Looking for the best RV cleaner wax will turn up as many answers as people you are willing to ask the question of.
The answer to these questions represent just the tip of the ice berg. And if you have a thirst for knowledge, as well as a healthy level of perseverance, this "ice berg" of a subject is massive, expansive, and deep!
Like every other subject dealing with what is now called "surface car care" has been butchered and bastardized beyond belief!
But here you are as an RV owner (or potentially an RV owner) looking to add some level of visual enhancement and protection to your RV.
Hang on....we are entering rough waters!
"I have found most people do not really understand their RV. They haven't been taught, and in many cases have been mislead by the industry. Lack of knowledge means lack of getting the right results."
Since you are here looking for a cleaner wax for your RV, I will have to assume you want to wax your RV at a minimum, but accept that your RV may need more than just a good coat of wax on it.
If you are willing to put the time into with reading this page, I can help you start asking the questions you likely have not been asking, but should be asking.
Searching for the best cleaner wax to use on your RV might be what you think you need. But in many ways this is more about selling you product rather than educating you as an RV owner.
"RV's are not cars....usually."
While there are the obvious differences in the two animals, there are also some commonalities. Before we get into the commonalities, we will start with the construction of RV's.
True depth of understanding means we need to start below the surface of this massive ice berg where the critical knowledge exists.
If you are one of those "Cliff Note" type of people, then the "tip of the ice berg" answer will be just fine for you:
Do a search for the best RV cleaner wax, wax your RV with it, and stand back and prepare yourself for disappointment. (not in every case, but most cases)
Not all RV's are constructed the same, made with the same materials, the same processes, or the same finishes. Simply put: not all RV's are created equal.
We are not going to cover how everything is made when it comes to your RV. I simply want to deconstruct how the construction process works at the foundation of your RV "Box".
After-all, it is the "box" of your RV that you will possibly be applying some kind of wax or cleaner wax product to. (the "box" is that big compartment sitting on top of the chassis of your RV)
I just need to help you figure a few things out so you know what you are shopping for and what you are about to do.
The basic steps in RV construction:
Darren's Note: The reality is that RV's in general are made and assembled in a modular fashion. This means that the side panels are constructed separately, and generally the front and rear "caps" are constructed differently.
Most front end caps are made using molds to form the front and the rear ends. All the various components or modules are then assembled together making up your RV or trailer. This means that the construction process for the walls is not necessarily the same as the front or rear end.
The more critical point of this is knowing that regardless of how the separate components are made, it is the top layer of material, paint, or decal that we are most concerned with.
Fiberglass and gel coat are frequently confused by people, as well as misused by people. There is a difference despite how many people are inconsistent in how they use these terms.
Very few people understand the difference between fiberglass and gel coat. This is common problem, especially with boat owners who will talk about their fiberglass boat, talk about fiberglass boat restoration, or talk about the gel coat on their boat.
A classic case of misinformed people using terminology with no standardization of rules.
Gelcoat is actually the top layer of your RV that you will be dealing with. Some RV's have been painted (just like car paint) and some RV's simply have colored gel coat (typically white in color)
This means that ALL RV's are constructed using the gel coat process, but not all RV's have paint applied to this gel coat as the finish coat.
Which then means some of you will be dealing with using an RV cleaner wax on oxidized gel coat, while others of you will be dealing with traditional car paint.
***With every rule, comes the exception to the rule. When I say "ALL", I am referring to virtually every type of RV, 5th Wheel RV Trailer, or Toy Hauler RV Trailer. There are RV trailers that are constructed using corrugated aluminum or corrugated vinyl panels which I will be discussing further down this page.
Gel coat is a polyester resin
that is applied directly over the wood sidewalls of your RV that give it
that durable and shiny appearance. It is the same material used in
making boats. In most cases, the gel coat resin is also colored using
white pigment. White is the preferred color since white is a neutral
color that also naturally hides and conceals aging, weathering, and
But the gel coat resin can be colored with any color wanted and/or needed. There is no limitation to how gel coat resin can be colored, or to the pattern of colors that can be used.
Boats are also constructed much in the same way using fiberglass cloth, or fiberglass fibers that are mixed in with the initial layer of this resin.The major difference is that this resin gel coat is used in a mold to form the boat structure, while this resin gel coat is applied to wooden panels to construct RV's with.
Virtually any material can be painted. Any RV, regardless of what your particular RV is constructed with, could be painted. This doesn't mean your particular RV is painted, it just means it could be painted.
In many ways it depends on how much you are willing to pay. In the world of RV's, the more you pay, the more paint you will get on your RV until you reach the threshold of what is called full-body painted RV's.
The varieties of RV's, trailers. and toy haulers is enough to make a persons head spin!
Pretty much anything goes and many of you will be dealing with RV's that have a variety of finishes as illustrated by the pictorial examples above, and listed out in the following bullet points:
Now the question becomes as to what you are supposed to do as an RV owner when looking to wax your RV:
We will break this down together and help you get what you really came looking for (as opposed to what you thought you knew, and came looking for)
Because of the many ways RV's can be constructed and finished, it is hard to know where to begin based on your specific RV and the manner in which it has been "finished", decorated, or embellished:
I will do my best to answer all these questions in an order that will help lay the ground rules down.
Yes and no.
I think the best way to deconstruct much of what you need to learn is by starting with the reason you came here to begin with: RV Cleaner Wax
Choosing a top rated RV cleaner wax is the simplest way for you to get started. But an RV cleaner wax may not be the best way to get the results you are looking for.
Going through a checklist based on what you are dealing with might prove helpful. For every RV is different and your situation is unique from any other persons situation.
So the real question to me as a professional is more about choosing between an RV cleaner wax: a product that allows you to remove light oxidation, while simultaneously applying some form of protection with wax.
Or choosing a dedicated compound that can remove light to heavy amounts of oxidation, but will require you to apply an RV wax following your use of a dedicated compound.
It all depends on numerous factors:
The simplest of answers would be to start with an RV cleaner wax and see how well this product works in your situation. Does it deliver the results you are happy with, or does it prove that you in fact, need a much more aggressive product like the compound below?
With that said, I actually like using the compound first in every situation as I know that it is perfectly suitable for any RV with only light amounts of oxidation, but has the ability to cut through heavy layers of oxidation; especially if you use a machine polisher to do the polishing.
After I use the compound and do the heavy lifting, then I come back through and use the RV cleaner wax to take the shine to the next level while also adding protection along the way.
Imagine...all you asked for was RV cleaner wax.
A relentless volume of words later and we are still in the learning curve. Learning so you can be a more fully informed consumer and RV owner!
Paint: there are two types of painting methods (Notice the distinction between painting methods, versus paint formulations or paint colors in general. There are thousands of colors and thousands of specific formulations, but we are talking painting methods here):
Darren's Note: What this means to you is that clear coat is good. Clear coat is essentially the same as paint itself. Any wax or cleaner wax product you could use on paint, can be used on clear coated paint surfaces also. If your RV is painted, you can assume that in virtually every case, it will be clear coated also (2-stage paint).
Clear coat does not oxidize the way uncoated paint does (nor does it oxidize like gel coat does; regardless of the color of the gel coat). If you are old enough to remember the paint jobs on cars from the 60's, 70's, or much of the 80's, you will remember how paint would become a bit chalky, become faded, and you could rub your finger hard on the surface and create a little shine as you rub some of that "dead" paint off with your finger. The kind of "stuff" we referred to as oxidation.
Clear coat does not respond to the elements the same way as single-stage paint or gel coat does. Clear coat does not become chalky and there is no color to it. Mostly what happens to clear coat is that it "dries out" and looses its original luster or shine.
Waxing any clear coated paint job (your car or RV) will naturally make it look better. Wax products in general (regardless of whether you have a wax product that is labeled as a car wax or an RV wax) serves two distinct purposes:
As an RV owner you will be working with gelcoat that is either bare (typically white or a light beige) or has been painted.
Gelcoat is also the same material that boats and bathtubs are made with as the top coat. If you are a boat owner, the only difference is that boats are generally made with color pigments added to the gelcoat process to create the colors, where RV's are either painted like cars, or decorated using cheap (yes I said it) vinyl graphics.
Despite the fact that gel coat oxidizes so easily, it is a very tough and durable material that holds up against the elements very well. Add to these points is that the gel coat process is also a rather inexpensive material to use in the construction of big items like boats and RV's.
The problem is that gel coat it is also very prone to oxidizing when exposed to the elements of weather, sun, and dirt, and water of any kind.
And because gel coat oxidizes so easily, I always recommend using an RV cleaner wax regardless of how new or perfect your RV is. The oxidation process happens immediately once your RV has been exposed to the elements for even the shortest amount of time.
What is an RV Cleaner Wax: An RV cleaner wax is a two-in-one product that removes oxidation and staining from your RV while at the same time leaving a layer of protection in the form of waxes, silicones, or synthetic sealants. (Even though a product is labeled as a "wax", does not necessarily mean it has any actual wax in it. "Wax" in the world of cosmetic car care can be used as a blanket statement for many products used for visual enhancement and protection of car or RV paint)
Why is RV Cleaner Wax Made: To remove light oxidation while applying a coat of wax or sealant.
When Would You Want to Use an RV Cleaner Wax: This is really the million dollar question of this page. And this is where most people get tripped up. The simple answer is that any RV cleaner wax can be used on your RV whether it is painted or unpainted gelcoat.
Most people will default to RV cleaner waxes or a general cleaner wax for their car with the goal to make their paint look better without having to machine or hand polish. This is usually the case when a car owner or RV owner accepts that their car or RV can look better than it currently does, is in need of waxing, but would like to raise the level of performance by using a RV cleaner wax that has been marketed as being the "better" choice when you want maximum gains, with less effort.
If your RV, boat, or toy hauler have little to no oxidation I recommend a simple cleaner wax like the one's below. What most people don't realize that even if your boat or RV has some shine to it, there is always going to be some degree of oxidation and a cleaner wax is always my first pick even if I think the RV or boat is in excellent condition and appears to have no oxidation.
A quality cleaner wax will always prove to deliver better results over a straight RV or marine wax and is a great way to maintain your RV or boat in excellent condition.
Meguiar's M5032 Marine/RV One Step Cleaner Wax - Liquid - 32 oz.
3M Marine Restorer and Wax (33.8-Ounce)
Many of you will be up against serious levels of oxidation and only the most aggressive compounds will prove effective.
While these types of heavy compounds seem scary to most, you need to understand that because gelcoat is such a tough and durable material, it would be very difficult to mess up. This is not car paint you are working on!
The product I have used professionally for over 15 years is the CSi Rip Cut Compound. It's list of features makes this my "go-to" compound regardless of whether I am working on RV's or boats to remove oxidation.
CSI Rip Cut Compound Quart 62-M200-Q
Darren's Note: Like anything else in life, not all compounds or polishes are created equal. I love this compound and consider it my sure thing as I know that no other compound has ever performed like this compound does.
If you are serious about removing the oxidation from your boat or RV, you can't go wrong with this. But keep in mind like any compound you might choose, lenty of work on your part will still be required. This is not some magic formulation that will simply remove all the oxidation with a light buff with your hand or machine.
Gel coat is a very tough material and requires much more aggressive polishing than that of a car. While this is labeled as a marine compound, gel coat is the same material used to make boats just as it is the same material used to make RV's.
his product is suitable for not just heavy oxidation removal, but for light oxidation removal. You don't have to worry about this product being too aggressive for your RV or boat.
Most people greatly underestimate just how much oxidation their RV or boat has until they start working on it.
Meguiar's M4965 Marine/RV Fiberglass Restoration System
In closing, I hope I have helped you become an informed consumer with my page on RV cleaner wax, and helped your relationship between you and your RV become a better one!