Spring is the traditional start to the traveling season for many RVers. While you’re busy planning trips and dreaming of life on the open road, don’t forget to get the RV ready for the season by giving it a good deep cleaning. And for those who live full-time in their RVs, spring is also the perfect opportunity to clean out all that dust and dirt that has been building over the winter.
Spring is a great time to give your RV a thorough cleaning. There’s something about spring showers and fresh flowers that inspire us to refresh our living spaces.
But, really, any time is a good time to declutter and spruce up your RV. No matter the season, these RV spring cleaning tips will help you clean, declutter, and organize. So, whether it’s spring or winter, summer or fall, here are the tools, tips, and tricks you’ll need for RV spring cleaning.
Tools needed to get the job done
Just like any project, the right tools make a job easier! So, the best way to begin is to gather your tools and cleaning products for a good spring cleaning.
The following items come in handy:
- Microfiber cleaning cloths
- Clorox wipes
- Swiffer dusters
- Paper towels
- Favorite interior cleaning solution
- Favorite exterior cleaning solution
- Mop or steamer
- Bucket for warm water
- Garden hose
- Vacuum with hose attachment and/or hand vacuum
- Power washer (optional)
Make your own cleaner
If you’re concerned about toxic chemicals and would rather not use commercial cleaning solutions, you can make your own.
A damp cloth and hot soapy water go a long way. Or you can add a cup of bleach to a gallon of warm water for bleach-safe surfaces. You can easily google how to use household items like lemon juice, vinegar, and baking soda to make DIY cleaning solutions.
Okay…you’ve gathered your cleaning helpers—it’s time to get down to business!
Like any big project, you’ll have better luck with your RV spring cleaning if you go in with a plan. After all, your motorhome (or other type of recreational vehicle) is just that—a home on wheels. There’s a lot to tackle!
RV spring cleaning: The interior
It’s a good idea to start with the inside and work your way out. Or, you can divide and conquer with your travel companions.
However you tackle the job you’ll want to thoroughly clean the interior including the furniture, appliances, floors, and walls. That means vacuuming, wiping down surfaces, and removing any built-up dirt and grime.
When cleaning any space, it is always most logical to start at the top and work your way down. In an RV, this can also allow you to check for leaks or other potential issues that may have sprung up over the winter or while the RV was in storage. Depending on the texture of your ceiling, you may need to wipe it down or even vacuum it if the ceiling is carpeted. Be sure to clear out the cobwebs in your vents and begin clearing off your fans as well. Depending on how much build-up there is, your fans may need to be unscrewed and hand washed.
You’ll also want to sanitize surfaces to prevent the spread of germs. This includes wiping down counters, sinks, and toiletries and disinfecting high-touch areas like door handles and light switches. (Cue the Clorox wipes)
Wipe down all countertops and cabinets (inside and out). This is a great opportunity to declutter your kitchen cabinets.
Take out all of the items and only put back the ones you’ve actually used on your last three RV trips. You’ll be surprised at how much space you’ve been wasting with unused kitchen appliances, excess pots and pans, etc.
Be sure to clean the nooks and crannies of the oven and microwave, as well.
You will also want to wipe out and sanitize your fridge. RV fridges are known for getting a musty smell over time. To avoid this, take out everything and clean every nook and cranny. And use this opportunity to throw out expired products (Yep, we’re coming for you, mustard!)
Most RV fridges can have the drawers and shelves removed for deep cleaning and anything that is not removable can be cleaned with cleaning spray and rags or paper towels.
When cleaning the RV bathroom, start from the top and work your way down. Organic matter may stick to walls and mirrors and as you work your way down it may fall to other surfaces or the ground. By starting tall, you avoid spreading the matter around.
NEVER use bleach or abrasive cleaners in the RV kitchen and bathroom sinks, shower-tub, or toilet. These products can damage the surfaces and holding tanks and degrade the seals around your tanks—causing an unpleasant and messy problem. Use only mild soaps or products specifically made for RVs. Or, use a mixture of baking soda and white vinegar.
Give your RV toilets a good cleaning by scrubbing the bowl and wiping down the outside. Then wipe down the sink countertop and the outside of any cabinets.
Finally, wipe down the shower walls and bathtub or shower floor. This is also a good time to check your shower curtain for rips, tears, and mold.
As you clean, consider how you can better organize your bathroom.
If your RV is drivable, don’t forget to deep clean the cab area. Remove and wash any seat covers and wipe or dust the dashboard area. Don’t forget to clean the big window too as well as the driver and passenger windows as well. In addition, be sure to vacuum out the seats and any hard-to-reach areas that your broom may not be able to access.
Aside from the funky built-in nightstands and other storage spaces, your RV’s bedroom should need similar cleaning to the one in your house. If you stored your RV with the bed made, be sure to strip the bed and wash everything. If not, you may need to give your mattress a quick vacuum depending on how dusty it became. In addition, be sure to clean the nightstands and other storage areas inside and out.
Ceiling fans and vents
If your RV has ceiling fans, giving them a quick wipe is a good idea. These are often overlooked and have many dust bunnies hiding in plain sight.
The same goes for vents and screen windows. Use a vacuum, duster, or those nifty Swiffer dusters to remove dust from vent covers. If you have air filters, swap them out.
Test smoke alarms and CO and LP gas detectors and replace the batteries as necessary. Check fire extinguishers, and refill first aid kit and emergency kits as needed.
The floor material in your RV will vary but most come with a laminate floor of sorts which can be easily swept and mopped. Any areas with carpet will need to be vacuumed. It makes sense to save this step for last since lots of dirt and debris will be falling on the floor while you are cleaning all the other areas of the RV.
Sweep, vacuum, and mop the floors in each room. Notice I said and not or. Granted, you don’t want to mop your carpet. But my point is to clean your floor in multiple stages.
For hard surfaces, sweep any debris out from corners, vacuum everything, and mop for the final touch.
Of course, it’s a good idea to do this last so you can exit the RV while the floors dry. That way, you avoid making them dirty again by walking on them.
You will also avoid having to wait until they dry to clean other spaces in the RV.
Organize as you go
RV spring cleaning isn’t just about scrubbing. It’s also about decluttering and organizing. This is especially true of storage spaces, kitchen cabinets, and closets.
Here are some helpful resources:
- Tips for Cleaning and Disinfecting Your RV
- Cleaning Your RV Interior
- Get Your Rig Ready for Spring Camping
Springtime is a great time to look for great dollar-store finds for your RV including organizers for closets and drawers and dehumidifers.
RV spring cleaning: The exterior
Keeping the RV’s exterior in good condition not only enhances its appearance but also helps protect it from the elements. This may involve washing and waxing the paint and repairing any chips or scratches to maintain its shine.
Wash the exterior in the shade with mild soap remembering to clean the tires.
Wash the exterior of your RV to remove any built-up dirt and grime. This may be done by hand or with a pressure washer and may also involve cleaning the wheels and undercarriage.
Since there are myriad RV cleaning products on the market, choosing the one that’s right for you can be a challenge.
Opt for a high-quality cleaner that will help make the finish on your RV last longer. Look for a multi-purpose RV cleaner as well to save some money.
Some cleaners are created for special purposes such as cleaning awnings or rubber roofs but others can be used for a variety of cleaning applications inside and outside your coach. The best solution is an RV cleaner with several applications to save your pocketbook.
It’s best to clean the RV from the top down. First, head up on the RV roof. Inspect the sealant around the roof vents, air conditioner, and all roof seams for signs of cracks or deterioration.
Giving your RV a good wax will also help protect it over time from the elements. It will also make it look nice.
Here are some helpful resources:
Over time your RV storage space can get crowded. Many people toss items they might need on a trip that never gets used. Some forgotten things take up precious cargo space and unnecessarily add weight to your rig for years.
A storage area is a small space, so thoroughly clean it to make the most of it. Organize the items that you want to leave in there. Take out and discard unused or expired items (like chemicals).
Check for damage and perform routine maintenance
While washing the exterior, inspect the RV for any damage that may have occurred over the winter months. This includes checking for cracks, dents, or other damage to the body, roof, and windows.
You will also want to check for any leaky seals on the roof and slides.
This involves checking the pipes, faucets, and toilets for leaks or damage and ensuring that all systems are functioning correctly. It may also include flushing the water tank, cleaning the filters, and checking the water pressure.
This is a great time to clean your holding tanks and sanitize your water system.
This involves checking the electrical system for any issues, such as loose connections, frayed wires, or damaged components. It’s essential to ensure that all electrical systems are functioning correctly, including the lights, fans, and appliances.
The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system should be checked for proper function including the thermostat, ductwork, and fans. This can help to ensure that the RV is comfortable and energy efficient.
One part of your RV that’s easy to forget during the RV spring cleaning process is your awning. But trust me—you’ll remember it the first time you go to use it. What RV spring cleaning routine would be complete without these key components getting tidied up at the same time?
As part of your spring cleaning, take care of your awning so that it’s ready to take care of you when the time comes this summer. Keeping it clean is a great way to make sure it’s ready to use and will last for many years to come.
Don’t forget the tires during RV spring cleaning. Check the age of the tires—RV tires usually age out before they wear out.
Check that all tires are properly inflated. Improperly inflated tires means increased fuel fuel costs. Under-inflated tires can increase fuel consumption by up to 4 percent, according to International Energy Agency. Proper inflation also reduces the incidence of tire failure and blowouts.
Inspect tires for evidence of any splits or cracks in the sidewalls or between the treads. Treat these seriously and get them repaired before you head out for your first camping trip. Don’t forget to check that your lug nuts are tightened. If you have a travel or fifth wheel trailer you may need to pack wheel bearings.
Thoroughly clean the rims and tires and then apply UV protectant to help reduce the effects of exposure to the sun. For this part of our RV spring cleaning, I like to use Aerospace brand products—303 Wheel and Tire Cleaner and 303 Automotive Protectant.
Check your RVs batteries and top off cells with distilled water. Be sure to replace multiple battery banks together. If your batteries need to be cleaned, make sure they are disconnected and use a hot water and baking soda mixture to clean them. Wear safety glasses and latex gloves.
Other important systems
In addition to the plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems, it’s essential to check other vital systems such as the brakes, suspension, and tires. Regular maintenance can help prevent issues during the camping season, ensuring a smooth and safe trip.
And finally, admire a great job well done.
There, what a beautiful RV.
It is now time to crack open your favorite beverage and sit back and admire your gleaming rig. Best to let it all soak in quick because that next rain, dust storm, or mud covered adventure is on the way.
A bad day cleaning the RVing—is better than a good day—working.