Over the years of running Horton Common and discussing cleaning caravans and motorhomes with our guests the topic of pressure washers has come up more than once. In my posts on how to clean a caravan and how to clean a motorhome, I do discuss pressure washers. You will see that I give a pretty blunt answer, don’t use them. However, the reason I give such a firm response to the question, in general, is so people can avoid potential damage to their leisure vehicle. It is possible to clean any caravan, motorhome or campervan without a pressure washer. Therefore, due to the potential damage which can be caused by using one, I typically just say, don’t do it. However, if I was going to provide a more detailed response it would go as follows. You may use a pressure washer to clean your caravan or motorhome safely if its a certain type and used a certain way.
Many people use a pressure washer to clean their car, which is perfectly reasonable to do so. However, a car is constructed very differently to a caravan or coachbuilt motorhome. Caravans and motorhomes have an extensive number of flexible seals and sealant around doors, windows and lockers. Hence, when it comes to cleaning with a pressure washer its these seals and sealants you need to be mindful of. Now, when a caravan or motorhome is brand new the seals and sealant will be fresh and flexible, with good adhesion to the surface. However, as seals age, they become less flexible and break up. For instance, degrading window seals is part of the reason for black streaks. The point is though, that as these seals age and become brittle a pressure washer may get water in behind them or even wash out the seal its self.
Dealers Use Pressure Washers for Cleaning, Why Shouldn’t I Use One?
There is a very specific reason why many caravan and motorhome owners repeatedly ask the question ‘can a pressure washer be used on a caravan or motorhome?’. This is despite the potential risks which they are aware of to the seals around windows/doors and lockers. Its because many of us, myself included have been on a caravan/motorhome storage yard and watched them use a pressure washer for cleaning. Therefore, it automatically makes you question, well if they think its safe to use a pressure washer why shouldn’t I?
The problem is you will see some dealer staff who know how to use a pressure washer to safely clean a caravan or motorhome, and some that don’t. Remember, the employee at the dealer’s yard typically cleaning that caravan or motorhome with a pressure washer is not ultimately the person who is responsible for when it goes wrong, damages a seal and gets water inside the fabric of the vehicle. That employee will be focussing on, ‘I need to clean this thing as quickly as possible’. Now, you as the owner of said caravan/motorhome the speed at which you can clean the outer surface should not be your primary concern. Your main focus is on caravan maintenance, to keep your asset in good condition to maintain its value and comfortable use.
What do Other Caravanners Think about Cleaning With a Pressure Washer?
With our own guests here at Horton Common, I get a range of responses. Those who don’t use a pressure washer as they don’t see the need to. Those who have considered it but decided not to due to the potential damage. Finally, those that use a pressure washer and are confident that they have sufficient ‘common sense’ to not cause any damage. While I agree that a pressure washer can be used responsibly to clean a caravan or motorhome based on ‘common sense’, there is a problem. You cannot presume when providing advice and feedback that common sense is actually that common. Hence, if I’m put on the spot and I’m asked should someone use a pressure washer to clean a caravan or motorhome, I’ll just say no.
However, using a certain type of pressure washer and using it responsibly they can be suitable for cleaning a caravan or motorhome. Case in point, I recently came across a video below from YouTuber Dan Trudgian where he discusses the topic of using a pressure washer to clean a caravan.
In the video above Dan provides some solid feedback in terms of how to use a pressure washer to safely clean a caravan or motorhome:
- Spray from a distance
- Do not aim the water yet at door, wind or locker seals
- Use a diffuser spray when possible
- Use a pressure washer where you can lower the pressure setting
However, it does need to be pointed out that the type of pressure washer Dan is using in the video above is very different to most pressure washers many people already own. It is not powered via mains electricity, and it is not fed via mains water. It is a portable pressure washer made by Bosh that has its own 15-litre water tank and runs from a removal lithium battery:
This is the portable/cordless Bosh Fontus pressure washer used by Dan in the video above: Image – Amazon
Maxium Water Pressure is Important
So as you can see from Dan’s video above, the Bosh Fontus pressure washer he uses as an example has 3 pressure settings. However, notably reading the specifications for the Bosh Fontus pressure washer its maxium water pressure is only 15 Bar. Now, if you already own a pressure washer at home you may or may not know its water pressure output. However, if you click the Amazon link above and just browse pressure washers, in general, you will notice that 15 bar of pressure is very low compared to many other products. You will notice that a typical pressure washer with a mains power/water input will have a maxium pressure of a least 100. One listing states ‘massive 262 Bar’. Hence, I would quite comfortably use the portable Bosh Fontus without a concern of it causing damage. However, I personally would never use a pressure washer with mains power/water and an output pressure of 100-262 Bar to clean a caravan or motorhome, not a chance.
Portable Pressure Washers are not as Powerful as Mains Powered Units, and that’s a Good Thing!
The Bosh Fontus portable pressure washer example above is not the lowest or higher-powered product on the market at 15 Bar of water pressure. Its also not the cheapest or most expensive portable pressure washer available. Finally, its also not the most flexible product on the market. Sure it has its own 15-litre water tank and runs off a lithium battery, but you also have solutions such as that in the image below from Worx. This portable pressure washer is the most flexible currently on the market. The Worx pressure washer is just the lance with a battery on the bottom. You can pull water from any source/container. Hence, you could even use your portable Aquaroll water container as the source of water.
This is the most portable pressure currently on the market that would be a safe choice for cleaning a caravan or motorhome: Image – Amazon
The Worx portable pressure washer above has two output settings of either 94 PSI (6.5 Bar) or 320 PSI (22 Bar). Therefore a comparable pressure output to the Bosh Fontus. If you’re wondering what the pressure a hosepipe on its own generates, well that depends on the water pressure in your area. Here at Horton Common, we are on a hill, hence we have a relatively low water pressure of 1.5 Bar. But on average a UK home should have 2 bar of water pressure from a tap.
Personally, if I was going to use the Worx portable pressure washer above I would choose the lower 6.5bar setting for cleaning a caravan or motorhome. It will provide a bit more pressure than your mains water supply to aid with cleaning, but not excessive pressure to cause damage. However, you would still want to follow the points above such as using a diffuser spay and not aiming at door, window and locker seals.
Be Careful to Avoid ‘Powerful’ Portable Pressure Washers
So I stated above that portable pressure washers are not as powerful as mains powered units and that’s true with products such as those from Bosh and Worx. However, as with many things, there is an ‘arms race’ of who can produce the most powerful portable pressure washer! Take the example below from Wolf Freedom. It appears a nice/well-made product, and I’m sure it has a range of very good uses such as cleaning a drive/patio. Would I use it for cleaning a caravan or motorhome? Nope. It has an output pressure of 70 Bar. Hence, this particular portable pressure washer is getting close to the sort of water pressure you get from a mains powered unit. Hence, I would be concerned about this unit damaging seals/sealant on a caravan or motorhome. Or damaging the stuck on decals. I did wonder if it had a variable pressure setting, but it doesn’t appear so. It just appears to have an on/off switch.
This portable pressure washer produces 70 Bar of pressure which I feel is too much for safely cleaning a caravan or motorhome: Image – Amazon
Conclusions on Using a Pressure Washer to Clean a Caravan or Motorhome
So, in summary, I personally would still avoid the use of mains powered pressure washers for cleaning a caravan or motorhome unless you can step the pressure down considerably to below around 20 Bar. The use of portable low-pressure washers such as those above may be an option you wish to consider. Especially if you are trying to clean your caravan or motorhome on a storage site.
I personally do really like the Worx portable pressure washer that can feed off any source of water. Due to its small lightweight nature, you could maybe even take this unit with you on holiday. For instance, I do have some of our guests which when they arrive they have a bucket and sponge to clean down road dirt off their caravan or motorhome. Now, here at Horton Common, that’s very easy for them to do as all our pitches are fully serviced with two taps. However, if you were on a standard campsite with a normal pitch the Worx portable pressure washer could be really handy. You could fill up your Aquaroll, and use that as your source of water to wash down your caravan or motorhome.
While we are on the topic of Aquarolls/Wastemasters, a portable pressure washer could also be really handy to clean them too. If you are having to roll them across a muddy field they can obviously get pretty dirty. Therefore, most people would want to wash them down before putting them back in their leisure vehicle at the end of their stay.
Anyway, thanks for readings, and I hope the above has helped you to make up your own mind about whether cleaning a caravan or motorhome with a pressure washer is something you want to consider. I also hope at some point in the near future you consider coming to visit at our Staffordshire caravan site, Horton Common. 🙂