Summer is winding down and kids are heading back to school. It’s just about time to put the RV away until next spring. But wait! After a fun-filled season of adventures that included numerous extended trips along with several long weekend jaunts, your rig may need to be cleaned first. I’m not just talking about a quick vacuum and brief swipe with a dust cloth either. I’m talking about an annual fall RV cleanup.
Too much stuff
Any given camping season can result in piles of souvenirs and stacks of travel brochures. (I know this because it happens to us. We keep campground brochures on which we’ve noted our likes and dislikes as a reference for next year.) My husband loves to BBQ, so we collect numerous regional BBQ sauces and rubs. Perhaps you do, too. Invariably, we also amass “extras” of those items we forget at home and subsequently have to purchase on the road. In short, we end the RV season with a lot more “stuff” than when we started! If this happens to you, perhaps a fall RV cleanup should be on your “to-do” list, as well.
Before you begin your RV’s fall cleanup, you’ll need to get some boxes or bags. Label one “Recycle,” a second container “Donate,” and designate the third for trash. Label the fourth container “Sell,” if you plan to sell any items on Facebook Marketplace, eBay, OfferUp, or other outlets.
You may also choose to designate an area or container for those items that need to be repaired, e.g., leaking water hose, broken jacket zipper. If you have a stix-n-bricks home, you may choose to move some items from the RV back into your stationary home, so designate a box or bag for those items, too.
It’s a good idea to look around your RV’s interior and exterior to see if there are items that need to be put away. This will help you sort and make good decisions as you focus on specific areas.
Choose an area where you’ll begin. I like to start at one end of the RV and work toward the opposite end. That way I can “look back” and see progress. It doesn’t really matter where you begin. The important thing is just to get started!
If you RV with others (spouse or children), you may want their input as you sort items. Alternatively, you can do the initial sorting on your own and let others look through the various boxes when you’re finished sorting. Because weight is a real concern when RVing, every item should receive critical evaluation.
RV interior spaces
I begin by making the bed and then placing a clean sheet over the top of the bedspread. The sheet will keep the bedspread clean and also help me more easily see the individual items as I sort.
- Closet. I prefer to declutter by categories. I pull everything from a category out of the closet and place them on the bed. My categories usually end up something like this: shoes, tops, jeans/shorts, outwear.
As you consider each item, place it where you want it to go. For example, I put all my footwear on the bed. (See why I cover my bedspread with a sheet?) I pick up each pair of shoes and quickly decide where they’ll go (back into the closet, donate, etc.). If I’m not sure about an item, I’ll put it in the box to go into our stationary home.
- Dresser drawers. Taking one drawer at a time, I empty the contents onto the bed. I quickly sort them into categories (socks, T-shirts, etc.). Then I consider one category at a time. Any item that I no longer wear goes into the donate box (if it’s in good shape). Socks with holes go into my rag bag or “fix it” box. Extra sleepwear or other clothing will go into our stix-n-bricks home. Items that I plan to keep are neatly folded and returned to the drawer.
- Nightstand. If I had a nightstand … I’d begin by emptying the contents onto the bed. Then, I’d donate any previously read books, recycle unnecessary papers, and discard non-working pens and book lights. Once that’s done, whatever’s left will be returned to the nightstand … if I had one, that is.
- Shower. Remove and discard any empty product containers and leftover bar soap. Ditto for unraveling loofahs.
- Sink drawers and medicine cabinet. Remove duplicate products. Discard them or take the duplicates to your stix-n-bricks home. Arrange what’s left so that items are easily viewed. I like to put the most-often-used items in the top drawer of the sink cabinet and the eye-level shelf in the medicine cabinet.
- Towel cabinet. Over the course of a camping season, we tend to accumulate extra towels. I remove all but the ones for my husband and me. Next season when we camp with family, I’ll bring the towels back on board.
- Pots and pans. Pots and pans can add considerable weight. If you haven’t used some pieces or their lids, take them out of your RV. Consider donating them. You might also consider replacing all those pot and pan lids with one universal lid like one of these.
- Bakeware. I had glorious visions of baking fresh coffee cake for breakfast, homemade bread for lunches, and casseroles for dinner. While it all sounds yummy, I never did any of that! We were too busy hiking, biking, or working! So those heavy glass Pyrex dishes are history, and the bread maker is going back to our stationary home. (FYI: I’m keeping the muffin tins, though. Fresh coffee cake muffins sound too good!)
- Plates and glassware. Be realistic about how many plates and glasses you actually need. If the time comes for a family campout, you can always bring extra plates/cups back into your rig. Or use disposable items.
- Cooking utensils. Remove duplicates. (Just how many wooden spoons does one need?) Consider what pieces can do double duty and keep them. (For example, a set of tongs can serve up salad or spaghetti.) If you haven’t used the hand mixer or other appliances, consider removing them as well.
- Game cabinet. Missing pieces? Used score pads? Make or purchase replacements and/or discard. Take batteries out of battery-powered games to prevent corrosion.
- Blankets. Evaluate how many blankets or throws you need. Donate extras.
- Books/paperwork. Toss or recycle magazines and nonessential paperwork. Donate previously read books or unwanted puzzles.
- Pillows. Plan to launder or mend any pillows in need. Remove any you don’t use regularly.
- Hoses. Sort hoses. Plan to repair the ones in need. Non-repairable hoses or extra hoses can be discarded and/or taken out of the RV. Organize the hoses you will keep in specific bins or reels. Here are a few no-hassle ways to store your RV’s sewer hose.
- Chocks, blocks. Remove and donate extras that you do not use. Discard broken items that cannot be repaired. Organize the chocks and blocks you will keep so that they are readily available when you need them.
- Tools. Go through the toolbox. Remove duplicate items along with tools that are broken or non-functioning. Remove batteries from power tools so that you can charge them at home. That way they’ll be ready to go on your next RV trip.
Do you perform an RV fall cleanup? How do you decide which items to keep and which ones to remove from your rig? Tell me in the comments below.