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How to Remove Oxidation From RV Decals? – 10 Steps to Do

Writen by Dane Heldt

Fact checked by Robert Clark

how to remove oxidation from rv decals

RV decals have become more popular as they help make RVs’ exteriors even more awesome. However, they will rust when exposed to environmental factors, such as sunlight, rain, snow, or moisture from the sea. It’s the result of oxidation, and it directly affects the aesthetics of your RV.

Oxidation is when oxygen reacts with another substance. In the case of RVs, oxidation can fade RV graphics like decals and cause more severe problems as it slowly “eats” through metal parts of the body.

Fortunately, there is a way to protect RV decals. Here’s how to remove oxidation from RV decals and keep your vehicle looking its best:

  • Step 1: Prepare What You Need
  • Step 2: Identify Decals In Your RV
  • Step 3: Handle Each RV Decal Type
  • Step 4: Check the Weather
  • Step 5: Protect the Area’s Surroundings
  • Step 6: Prepare the Area
  • Step 7: Hand-buff The Surface
  • Step 8: Utilize Power Buffer
  • Step 9: Wash and Allow Your Decals to Dry
  • Step 10: Apply Waxing Product

Keep reading for more information!

Steps to Remove Oxidation From RV Decals


This is a step-by-step guide to remove oxidation from RV decals. This simple sequence is guaranteed to get you optimal results for your RV.

Step 1: Prepare What You Need

  • RV decal wax
  • Electric power buffer
  • Soap, water, and sponge, cleaning cloth
  • Rubber gloves, face mask, and hat for protection
  • New paint (for re-painting if you want)

Step 2: Identify Decals In Your RV

RV decals come with various types, and naturally, there are different ways to restore them. So, it is wise to determine what you have at hand early on.

There are 4 common types of RV decal, including 3D chrome-plated, RV gel-coated fiberglass, vinyl graphics, and full-body paint coating.

Step 3: Handle Each RV Decal Type

Regardless of the decal you use, oxidation from the RV must be thoroughly treated.

  • 3D Chrome-Plated

It is true to say that this decal can make RVs look more luxurious. In general, 3D Chrome-Plated may fade easily. Yet, it is durable and does not scratch or peel easily. You only need a little polish to help it achieve a brilliant shine, and you’ll only need to re-polish after a decade or even longer.

  • RV Gel Coated Fiberglass

It is true to say that RV gel-coated fiberglass is the most popular decal for RVs. The design is mainly printed on any fiberglass material. You may have to polish and paint to remove oxidation from RV gel coats, depending on the oxidation severity.

  • Full-body Paint Coating

This type of decal typically comes with high-end RVs. Full-body paint coating may require a fresh coat of paint if polishing is not enough to restore its original glam.

  • Vinyl Graphics

Vinyl graphics are another popular decal for RVs. They can feature high-end or poor-quality plastic materials. Low-grade vinyl is easy to deteriorate, often lasting only a few years.

If slightly oxidized, you can restore it through sanding and polishing. On the other hand, if the oxidation has become severe, you have to peel off the surface of your RV and put in new ones.

Step 4: Check the Weather

We recommend doing this project on sunny days. So, it is essential to monitor the weather forecast and make sure there will be no rain for at least three days for your project.

Once you’re ready, put on a mask, gloves, sunglasses, and hat before beginning the RV decal restoration process.

Step 5: Protect Other Sections

If you plan to deal with a small portion of your RV decal, you must thoroughly protect the surrounding area. To do that, it is best to use large plastic sheets or masking tape.

Step 6: Prepare the Area

Oxidized decal areas need to be cleaned before handling. Hence, it is essential to use soap and water to clean the exterior to remove all dirt and impurities from the surface.

Then, use a dry microfiber towel to dry the surface completely. Once the surface is totally dry, you can begin the process.

Step 7: Hand-buff The Surface

In this step, you need to apply a polishing compound to a sponge. Then, use your gloved hand to wipe or rub the sponge thoroughly over the area to be treated. After that, wait until the polish dries. This is very effective for lighter damage or RV with a fresh coat.

Step 8: Utilize Power Buffer

If hand-buffing the surface ​isn’t enough, use a Power buffer on your decals. It is a more effective method to remove oxidation from your RV. All you need to do is move the machine through your RV’s paint and decals and polish the exterior thoroughly.

Step 9: Wash and Allow Your Decals to Dry

Once the oxidation removal from your RV is complete, you need to rinse the exteriors and allow the outer sides of your RV to dry completely.

However, we do not recommend letting the decals dry in the air. Instead, it’s best to use a dry and clean cloth to wipe the outside to ensure no water stains are left on the surface.

Step 10: Apply Waxing Product

The final step in polishing the RV decal is to use wax. Polishing alone is not enough as it will not give your decals enough protection.

You can restore the brilliant shine of your decals by utilizing high-quality polish and wax products. After that, it is essential to regularly wash the RV at least once per week to prevent oxidation.

To give yourself more understanding, you should check out the following video guide that’s extremely detailed:

Replacing Your RV Decal

If you don’t have the time to fix your old decal, you can choose to replace your old decal. You just need to prepare scissors and the vinyl sheet for this.

After purchasing a vinyl sheet, you need to cut it properly and cover it over the old one. Remember to release any air bubbles to smoothen the sheet out.

Removing Your RV Decal

If you prefer your recreational vehicle to look clean, you can remove the decal. Here are the tools that you need to prepare:

  • Hairdryer or heat gun
  • Adhesive remover
  • Ghost-off oxidation cleaner
  • Microfiber towel

First, you need to heat the area with a heat gun or dryer. After that, you can peel it off carefully.

Next, you can clean the surface with your adhesive remover. Last but not least, you need to use a clean microfiber towel to wipe the area and utilize a ghost-off oxidation cleaner to ensure that the area is smooth and the paint is even.

Repainting Your RV Decal

Sometimes your only solution is to repaint your RV decal. In this case, here are the things you’ll need to prepare:

  • Paint
  • Microfiber towel
  • Marine-grade coating
  • Sanding paper
  • Protective paper
  • Clear top-coat
  • Masking tape

Before repainting, it is essential to protect the surrounding environment from paint contamination. Then, remove the paint and use your clean microfiber towel to wipe the area, followed by sanding the area and wiping it clean again.

Once all the required preparations are completed, apply a marine-grade coating. Next up is to sand the area and clean it again.

Now, you have to spray the paint and ensure that the paint covers the area evenly. Finally, apply a clear top-coat to complete the process.


The best way to deal with oxidation is to reduce rust buildup and prevent it from becoming a problem. Always keep your recreational vehicle out of direct sunlight and as dry as possible.

After each wash or move in the rain, it is essential to take some time to dry areas where you notice rust problems, such as the hood and roof.

Once a month, re-inspect your vehicle for any signs of damage and holes. If you find a hole, you will need to seal it. Otherwise, water infiltrates that place leading to rust. Ideally, wax and polish your RV at least once a month to protect it from water damage.

Acid Remedies

Acid can slowly peel away rust from a surface as well as remove any marks there. So, we recommend something with a high acid level like vinegar, lemon juice, or even Coca-Cola.

Apply a layer of acid liquid and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes. After that, take a thick brush, such as a wire or metal brush, and scrape the surface. Then, rise off the liquid with cold water.

You can also combine lemon juice and table salt and apply them in the same way.

Warnings And Bonus Tips

  • It would be best to clean your RV monthly to prevent the rusting process.
  • You should wax your RV at least once a year for it to look nice and shiny.
  • When the RV is not in use, cover it with a large tarp to prevent it from being damaged by environmental agents.
  • Keep your RV out of direct sunlight as much as possible.
  • When purchasing the wax for your vehicle, look for brands that feature extra UV protection.

Frequently Asked Questions


1. Can vinegar remove oxidation from fiberglass?

It will remove mild oxidation but will not restore damaged decals. It also needs immediate waxing afterward to retain the cleaning effect.

2. Can I polish vinyl stripes?

Yes, but you need to ensure that the waxing and polishing product you use is suitable for the surface and vinyl stripes.

3. How do I keep my RV from fading?

It is wise to remove grease and dirt routinely. The next step is to wax and polish. This should keep your vehicle sparkly for a long time.


There is no denying that the look of an RV is critical, and keeping decals in good condition is a top concern for many RVers. Learning how to remove oxidation from RV decals can breathe life back into your motorhome, allowing you to showcase your vehicle wherever you go.

So, what are you waiting for? Gather the necessary tools and renovate your RV decals right away!

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