Some folks use antifreeze to keep their RV pipes from freezing while stored over the winter. Other RVers use their air compressor to blow water from the lines and then pour a bit of antifreeze down each drain. So … after the antifreeze or compressed air, you’re good to go, right? Wrong! Here are a few extra tips for winterizing your RV.
Winterizing RV tips
- Clear and defrost. Remove all food and condiments from your refrigerator and freezer as part of your winterizing process. Your RV’s freezer should be defrosted and wiped dry. (One way to make defrosting easier is this: Before your first camping trip of the season, line the back and sides of the freezer with thin, plastic cutting boards. Use scissors to trim and shape the plastic so that pieces fit up against the freezer walls. When it’s time to defrost, carefully remove the plastic and dump the accumulated ice into the sink.)
- Clean and dry. You can use Dawn dish soap (or any mild soap) and warm water to clean the interior of the refrigerator. Wipe down all the shelves, drawers, and side panels inside the fridge. Then dry with a soft towel.
- Prop open. Make sure the door(s) to your refrigerator and freezer are propped open. Some manufacturers supply a special bracket that securely holds the doors open an inch or two, allowing for air circulation. This prevents mold from forming inside the fridge and freezer.
If your refrigerator doesn’t have an “open door” bracket, find another way to prop the doors open. Friends of ours use a pool noodle. Other campers I know pull a shelf part way out of the fridge to keep the door ajar.
- What about the light? If the refrigerator’s doors are ajar, won’t the light stay on and drain the batteries? To make sure this doesn’t happen, simply remove the fridge’s light bulb or turn off the power to the refrigerator.
- Odor control. The final thing I do to winterize our RV refrigerator is to place fresh, open boxes of baking soda into the freezer compartment as well as the refrigerator. The soda will absorb odors to keep your fridge smelling clean and fresh. Note: My neighbor swears by activated charcoal to remove odors from her RV’s fridge. She places a few briquettes in a glass bowl and then sets the bowl inside her fridge. If you have leftover charcoal from the BBQ season, you might want to try this.
Moisture absorber. You can purchase DampRid almost anywhere. Better yet, you can use this product in your winterized RV because it doesn’t require electricity. A DampRid moisture absorber is made with two basic parts. The top of the device is filled with small, white crystals (calcium chloride) that attract water molecules from the air. Once the crystals are saturated, they will begin to adsorb, and the resulting gel collects in the bottom part of the DampRid container.
I recently discovered that my dollar store sells a DampRid generic product for just over a dollar apiece. DampRid removes excess humidity from the air and keeps our interior RV areas from smelling musty. I place one moisture absorber container in the bedroom, one in the bathroom, and one in the living/kitchen area of our RV. I also use a hanging humidity absorber in our RV’s closet.
Caution: Keep moisture-absorbent products away from pets and children. Also make sure you place the product on a secure, flat surface. If the gel spills, it’s quite a mess to clean up! So, be sure to remove the products before you take your first camping trip next season.
- Clean and dry. I run the “tub clean” cycle in our RV washing machine as part of my winterizing process. Once the cycle ends, I dry the tub interior with a soft, absorbent cloth. (This must be done prior to adding antifreeze or purging the water lines with a compressor.)
- Prop open. I use a pool noodle to hold the washer door open while the RV is in storage. Like the refrigerator, air circulation will help to prevent mold from forming.
- Seal openings. Yes, we’ve had mice problems in previous RVs. It’s not fun! At. All. In order to discourage mice from coming into our RV, we’ve sealed up every crack and opening with caulk and aluminum or copper wool. Steel wool will also work, but it can rust.
- Clean, clean, clean. I sweep, dust, and mop the entire RV. (Well, parts I can access, anyway.) Ants and mice are champion crumb-finders, and I don’t want to provide anything that remotely looks like a vermin welcome snack. Bonus: The RV is clean for our first camping trip next season.
- Eliminate potential nesting material. Just in case a really determined mouse somehow gains entry into our RV, I’ve taken extra precautions. (Did I mention that we’ve had mouse problems in the past? It’s not fun!) I remove everything that a mouse might consider potential nesting material. Yes, this means the toilet tissue, paper towels, and even dish towels come out of the RV. I remove other towels, pillows, and other fabric-made items, too. It all comes out—anything (and I mean anything) that a mouse might see and think, “Hmmm. I’ll bet I could chew that up and make a fine little nest for my babies.” (Can you tell I really, really don’t like mice?)
- Insect spray. As a final precaution, I spray an insecticide around all the RV’s baseboards, windows, and exit doorways. This keeps spiders and other creepy crawlies from hibernating inside our rig, so we aren’t greeted in the spring by their newly hatched offspring.
In order to prevent fading of our RV’s interior fabrics and wall coverings, I make sure to pull down all the window shades in our rig. (Bonus: Potential thieves cannot see inside the RV’s windows either.)
- Disconnect. If your RV will be stored for an extended length of time, you’ll want to disconnect the batteries. That way, they won’t lose their charge over time. Yes, it happens.
- Trickle charger. We bring our RV batteries home and plug them into a trickle charger. This keeps them charged and ready, so if we decide to take a spontaneous trip, the batteries are ready to go. Friends simply remove their RV batteries and charge them a day or two before their first trip of the season.
These are the extra things I do as part of our winterizing process. Can you add to my list? Do so in the comments, please.