Photo by SweetyMommy via iStock
It’s always a sad day when the time comes to prep a camper for winter storage.
But for those of us in northern climates, it’s a necessary step as the weather will soon be too cold and the roads will soon be too nasty to do any winter camping.
Last week, I discussed how to prep the exterior of your camper for storage. In this week’s follow-up, I want to give an overview of how to prep the interior of a camper for storage.
Winterize the Water System
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First and foremost, you need to winterize the water system to prepare your rig for winter storage.
Whether you decide to drain out all the water and pump antifreeze into the water system or you decide to blow out the water system using an air compressor, it’s necessary to ensure the water lines are free of water to avoid burst pipes and tons of time and money expended to fix it in the spring.
While many folks use the antifreeze method, I prefer to blow out my camper’s water system to prep a camper for winter storage. This process is outlined in the video above by cbatilo. I simply open the drain valves on the underside of my camper to get as much water out of the system as possible, engage the relief valve on the hot water heater, remove the hot water heater’s drain plug, and then attach the air compressor to the city water intake.
Using low pressure, I blow out the lines, letting any residual water come out of the open valves. Then I replace the drain plug on the hot water heater and close the relief valve on the hot water heater, and I also close the drain plugs on the main lines in favor of turning on the faucets inside the camper to blow what water is left out of the faucets.
Once there’s no water coming out, I disconnect the air compressor, turn off all the faucets, and add antifreeze to each drain, just to make sure any water in the drains doesn’t freeze. I also empty the black and gray water tanks into my RV dump at home and open the drain valve on the fresh water tank and let them run dry.
If you’d rather use antifreeze, it’s a matter of pumping it throughout the system (except for the hot water tank, which you’ll need to bypass) until you see antifreeze coming out of the taps. With special non-toxic RV and marine antifreeze, you don’t have to worry about any residual toxins in the water lines when you de-winterize the system in the spring.
Get more details on how to use the antifreeze method in the video above by RV Habit.
Quick Tip: Remove batteries from clocks, the smoke detector, and any other electronics inside the camper.
How to Prep a Camper for Winter Storage: Clean the Kitchen
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Next up, give the refrigerator and freezer a thorough cleaning. Don’t leave any food or drinks inside either compartment, as they will turn into a stinky surprise! If need be, defrost the freezer as well.
Once both the fridge and freezer are clean and defrosted, add a box of baking soda to each one to soak up any smells. Leave both doors open while the camper is in storage to allow the units to air out over the winter.
While you’re at it, give the range, oven, and microwave a good cleaning, too. In all three situations, it’s best to remove any signs of burnt-on food residue now rather than waiting to do it come spring. Not only can it stink up the camper, but lingering food smells might attract rodents.
With the appliances all done, remove any food from the kitchen cupboards, wipe down the countertops and the dinette top, and clean the sink (I like to use anti-bacterial wipes for this to ensure everything is clean, plus with the water system winterized you don’t want to clean with water!).
Clean the Bathroom
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I like to give the bathtub and shower a good wipe-down with anti-bacterial wipes. If you still have the gray water tanks connected to your RV dump, you can use a bucket of warm, soapy water and a sponge to clean the shower as well.
Check the medicine cabinet and linen closet for anything that needs to be removed like medications. Towels and other linens will be fine over the winter.
Clean the sink, wipe down the toilet, and mop the floor before exiting the bathroom. Make sure the ceiling vent is closed tight before you do!
How to Prep a Camper for Winter Storage: Sweep and Mop the Floors
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One of the last things I do is sweep and mop the floors throughout the camper. I use a little bit of Pine Sol on the vinyl floors to give the camper a fresh scent, at least for the first few days it’s in storage.
Vacuum any carpeted areas as well. You might think about shampooing the carpets if they’re especially dirty. While you’re at it, vacuum couches, love seats, dinette seating, and other fixed seating in the camper or RV.
Lastly, pull all the blinds shut to prevent UV rays from damaging the interior of the rig. This is obviously less important if you have a place to store your camper or RV indoors.
Keep Rodents at Bay
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Rodents love a good camper to make their home in the winter, so if you’re looking for ways to prep a camper for winter storage, be sure you add mouse traps to the list.
Put a few traps inside the camper, and if possible, put a few under your camper, too. These are just in case – by removing all the food and thoroughly cleaning the camper, there will be less reason for mice to make your camper their home. Be sure to check the traps over the course of the winter.
It’s worth looking underneath your camper to see if there’s any holes or tears that will provide mice access to your rig. Patch any holes you find to add more protection from rodents.
Though these tasks aren’t overly complicated, they can add up to several hours of work. And while there are plenty of things I’d rather do with my time than winterize my camper, they are necessary steps to keep my camper in tip-top shape. The same goes for you too!