Car wash – Part 1 Introduction and basic equipment


We would like to start a small series on the subject of vehicle or motorhome care. For us, care is the be-all and end-all of not only feeling good in your vehicle, but also maintaining its value. In addition to regular inspections by a workshop, this also includes vehicle washing and cleaning.

There are two ways to clean your vehicle:

  1. You drive into a car wash
  2. You drive into a self-service car wash

For us, there is only one option that comes into question here, our Grand California is washed exclusively by hand. Of course, it’s more convenient to just go to a car wash, but that comes with so many drawbacks that we’re not willing to take.

The car wash problem

Most RV car washes are in fact not such, but are usually normal truck washes. The equipment is therefore designed for cleaning trucks and their tarpaulins, and the brushes are designed accordingly. The material is usually so hard and leaves small scratches all over the car, which are arranged in a circle, this comes from the rotation of the car wash brushes. These scratches can be removed by elaborate polishing, but even that can’t be done forever, because at some point there will be no more paint left to polish.

Crack point motorhome window

Much worse than the circular scratches on the paint, are the same on the acrylic windows. I bet everyone who regularly drives their van or camper through a car wash has a total lot of little scratches in the windows. The more often you drive through the car wash, the more “blind” the windows become as a result.

Should you now quickly run to your vehicle to check the whole thing and continue reading in a bad mood at this point, don’t panic! Acrylic windows can also be polished and most scratches removed. But here, too, the same applies as for the paint: at some point, there is no longer a window that can be polished. A little bit of material is removed with each polishing pass, and if you do this regularly, eventually there will be no more acrylic. In the further course of the article you will find a polish, which you can use to get rid of the bad mood.

We have had good experiences with the Dometic Clean&Care Arcylglas cleaning set, which you can get for around 28 euros at Camping Wagner, among others.

Hand wash by car wash staff

Stop. Where I go they wash the camper completely by hand for 30 euros and everything is top. One or the other will now say something like that and I must unfortunately reply: No!

In most cases, such offers are also available in truck washes, and for good reason. After all, the more thorough operators know what their gantry system does to a mobile home, and especially to the windows. So without further ado, a hand wash is simply offered. This always follows the same pattern, an employee comes with a high-pressure cleaner, removes the coarse dirt and then the telescopic brush is used and the whole car is scrubbed properly. Finally, the washing is done with a high-pressure cleaner. It’s just stupid that the brushes used a minute before washed the tarpaulin of the truck in front of you. We don’t need to talk any further about the dirt, which consists of small stones, among other things, and what that means for the paint and especially the windows. Detached from this, the complete vehicle, if not blown dry by the gantry system, will have water spots. For the pressure washer is also not usually used with osmosis water, which does not leave stains when dry.

Please don’t get me wrong, there is 100% definitely a good car wash that offers hand washing and does it properly. But unfortunately, most of it is just expensive and breaks the vehicle.

Hand wash in a self-service car wash

This is definitely the gold standard, if you like to call it that. Nothing is more thorough, cleaner and cheaper than washing the motorhome by hand in a self-service car wash. But only if you wash with your own sponge and brush, otherwise you have exactly the same scratch issue as in a car wash. Imagine what is done with the brush at a self-service car wash by the people everything clean, this goes from the car, to the rims to the rubber floor mat. These brushes are never clean.

What equipment is needed?

Of course, you’ll have to shell out a few euros for basic equipment, but we’re not talking about insane sums here. The products mentioned by us are exclusively things used by ourselves. This means that we are speaking from experience and not from hearsay.

Equipment list

Washing bucket

The first point is perfectly simple and probably already exists in your fundus. A simple 10 liter cleaning bucket in which you can fill the water along with the shampoo. There are also special buckets for washing cars, but ne.

Telescopic washing brush

Important is a telescopic – washing brush, only with this help you can get to any place of the vehicle, on the roof or on the high side wall. We have been using a model from the Nigrin company here for some time. This has a fixed brush head and no mop cover. Initially, we also had a model with an overcoat, but it always came loose and eventually gave up the ghost. Likewise, it wasn’t really good at building up pressure to remove stubborn dirt.

Thus, our choice fell on the Nigrin brush, but here you also need to be careful, because this brush is also a compromise. The firm brush head is really great, but the bristles are relatively hard and who presses here too firmly, you guessed it, makes scratches in the paint again. Go easy on it, there aren’t many brushes that are better. Should you think while reading, of course, clear ours is much better, then write that with pleasure in the comments.

Sponge / Washing glove

In addition to the brush, a wash mitt or sponge is recommended for the fine work, with which you can easily get into the corners. We have several variations in use, but our favorite is the Megiuars wash mitt.


Unfortunately, there are not many self-service car washes that are equipped with a scaffold, allowing for a comfortable wash. If you are one of the lucky ones who have such a line nearby, you can of course do without a ladder.

Look nevertheless once over our web page, whether possibly with you in the proximity a self-service washing plant with appropriate equipment is. If you know of a plant that is not listed there, we would be happy to receive the information.

If you need a ladder we strongly recommend a telescopic ladder, Thule has a fantastic model on offer, which is equipped with a magnetic mount on the top and so easily holds on to the vehicle. This significantly reduces the possibility of a fall from the ladder. The Thule ladder is but really not cheap and costs a whopping 300 euros, but scores with a 1A processing. The Thule ladder and a few alternatives, which we have not tested, but which have a similar operating principle, are linked.


At the top of the text I mentioned that pressure washers in car washes do not usually use osmosis water, unfortunately this is also true of many SB car washes. However, new machines usually offer this, and the washing programs are usually called “Glossy dry” or similar. Please read the description of the wash programs on your SB carefully.

If osmosis water is not available, the use of a silicone water extractor is recommended. Important, please do not use a classic leather to dry off, if there is still dirt on the paint and you rub over it with a leather, you will get ugly scratches again. At this point, we recommend a soft dryer, like this one:

Last but not least, the shampoo

Almost most important is the car shampoo, here now divide the minds which shampoo, from which manufacturer is the best. There are countless variants from all price ranges here. Since we sealed our vehicle with a ceramic sealer from Meguiares, we also use a matching base shampoo from the manufacturer.

This is important because if the products don’t match and you use any shampoo, with any sealant, the shampoo may just wash off the sealant.

Do yourself and your vehicle a favor and hand wash. In the next parts of the series, we will go into more detail on individual products and give tips on the washing process itself. We hope that the start was successful and can help you a little.

Please note again the mandatory at this point, it is only our experience and opinions. If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to use the comment function or write us via the contact form.

Love greeting Silvie & Martin

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