Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Exterior Cleaning

This FAQ deals only with cleaning the exterior of your Lazy Daze. For information on waxes and polishes, see the FAQ article on polishing.

General Cleaning

The Lazy Daze Manual is quite good on the subject. Based on 2 1/2 years of experience with my new LD, let me expound. First, avoid soaps. They not only remove wax, I believe they harm the finish (despite what the advertisements say). Cold water does a great job. I use an RV brush on an arm to do the roof and the areas too high to reach. Then, for the areas I can reach, I use a lambswool mitt. A regular trigger-type nozzle on the hose lets me just squirt when I need to.

For washing on the road, I carry one of the felt washers with an extendible handle. To dry the areas I can't reach, I use a windshield squeegee with an extendible handle to remove the droplets, and then I put the chamois over the squeegee and dry. For the rest of the coach, I use a large window squeegee and the chamois. The artificial chamois with the small holes work best for me because they hold more water than natural ones.

On the road, I always remove the bugs every sunny day. To remove them I blatantly use a hose and scrub them with a windshield scrubber on an extended handle.

Be sure to follow campground rules with regard to washing vehicles. Most do not allow it, primarily to save water, but for quick washes you can often get away with using a bucket of water and your sponge or brush. Not so good if the rig is pretty dirty, though, for you can't rinse off the gritty dirt as well and you don't want to scratch the paint with it.

I use the Microfiber towels primarily for cleaning. Specifically, I use them when detailing the cars and cleaning windows. They do an excellent job of removing polish and wax without scratching the surface. 100% cotton terry cloth can be nearly as good if a) the towels are indeed 100% cotton (made in USA is the safest bet. Burning a fiber is the best test. If the towel fiber leaves an ash residue, then you have pure cotton. If it leaves a hard "ball" behind, it contains polyester or other synthetic that will scratch your paint surface.) and b) they have been washed repeatedly without fabric softener.

For those folks who don't have access to - or don't wish to - wash their LD's the conventional way (soap, scrub, rinse), we have found a great product: Dri-Wash 'n Guard. You simply spray it on and wipe it off and you have a washed/waxed vehicle that compares to the best of the best. It's a bit pricey, but we think worth the price. Find it at http://www.dri-wash.com

Cleaning the cab-over

The top and sides of the fake windows are easiest done from the roof. Lie down with your feet to the rear and reach down the windows and sides (don't forget to wax the windows - they are not only paint but seem to easily collect the insects.)

The front (curve) of the cab-over is reached from a ladder set up by the engine hood. The bottom of the cab-over is more difficult. Try placing a furniture pad on the hood to protect it and then lie on the hood on your back, reaching up to clean and polish that area. It's hard to not slide off the hood, so park close to your closed garage door or some other object and use it to brace your feet.

The worst part is the inch or less between the windshield and cab-over. To remove bugs use a soft clothesline, soaked with bug remover, and see-saw it back and forth from the sides with the help of your SO. For waxing and buffing, use a cloth on the end of a metal strip (an old long Tee square, for example) but even with that you're probably fooling yourself if you think you are giving it a good coat.

I purchased a sponge mop that features a large sponge with very little metal near it. It was one of these lever action types. I use it directly, while standing on the ground in front of the coach to wash the under cab area. Then, I put a bread bag over it to keep the polish out of the sponge and put the polish applicator rag on the plastic bag, using heavy rubber bands to hold it in place. With patience, you can get polish applied to the whole area with this tool. Finally, the mop is similarly used to hold a terry cloth shop towel to rub down the polished area

If you want to get really serious, you can use scaffolding to reach the cab-over. For example, check out a company called Step Up. On the top banner, hit "West Coast". Then, on the left hit "Products". Then scroll down to "Folding Trestle". You need the 6 foot one (2 of them), FT6, and will use the rung one removed from the top, which is at five feet and will clear your hood. For the connecting board, go back to the left and hit "Aluminum Board". You need the AB10. When you set it up, you will need the 5 foot rung on the inside toward the coach. Since the clearance between the scaffolding and the rig is tight, and besides you don't want to drop the board on your shiny hood, so I assemble mine in front and well clear of the coach. I then walk each trestle a foot at a time or so until the setup is where I want it over the hood. I also taped a folded towel in the middle of the board so that if the board bends, metal will not scrape the windshield. I climb to the scaffold board using a stepladder.

Black Streaks

The dreaded black streaks are usually caused by dirt on the roof, as well as by smog and junk in the air. Any thorough cleaning of the rig should begin on the roof.

You can greatly reduce black streaks by installing stick-on gutters along the top of each side. At least with them, you will have to contend with the streaks only at the ends of the gutters. A neat trick to help with the streaks at the end is to clip a clothespin on the spout at the end of the gutter to divert the water away from the side of the RV. Be sure to remove them before traveling.

Bug Removal

When your coach is well-polished, bugs will generally clean right off without too much extra effort. Occasionally, though, you may find the from of the rig plastered with some pretty persistent remains that defy the normal methods. About a year ago I wanted to try "Bug-Off", which had been touted in this group, but could only find "Bugs-b-gone", so I had bought a pint and put it away to test one day. So this time I got it out and Wow! did it do a job. You spray it on for a minute than wipe off. I can say I unhesitatingly recommend it.

Tannic Acid Stains

While camping under newly blooming oak trees in Georgia a few days ago we had a light rain that put tobacco juice-like water stains on the roof of the LD. Then it dried. Tried washing it off but the staining was quite complete! Soap & de-greaser didn't work well.

- Try baking soda and water on it, maybe with some brushing. Try a small area to see if it does anything for you. Make sure to rinse it all off with lots of water afterward in any case.

- Try a standard "mix" of water and a dentures cleaner, and gentle brushing with a soft toothbrush. Dentures cleaner is supposed to help with tannic acid from tea and wine.

- You might try one of the nonabrasive toothpastes for natural teeth.

- Diluted Simple Green. Scrub the stains. Keep the sides, back and front well rinsed as you are cleaning the roof if the diluted solution runs over the edges.

- Check with a local nursery/arborist to see if they have a suggestion to get oak stains out.

Contributors: Gus Weber, WxToad, Madonna Hoecker, Anne, Linley Gumm, Alex Rutchka, Chris Horst

Revised 2 May 2011

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