Man washing an RV feature image

Can You Wash an RV with Dawn?

Share with a friend

Last Updated on June 7, 2022 by Jessica Lauren Vine

Are you asking, “Can you wash an RV with Dawn?”

You’ve probably heard that mild soap and water can clean just about anything, and when you are out in your RV, you probably don’t have oodles of special cleaners on hand. There is, in fact, quite a lot of debate about whether you can just mix up a bit of trusty blue Dawn and get to work restoring the sparkle to the outside of your RV.

It is not recommended to use Dawn regularly to wash an RV. It can be used diluted in warm water as a prewash to remove heavy grime, but it will gradually strip any wax coating or polish from the surface. If you decide to use Dawn to wash your RV, you should rewax the surface regularly.

So that’s a half a yes and a half no – it’s no wonder there is so much confusion among RV owners! We all want our rigs to look good and last for a long time, so let’s get the facts to keep them shiny without causing any long-term damage to the exterior surface.

Can You Wash An RV With Dawn?

There is a huge difference between whether you can do something and whether you should. Many RV owners regularly dip a brush with a telescopic handle into a soapy Dawn solution and give their vehicles a once-over to remove dust and grime and have been doing so for years without any problems.

See also
Can You Use Turtle Wax on Your RV?

The concern with using Dawn, or any other type of dish soap, is that it is formulated to strip grease from fatty pans and plates. So, unless you plan to follow up immediately with a new protective wax coating, you may find that your RV looks cleaner, but it may gradually lose its shiny surface coating.

The consensus is that while Dawn won’t actually damage the paint finish on your RV, it will loosen and remove any polishes or finishes that have been applied.

So, while it is okay to use Dawn to occasionally give your RV a once-over with a soapy solution, especially if it has been standing for a while and got a caked-on layer of grime, it shouldn’t be your standard go-to for cleaning anything besides plates and cups.

Fortunately, RVs are made from easy to wash, waterproof materials, which are pretty forgiving. Some RV sites even recommend using dish soap like Dawn over purchasing more expensive RV-specific products.

A far safer option is to use an inexpensive car wash-and-wax formulation like Mr. Pink, so you can confidently wash the surface of your RV and preserve any waxy coating that may already be on it.

If you do want to use Dawn (and many RV owners swear by it), it’s a good idea to give it a try on a small test area to check its effects on your RV’s surface. There is no doubt that it is non-toxic and multipurpose detergent is a handy must-have on any trip. The only concern is that its degreasing action may be a little too effective for any waxy or shiny coating on the surface of your vehicle.

See also
How to Make Your RV Refrigerator Colder

The Bottom Line

Washing an RV with Dawn is undoubtedly preferable to living in a grimy, unappealing setup. However, in the long run, it is recommended to opt for a car shampoo with wax or something similar that will save you the bicep workout later when you need to restore the slick waxy shine to the outside of your RV.

Before you run off, make sure you check out our other posts that can help you navigate RV life.

RV Slideout Mechanism Types

Best RV Patio Matts You Must See

How Do I Maintain the Outside of My RV?

RV Idiots Approved - Free Trial Offer
RV Life Pro with RV Life Trip Wizard & RV Safe GPS
  • Visual RV Trip Planner
  • Unbiased Information
  • Customized to Your RV
  • Always Up to Date Maps

If you want to make your next RV trip as easy as possible then you should grab the free trial and check out how this app works.

  • Navigate with confidence
  • No bulky (and expensive!) RV GPS required
  • Must have access to the internet unless you download needed information
Get Your Free Trial Now
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
Latest posts by Jessica Lauren Vine (see all)
See also
How to Check Camper Wheel Bearings
Scroll to Top