Cleaning and care of your Caravan

Gear You Will Need

Safety First

Unlike the car care products of 20 years ago, our range is 100% safe for use on the various surfaces found on caravans. 
We like to use a pressure washer for our detailing as it's much more effective and faster, but be conscious of keeping the gun well away from any vents or electrical components, and don't get too close to any silicone seams or edging to avoid damage.

As with everything you do, safety is critical. Make sure you are working on a level, clear ground, and you have a second person nearby to help with ladders and spotting. Also, make sure any electrical cables are kept well away from water, and that the caravan itself has been switched off and batteries isolated where possible.

Make sure to apply the handbrake and chock the wheels, then put down any stabilizer legs before you start , to prevent the van from rolling away. 

 

Washing on the go

For quick cleaning when you're travelling around our beautiful country, our No Hose is perfect if the van is not heavily soiled. No hose is required, just a bucket, several cloths and our Frother sprayer.

 

Wheels and Undercarriage

We like to start with the wheels as you don't have to worry about water drying anywhere else on the van. You may need a different combination of brushes depending on what type of wheels you have on the van, we have used a Little Chubby for the wheels here. We are using Orange Agent for cleaning as there is very little brake dust on these wheels, where Wheely Clean would be more appropriate.



Get your Wheels bucket and add approximately 8-10L of water. If you want, you can also add a Great Barrier Thingy to your Wheels bucket for that extra element of protection, particularly if you have delicate finish wheels. Add a capful of your favourite Bowden's Own car wash, and get the Orange Agent and brushes ready.

First, wet the tyre, then spray Orange Agent directly onto the wheel and tyre, then give them a scrub with the chosen combination of brushes, we like to start with the Little Chubby brush. When you're finished, pressure wash or rinse it off thoroughly. Repeat this process if necessary.

You can also use the Frother with Orange Agent, poured straight into the canister to the 1L mark. 

Follow this same process for under the undercarriage - spray Orange Agent up under there to help break down the dirt and assist with cleaning. If you think it needs it, use either the Big Black One or Little Chubby brushes, and give it all a good scrub. Once done, rinse thoroughly and repeat the process if needed.

After this is done, apply Wet Dreams to the wheels to add some protection, helping them resist dirt and making them easier to clean next time around. Simply spray evenly onto a wet wheel in a sweeping motion, then immediately rinse off to reveal the super hydrophobic water behaviour.

 

 

Snow Foaming

Moving onto our snow foam pre-wash, which removes the bulk of the dirt from the van before moving onto your hand wash. This dramatically cuts down the risk of inflicting scratches or swirls into the paintwork, and it's also bloody fun.

For this van, we chose to use Mega Snow Job as it has just come back from a trip through the outback and was covered in red dust and mud. For regular day to day cleaning, Snow Job is pH neutral and has more than enough cleaning power.

Start by filling your Snow Blow Cannon bottle with 900mL of water, and 100mL of your chosen snow foam. Give it a good shake, adjust the cannon fan and adjustment knob to suit, and begin foaming one side of the caravan at a time. Start at the bottom, and use sweeping overlapping passes to methodically cover the van with foam. Do not spray foam (or water) directly into any vents, grilles, or openings to avoid causing damage.

Mega Snow Job is also excellent for breaking down salt, so we like to use it for grime cleaning the underside of the caravan as well.

For the roof, you may need to stand on a ladder to reach. The fan adjustment on the cannon can be changed to help reach further than it normally would using a narrower fan, so keep that in mind when you are foaming the roof. 

For a detailed how-to guide on using the Snow Blow Cannon and Snow Job, see the guide below - 

Silicone and Rubber Seals

A lot of vans have silicone bonded windows, hatches, vents and outlets, and anyone who has done remote travel can attest to how much dirt and grime gets stuck here!



While the snow foam is still sitting on the surface, grab your choice of detailing brush (we have gone for the Little Chubby and Big Boy Brett here) and gently scrub around the silicone to loosen the dirt. The Big Black One can be handy for reaching up higher than you normally would. You can also scrub around the tow bar and other intricate areas where dirt tends to build up. Make sure to rinse out your brushes when they get dirty in your Wheels bucket, or with the hosepipe. 

Don't let the foam dry! Thoroughly rinse down the van, again being careful not to spray water directly into any vents, and then move onto the next section of the van. Breaking this up into sections avoids the dirt drying back onto the paint.

If you require a bit more cleaning power to clean the grime out, you can use either Orange Agent or Sublime Clean sprayed directly onto the surface and scrubbed with your chosen brush before being rinsed thoroughly again.



 

Canvas

Your canvas wheel covers or stone guards can be cleaned up nicely with Sublime Clean and a scrub with a soft detailing brush like our Plush Brush. Pre rinse the area first, then liberally spray Sublime Clean and begin scrubbing with your brush, working in a north south, east west motion to better remove the dirt. As the product foams up, it will lift the ingrained dirt out of the pores of the surface. 

After a few passes in each direction, it's important to rinse it all off while still wet. Thoroughly rinse the area down with your hose or pressure washer, and repeat the clean if necessary.

 

Hand Washing

Grab your Wash and Rinse buckets and fill them with around 9L of water each, and drop your Great Barrier Thingys in the bottom. 

We are using our Auto Body Gel and Wash Pillow for this job as we prefer these for larger jobs.
All three of our washes are safe for use on caravans, but we like to use Auto Body Gel as it's a lot more forgiving if it dries or you are working in direct sunlight, and the Wash Pillow is our favourite when washing larger surface areas like a caravan, it holds a mammoth amount of suds and speeds up the washing process thanks to its massive size. 

Now add the correct dosage of shampoo as on the product label, which is just one capful for all our washes. You add to the bucket when the water level is ¾ full, so you won't get a huge head of suds and very little water! Your aim is to get a nice layer of suds, about 10cm worth, so they sit just above the rim of your bucket. Be sure to rinse the washes cap clean in the wash water as well, so you can be sure to get the full dose. Agitate the wash solution with your pressure washer to create a nice head of suds, like a well-poured beer.

Setup your ladder in the section you are going to start on, you will want to try and do the upper sections first, leaving the lower dirtier sections till last. You may need to move your ladder several times for this.

Give your Wash Pillow a thorough rinse out in the rinse water bucket first to dislodge any dust or dirt that may have settled on it, and then dip it into your Wash bucket and give it a good squeeze to soak up a heap of suds.

Begin washing in straight overlapping motions starting at the top and working down, flipping the wash tool after each area (how often to flip depends on how dirty the van is, more often if it's dirtier). Once both sides have been used, take it back to your Rinse bucket and give it a good thrashing to dislodge any of the collected dirt, before dipping back into your Wash bucket and continuing until the van is done. Be careful around any sharp edges, seams, badges, bolts or screws, or any protruding objects that could catch the microfibre and potentially damage it.

Thoroughly rinse the van down with the open end of the hose, to flood the panels which makes the water sheet off in one big clump and leaves very little water left behind for you to dry. If you are using Happy Ending in the next step, you can just with the pressure washer.

Bugs

If the front of the van has a build up of bugs, now is the time to deal with it. Grab your Bugger Off and Debugger cloth (dipped in your Wash Bucket), liberally spray half of the front of the van and allow it to dwell for no longer than a minute. The Bugger Off contains powerful cleaners that break down the enzymes which make bugs so difficult to remove. Don't let it dry, slowly and gently in one direction wipe over the section, flipping and turning to a fresh side of the cloth often. Repeat as necessary until all the bugs are gone. Thoroughly rinse down the area afterwards.

If you have any staining from the bugs etching into the paint, Paint Cleanse & Restore might help if the damage isn't too severe. Please note, Paint Cleanse & Restore is not suitable for matte or satin finishes.

Roof

It can be quite difficult to hand wash the roof of the van, depending on what model you have. The one we are washing here has a lot of intricate areas, solar panels, vents, and air conditioning units that prevent any kind of effective hand washing (even with an extendable wash tool pole).
Fortunately, the roof here was not too dirty so we could get away with a snow foam and rinse down.



Some car wash facilities will have a dedicated wash bay with a gantry that you can walk on and safely access most of the roof.
We do not recommend climbing on the roof of your van, some vans are not able to support the weight, and even if it can the risk of slipping on the wet and soapy surface is too great to be worth the risk. 



 

Awning

Mega Snow is a very effective cleaner that is safe for use on awnings, able to remove a fair amount of dirt with no scrubbing required. Apply the snow as you would the rest of the van, allow It to dwell for 2-3 minutes before pressure washing off thoroughly. Any ingrained dirt or mould can be scrubbed with A Little Chubby brush while the Mega Snow is dwelling, or afterwards with Sublime Clean.

 

Adding Protection

Now that the van is clean, it's time to add some protection which will help protect the paint from UV, and also help it resist dirt and make it easier to clean next time around. The quickest and easiest method is our super hydrophobic finishing foam, Happy Ending. It's used through our Snow Blow Cannon in a similar way to Snow Job, but when rinsed off it leaves super shiny and slick finish, that also repels water and helps prevent dirt from sticking.

Please Note: DO NOT USE ON HOT/WARM PANELS, IN THE DIRECT SUN AND NEVER ALLOW TO DRY. 

It's best used in the shade on cool panels, for a caravan you may need to break each side of the van into two sections to prevent the product from drying.

Mix 900mL of water with 100mL of Happy Ending in your Happy Ending Cannon Bottle, and attach to your Snow Blow Cannon.  Starting from the back, evenly apply a thin layer of Happy Ending over your chosen section, using a wide fan setting on the cannon.
IMMEDIATELY switch to your pressure washer lance and thoroughly rinse off the entire section starting from the top and working your way down. Continue around the van until it's complete, working in smaller sections.

You may need to apply two coats of Happy Ending to really see the super hydrophobic water behaviour, thanks to the larger particle size of modern gel coat.

On the slight chance that you get any streaking or uneven patchiness when using Happy Ending, simply wipe over the marks with the Big Green Sucker or Big Softie cloth using a bit of extra pressure on the towel to remove these "high spots". If the marks are left to dry, don't freak out as the Paint Cleanse and Restore can remove them easily.

See our full Happy Ending guide here, it's important to follow all the directions with this one.



You could also use one of our other synthetic sealants like Bead Machine or Fully Slick after drying the van if that is your preference, but due to the larger surface area we much prefer using Happy Ending as it significantly cuts down the amount of time you have to spend.

Thoroughly rinse the van down with the open end of the hose, to flood the panels which will now be very hydrophobic leaving very little water behind, which means less drying time for you!
 

Drying

For such a large area, we like to use the Big Green Sucker drying towel and our Boss Gloss with it. Boss Gloss functions as a drying aid in the Big Green Sucker, helping it absorb water more readily (slightly damp microfibre absorbs water much faster than dry), it also lubricates the towel to help minimize any errant dirt or dust from scratching the paint. 

Get The Big Green Sucker and drape it over your arm with the bulk of the towel hanging down. Spray 4-6 sprays of Boss Gloss straight into the towel. Flip the towel over and spray another 4-6 sprays on the other side. Now dry the larger panels of the van as best you can, starting with any windows first to minimize water spotting issues. Once most of the flat surfaces are done, grab an electric blower like our 18V Milwaukee here, and holding the cloth nearby, blow out every single crevice, window channel, hatch seal, and any other intricate areas where water likes to hide. This helps eliminate any run marks from appearing after you've finished drying. Make your way around the van until you're happy the bulk of the water is gone.

Give the tow bar a quick blow down as well, then wipe dry with a folded Dirty Deeds cloth sprayed with Boss Gloss, you don't want any leftover dirt from these lower areas getting into your Big Green Sucker and causing scratches!

Tyres

Wheels and tyres are lucky last. Dry the tyres first with a clean and dry Dirty Deeds cloth. Then, spray 6-7 sprays (you might need more or less depending on the type of tyre, how big it is etc) of Tyre Sheen into an All Sorts applicator, then wipe over the tyre, covering all the rubber surface, being sure to get it into the lettering on the tyres. If you like a shinier look on your tyres, you can apply a second layer of Tyre Sheen after the first layer has dried.

We aim for a mid sheen on the tyre, just better than a new tyre; that's the finish we get with this applicator and Tyre Sheen combination.

Interior

Far Cough is our interior antibacterial spray, which can be used safely to wipe down all interior surfaces of the van.

Leather Love and Leather Guard can be used on interior leather to help keep them clean and protected.

 

Microfibre Cleaning

One of the most important jobs of the entire detail is making sure you clean your microfibre cloths properly. Look after your cloths, and they'll look after you for years to come.

Our Microfibre Wash was made specifically to clean waxes, polishes and cleaning products from microfibre cloths. It won't work for your clothes to remove tomato sauce stains, but it'll keep your microfibre cloths like new.

Add 20-60mL of Microfibre Wash to your machine (depending on how many cloths you're washing), and put the machine on a normal wash cycle with warm water. DO NOT ADD FABRIC SOFTENER.

Once the cloths have been washed, pop them in the dryer on the cool/warm setting for around 45 minutes, or until they come back nice and fluffy. Once the cloths are dry, pack them away in a sealable container, ready for their next use!

For a more detailed explanation of this process, please see our dedicated caring for microfibre guide below:

 

Any Questions?

You should now have a sparkly clean and protected caravan, ready for your next trip up to dingo piss creek. 

Should you have any questions about anything mentioned in this article, or have questions about other products and processes, feel free to get in touch on 1800 351 308, or shoot us an email to info@bowdensown.com.au

Brett Hobbs.