Getting Your RV Ready for Summer Travel

It’s finally time to pull the RV out from the garage or bring it home from winter storage

With the snow melted and the campgrounds opening, it’s tempting to jump in and head off right away. But prior to setting out, RV owners need to perform some basic and routine maintenance to ensure that their weekend getaway goes smoothly.

RV exterior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Exterior Inspection

The first thing to do is a visual inspection of your RV exterior. Check to see if any damage was sustained over winter, looking especially for evidence of water leaks. In particular, focus on the roof and caulking around windows, vents, air-conditioning unit, and doors. Look for cracks, holes, stains, separations, and leaks. Also, check for nests and evidence of chewing activity.

Roll out the awning and inspect it for tears. Check the fluid levels and top them up as necessary. Inspect hoses for any tears or holes, and valves for leaks.

Ensure your RV and tow vehicle/toad have had all required maintenance.

Wash the exterior in the shade with a mild soap remembering to clean the tires.

Not the way to care for tires © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tire Check

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 more money for fuel. 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.

Clean the tires and rims and inspect them 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.

RV exterior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Battery Check

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.

Connecting to city water © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Propane Tank Check

Check your propane tank, as seals can dry out over the winter. First, make sure you have everything turned off, you aren’t around any smoking flames or sparks, and your propane leak detector is turned on. Open the valves on your tank and smell for leaks. Check the valves and regulators by using a soapy water mix. If you find any leaks, have a professional inspect and repair them.

RV exterior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Generator Test

Test your generator, if you have one. Use the prime feature until your indicator light turns on for the fuel pump, run it for 20 seconds, and the generator should start more quickly. You will have to crank it until it starts otherwise, as there will likely be a lack of fuel in the lines. Let the starter rest to cool after 15 seconds of cranking. Don’t forget to check the oil and air filter.

RV utilities © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Flushing Water Lines

Remove the antifreeze from your water lines. Make sure the water heater bypass valve is in the normal position and all of your taps are closed. Turn on the cold water tap that’s closest to the water pump, and run water until it’s clear. Do this for each cold water tap, toilet, and shower.

Then repeat for the hot water taps, toilet, and shower. Open up the bypass to allow water to fill the tanks. Use a city water connection and turn on the cold and hot water faucets and run to let air escape until the water flows steadily. Inspect all faucets and pipes for leaks, as well as the water heater, drain plug, and valves. Switch the fresh water pump on; if it comes on 20 to 30 minutes later, this indicates a pressure drop or leak. If it doesn’t come on, you’re good to go.

RV interior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Interior Inspection

Clean the interior of the RV and do another visual inspection. Vacuum the carpet, and clean the floors and other surfaces as necessary. Be sure to air it out. Check to ensure your appliances are working.

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.

RV interior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Finally, you can repack your RV and stock up on all your necessities.

Worth Pondering…

A bad day cleaning the RVing—is better than a good day—working.

Tips for Cleaning and Disinfecting Your RV

If you’re on the road during the COVID-19 outbreak—or even if your RV is waiting patiently in the driveway—now is the time to give extra care to your usual cleaning routine

Stay at home orders and basic guidelines for social distancing may be a new way of life for a while but that doesn’t mean there’s still not plenty of means to take advantage of your RV. In fact, I will argue that social distancing in your rig is one of the better ways to do it.

2019 Dutch Star motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Even if you’re minimizing contact with the outside world, there are some best practices you can take for keeping your coach clean and disinfected—and keeping everyone inside healthy and happy.

2019 Dutch Star motorhome interior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There’s a difference between simple cleaning and disinfecting. Cleaning removes dirt, germs, and impurities using soap and water. This step doesn’t kill germs—it simply removes them which help lower their numbers and thus the risk of infection. Use soap and water to regularly clean surfaces. Be sure to pay extra attention to high touch surfaces like tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, faucets, and sinks.

Cleaning Inside Your RV

2019 Dutch Star motorhome interior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The inside of your RV likely contains a variety of different surfaces: wood, glass, corian, tile, fabrics, stainless steel—and more. All purpose cleaners are a good, broad option but they may not work as effectively on each surface. There is also no single product that works on all surfaces inside your rig. Before using a product, read the label and then test it on a small and inconspicuous area.

2019 Dutch Star motorhome interior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This is ideally a two-step process. First, there’s cleaning which is the removal of germs from surfaces. Second is disinfection which kills any germs left behind after cleaning. Start by using warm water to clean all high-touch surfaces. These include:

  • Steering wheel, dash controls, switches
  • Door handles, locks, handrails
  • Tables, countertops, cabinetry
  • Electrical cords, chargers, switch panels
  • Faucets, sinks, toilets
  • Electronics, tablets, touchpads, touchscreens, remote controls
2019 Dutch Star motorhome interior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Soft items can be tossed in the laundry. Check product manufacturer tags for their highest recommended wash and dry temperature settings. If these items can’t be removed to put in a washer, steam cleaners and carpet cleaners are an alternative. These items may include:

  • Throw pillows
  • Upholstery and drapes
  • Carpets and area rugs
  • Window treatments

Disinfecting Inside Your RV

2019 Dutch Star motorhome interior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

After using soap and water to clean, use a disinfectant to kill germs that remain. Use each product according to instructions. Disinfecting wipes are also a good alternative. In any case, allow for proper ventilation when using a disinfectant.

2019 Dutch Star motorhome interior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you don’t have—or can’t find—disinfecting products, you can use a bleach solution. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends a solution of 1/3 cup of bleach per gallon of water, or four teaspoons of bleach per quart of water. When using a bleach solution, always use gloves.

2019 Dutch Star motorhome interior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

We don’t often think about our phones, GPS units, laptops, and tablets when it comes to cleaning, but these high touch items can be especially germy. Often electronics manufacturers will have suggested cleaning methods listed in manuals or online. If you can’t find these to follow, use alcohol-based wipes or sprays that contain at least 70 percent alcohol.

Cleaning the Exterior of Your RV

2019 Dutch Star motorhome exterior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Part of being in the great outdoors means actually getting outside. Fortunately, it’s easy to disinfect the outside of your coach and stay safe—whether you’re in an RV park or boondocking off the grid.

2019 Dutch Star motorhome exterior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When you arrive at a new campsite, disinfect any connections or hookups you’ll use. Use vinyl gloves for additional protection. When you’re finished, immediately throw the gloves away.

Then clean and disinfect any items you’ll have outside—things like patio furniture, railings, grill handles, and other high-touch surfaces.

2019 Dutch Star motorhome exterior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Maintain a safe distance from other campers (most health authorities recommend six feet). And avoid public restrooms, water fountains, and other public areas if at all possible.

2019 Dutch Star motorhome exterior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With so many products and surface types in your RV, the best way to ensure the products you’re using to disinfect are safe is to check care and maintenance directions provided by each manufacturer. These can be found in your manufacturers’ owner’s guides or online. These guidelines should help you stay safe and healthy while you’re still enjoying your RV.

Worth Pondering…

Each day I will rise and greet the morning sun, for it is a good day.

Cleaning Your RV Interior

We’re here with some helpful hints on cleaning the inside of your RV

Just like your home, your recreational vehicle requires a thorough cleaning on a regular basis. It’s a fact of life that nothing stays clean for long—and that includes your RV. A newly mopped floor is just waiting for a spill. That’s especially true with a young family.

The need for cleaning never disappears. Fortunately, most cleaning isn’t difficult. Occasionally, though, you run into something that refuses to come clean, or you are convinced that there must be a better way.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star interior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Prevent dirt accumulation through the use of indoor and outdoor mats, removing shoes before entering, and practicing tidy habits. This will go a long way toward keeping your RV interior clean and your sanity intact. When dirt and dust from the outdoors find their way inside your RV or spills need to be cleaned up, you want these chores to be quick, easy, and effective.

When cleaning an RV interior start from the top and work your way down. Begin a thorough cleaning by dusting the ceiling, wiping light fixtures, and cleaning ceiling vents.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star interior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star interior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Clean the stove top after each use to remove spills and other food messes. Remove the grate at least monthly or as needed and wipe out any crumbs and spills with a damp, lightly soaped cloth. Rinse well.

Clean refrigerator spills as they happen. Remove drawers and clean under them. This is the location with the most potential for trouble as the stains are likely to stay. Store food in covered containers. Open containers easily spill or are pushed to the back and eventually tip over. To keep odors under control, store an open box of baking soda in the refrigerator.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star interior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Use a damp cloth to wipe down the shelves, handles, and doors as needed. Clean vinyl fabrics with a soft damp cloth and mild detergent only. Do not use solvents as they may damage the surface of the vinyl.

Clean interior windows and mirrors, vacuum carpets and rugs, and wash vinyl floors.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star interior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

At the end of each trip invest a little time to perform routine cleaning: sweep, mop, or vacuum the floors. Wipe down the tables and counter tops. Clean the sinks, shower-tub, and toilet. Clean the stove and ovens. Clean up any spilled foods in the cabinets.

Remove the refrigerator contents and clean it remembering to leave the door open once you’ve turned the unit off. This helps to prevent the development of mold and mildew.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star interior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Final Tips

Keeping your RV clean and neat inside will make it more enjoyable to use and will help retain resale value. As with many situations, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star exterior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Clutter tends to beget clutter, so don’t let the first stray object get things started. Clutter detracts significantly from the pleasure and convenience of using your RV. Put away items as soon as you’re done using them to create a tidy environment inside your RV.

Cleaning grime as soon as it appears is much easier than allowing it to set in longer. Never use traditional toilet cleansers or bleach inside your RV toilet. Doing so may create toxic fumes when the cleansers mix with your holding tank chemicals inside the black water tank and degrade the tanks and seals.

And the sun sets on another beautiful day while living the RV lifestyle © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Over time you will discover the best way to organize the things you use most so they’re always handy when you need them.

Worth Pondering…

Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing up is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.

—Phyllis Diller

Cleaning Your RV Exterior

Here are some tips on the best way to clean and care for the exterior of your RV

Nothing stays clean for long including your recreational vehicle. A recently washed RV just begs for a thunderstorm or sand storm to blow through.

Regular RV cleaning is important for the maintenance and longevity of your RV.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star at Grand Canyon Railway RV Resort in Williams, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Following are a few RV cleaning tips to use the next time you clean and maintain your RV.

Since there are myriad RV cleaning products on the market, choosing the one that’s right for you can be a challenge.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star at Distant Drums RV Resort in Camp Verde, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star at Blake Ranch RV Park in Kingman, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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.

The roof is oftentimes an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ part of the RV, but it should actually be the last thing that is ‘out of mind’ because it is so vital to protecting the RV and its contents.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star at Gila Bend KOA in Gila Bend, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Open awnings and check for frayed or ripped material. Remove stains and mildew with special awning cleaner and allow awning to dry before rolling back up. Check hardware for functionality and replace as needed.

Next clean the RV side walls and back using a standard RV washing soap. Pay special attention to the seams where the wall joints, storage bay doors, marker lights, and appliance outlets are found. Remove dirt, bugs, tar, and other road residue from the surface of your RV.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star at Vista del Sol RV Resort in Bullhead City, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Inspect the side walls and around windows and doors for cracks or voids in the seams and seals. Scrape and reseal any affected areas with the appropriate sealant.

Insects and rodents can make winter homes in the outside compartments. Clear any nests or debris and inspect wiring and hoses for signs of chewing.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star at Las Vegas RV Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The front of the RV including side mirrors, whether a trailer fiberglass cap or motorhome, demands more specialized cleaning. This is where the bug abuse takes place. Sometimes the carnage can be enormous.

A good defense against super stuck on bug guts is a well waxed front cap.

A super absorbent microfiber sponge is a proven product for lint-, streak- and scratch-free cleaning.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star at Columbia Sun RV Resort in Kennewick, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Another method of removing the squashed little buggers is with a dryer sheet. Wet down the area and the dryer sheet prior to tackling the area.

Clean your RV as soon as possible after each trip using high-quality cleaning supplies that won’t scratch or mar the RV surface. Use soft, natural cotton washing cloths and soaps and cleansers made specifically for RVs.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star at 12 Tribes Casino RV Resort in Omak, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Just like your home, your RV requires some necessary TLC. Cleaning your recreational vehicle will not only improve its look but will also prevent any unnecessary paint chipping and parasite growth, increasing its lifespan and maintaining its value over time. At the same time, making sure your home away from home is spic and span is also important.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star at Ambassador RV Resort in Caldwell, Idaho © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cleaning your RV will take some time. But taking care of your RV is an investment that can pay off if you choose to resell in the future.

After a general clean with the soap and water it’s time to wax the beast. Waxing the RV is a huge task. Compared to a car it has a massive surface area. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for your particular RV.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star at Irwins RV Park in Valemount, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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.

Worth Pondering…
A bad day cleaning the RVing—is better than a good day—working.