RV Roof

So, we hope you can understand why it’s important to inspect, clean and maintain your RV roof. Get into the habit of climbing up and inspecting the roof on a regular basis. This will help to eliminate any possibility of leaks and water integrity issues further down the road.

However, if you don’t feel you have the time, expertise or are physically incapable to clean and maintain your RV roof properly, we highly recommend hiring a RV roof professional who specializes in RV roof maintenance, applications and repairs.

But, do your diligence in research when hiring someone to clean and do any sort of maintenance on your RV’s roof!

You don’t want some yayhoo climbing up on your roof with gritty shoes and using a pressure washer or using detergents or solvents that are not in accordance with proper use.

While RV roof maintenance may seem like a huge task, it’s extremely necessary. By committing to a regular RV roof cleaning and maintenance schedule, your motorhome or camper will thank you for it.

When you clean and maintain your RV roof, you’ll get more years of enjoyment out of it; knowing it’s not going to rain on you inside your RV.

Other important RV maintenance articles:

Keeping Your RV Air Conditioner Working Efficiently

RV Hot Water System Cleaning and Maintenance

Fantastic Fan Screen and Window Screens

Air Conditioner Vents and Filters Maintenance

Since you’re up on your roof, read about our solar panels

HighTec Solar Panels

Solar & Energy Upgrades for Our Small Class C Motorhome

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One Reply to “How to Clean and Maintain Your RV Roof”

  1. My friend is going to replace his RV’s window. I like how you mention if your RV has a fiberglass roof, you’ll need a silicone caulk. Thank you for the information. I’ll recommend him to buy a caulking tube online.

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