James Stanbury

See other accessory reviews written by James Stanbury

Getting ready for your holidays? What caravan cleaner is best? What to use to get your wheels, upholstery and more ready for the off? Read on!

Overview

While some view touring as a 12 months a year activity, many of us are happy to restrict our trips to spring, summer and autumn.

So if your caravan has been out to pasture since last autumn, now is the time to get it prepped and ready for a busy 2018.

Nothing freshens up a van like a thorough valeting, so we’ve been busy trying out a whole host of different caravan cleaners.

Whether you’re tackling tired leather, black streaks, tar-spattered wheels, or simply stained carpet, read on to find out which products will get the job done.

And check out all our caravan cleaning tips here.
  
  

CARPETS AND UPHOLSTERY

With no significant new products since our upholstery cleaners group test, we’ve stuck with those choices.

We tested the cleaners on nasty stains and marks, including grime, dried coffee, rubbed-in chocolate and pen-applied paint. Extra points went to products with a built-in brush or agitator, and we liked formulations that could be used neat on tough stains.

OzKleen Carpet Power – five stars

Practical Caravan Editor's Choice

  • Price: £4.99*
      

Despite an eager formulation, which tackled all of our test stains more effectively than the other cleaners we tried, Carpet Power is classed as gentle enough to be Woolsafe approved.

Other points we liked were the barely-there lavender scent and the dual-setting nozzle – which makes it a doddle to apply just the right amount for spot cleaning and soaking, or treating large areas.

The price is keen, too, for the half-litre you get.

Buy OzKleen Carpet Power here from Amazon
  
  

Carplan Interior Valet – four stars

  • Price: £6.49*
      

The 400ml aerosol won’t last as long as liquid trigger sprays, but it’s a great cleaner to have on standby to tackle difficult stains, preferably as soon as they occur.

The fine lid-cum-brush allows you to work the cleaning foam into grime and coffee staining, helping to deliver excellent cleaning results.

Definitely a great all-rounder, but poor results against our ink test stain relegated this cleaning product to second place.

Buy Carplan Interior Valet here from Halfords
  
  

LEATHER UPHOLSTERY

A good treatment will make short work of grime, nourish the leather and be compatible with fabrics that leather upholstery sections often butt up against.

Carplan Leather Connoisseur Renovation Kit – five stars

Practical Caravan Editor's Choice

  • Price: £18*
      

A well-deserved win on so many levels.

First, you get a lot for your money. Not just because there are two separate 500ml bottles, but because the trigger-sprayed cleaner is thin and goes a long way.

Its cleaning performance is first class, yet it vanishes to practically nothing when dry, making accidental splashes on adjoining materials much less of a problem.

The sponge applicator pad and microfibre cloth are further bonuses.

Buy the Carplan Leather Connoisseur Renovation Kit here from Amazon
  
  

Gliptone Liquid Leather Gentle Cleaner GT15 – four stars

  • Price: £8.25*
      

Gliptone may call this a gentle cleaner, but we assume that means gentle to leather rather than to dirt and grime.

On our test seats, this easily cut through stains and muck, and left the surfaces evenly finished with a pleasing natural lustre.

Gliptone states that GT15 shouldn’t be used on aniline leather or suede but, unusually, the liquid is compatible with Alcantara and most fabrics.

Handy, then, for leather seats with fabric in-fill sections.

Buy Gliptone Liquid Leather Gentle Cleaner GT15 here from Amazon
  
  

EXTERIOR CLEANERS

A caravan cleaner’s ability to shift algae and the dreaded black streaks were high on our test criteria. But value for money and usability on other surfaces separated the best from the rest.

Mudbuster Caravan & Motorhome Exterior & Interior Wash & Wax with Black Streak Remover – five stars

Practical Caravan Editor's Choice

  • Price: £9.99*
      

Not the best value cleaner – considering that the one-litre bottle only dilutes down to produce around 70 litres – but what an effortless grime and stain remover.

And few cleaning products are as versatile as this one.

As well as your caravan’s exterior, it can tackle most interior surfaces, too – including carpets and upholstery.

The trigger spray head is another neat touch, easing application on internal surfaces and tough external marks that require a blast of neat cleaner.

Buy Mudbuster Caravan & Motorhome Exterior & Interior Wash & Wax with Black Streak Remover here on Amazon
  
  

Fenwick’s Caravan Cleaner Concentrate – four stars

  • Price: £11.99*
      

Hot on the heels of the all-conquering Mudbuster is, quite possibly, the best-known brand in caravan cleaning, Fenwick’s. And it gets so much right.

We like that distinctive citrus/ginger tang, the way this one-litre bottle dilutes down to 167 litres of cleaner and its uncompromising performance against all types of marks, grime and stains.

Especially as stubborn marks can be hit with Fenwick’s recommended 1:10 intense mix.

Buy Fenwick’s Caravan Cleaner Concentrate on Amazon
  
  

WHEEL CLEANERS

What should you use to clean caravan wheels? Ideally, a good shampoo should suffice. But often, tar spatter and other stubborn marks mean that automotive wheel cleaner is a better option. Just be extra careful not to allow strongly alkaline or acidic solutions to splash on to your caravan’s panelwork.

Bilt Hamber auto-wheel – five stars

Practical Caravan Editor's Choice

  • Price: £12.95*
      

Amazingly, Bilt Hamber’s auto-wheel is neither acid nor alkali, meaning the brew is much less hazardous to your wheels and surrounding panels than traditional, strongly acidic or alkaline mixes.

But does it work as effectively? In short, yes.

It actually shifts muck and dirt dramatically better than traditional noxious wheel cleaners.

Simply spray it on, let it graft, then rinse it – and the dirt – away once the formulation has turned red.

Buy Bilt Hamber auto-wheel here from Halfords
  
  

Simoniz Alloy Wheel Cleaner – four stars

  • Price: £4.99*
      

At less than a fiver a bottle, this is the absolute opposite of Bilt Hamber’s winning auto-wheel.

Whereas auto-wheel uses a revolutionary new formula, this brew relies on old-fashioned acid technology. That said, it’s less noxious on the nostrils than we expected.

Simoniz suggests avoiding use on unlacquered or unpainted surfaces, and we’d agree with that.

From the speed this melts wheel grime away, we suspect it’s pretty potent stuff.

Buy Simoniz Alloy Wheel Cleaner here from Amazon
  
  

FOOT PUMPS

Alright, this isn’t cleaning, but it is crucial to your pre-tour preparation – correct tyre pressures are essential for safe and economical towing.

Why bother with foot pumps when 12V compressors are so effective and affordable? Well, while compressors are great for rapidly inflating tyres from flat, most tyres only need a couple of PSI during a service. At that point, a fully portable foot pump is often quicker than continually rerouting a compressor’s power lead.

Michelin 12209 Digital Footpump – five stars

Practical Caravan Editor's Choice

  • Price: £28*
      

Michelin’s double-barrel range-topper sports an excellent digital display, with white figures on a black background, that’s easily readable from a distance.

But we also like the almost 70cm-long hose, the compact and foolproof screw-on valve coupling and the gauge’s excellent accuracy – just half a PSI low in our tests.

The product locks together securely and quickly for storage and there are dedicated clips for all those easily lost accessories – and to route the hose neatly.

Buy the Michelin 12209 Digital Footpump here from Halfords
  
  

Michelin 12202 – four stars

  • Price: £23.99*
      

Michelin’s older model has been tweaked to keep it fresh.

A hose-mounted clip-on box keeps your accessories safe, and our preferred screw-on type valve coupling is now standard fit.

Performance and accuracy matched the winning Michelin in our pumps-per-PSI test, but the gauge – as well laid out as it is – cannot compete with the digital display for ultimate clarity.

The storage mechanism is our only gripe – the two locking pegs, which clamp the product together, are a little fiddly.

Buy the Michelin 12202 here from Amazon
   

*All prices correct at the time of writing