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RV Roof Maintenance Cover

The #1 RV Roof Maintenance Tip:

Keep it Clean (Here's How)

RV roofs are often out of sight, out of mind, so it's easy to forget about cleaning them. But if you're on this page, you've no doubt realized your RV roof needs some TLC too. The #1 most important tip when it comes RV roof maintenance is keep it clean. Regularly cleaning your roof will extend its lifespan, which is good, because replacing an RV roof is much more expensive and time-consuming.So how exactly do you clean an RV roof without inadvertently ruining it? Don't worry, we'll show you how below!In this article:
Watch RV roof expert Shane give this rubber roof a good shine

How to Clean an RV Roof

1. Sweep and hose down your RV roof
RV Cleaning Tools
2. Choose the right cleaner and use a medium-bristled brush to scrub
RV Sealant
3. Inspect for damage and replace sealant

1. Sweep Your RV Roof & Hose It Down

For this step, you'll need a hose and a ladder.If you've never been up on your roof before, you should first determine whether or not you can safely climb up. A general rule of thumb is that if your rig came with a factory ladder or built-in ladder-mounting location, it's walkable. If you don't have this, it's probably not walkable. Some RVs come with a weight capacity sticker with this information, and you can also check with your manufacturer or dealer to be sure. If you can't walk on your RV roof, you'll have to prop a ladder up adjacent to your rig.To clean your roof, climb up there (or on your ladder) and remove any branches or other large objects. Then, sweep the roof with a broom to clear most of the debris. Finally, spray it down with a hose (be careful not to slip if you're up there!).Pro tip: if you do get on your roof and feel it give slightly beneath your feet, consider distributing your weight with a piece of plywood. Keep toward the edges (but not too close!); the weakest parts of your roof will be the center and around your vents.Size matters here — for context, one of our resident RV experts, Jake, recently replaced his hefty fifth-wheel's roof membrane. As a 6'+ man, he was able to walk on his roof but did notice it give slightly under his weight. As a 5'3" female, I was able to step on it without it sinking at all. Also, we both had the added benefit of wearing safety harnesses while on top of the RV (thanks, etrailer!) — chances are you don't have those in your garage at home, so just be careful up there! It's a long way down.
RV Cleaners

2. Use the Right Cleaner for Your RV Roof

For this step, you'll need a medium-bristled brush and the right type of cleaner for your roof type. It's time to soap it up, rinse it off, and let it dry. Just keep in mind that what works for one roof material may end up destroying another. Always check the roof cleaner for an indication of what material it's meant to be used on (rubber? PVC? Fiberglass? Aluminum?). If you're not sure what type of roof you have, check out our handy guide here for help identifying your roof material.Pro tip: it's easiest to work on sections of roof at a time (aim for about 3 or 4 sq ft).
RV Rooftops in a Row
Image credit: Alpha Systems
How to Clean an EPDM or TPO Rubber RV RoofFor EPDM or TPO rubber roofs, always use a non-abrasive cleaning product, and NEVER use products with petroleum distillates since these will damage your roof (which is made of petroleum products). It's best to use cleaning agents designed specifically for rubber roofs. You can also use certain home cleaning agents like Dawn liquid soap or Murphy's Oil soap.At least every two years, you should also treat your rubber roof with a protective UV coating after cleaning. Proper maintenance will not only extend the life of your roof membrane but will also help keep your warranty active (not properly maintaining your roof can actually void your warranty early). What's more, some issues (like mold) aren't covered under RV insurance because regular maintenance should prevent these problems.
How to Clean a PVC RV Roof For a PVC roof, you can use a household cleaner like Dawn or Murphy Oil soap (no specialty RV roof cleaners necessary). One of the best things about PVC roofs is that, unlike rubber roofs, they don't require any special UV coating! Just give them a little TLC with soap and water, and you're good to go.
Fiberglass RV Roof
How to Clean a Fiberglass RV RoofFor fiberglass, you can use Dawn dish soap or a designated RV fiberglass cleaner.After a number of years, your fiberglass roof might begin to chalk. This chalk can run down the sides of the RV and create unsightly streaks. The best solution is to clean, buff, and coat your roof with a floor wax like Mop & Go.
Airstream Trailer
How to Clean an Aluminum RV RoofFor that rare metallic roof, you can use Dawn dish soap or a designated RV aluminum cleaner.
RV Sealant
3. Check for Roof Damage & Replace SealantOnce your roof is clean and dry, inspect it for signs of damage, holes in the seals around your rooftop accessories, or peeling sealant. Now's a good time to add sealant as necessary. Make sure to use self-leveling sealant on horizontal surfaces and non-sag sealant on vertical surfaces on the sides of your RV.
Pressure Washer in Front of RV

Can You Pressure Wash an RV Roof?

It can be tempting to just blast away all that dirt and grime with a pressure washer, but we recommend not taking the easy way out here. All that high-pressure water can damage your seals and tear your roof membrane, and then you've got a much bigger problem than a grimy roof. To avoid doing more harm than good, it's better to just stick with your good old-fashioned soap, brush, and water.
Side of RV

How to Remove Tree Sap from an RV Roof

There are a lot of chemicals that will do a great job removing tree sap — unfortunately, a lot of them can also damage your RV roof (particularly if it's rubber). Many RVers prefer to simply leave these sap stains alone rather than risk doing more damage by removing them with harsh chemicals. It doesn't do any good to remove innocuous tree sap just to wreck your rubber with WD-40. I recommend removing what sap you can with your cleaning agent of choice (whether it's Dawn or a designated roof cleaner), then leaving it alone after that.If you're absolutely set on removing the sap and risking the damage caused by harsher chemicals, here's a list of common (non-etrailer endorsed) products RVers use to spot-clean sap spots. Use them at your own risk, spot-clean only, and don't let any chemicals run down the sides of your rig (they can cause streaks).
  • WD-40
  • Nail polish remover
  • Bleach and water
  • Butter
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Hand sanitizer
Illustration of Cleaning Bottles and Sprayers

Can You Clean an RV Rubber Roof with Bleach?

You'll see a lot of RVers turn to bleach to clean their RV roofs (of any material), particularly when it comes to scrubbing away mold spots. Most of the time if you mix a 50/50 bleach/water solution, you won't have any trouble. However, some RVers have reported streaking where the bleach has run down the sides of the RV.In our opinion, there's no real reason to risk damaging your RV with bleach when there are so many other go-to products to turn to. If you prefer to stick with household products, we'd recommend a soapy Dawn solution over bleach.
Still have questions? Did we skip a crucial cleaning tip? Let us know in the comments!
Amber S
About Amber S.As a content writer for etrailer, I might spend my morning loading and unloading a bike on five different bike racks to figure out which is easiest to use. I might be in the parking lot, taking pictures of an impressive RV battery setup our techs came across in the shop and discussing the benefits of the setup with the owner. I might spend an afternoon in a manufacturer training class for some hands-on experience with new products, and then sit down to assemble all this information into a coherent article.At etrailer, one of our core values is that we are always learning, and I learn something new every day. I start each morning with the goal in mind of taking all of this information and figuring out the best way to answer the questions people ask us (and the ones they don’t know to ask yet), and helping people get the solutions they need to make their lives easier, safer, and more fun. I’m a DIYer at heart, so it brings me great joy to help a fellow DIYer find what they’re looking for, whether that’s a product, an answer, or a community.
Related ProductsWritten by: Amber S.Updated on: 4/23/21

Mike H.


Great article. I totally agree with Dawn dish liquid. I keep a bulk bottle in my garage because it's safe for all surfaces and it really cuts the grime. I haven't purchased automotive soap or vinyl siding cleaner for years. It's my go to in my pressure washer reservoir also. Dawn just works. Ask an oily duck. ??



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