Just like the carpet in your home, the carpet in your RV requires upkeep and cleaning. Carpet can make your RV look more cozy or sophisticated, depending on the style. That look will be lost, however, if the carpets are dingy, dirty, and stained.
Learning how to clean RV carpets is a principal step an RV owner should take to keeping the inside of their vehicle looking nice. Using the right equipment, materials, and techniques can keep your carpets neat for years to come.
To clean an RV carpet, you can use a dry vapor steamer, an air compressor, or a shop-vac. Even an upright vacuum will do the job. It is important to clean your RV’s carpet on a regular schedule to keep it from accumulating stains or worse, bacteria.
How To Clean RV Carpets
The carpet in your RV is very similar to the one you’d find in any home. You will have the options of different colors, piles, and textures to choose from, leading to endless interior customization. Unlike in a home, though, you will have to deal with oil or tar possibly staining your carpets.
Types of Carpets
Most of the carpets you find in RVs are made of synthetic fibers, with the most popular of those being nylon. In fact, almost 70% of RV carpets are made of nylon, with polyester and polypropylene filling in the rest.
Nylon is tough stuff, so it’s no wonder it is such a popular choice for RV interior carpeting. It is stain resistant, something that even those carpeting a home would look for. The regular wear and tear of spills and foot traffic will eventually begin to show on nylon, but not for quite a while unless it is a very light color.
Since it is the most popular synthetic carpet material in RVs, nylon carpets can come in colors and styles that will suit any interior decorator.
Polypropylene carpets, also called olefin carpets, are designed to look like sisal, but they’re 100% synthetic. They’re made from polymers usually found in packaging, meaning they’re extra durable and can put up with a lot of wear and tear. In particular, polypropylene carpeting is can handle being outdoors, which makes it perfect for RVs.
Polyester is fade resistant, and even more stain resistant than nylon. Polyester carpeting is also incredibly soft; ideal if you are aiming for a cozy atmosphere inside your RV. On top of that, polyester has one more leg up on the competition: it’s inexpensive.
A trip to your local super store’s cleaning aisle will put you in front of a bevy of carpet cleaning solutions. They’ll be on every range of the price spectrum, and are made from an unending assortment of chemicals and materials.
The good part about this paragon of products is that almost any of them will work on your RV’s carpet. Be wary about cleaning RV carpets with bleach unless you’ll be leaving the RV to air out for some time. Your RV is a tight, enclosed space, and bleach can have powerful chemical fumes.
Make Your Own Homemade RV Carpet Cleaner
To avoid spending money on expensive cleaners, or to whip something up if you’re on the road and need a solution fast, you can make your own. To do so:
- Fill a bucket or jug with boiling water. Be careful if you are siphoning it into a narrow opening.
- Add in 2 tablespoons of liquid laundry detergent and stir with a wooden paint stirrer or another disposable or washable implement.
- If you have it, orange oil all-purpose cleaner should be added too, usually about ¼ of a cup depending on how much water you have.
- Finally, mix in an oxygen stain removing powder. If you don’t have any, you can try baking soda, but it will not be as potent.
Apply the mixture to your carpets either with a rag or with a clean bristle broom. Rinse it off with a wet sponge and let it dry completely. If you’d like it to dry faster, open up the windows or use your vents.
If you’d prefer to have a helping hand, there are pieces of equipment that can get your RV carpets clean.
- Dry Vapor Steamers. Dry vapor steamers look somewhat like a vacuum, but they’re anything but. These handy devices use hot water to clean, disinfect, and deodorize your carpets without the need for chemicals. Running over your RV carpet will lift any dirt, debris, and allergens, while disinfecting the surface.
- Air Compressors. Air compressors are exactly what they sound like; devices containing compressed air. They forcefully blow the air out to blast away dust and dirt. Air compressors are great for small spaces, like under countertops or in corners.
- Shop Vacuums. Also called a shop-vac, these heavy-duty cleaners are available for purchase, or you can rent them from hardware stores, or even some grocery stores. You can also buy a mini one to keep in your vehicle if you’ve got the space. They’re usually wet vacuums, and have a brush attachment to comb through carpet fibers and clean them up.
- Upright Vacuums. The standard upright vacuum you use in your home can also ride along in the RV. If you want to conserve space, there are petit ones that can be worn like a backpack, or ones that are very narrow and will store easily in a closet.
Which one is the best is a matter of preference, and how soiled your carpets are.
Spills are inevitable in an RV, either from eating, or from oil, tar, or grease. You will want to address a spill as soon as possible so that it doesn’t become harder to remove.
The best plan of attack is to mix warm water with either cleaning solution, vinegar, detergent, or baking soda (if cleaning a lighter colored carpet). Wet a rag with the mixture and apply it to the stain. Work in a blotting motion instead of a scrubbing one, as scrubbing the carpet can change its texture.
If you have access to vapor steamers or any other kind of wet vacuum, using it on the stain could keep it from setting in.
Keeping Your RV Carpet Clean
Even between stains, keep an eye on your carpets. Like everything in your RV, from regular wear and tear they can easily become dingy and dirty, so frequent maintenance is a must.
Here are a few tips and pointers for how to keep RV carpets clean:
- Clean your carpets at least once a month, even if they’re not stained. This is especially true if you frequently park in dusty locales.
- Attend to spills immediately.
- Do not use harsh chemicals in excess.
- Make sure that the products you use are safe to apply to your type of carpet. Some will not be safe for nylon, for example, and will do better on polyester.
Just like with many aspects of RV ownership, it’s important to know when to call a professional. If you see any kind of mold growing, do not try to remove it yourself. Leave the RV, if possible, and find an expert to deal with it.
Keeping your RV carpet clean is not a difficult task. It can be done much in the same way that the carpets in your home are cleaned, with a bit more caution. Cleaning can be done with most standard home carpet cleaners, or using regular vacuums or steamers.
RVs are your home away from home and should be treated as such. Investing in tools such as a dry vapor steamer will allow you to touch up and clean the carpets as you go. If you’re in a rush, you can also make your own carpet cleaner with hot water, detergent, orange oil, and an oxygen stain remover.