Can You Wash Your Rig with 5 Gallons of Water or less? Yes! Really!!

Hi Gang! I have a special treat for you today! I’ve been so busy with the new coaching business that I’ve been neglecting Gypsy Gibberish ~ Writing on Eight Wheels. I know, my bad! Thankfully, The Boss has stepped up and decided to help out when he can. He’ll be posting some “How To” type stuff and I might even be able to get him to put the information from the last three or four RV Park reviews I have set aside together. We’ll see, LoL.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s the guy that always comes to my rescue!

Are you RVing in drought stricken California? Boondocking out and about in a beautiful secluded wilderness area with limited water? Stationary for a month or more at a great RV resort as your home base, but they have the “no washing the RV” rule?

What do you do? Ahh the frustration…the dust…the pollen…the bugs/road grime all over your precious rig…or as we affectionately refer to as our “HOW” (HOW-house on wheels, pronounced Hoe). Nobody wants a dirty HOW! 😉

Yes we have options and we do utilize them when we can. The lazy me, REALLY enjoys the benefits of the commercial truck wash centers!  Who knew there was an “automated” car wash that can accommodate a nearly 30,000# (yes, we are going on a diet) 13′- 6″ tall, 102″ wide, 45 foot combined length truck and HOW! They are not everywhere, but boy are they convenient! We’ve found great service at these washes and some are even open 24 hours!

They have an easy pull in – pull out entrance and the 7 man crew pressure washes and scrubs the entire HOW.  They even get the roof with custom bent wands for their pressure washers to loosen up the dirt and grime up there. Then for the grand finale, a major rinse pours down (it sort of reminded me of Niagara Falls) from the ceiling mounted “sprinkler” system to get the loosened up grime off the roof and rinses the entire HOW.

blue beacon

blue beacon outside

And yes I do get ambitious every now and then and utilize the self-serve car washes that have oversize bays. We’ve come across a few along our travels, some even had a cat walk to gain access to clean the roof! But they are not everywhere…and you still get road grime and dust from here to there and before you even get to your next destination your home is a mess. It’s frustrating, you want to clean her but you don’t want to be a rebel and break the rules. So what to do?

You get some basic supplies and some distilled water and “clean” not wash your HOW 🙂

Now keep in mind this is NOT a recommended solution for cleaning your gritty, freshly mud laden rig from your latest 4×4 adventure in Moab … or the Colorado Rockies… or some really remote off grid …

Sorry, got a little lost in thought day dreaming about our future boondocking trips in a truck camper … or Earth Roamer … some day!

Now where was I?

Ahhh yes, this is a suggestion that has worked well for us to remove light dust stirred up from the gravel roads in the RV park, from the gravel trail heading to your awesome boondocking location, pollen, etc.

The important thing to remember is to be careful. You don’t want  to damage your finish by dragging  heavy dirt and debris over your paint/finish. So again, this is just an idea that came to me and worked for us. You may decide you do not feel comfortable with this.

The idea came to me when we got our rig and it was time to clean the windows. I knew I wasn’t going to want to drag out the ladder every time we (I say we, but Gypsy doesn’t do ladders so I really mean me. lol)  the windows get spotty.  I thought, well if it works great on the window, maybe it will work on the entire exterior!

I sampled a small area first and inspected to make sure there were no scratches and I was happy with the results, so I went for it. Now, with the right equipment, products, and awareness, I feel comfortable with this process.

All the tools of the trade can be ordered here on amazon or picked up your local hardware store.

Tools of the trade

Tools of the trade

I used the gallon jug as a measuring device. I did use water piped in from RV park. But after using it I realized the I would have been better off using distilled water from Walmart at $0.89 a gallon to minimize the water spots from the park well water.

The ladder saver is the extendable paint stick. It works perfectly!

The double bucket with just enough water in each side to cover the window mop.

The Pressure Sprayer

The small pressure sprayer has been a priceless investment!! Not only is it HOW washing tool, but an exterior cooling unit! Yes you read that right. When outdoor temps reached 107’ I used this to spray a fine mist on and around our immediate seating area for evaporation cooling. Yes, I’m Gypsy’s official watering boy! LoL


The window mop with adapter for the extendable paint stick to allow quick and easy change out of the mop to the squeegee head.

The squeegee (this is a little different from the one I have)

The small spray bottle with cleaning solution of your choice.

The micro fiber hand mitt for tough, stubborn spots/tight locations.

And clean, dry micro fiber cloths, about a 6 pack for final wipe down.

Now like washing any car/HOW you don’t want to do this in the blazing sun. Start with the “magical outdoor AC evaporation cooling gizmo” (pressure sprayer) and spray a small area to be cleaned. I start low and use a side to side action making my way up to the top.  Just a light coating; a little bit of running down but not much. Then take the handheld small sprayer bottle with cleaning solution (environmental friendly) mixture if needed.  You will not need much as it will mix with the water that was just sprayed on.


Next take the window scrubber on the paint stick extension and inspect that there is no dirt, pebbles or debris trapped in its finger like micro fibers, and dip it in the bucked. From the top down in the segmented areas that you previously sprayed with water and cleaner, start “mopping”. Your just looking to loosen/lift the pollen/dust up off the surface, not to remove it all until clean, although it does a great job grabbing the dirt as well. When  the window sponge is dirty or feels like it’s gritty or “dry” it’s time to rinse. Use one side of the bucket for the “dirty” side and the other side for “clean” to rinse. This is to try to keep the window sponge as clean as possible without using excessive water to repeatedly clean it.


Now, once your area has been mopped, grime is loose and has been lifted, it’s time to squeegee. If the area is drying, grab the water sprayer and apply more water. If more water is needed, you may want to work a smaller section. The surface needs to be wet. Proceed to squeegee the surface, starting at the top and working down. There may be narrow sections where the squeegee won’t fit. You can angle the squeegee or get a couple different sizes that work best for you. You will see the crud drip down…the squeegee should feel smooth.


There will be spots you can’t get to with this set up. That’s ok, I’ll touch on that next. I continued around the entire camper in this fashion.


Next, I start back where I started. With, the microfiber car mitt and clean dry micro fiber cloths, wiping the streaks left behind from the squeegee and the locations I could not get with the tools into – like the sides of the slides with windows and the side of the camper. Most of the time the clean dry micro fiber cloth is enough to do the trick. If not, a wipe with the damp micro fiber wash mitt will help. Always follow-up with the dry micro fiber cloth.

We have found this has been a great compromise of being able to maintain a clean HOW and respecting the rules of the RV Park while conserving water. As I mentioned above, next time I will use distilled water, to help minimize the water spots and the additional wiping needed with the microfiber cloths

Before “Dirty HOW”


After “Clean Happy HOW”


I know this won’t work on all RV types, but it works well with our smooth fiberglass surface. It looks good and provides a clean surface to proceed with the next step… wax on ~ wax. 😉


Thanks for reading!

I’d say “Cheers” … But that’s Gypsy’s line. 😉

So I think I’ll leave you with this …

hang loose