How To Remove Oxidation From RV Fiberglass

Oxidation is a natural process that occurs when metal is exposed to oxygen and moisture. When it happens on your RV, it can cause your RV’s fiberglass to become dull, faded, and even cracked.

Fortunately, there are a few simple steps you can take to remove oxidation from your RV’s fiberglass and restore its original luster. It doesn’t take much to clean the area, remove the oxidation, and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

How To Remove Oxidation From RV Fiberglass

What Causes Oxidation?

Most people call oxidation rust. It’s common on cars, boats, and RVs, but it occurs naturally when the surface of any metal is exposed to oxygen and moisture.

This can happen when your RV is stored outside in humid weather or when it’s parked near salt water.

The combination of oxygen and moisture causes a chemical reaction that eats away at the metal, leaving behind a dull, faded, and eventually cracked surface.

Even when your vehicle isn’t exposed to the elements, the metal can still oxidize if it’s not properly protected. This is why it’s important to use a quality wax or sealant on your RV’s fiberglass to create a barrier against oxidation.

The oxidation process is accelerated when metal is exposed to high temperatures and a lot of moisture, so it’s especially important to protect your RV from the sun if you live in a hot, humid climate.

How To Remove Oxidation From RV Fiberglass

There are a few different methods you can use to remove oxidation from your RV’s fiberglass. The best method will depend on the severity of the oxidation and the amount of time you have to spend on the project.

If the oxidation is mild, you may be able to remove it with a simple soap and water wash. If the oxidation is more severe, you’ll need to use a stronger cleaner such as vinegar, baking soda, or a liquid oxidation remover like Crush Liquid Compound or Riptide Liquid Compound.

Let’s look at some of the most common methods, how they work, and when you should use each one.

sponge and soap RV cleaning

Method 1: Soap and Water

This is the simplest and most gentle method for cleaning oxidation from your RV’s fiberglass.

If the oxidation is mild, you may be able to remove it with a simple soap and water wash. Just be sure to use a non-abrasive soap that won’t damage the fiberglass.

Supplies:

  • Mild soap
  • Water
  • Soft sponge
  • Scrubber with soft bristles

To do this, mix a cup of soap with a gallon of water and wash the area with a soft cloth or sponge. Rinse the area well and dry it with a clean towel. If the oxidation is light, this may be all you need to do.

If the oxidation is more stubborn, you may still be able to use soap and water by scrubbing it with a soft brush. Just be careful not to damage the fiberglass. If the oxidation is severe, you’ll need to use a stronger cleaner.

Method 2: Vinegar

Vinegar is a popular household cleaning agent that can also be used to remove oxidation from your RV’s fiberglass. The acid in vinegar reacts with the oxidation, breaking it down and making it easier to remove.

Supplies:

  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Soft sponge or cloth
  • Scrubber with soft bristles (optional)

To use this method, mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle and spritz the area with the solution.

Let it sit for a few minutes, then scrub the area with a soft sponge or cloth. If the oxidation is stubborn, you may need to scrub it with a soft brush.

Rinse the area well and dry it with a clean towel. You may need to repeat this process a few times to remove all of the oxidation.

Method 3: Baking Soda

Baking soda is another common household cleaning agent that can be used to remove oxidation from your RV’s fiberglass.

Baking soda is a mild abrasive, so it will gently scrub away the oxidation without damaging the fiberglass.

Supplies:

  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Soft sponge or cloth
  • Scrubber with soft bristles (optional)

The exact proportions you use in your solution will depend on how severe the oxidation is. The more baking soda you use, the more it will help to break down the oxidation, but the more difficult it will be to use a spray bottle.

If you make a thicker paste out of your baking soda and water, applying it by hand may be a better solution.

Once you make your solution, apply it to the oxidation site and let it sit for a few minutes. Scrub the area with a soft sponge or cloth, then rinse it well and dry it with a clean towel.

You may need to repeat this process a few times to remove all of the oxidation.

Method 4: Liquid Oxidation Remover

The market is full of plenty of premixed liquid oxidation removers. You can use a marine oxidation remover like Crush Liquid Compound or Riptide Liquid Compound.

You can also use a marine and RV compound like Meguire’s One-Step Compound.

Supplies:

  • Liquid compound of your choice
  • Soft sponge or cloth
  • Scrubber with soft bristles (optional)

To use this method, apply the oxidation remover to the affected area and let it sit for the amount of time recommended by the manufacturer.

Scrub the area with a soft sponge or cloth, then rinse it well and dry it with a clean towel. You may need to repeat this process a few times to remove all of the oxidation.

The benefit to using one of these solutions is that it will also work to buff out light scratches and add a shine back to your RV’s exterior.

By coating your RV in a liquid compound like this regularly, you’ll also be able to prevent future oxidation.

The downside is that these solutions aren’t always the most natural or environmentally friendly. If you’re looking for a more natural solution, you may want to stick with one of the other methods on this list.

cleaning camper roof

How To Restore Extreme Fiberglass Oxidation

Restoring extreme oxidation can be quite difficult and take a lot of time. If you’d rather not spend the money to consult a professional, you’ll need to make sure you have the supplies and the time to get the job done.

Supplies:

  • Sandpaper (600, 1000, 1500, 2000 grit)
  • Polishing compound
  • Wax
  • Soft sponge or cloth
  • Buffer (optional)

Step 1: Sand

The first thing you’ll need to do is sand the oxidation off of your RV’s fiberglass. You’ll start with 600 grit sandpaper and work your way up to 2000 grit.

The finer the sandpaper, the more difficult it will be to remove the oxidation, but it will also be less likely to damage the fiberglass.

You can make this process go faster by using a buffer with a sanding attachment, but it’s important to be careful. It’s easy to damage the fiberglass if you use too much pressure.

If you don’t feel comfortable using a buffer, stick to sanding by hand.

Step 2: Polish

After you’ve sanded away the oxidation, you’ll need to apply a polishing compound to the area. This will help to smooth out any roughness caused by the sanding process.

First, apply the polishing compound to the area with a soft sponge or cloth and let it sit for the amount of time recommended by the manufacturer.

Then, work it into the fiberglass by hand or use a buffer with a polishing attachment. Be sure to go slowly and apply light pressure to avoid damaging the fiberglass.

Once you work it in, wipe the area with a clean, soft cloth.

Step 3: Wax

The last step is to apply wax to the area. This will help to protect the fiberglass and prevent future oxidation.

Applying wax is an important step in the restoration process, but it’s also one that many people overlook. If you don’t apply wax, your RV will be more susceptible to future oxidation.

To apply the wax, first, make sure the area is clean and dry. Then, apply a thin layer of wax with a soft sponge or cloth.

Let it sit for the amount of time recommended by the manufacturer, then buff it off with a clean cloth. You may need to repeat this process a few times to get the desired results.

Helpful Tips To Prevent RV Oxidation

The best way to deal with RV oxidation is to prevent it from happening in the first place.

There are a few things you can do to keep your RV’s exterior looking new.

1. Wash Your RV Regularly

One of the best ways to prevent oxidation is to wash your RV regularly. This will remove any dirt, debris, or pollutants that could cause the fiberglass to oxidize.

How often you need to wash your RV will depend on how often you use it and where you store it.

If you live in an area with a lot of pollution or if you take your RV out in dusty conditions, you’ll need to wash it more often. In general, washing your RV once a month should be sufficient.

Salt water can be especially hard on an RV’s fiberglass, so if you live near the ocean or go camping in salt water areas, you’ll need to wash it more often.

2. Use A Cleaner That’s Designed For RVs

When you wash your RV, be sure to use a cleaner that’s specifically designed for RVs. These cleaners are formulated to remove tough grime without damaging the paint or finish.

Also, be very careful with the type of brush you use. Abrasive brushes can damage the fiberglass, so it’s best to use a soft brush or sponge.

3. Wax Your RV

As I mentioned earlier, waxing your RV is an important step in preventing oxidation. Wax creates a barrier between the fiberglass and the elements, which helps to protect the RV from dirt, debris, and pollutants.

It’s best to wax your RV every few months. This will help to keep the fiberglass in good condition and prevent oxidation.

4. Store Your RV In A Covered Area

When you’re not using your RV, be sure to store it in a covered area. This will protect it from the sun, wind, and rain.

If you don’t have a covered area, you can use a tarp or RV cover to protect it.

5. Inspect Your RV Regularly

It’s important to inspect your RV regularly for signs of oxidation. If you catch it early, you can sand and polish the area to remove the oxidation.

You should also inspect your RV for any cracks or holes in the fiberglass. These can allow moisture to get inside, which can cause the fiberglass to oxidize.

FAQ

How Often Should I Wash My RV?

Every RVer has a different philosophy on how often an RV should be washed.

Once a month is a good rule of thumb, but it’s also a lot of work, so many RVers don’t get around to doing that often, especially during periods when they’re not using it.

You should always wash your RV when you pull it out of storage and again before you put it back in.

However, while you’re using it, how often you wash it will depend on the weather, the roads, and the conditions where you travel.

Should I Wax My RV?

Yes, you should wax your RV to protect it from the elements. Waxing creates a barrier between the fiberglass and the dirt, debris, and pollutants. It’s best to wax your RV every few months.

Again, this is a lot of work, but you don’t have to wax your RV every time you wash it. You just need to make sure you wax it regularly enough for the wax to do its job effectively.

Will Vinegar Remove Oxidation From Fiberglass?

Vinegar is a common household product that can be used for a variety of cleaning tasks. While it can be used to remove light oxidation from fiberglass, it’s not as effective as cleaners that are specifically designed for RVs.

These cleaners are formulated to remove tough grime without damaging the paint or finish.

If you’re going to use vinegar, be sure to dilute it with water and test it on a small area first to make sure it doesn’t damage the fiberglass.

What’s The Best RV Fiberglass Oxidation Remover?

There are a variety of RV fiberglass cleaners on the market. These cleaners are formulated to remove tough grime without damaging the paint or finish.

When choosing an RV cleaner, be sure to read the label carefully to make sure it’s safe for use on RVs. Some cleaners are only meant for use on boats.

In general, cleaners that are specifically designed for RVs are the best choice. However, you can also use vinegar or a boat cleaner if you’re careful about testing it on a small area first.

Conclusion 

RV fiberglass is a sturdy material that can withstand a lot of wear and tear. However, it’s not indestructible. Over time, the fiberglass will oxidize and become dull.

You can prevent this by washing and waxing your RV regularly, storing it in a covered area when you’re not using it, and inspecting it for signs of oxidation.

If you catch the oxidation early, you can sand and polish the area to remove it. However, if you wait too long, the fiberglass will become permanently damaged.

Madeline Cooper
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