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Every RV owner experiences unsightly black streaks on the exterior of their travel trailer or motorhome. Fortunately, these dirty lines are easily removed with a little elbow grease. Keep reading to learn how to get black streaks off campers and RVs.
For more step-by-step RV maintenance guides, check out our eBook: The Owner’s Guide to RV Maintenance.
What are Black Streaks on RV Exteriors?
First of all, let’s start with an explanation of how black streaks are formed on RVs.
Black streaks on RVs are caused by water from rain or air conditioners running down the surface of the RV exterior. Any dirt or pollutants in the water are left behind and leave black streaks and stains.
How to Get Black Streaks off your Camper
How to Remove New Black Streaks
Removing black streaks off your RV is a fairly simple process. Most black streaks can easily be removed during a routine RV wash using only soap and water. Simply dunk your sponge or brush in a bucket of soapy water and rub over the black streaks to remove. Use an RV brush with an adjustable handle to reach higher sections. Then, spray the area down with a hose to wash off any leftover debris and soap.
If the black streaks on your RV are relatively new, they should come off easily with soap and water. There is no reason to spend money on specialty streak black cleaners sold at RV supply stores.
How to Get Old Black Streaks off your Camper
While newer black streaks are super easy to remove, older black streaks that have set-in require more work. Black streaks become baked into the RV, when the camper sits in the sun for a long time without being cleaned. Fortunately, we have a tried and true method for removing these pesky black streaks. After reviewing RV forums to see what has and has not worked for RV owners, there is one product I highly recommend for removing RV black streaks: Reliable 1.
Many RV campers report that Reliable 1 spray cleaner worked at removing stubborn black streaks after other products failed. Designed for RV and marine use, this cleaner is not only effective, it is also non-toxic, non-flammable and biodegradable. To remove black streaks, just spray the cleaner on the streaks, wait a few minutes and wipe the grime away.
You do not have to take my word for how effective this product is. Several recent Amazon reviewers rave about how great Reliable 1 was at getting black streaks off their camper.
Before using any new cleaning product on your RV, test a small, inconspicuous area to ensure the cleaner does not leave any residue or damage decals.
How to Prevent Black Streaks on your Camper
While getting black streaks off your camper is a fairly simple process, it is still best to prevent them in the first place. Washing your RV’s exterior frequently will help you keep black streaks in check, but there are a few key areas to focus on to prevent these dark lines.
Clean RV Roof
The best way to prevent black streaks is to keep your RV’s rubber roof clean. If there is no dirt on the roof, then there won’t be dirt in the rain water running down your RV. Like the rest of your RV exterior, your roof can be cleaned with just soap, water and a soft brush. RV roofs can be damaged by chemicals and abrasive cleaners. Avoid using any abrasive cleaners, citric cleansers and products that contain a petroleum distillate.
To reach your entire roof, you will either need to climb on the roof or use a telescoping ladder. To clean the roof, dunk your brush in soapy water, scrub the surface and rinse with clean water. Also continually rinse the sides and front of the RV, so you do not create black streaks while you clean. Always be very careful when standing on top of your RV. If you are not comfortable with heights or steady on a ladder, hire the job out.
Clean AC Drain Pipes
Most RVs have small gutters to help keep the condensation from air conditioners from running down the side of your RV. However, some of the air conditioner drips can still splash on the side of your RV. To keep dirt out of this water and prevent black streaks, regularly clean out these drain pipes. These small gutters can be cleaned with just a microfiber cloth or other rag. If there are stubborn spots, a toothbrush is a great tool for cleaning this small space. Cleaning out the AC gutters also prevents them from becoming clogged and allowing water to back up.
If you store your RV for the winter, also consider investing in an RV cover to prevent black streaks. Since it is not always realistic to clean your RV when it is parked at a storage facility, a cover can keep dirt and water off the roof and sides of your RV. Classic Accessories makes high quality covers for RVs of all sizes. A triple-ply fabric provides great weather protection and their air vent system helps reduce inside moisture and mildew.
It’s super easy to learn how to get black streaks off your camper or RV. The main lessons are to clean your RV regularly and store your RV properly when you are not out camping.
For more RV maintenance tips and how to guides, check out the following articles:
- How to Clean an RV Water Heater
- How To Sanitize RV Fresh Water Tanks
- Beginner’s Guide to RV Holding Tanks
What are your favorite RV cleaning products or tools? Share your top recommendations with us in the comments section below.
Safe travels and happy camping!