Fibreglass finishes are more durable than powder-coated aluminium

Cleaning a caravan

A caravan or motorhome is a big investment, so it is important to keep it in the best possible condition. We’re not just talking about the mechanical condition – maintaining the overall finish is essential if you also want to maintain the resale value.


After washing the van with a standard car wash/detergent, remove stubborn grime with a clay bar – nothing works better for removing bird droppings, sap and anything else you can’t remove with detergent and elbow grease along.

Remove a small section of the clay from the bar and flatten it. The clay, however, needs a lubricated surface to ‘glide’ across, so mix up a spray of soapy water or similar. Then, just rub the clay over the surface, forwards and backwards, with gentle pressure until the grime is gone.  Then, give the paint a quick rinse.

Quick tip: when cleaning or otherwise detailing your van, remove all watches and jewellery – you don’t want to inadvertently scratch your pride and joy.



Be very careful when polishing aluminium cladding. The paint surfaces on a powder-coated aluminium caravan are colour coats only, with no clear coat for added protection. Therefore, it can be easy to rub through. While an orbital buffer would provide the most consistent results, the rippled surfaces of aluminium cladding would make using such a buffer an exercise in frustration – hand polishing is the best bet.

For power-coated vans that have weathered a little, use a mildly abrasive one-step polish/sealer on the paint and remove the oxidised top layer while not removing too much good paint underneath. For brand new vans, a non-abrasive sealer might be enough.

Leave the polish on the paint for as long as the polish manufacturer’s instruction say, then wipe off the residue with a microfiber cloth. Change the cloth regularly, too.



Good carnauba wax is expensive but will give paint a deeper lustre than a sealer only, but provided the van has been cleaned and polished beforehand, the wax should be relatively quick to apply.

Even a good quality wax won’t afford the same protection as polish if the caravan is left out in the weather, so keep the van covered if possible.