Ten Ways to Keep Your RV Clean and Tidy

Make every camping trip more enjoyable by keeping your RV clean and tidy

Almost everything about camping in an RV is great—except for cleaning it. The dreaded chore can put a damper on the fun. Spring cleaning, prepping before your next trip, and cleaning up when you get home are all important and often unpleasant tasks.

Being on the road often, driving, and parking in the dirt and traveling through various weather conditions all put your RV through a lot. The cleaner you keep your RV, the easier it will be to avoid the normal wear and tear from traveling throughout the year. (You should aim to wash the exterior of your RV at least once a quarter, if not more depending on how often you travel and where you go.) 

An RV seems like a lot of work to clean but doing little things frequently will make it seem like less of a daunting task and help you take pride in your ride.  

Here are 10 tips that can help to take the hassle out of cleaning your RV.

1. Read the instruction manual

Your RV’s instruction manual is a treasure-trove of information that can give you tips and tricks for cleaning your RV’s exterior and interior. This includes what type of cleaners you should and shouldn’t use and any specialized care instructions. For further information, try your RV manufacturer’s website for extra tips on cleaning and making your RV sparkle. Failure to read the instruction manual could lead to damage to your RV’s surfaces and finishes. 

2. Ditch the brand-name products

Most RV materials aren’t any different from other vehicle or living material types. It’s easy to want to purchase a brand-name cleaner or solution that’s made exclusively for RVs but the truth is many common and generic household cleaners work perfectly well to keep your RV sparkling, including dish soap, window cleaner, even distilled white vinegar. Those fancy products at the RV superstore are appealing but they’re typically more expensive. 

Dawn Dish Soap © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Spring cleaning

Make sure to have a clean start for your camping season. A deep clean each spring makes your entire summer of camping so much better.

Give the exterior of your RV a thorough cleaning and waxing.

Don’t forget to wash the awning, too. It is easy to forget about this important accessory because it is usually folded in when you are at home doing maintenance and cleaning on your RV.

Clean your RV’s tank sensors to keep them working all season long. Use a cleaning wand to blast the gunk out of your black tank. You can also soak your black and grey water tanks by adding a cup of Dawn dishwashing detergent to a tank that is ½ full of water and then driving around to agitate. There are also commercially available enzymatic tank cleaners that help to remove a dirty tank.

By the way, I have a series of posts on spring cleaning:

4. Clean out the storage area

Your RV’s storage areas can hide nasty messes and smells. It can also host mold, mildew, and other nasty critters. Clean out your RV’s storage areas, including external storage, often to avoid build-up of any dust or the accumulation of dirt and debris. Always check the nooks and crannies of your RV’s storage areas to make sure nothing is left behind that can turn to stink. 

Dump the black and then the gray water tank © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Dump those tanks

Your gray and black water tanks can be the source of many nasty odors and while tanks don’t directly affect your RV’s appearance, a poorly maintained tank will bother you while hanging inside and outside your ride. Dump and flush your tanks as necessary to keep your whole ride refreshed. Keep a supply of disposable vinyl gloves, a hose, a bucket, and other necessary items stored away exclusively for dumping and cleaning your tanks. 

Here are some helpful resources:

Reduce moisture with dehumidifiers © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Prevent mold and mildew

Mold and mildew are major enemies of RVs and since they thrive in moisture reduce moisture within your RV. This includes running yo ur air conditioning in humid environments, opening windows and doors when possible, and buying moisture-absorbing packets for closets and storage areas. If you have an item that reeks of mildew, avoid detergent as it can feed the critters. Wash mildew-smelling clothing in a washer with a couple of cups of distilled white vinegar to kill off the bugs and leave your clothes smelling fresh. 

Be sure to read How to Reduce Moisture and Condensation in Your RV.

Take good care of your tires © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Give your tires some shine

Over time, your RV tires start to fade and wear out as they are increasingly exposed to the elements and road debris. Tires withstand a lot of abuse and can sustain scuff marks and small cracks which ages them and frankly makes your vehicle less attractive overall.

Use a product that’s specially designed to spiff up your tires. The best tire shine brands not only clean your tires but also produce a nice, glossy look. When used as a regular part of your maintenance routine, tire shine not only makes your tires look better, it can also protect them from UV rays and other damage. 

There is quite literally more tire dressing products on the market than you can count. Recommended products include Meguiar’s Ultimate Insane Shine Tire Coating, Chemical Guys Galactic Black Wet Look Tire Shine Dressing, and 303 Aerospace Protectant.

Here are some articles to help:

8. Don’t forget the roof

The roof of your RV is one of the most important parts to maintain to avoid interior leaks and other issues. Many modern RV roofs are constructed from membrane roofing, but you still see plenty of metal roofs on the road. If yours is metal, you can wash like you would your RV’s exterior, but if your RV is made of modern membrane roofing, it’s recommended to use specialized cleaner found at RV and camping stores. A twice-yearly cleaning of a membrane roof is usually enough to keep it in good shape. Take this time to inspect the roof for any tears, cracks, rips, or other damage. 

Start with a clean RV

9. Before you head out

Starting out each trip with a clean RV makes the entire trip much more enjoyable.

Clean all of the surfaces of the interior. Use a mild cleaning solution like a mixture of vinegar and water to wipe down every surface, wash walls, and clean all the nooks and crannies.

Clean camping toys in the dishwasher with about a cup and a half of vinegar.

Make sure the sponges in your RV are free of bacteria by microwaving damp sponges for one to two minutes.

10. When you return home

Take a few minutes when you get home to do a quick tidy up so your next trip is that much easier.

Check everywhere for dirty laundry or stray dishes. Move cushions and open cupboards to make sure nothing gets left in the RV between trips.

A quick wet mop on the flooring cleans up all of the dirt that is bound to accumulate during a camping trip.

Clean the toilet with a gentle, natural cleaner so it doesn’t break down the seals around the toilet and cause a leak.

Throw all bedding in your home laundry so it is ready to go when you are.

Keeping your RV clean doesn’t have to be a huge chore. When everyone pitches in, it shouldn’t take too long to get your rig back up to scratch.

Worth Pondering…

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

—Phyllis Diller

RV Hookups for Beginners Guide

Here’s an RV hookups for beginners guide to better prepare you for your first RV trip

Dania and I have been doing this for a long time. So, sometimes I take for granted some of the beginner’s tasks that are now second nature to me—RV hookups being one of those things.

I decided to take a step back and cover some basics that RV beginners need to know. And what better way to start than how to connect full hookups on your first stay at a campground or RV park?

As a first time RVer, you’re probably wondering what steps you need to take and in what order to do them. So, I’m going to share the general rules and my best tips that new RVers need to know.

Electric (with Electric Management System), water (with pressure regulator), and sewer set up © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How to set up your RV

For this article, I will focus only on RV hookups for beginners. These steps and tips are the same whether you drive a motorhome, travel trailer, fifth wheel, or camper. Hookups are essentially the same wherever you camp whether it’s an RV park, state park, national park, or any other place that offers hookups.

STEP 1: Set your parking break

The most important thing to do before you even start hooking up is to set your parking brake! Experienced RVers can share plenty of stories where either they or someone else forgot to do this with disastrous (and sometimes humorous) results.

The last thing you want is for your RV to settle and shift back or forth putting tension on your cables. Or, worse, roll-off and pull out the cables and do costly damage to the campground’s panels and connection points.

So, don’t repeat the dumbest RV camping mistakes and set your parking brake!

Electric Management System © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

STEP 2: Electric Hookup

I recommend that the first thing you connect is your electric hookup. The main reason is so you can start running your air conditioner, heater, fridge, etc. on the power source from your RV campsite instead of from your RV’s power supply.

There are usually three different plugs on a campsite’s electric pedestal: 20 amp, 30 amp, and 50 amp. Big rigs usually use 50 amps and smaller RVs use 30 amps. You need to know which amp service your RV runs on. But, if you don’t, since the plugs have differently shaped prongs you’ll only be able to plug into the correct one. Before you plug in make certain the breaker is turned OFF.

Once you’re plugged in, flip the breaker switch corresponding to the amp service you need. For instance, you flip the 30 amp breaker after you plug in your 30 amp plug. Then you plug in the other end of your RV twisting it and rotating the collar until it’s snug. You will forego this step if the power cord is wired directly into your RV as our Class A motorhome is.

BUT BEFORE YOU PLUG IN, here is one of the best RV tips I can give you…

PRO TIP: Always use an Electric Management System

Always use an electric management system when connecting your RV to power! Many have learned the hard way that campground electrical panels are not always well-maintained or wired properly. You can also experience a power surge that can severely damage your electrical system.

You can use one of the Progressive Electric Management Systems or Surge Guard portable or hardwired units.

Plug this portable surge protector into the campground’s electric power supply and then plug your power cable into the surge protector.

Power adapters

Every RVer needs to carry a few power adapters often referred to as dogbones to make sure that they can connect to whatever power is available to them. These power adapters will have a smaller, lower amperage plug (male blades) on one end and a larger/higher-amperage receptacle (female terminals) at the other end. Look for UL-listed versions of these adapters preferably with rigid grab handles. They do not change the power output.

Recommended electric adapters include:

  • 50-amp RV plugged into the 30-amp source
  • 50-amp RV plugged into the 15-amp source
  • 30-amp RV plugged into the 15-amp source
Water hookup with pressure regulator © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

STEP 3: Water hookup

The next hookup to connect is your water hose to the campground’s water source. Just like I recommend an Electric Management System with electrical hookups, I recommend you always use a pressure regulator and water filter connected to your fresh water tank.

STEP 4: Cable hookups

If your campground offers cable TV, you can now connect it to your RV. There’s nothing special to know here. Simply plug in the cable cord to your RV. If you don’t know where your cable port is, consult your owner’s manual.

Sewer hookup © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

STEP 4: Sewer hookups

Lastly, it’s time to do your sewer connection. Since not all campsites have sewer connections this might be something you don’t do until you dump your black and grey tanks at an RV dump station. Whether you’re connecting at a campsite or the dump station, the process is the same. The only difference is how long you leave it connected.

Now, let me warn you, that dealing with your black water tank is one of the biggest downsides of camping. It’s just gross. But it needs to be done and is well worth the stinky effort in the end.

That said, I suggest you put on disposable vinyl gloves before you connect your sewer line or what the RV world likes to call the stinky slinky

Disposable gloves © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

I’ve sometimes wondered why anyone would take on this bacteriological nightmare without protection. From those who don’t use gloves, we sometimes hear the excuse, “It’s just too much bother and I can’t see much advantage to it.”

Another reasoning runs, “The stuff stays in the hose, so what’s the big deal?” In a perfect world, it’s a good line of reasoning. But since we’re not living in a perfect world, the stuff doesn’t always cooperate and stay in the hose. Pinhole leaks can occur and a misaligned bayonet fitting can pop off, unloading an unholy amount of stuff. File that under “Been there, done that.”

“So you get a little doo-doo on your hands, just wash it off,” is the next comment. Good idea: a thorough washing with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. Meantime, make sure none of it gets off elsewhere and ends up in your mouth eyes, or nose. And hope in the meantime that you don’t have any minor breaks in your skin. If so, the damage may already be done, no matter how much you wash afterward.

What can happen with a bit of misplaced sewage bacteria? Here’s the short list:

  • Gastroenteritis, characterized by cramping stomach pains, diarrhea, and vomiting
  • Hepatitis, characterized by inflammation of the liver, and jaundice
  • Infection of skin or eyes

I don’t think any RVer would like to have a bout of any of those manifestations. Washing up even when using gloves is still a good idea and an outside shower unit that many RVs are equipped with is great for this task.

For those that glove up before going into the ring with the sewer hose I can only say, I gotta hand it to you! Good disposable gloves are best. Gloves you reuse over and over can easily get contaminated.

It’s always a good idea to check and make sure your gray tank and black tank are closed before grabbing your sewer hose.

Sewer connection © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Connect the end of the hose with the twist-on connector to your RV drain spout. Then run the hose to the sewer drain. It’s usually easiest to run your sewer hose support as you go. This support helps direct the hose (and its contents) toward the drain and it is required by law in some jurisdictions.

Now, attach the end of the hose with the elbow connection to the sewer drain. Screw it into position if the sewer drain also has threads (not all do.)

PRO TIP: Do NOT leave your black tank valve open when hooked up

This is a mistake that many new RVers make. They understandably think that if they’re connected, they might as well leave their blank tank valve open so it can continuously drain. Less poo stored in your RV, the better, right? Wrong!

If you leave your black tank valve open while you’re hooked up, it will cause gross and sometimes expensive problems. The most common of which has its inelegant RV terminology: the poop pyramid.

This happens when liquid waste easily drains out when your valve is left open but solid waste builds up in your tank. Like I said, it’s gross—and stinky! And can be expensive to clean out.

Now enjoy the rest of the day! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

So, don’t leave your black tank valve open!

By the way, I have a post on this dilemma and several others on avoiding sewer woes:

Worth Pondering…

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

—Benjamin Franklin

13 Tips for Winter RV Living

Your RV need not be in storage during the cold months. Get out there! Here are 13 winter camping tips for RVers.

Most RVers in northern states and provinces leave their RV in storage from the first frost until spring. Some, like us, are snowbirds who head out for warmer temps in the southern Sun Belt states. But many others winterize their RVs and leave them sitting there all winter.

Other RVers love camping in the snow.

First, decide whether your RV needs to be winterized and learn what that means. Winterizing your RV means you’ve taken steps such as:

  • Emptying water tanks
  • Draining the water heater and water lines
  • Disabling plumbing to prevent the pipes (which run along the undercarriage of the RV) from bursting or being destroyed
Winter RV living © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But winterizing your RV is not always a must-do especially if you plan to spend considerable time in your rig or temperatures at your cold destination won’t get below freezing. If a vehicle has been winterized you won’t be able to use the sink or bathroom inside the RV as usual (unless you take extra steps like using antifreeze).

Bur, you can absolutely use your RV for camping in the winter provided you prepare adequately to keep yourself and your RV safe from harm.

It’s not easy to camp in winter but many people do it with joy and very little stress and that’s because they’ve learned how to prepare their RVs for winter RV living. They know how to keep the plumbing system from freezing and bursting, keep the temperature inside the RV at a safe and comfortable level, reduce or prevent moisture accumulation, seal out intruders with little paws and big whiskers, and many other important winter camping preparations.

Anyone who’s lived in an RV for any duration of time in cold and snowy climates is likely to have a list of things to do—and a list of things to NOT do—to stay safe and warm while keeping the RV from winter damage.

Here are 15 of my top tips for winter RV living.

Heated water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tip # 1: Fill your fresh water tank and/or use a heated water hose

Water is very important for a multitude of reasons but when the temperature falls below freezing, water turns to ice. And when it does this, it expands—potentially bursting/damaging hoses and plumbing. For this reason, if you plan to winter camp you need to put water on the top of your list of things to prioritize.

If you’re winter camping for a short duration (say a week or less) you can simply fill your fresh water tank and plan to use that water for washing, cooking, and drinking. If you’re parked near a city water source of any kind, you can connect your fresh water hose and refill your fresh water tank as needed. This technique avoids the issue of your fresh water hose freezing.

However, if you’re planning to be winter camping in an area where ambient temps are likely to hit freezing or below regularly, you may wish to invest in a heated water hose.

Check this out to learn more: Winter RV Camping Must-Have: Heated Water Hose

And while you’re at it, be sure to always use a water pressure regulator when connected to any city water source including in the winter in which case you may want to wrap it in some type of insulation.

Heated water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tip # 2: Fill Propane or connect to an external propane tank

Before heading out on a winter camping trip (or before settling into a long-term winter campsite), be sure to fill your propane tank/tanks or obtain the necessary materials to connect to an external propane tank.

If you’re going to need propane for heating your rig and water and for cooking you’ll need to prepare ahead of time so that you don’t run out (I recommend having a couple of different options for heating your rig if you’ll be camping in sub-freezing temperatures because you can’t risk losing a single heat source).

If you are boondocking, bring a snow shovel and clear off the area.

Tip # 3: Keep sewer hose off the ground and flowing downward

If you connect to a sewer outlet during your winter RV living, you’ll want to keep your sewer hose off the ground and running on a downward slope. An easy way to achieve both of these goals is to use a Slunky sewer hose support.

The Slunky elevates and supports your sewer hose (off the frozen ground) and provides the slope you need for proper drainage. The Slunky is a 20-foot support that’s 7 inches tall at the RV end sloping to 4.5 inches in height at the sewer end.

Keep valves closed when not dumping © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tip # 4: Keep gate valves closed during winter RV living

Along with using a sloping sewer hose support, you’ll want to keep your gray water and black water gate valves closed (you should ALWAYS leave your black valve closed) opening them only when you want to dump your holding tanks.

When left open, only small amounts of gray water will drain out through the hose at a time; that small flow could freeze as it flows through slowly building up (like the layers of a pearl) until the hose is blocked.

Here are some articles to help:

Tip # 5: Seal off sewer hose entry

Another way to tend to the warmth of the basement or water compartment during winter RV living is to seal off the sewer hose entry. If you’ve got your sewer hose connected then you’re probably running it through a hole provided in the bottom of the bay. That hole allows cold (and potentially rodents) into the water compartment.

You can use steel wool to seal around your sewer hose opening when camping in the cold. This serves two purposes—to keep the cold from entering the bay and to keep mice from entering as well! If staying in a damp climate or for the longer term, consider brass/bronze wool instead since it won’t rust.

Tip # 6: Use steel or brass wool to seal small openings

To keep mice from seeking warmth inside your RV seal all small openings using steel wool. Brass wool also works. Also, use mouse traps and glue sticks in the basement and interior just in case they foil your attempts to seal them out. We’re not mean-spirited and we do love animals. We just don’t like stowaways that reproduce at warp speed and love to gnaw on everything in sight (and lots that ISN’T in sight) ending an otherwise wonderful winter RV living experience!

That’s why I wrote this article: The Ultimate Guide to Keeping Mice Out of an RV

Dehumidifier for moisture control © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tip # 7: Moisture control for winter RV living

Moisture control is essential in an RV to prevent mold and mildew from causing potentially serious issues. In winter, it’s especially important to keep moisture at bay. The three greatest producers of moisture in an RV are showering, cooking, and breathing. Since we generally need to do all three, I suggest keeping moisture at bay using a few simple methods, especially during periods of winter RV living.

Even though you’re probably inclined to want to seal everything up airtight to keep heat in and cold out, DON’T! You’d just be trapping in all of the moisture you’re creating in your RV. First, run your vent fans—yes, even in winter. You need to be able to run your roof vent fans in any kind of weather. This is why I recommend the installation of RV roof vent covers. They allow vents to be open without letting rain or snow enter the RV.

Vent covers aren’t expensive and are well worth the minimal effort to install.

Second, I recommend using a squeegee to pull the water off of your shower walls and toward the drain after each shower. If you don’t do this, your RV absorbs a significant amount of moisture while the shower is drying on its own because the water is evaporating.

A shower squeegee is also inexpensive but is an important tool in keeping moisture at bay. We use it all year long—not only when winter camping.

Finally, you can opt to use a small electric dehumidifier (if you’re connected to shore power) or a dehumidifying product like DampRid or something similar positioned throughout the interior of the RV.

Here’s a helpful guide to avoiding moisture damage in your RV: How to Reduce Moisture and Condensation in Your RV

Dehumidifier for moisture control © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tip # 8: Use holding tank heating pads

If you’re winter camping in sub-freezing temperatures for an extended period, you may need to warm your holding tanks by using holding tank heating pads. Some RVs come from the factory with tank heating pads (we opted for them when we bought our Newmar Dutch Star and ultimately we’re glad we did).

Tip # 9: Insulate RV windows

You may also want to consider insulating your RV windows depending on how long you plan to winter camp in very cold temperatures.

You can insulate windows with heavy curtains or you can create DIY storm windows using ⅛-inch plexiglass or PETG panels which you’ll custom cut to fit your windows. You can adhere them to your windows using clear double-sided mounting tape.

Many RVers choose to use Reflectix, heavy-duty foam board, or even bubble wrap to insulate windows. The problem with these products is twofold. First, they seal out the light and need to be removed and installed daily to allow the sun in (unless you like living in a dungeon). Also, they tend to allow moisture to accumulate on the windows.

You can also use a combination of choices to cover your windows such as your choice of window covering combined with heavy-duty curtains. Although we often think of them as insulation from the sun, high-quality windshield covers can also be helpful in cold weather.

Winter RV living © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tip # 10: Insulate your skylight

You may also want to insulate your skylights using a pre-made skylight cover. These are inexpensive and serve to insulate your RV from the cold that can come through the relatively thin plastic of the skylight. You’ll need to measure the inside of your skylight frame to obtain the proper dimensions for your insulator.

Some RVers use these in their roof vents as well but if you do this remember not to cover them all as it’s very important to run a roof vent fan to prevent moisture from accumulating in the RV.

These skylight/vent insulators are also good to keep the heat out in summer.

Tip # 11: Cover AC unit/units

Cover your roof air conditioning units. This is important from the perspective of keeping the cold from entering your RV in winter and also as a means of protection from the elements.

Of course, you don’t want to do this if your RV air conditioners are also heat pumps and you plan to use them as a source of heat while you’re camping. Just be aware that they’ll only work in outside temperatures above freezing so they won’t be of much use when the temps begin to drop.

Be careful where you park your car and RV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tip # 12: Dress in layers

Dressing in multiple layers including base layers, mid-layers, hoodies, and shell jackets gives you greater control over regulating your body temperature. As you move through the activities of the day, you’ll work up body heat. As you do so, it’s important to avoid sweating because as it dries, sweat cools, wrapping you in a cold cocoon. Managing your body heat by constantly adding and subtracting layers helps you prevent sweating as much as possible—a key component of staying warm on winter adventures.

Tip # 13: Snow shovel and ice scraper

You might need to dig out your RV and scrape ice from your windows when it’s time to drive. Driving an RV in winter requires the same common sense you need to drive an RV any other day: Slow down and avoid being on the road when it’s dark.

Driving an RV in winter presents its own set of unique challenges: You’ll need to make sure your RV is set to handle winter conditions and you’ll have to track down additional winter gear and take extra precautions when driving and camping that a warmer destination wouldn’t necessarily require.

Read more: Don’t Get Stuck in the Cold: RV Winter Driving and Survival Tips

Worth Pondering…

The blizzard doesn’t last forever; it just seems so.

—Ray Bradbury

How to Find and Best Practices for Using RV Dump Stations

This is an answer to one of the most common questions that campers ask: How can I find RV dump stations near me?

Despite the RV life being one filled with freedom and excitement, it still comes with a few little changes of lifestyle that many newcomers have a hard time adjusting to.

One major issue that newcomers to the RV lifestyle find is the issue of waste. Yup, you got it! I’m talking about that waste. As in, the human kind!

Unfortunately, though it might be a great fertilizer you can’t dump your RV waste wherever you may want. It’s not as simple as pulling over along the side of the road and unloading. No, you have to find a dump station in order to make the unloading of your waste as safe, clean, and environmentally friendly as possible.

I will tell you how to find dump stations and offer helpful tips for dumping.

RV Dump Station © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What Are Dump Stations?

RV Dump Stations are facilities that are designated for dumping RV waste both black and grey tanks. RV owners can get a fresh start on their waste and dirty water storage throughout their road trips and weekend camping trips. However, dump stations aren’t exactly available on every block. Sometimes you must go out of your way to find one when your tanks get full.

Even though RV Dump Stations aren’t packing every street corner, they are still located all over the U.S. and Canada. With a little bit of proper planning, you won’t have to concern yourself too much.

In the same way that we plan our stops for overnight camping, sightseeing, and events, dump stations are another thing that we need to schedule.

RV Dump Station connection © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tips for finding RV Dump Stations

Finding RV Dump Stations is easier now than it ever has been. You can imagine what it was like back before the age of the Internet! Today, we can find dump stations rather easily through various online sources and even through simple Google searches.

Search engines make finding dump stations rather easy. However, there can be issues with the accuracy of the information. Sometimes open/closing times and prices will be a bit different than they are in reality. Use Google with a bit of caution!

Boondockers have more of a challenge in finding RV Dump Stations and if off-the-grid camping is your choice, you’ll need to work your trips around them to some extent. The more experience you get with your RV trip planning, the smoother the experience will be. It just takes a bit of practice to get the hang of incorporating dump stations into your trip planning as smoothly as possible.

RV sewer system © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Use apps and websites to find Dump Stations

Most campgrounds and RV parks have RV Dump Stations but they can often have long lines or the timing just doesn’t work out for you to use them when you need to. And there is a chance your campground won’t have one.

The following online resources will help you between stops. As for boondockers, the following will help you find dump stations wherever you camp.

Sanidumps.com

This site has been around for more than 17 years and claims to provide the most comprehensive listings of RV Dump Stations online. They list private, public, RV park, non-park, municipal, truck stop, rest stop, campground, camping, resort, commercial, pay, donation, and free RV Dump Stations worldwide including the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. You search by Zip or Postal code.

Rvdumps.com

This site is only for U.S. RV Dump Stations. They primarily focus on locations other than RV parks and campgrounds—places like rest areas, truck stops, gas stations, and others. This site may be easier to use because you can search by state, city, or map. The map feature lets you find your location and then visually see what is closest. The map feature also shows Interstate rest areas with dump stations are only shown on the dump stations map.

Allstays RV Dump

RV Dumps checks your location and displays up to 150 points on a map view. You can filter by type to see only what you want to see on the map and zoom out. You can also use the offline manual lookup to find locations by type, state, and city even when you have no phone service.

AllStays is a travel-focused company that provides a range of resources for RVers, campers, and truckers. One resource is an app specifically for finding dump stations, called AllStays RV Dump.

You can download that app by itself or AllStays Pro instead. With AllStays Pro, you can find RV Dump Stations and SO MUCH MORE! AllStays Pro is browser based (not an app) but it’s a great resource for RVers. Some RVers rely on it almost exclusively fot their RV travels.

Sanitize with Lysol © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Campendium

This is a popular website listing campgrounds and you can use it to find dump stations, too. First, search by state, then select “view map.” The map search feature then has a “Quick Links” tab near the bottom of the page where you can select “Dump Stations.” Dump stations will then populate on the map.

It’s worth noting that Campendium (and all its great features) has been bundled with a few other great RV resources into one great app called Roadpass Pro.

Roadpass Pro INCLUDES:

  • Access to all 14,000+ free boondocking locations in the OvernightRVParking.com app
  • RV GPS navigation that considers weight limits, low overhead clearances, grades of terrain, and propane restrictions to give you turn-by-turn directions specific to your RV
  • Roadtrippers Plus, where you can plan trips with up to 150 stops, collaborate with friends on route planning, and get real-time traffic along your route.
  • Full access to Campendium’s premium features, including viewing cell coverage maps, public land map overlays, and trail maps

RVshare.com

This RV Rental site also has a section that allows you to search for nearby RV Dump Stations. Find the state you are in and then scroll the cities for dump stations nearby. It’s a straightforward, browser-based resource that helps you easily find what you’re looking for.

Use disposable vinyl when dumping black and grey tanks © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tips for using RV dump stations

A very important thing to remember is that RV Dump Stations are a shared space where all RVers go to empty out their waste and tanks. That means that we should treat them with respect and care.

We are all guests at these sites and leaving the dump station cleaner than we found them is ALWAYS common courtesy.

The sad truth is that many RV dump stations have had to shut down due to excessive waste spillage and improper care by users. With this in mind, always take the time to clean up after yourself and keep your waste where it is supposed to be—in the septic tank underground and not above ground all over the place!

Sewerage system including black tank flush © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pre-preparation

Have the right tools ready and available:

  • Disposable vinyl gloves for handling the sewer hose
  • Clear sewer adapter to know if your tanks have finished emptying
  • Sewer, recommend 30 feet available
  • Coupler 90 bayonet fitting or 45 degree or straight
  • Hand sanitizer for clean up afterwards

Dump station practices and courtesies to keep in mind are:

  • Keep a pair of disposable vinyl gloves stored in the compartment that you store the tank hose. This will help you keep your hands clean as you work.
  • Keep a slope between the hose and sewer to make sure everything empties out of your tank.
  • Dump the black-water tank before the gray-water tank so the soapy water from the gray tank can clean the residue from the hose.

Also, remember to use the water hose provided at most dump stations to clean up the area and any potential spillage that may occur during your dumping process.

And as many dump stations also offer drinking water, be sure to choose the right connection if you are planning to top off your freshwater tanks. There are usually two hoses available. The one near the actual hole in the ground is usually marked as non-potable water. It’s just for washing down any spills.

The freshwater or potable hose is usually located at the far end of the dump station.

Make sure you have an airtight connection with the RV Dump Station Hole. Smaller hoses should use a small black donut that fits over the end of the hose coming from the RV.

Leave the dump station area cleaner than you found it.

Plan Ahead!

Dawn Dish Soap acts as a detergent in the black water tank © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Waste is something that all RV owners have to deal with. It may be a bit of a hassle but the freedom of the open road does come with a few obstacles that need to be overcome along the way. That is why RV dump stations are both a godsend and a hurdle that must be worked around at the same time.

The best practice when it comes to RV dump stations is to always plan ahead of time. You never want to be caught off-guard with a full black tank and nowhere to let it out safely and legally. That is why you should always keep an eye on your online resources for where the best dump stations are for you and your route.

With proper planning, you shouldn’t have to go too far out of your way to get to an RV dump station. Once you have a good understanding of where the dump stations on your route are, you can hit the road with a clear and calm head. You don’t have to worry that your, uh… Delicate matters will come back to haunt you in the middle of a trip.

On the same topic, you should also check out:

Worth Pondering…

Paper on which there are quotations or commentaries from the Five Classics or the names of sages, I dare not use for toilet purposes.

—Yan Zhitui (531–591)

Dumb to Dumbest: 50 RV Camping Mistakes NOT TO DO!

Have you made a really dumb mistake while RVing? You’re not alone! Here are the dumbest RV camping mistakes.

RVers—even smart ones like you and me—do some really dumb things.

Here are 50 of the dumbest mistakes RVers make. The dumber mishaps are more traumatic and costly which is why you definitely don’t want to make them yourself. So, read on, learn from the mistakes of others and save yourself some serious grief and cash!

What are the dumbest RV camping mistakes you’ve seen? (I don’t want to be one of THOSE guys!)

Like I said, we have all made mistakes. 

Camping at Texas Lakeside Resort, Port Lavaca, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The good news is that we can laugh about some of the dumb things we have done. The bad news is that some mistakes may cost you time or money, or both!

The following are some dumb mistakes that RV campers make. Read on so that you can be sure NOT to make the same mistakes!

1. Forgetting to close the black water tank valve

2. Bringing dogs that bark constantly. Try to teach your pet how to behave around the campsite. 

3. Walking through your neighbor’s campsite. Be respectful of their space.

4. Placing dog poop bags on the picnic table. 

5. Forgeting to bring bug spray on your trip.

Using a secure sewer hose connection to avoid spillage © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Thinking that your vehicle is strong enough to pull your trailer when it is not. Make sure you account for extra weight, like water, fuel, propane, tool kit, clothing, and other items.)

7. Driving out of camp with the antenna up. An excellent way to ensure that you hit a tree and rip it right off of the RV!

8. Pulling out of the camsite without realizing the windows are still open. 

9. Forgetting to close or secure a storage hatch door. 

10. Forgetting to place the handrail in the travel position. 

11. Forgetting to unplug and stow the power cord. Dragging the cord is a hazard plus you’ll do considerable damage to the campground’s power pedestal.

12. Driving away without retracting your stabilizers. Your trailer may just tip and cause you to go flying! Great photo op, though!

Water connection with pressure regulator © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

MORE dumbest RV camping mistakes

13. Forgetting to ensure that the trailer is level BEFORE unhooking. It is really annoying to have to rehook and reset your rig.

14.  Making noise early in the morning or late in the evening. Most campgrounds have designated quiet hours. These hours take effect typically around 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. Be respectful of the other campers and turn down your music and keep noise at a minimum.

15. Taking turns too fast and too soon. If you turn too soon, the tail swing from your rig may come dangerously close to things you wish to avoid!

16. Not locking up your food appropriately. Even if you’re not camping in bear country, you might attract other unwanted visitors. 

17. Not double-checking your hitch and your jack or landing gear. 

18. Driving too fast! Being safe in your RV may just save a life and save you from getting caught in a speed trap.

19. Not retracting the entry steps.

Flushing back and gray water tanks © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

20. Not setting a timer when flushing the black tank. Otherwise, you might forget and your toilet will morph into a geyser! It won’t be a pretty picture.

21. Forgetting camper walls are not soundproof. Be careful with your words and noises!

22. Window coverings are not always opaque. Be careful not to expose yourself to others. 

23. Forgetting to retract roof vents when prepping for travel. 

24. Not putting away any camping gear that you don’t want stolen.

25. Forgetting to check if your tailgate will hit the trailer hitch before opening it.

26. Forgetting to turn off the outdoor sink faucet when turning on the water inside the rig. Otherwise, you can have a flood!

27. Not retracting your awning at night or when leaving your campsite. Awnings are not made for inclement weather and rain or wind can damage them. They are expensive to replace if you’re not careful! Since weather can change quickly, always stow your awnings before retiring for the night or whenever you leave your RV for a prolonged period of time.

28. Not cleaning up after your dog.

Electric Management System © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

29. Not using an electric management system (often referred to as a surge protector) on the electric box. Otherwise, you may damage your RV electrical panel and sensitive electronics on board. To be in the know read Is Your RV Protected from Electrical Issues?

30. Not wearing gloves when draining the septic tank It’s best to use disposable vinyl gloves. 

31. Do not forget that you put your sewer hose in the back of the truck to dry before leaving your campsite. You will no longer have a black hose and other campers may not appreciate it. 

Use disposable vinyl gloves when dumping sewerage tanks © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

32. Forgetting to remove the chocks before driving off. This does happens, Have you ever seen one of my favorite road trip movies, RV?!

33. Forgetting to turn off your outside lights when you retire for the night. 

34. Using the freshwater tap to clean your sewer hose. Yuck!

35. Not checking that your RV is shorter than the basketball hoop when backing into your driveway! (The same is true for going under overpasses!)

36. Not being courteous to other campers and staff.

Is your smoke alarm in working condition? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Even MORE dumbest RV camping mistakes

37. Not understanding your RV’s tail swing! It can be an expensive and unsafe mistake!

38. Locking yourself out of the RV. Have several sets of keys and keeping one outside of the RV. If you lose one during hiking or another adventure, you don’t want to have to break into your rig. 

39. Not blocking your trailer’s wheels before unhitching. You really don’t want your trailer to roll down the hill.

40. Not making an RV checklist and following it every time. 

41. Listening to music or the television too loudly, especially outdoors.

42. Not packing enough water. People tend to drink more when camping than when in the comfort of their home.

How NOT to treat your tires © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

43. Not keeping your batteries and tires in good condition!

44. Overflowing. Be respectful of each other’s space by not overflowing your own RV camping site and into your neighbors. If you bring a bunch of gear like bikes, chairs, and outdoor games, make sure it fits inside your site.

45. Putting your grill on the picnic table. Grills can leave stains, cause the table material to warp, and leave a residue. Instead, bring along an inexpensive portable table so you can leave the campsite clean for future campers. 

46. Speeding through the campground. A speed limit is just that—a limit. Don’t go over the posted number. Campgrounds are busy with campers walking their dogs, children chasing balls, bike riders, and RVs pulling in or out of their site. For the safety of you and those around you, slow down.

46. Forgetting to do a walk-around. Before you hit the road, walk around your RV and check to ensure everything is put away and in its proper place for highway driving. Now do it again. Two walk-arounds may seem excessive, but trust me, drive-off disasters do occur.

Damage from a fallen tree during major wind storm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

47. Not checking that your cupboards and fridge doors are secure.

48. Ignoring sounds and signs that something is wrong. RVs have a lot of moving parts. There’s nothing like driving down the highway listening to something beep or rattle behind you to realize you’ve got something terribly wrong. While on the road, be sure to listen to your rig and check your mirrors often to be certain you are secure and safe.

49. Overloading your RV. The best way to avoid RV accidents caused by overloaded RVs is to pay attention to your weight and respect the manufacturer’s weight ratings.

50. Trailer sway. Trailer sway is a side-to-side motion of the trailer you’re towing. Not only does that side-to-side motion make it difficult to stay on the road but it can build to the point where it becomes whipping, tossing the trailer back and forth violently. This can—and often does—result in very serious RV accidents.

While you want to avoid making as many mistakes as possible, just know that you are bound to make a few along the way. 

Yes, they may cost you some time and money but most will end up being funny campfire stories.

Be familiar with the operation of your fresh water and gray and black sewerage systems © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Check this out to learn more:

Worth Pondering…

Have you put…

Step up

Antenna down

Wife in?

—sign at a Dickson, Tennessee campground

17 Ways to Use Dawn Dish Soap…beyond Cleaning the Dishes

Dawn does the dishes and a lot more

Dawn dish soap isn’t just for washing your dishes. It’s a much more versatile product than you might realize. The uses for Dawn soap span far and wide and will blow your mind. Check them out!

In the last few years we’ve become dedicated Dawn dish soap devotees. We’ve put it to the test time and again and it always comes out on top. Not only does it cut through the grease and clean dishes better than anything else we’ve tried but it turns out this hard-working soap is also good for so much more than washing dishes.

If you have a bottle on hand, you’ve got a versatile cleaning tool you can use throughout the RV. Here are 17 uses for Dawn that proves it’s a cleaning superstar.

Dawn dish soap © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Remove grease stains from clothes

Oily cooking splatters on your clothes—just squirt on a little Dawn, rub it in, and let it sit overnight. Launder as usual and the stains will disappear. It works as a pre-treatment for non-greasy food stains too.

Use Dawn to clean stainless steel appliances © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Clean stainless steel appliances

Stainless steel appliances are both beautiful and durable. However, streaks, fingerprint smudges, grease splatters, and water drips all happen, even to the most durable of kitchen materials and cookware. First wipe the appliance with a wet cloth to determine the direction of the grain of the stainless steel (you’ll see faint lines running top to bottom or side to side). Put a few drops of Dawn on a wet rag, lather up, and wipe along the grain to remove sticky fingerprints and stains (wiping along the grain cleans better and prevents scratch marks). Follow with a clean damp cloth to remove residue and a dry cloth for buffing (microfiber works exceptionally well). 

>> Related article: Why and How to Use Dawn Dish Soap in RV Black Tanks?

Use Dawn to degrease cabinets © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Degrease cabinets

Kitchen cabinets are for storing dishes, not grease. Unfortunately, wood cabinets are prone to all sorts of grease, grime, and gunk from simply being in the kitchen. Dawn’s grease-cutting power works just as well on cabinets coated in cooking grease as it does on dishes. Just squirt some on a wet sponge, lather up, and wipe the grime away. Follow with a wet cloth to remove any residue and dry with a clean cloth.

4. Clean the oven

Mix baking soda, water, and a few drops of Dawn to make a paste. Spread the mixture inside the oven and spray with a 1:1 ratio of vinegar and water. Let sit for a few hours or overnight then spray again and scrub or wipe away the grime.

5. Clean grill grates

You don’t need a fancy grill cleaner. Just mix ½ cup baking soda with enough Dawn to make a thick paste. Scrape the big debris off your grill grates then coat them with the mixture and let sit for 30 minutes. Scrub and rinse and they’ll be good as new.

Use Dawn to clean the sewer system © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Clean outdoor furniture

Mix ¼ cup Dawn with one gallon warm water in a bucket and use it to sponge the grime off any kind of outdoor furniture—wood, metal, or plastic. Rinse off and towel dry.

7. Remove stickers and labels

Removing stickers and labels from a bottle can br quite irritating especially due to its adhesive residue. To easily remove this gummy residue spread an ample amount of Dawn dish soap on the sticker and wait for an hour or so. After that, you can peel it off easily.

Use Dawn to clean windows © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Clean windows

Mix 2 cups water, ½ cup distilled white vinegar, and 3 drops of Dawn in a spray bottle. If cleaning outdoor windows you can double or triple the recipe and mix it in a bucket. Spray or sponge on then wipe or rinse off.

>> Related article: 12 Simple RV Maintenance Tips

9. Clean showers

Dawn will cut through the grease from your body just like it does the grease from food! It also cleans soap scum. Just squirt it all over the shower and use a brush to lather and scrub it away. For really tough jobs and hard water stains, combine equal parts Dawn and distilled white vinegar in a bowl or spray bottle. The vinegar dissolves the minerals and the Dawn cuts the grime. 

Use Dawn to clean drains RV tanks © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Clear clogged drains

Pour ¼ cup to ½ cup of Dawn into a clogged sink or toilet. Let it sit for about 15 minutes. For sinks, just run the hot water for a few minutes and the water and soap should get the clog moving.

For toilets…

11. Unclog toilets

Clearing out clogged toilets is a cumbersome task. Try using dawn dish soap. First, heat a pot of water until hot but not boiling. Add the hot water to the toilet bowl then pour ½ cup of dawn into the toilet bowl and leave it to sit for 15-20 minutes before flushing. Repeat if necessary.

>> Related article: The Best RV Toilet Paper

Use Dawn to clean your RV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

12. Carpet stain remover

If you accidentally spill wine, juice, or any other drink on your carpet, dawn dish soap is the remedy that you’re looking for. Mix equal parts of dawn dish soap and warm water and spray it on the area. Use a microfiber cloth or sponge to scrub off the stain and wash the area with lukewarm water. Let it air dry naturally. Don’t scrub the carpet too hard as it can affect the material.

13. Tools cleaner

Tools get dirty—that’s a given! After completing any repair work, clean your dirty tools to prevent them from rusting. For this, make a solution of 1 tsp of dawn dish soap and 2 cups of water into a container. Then, drop your tools in it for 10-15 minutes. After that, scrub them with a brush to remove oil and grime.

Use Dawn to clean your RV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

14. RV wash

Make your home-on-wheels clean and shiny by taking a bucket full of lukewarm water and pour 2-3 tbsp of dawn into it. After stirring it well, clean your RV and tires with this solution using a sponge. Once you’re done, wash it off with water. Works for your toad/tow vehicle too!

15. Clean refrigerator

To clean both interior and exterior of your refrigerator, pour ½ tsp of dawn with ½ cup of lukewarm water into an empty spray bottle. Now, spritz it on the refrigerator surface and scrub it properly with a sponge.

>> Related article: The 10 Essentials Every RV Owner Should Buy Before Their First Road Trip

16. Cleaning the garbage can

Garbage cans harbor numerous germs and bacteria, that’s why it’s essential to clean it often. Pour 3-5 drops of dawn dish soap with ½ cup of lukewarm water into an empty spray bottle. Jiggle it well prior to its every use and then saturate the garbage can with the solution thoroughly. Leave it for 25-30 minutes and rinse it off with water.

Use Dawn to clean the RV holding tanks © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

17. Clean RV tanks

You can use Dawn dish soap to clean RV tanks. It is a detergent and grease cutter that will not harm your tanks and is eco-friendly soap that is safe and biodegradable. It is not corrosive and will not damage your plumbing. It has no phosphates so is a green product that is considered environmentally friendly. Add 4-5 quarts of fresh water to the tanks to provide a good base for future use. The system needs a certain amount of water to operate so never leave it completely dry. Finally add ¼ to ⅓ cup of Dawn dish soap to your tanks and you’re ready to go.

Worth Pondering…

Learn from yesterday, live for today, look to tomorrow, rest this afternoon.

—Charlie Brown, from Peanuts

Why and How to Use Dawn Dish Soap in RV Black Tanks?

The benefits of using Dawn dish soap in RV black tanks as well as proper tank cleaning procedures and some other cleaners to consider

Keeping up with RV maintenance and cleaning is just part of RV life! One aspect that is necessary but not very glamorous is emptying and cleaning the black and grey water tanks. This can seem like a complex problem but many products and solutions can help make this a lot easier.

Sewer hose connected to dump site © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

One common remedy involves the use of Dawn dish soap in RV black tanks. It is a detergent and grease cutter that will not harm your tanks and is eco-friendly and biodegradable. It is not corrosive and will not damage your plumbing. It has no phosphates so is a green product that is considered environmentally friendly.

Whether it’s a store-bought cleaner or a homemade recipe, there are numerous ways to clean your black tanks and keep them functional. Below, I’ll explore some of the uses and benefits of Dawn dish soap as well as proper cleaning tank procedures, and some other effective cleaners to consider.

Sewer hose connected to dump site © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why use Dawn dish soap in RV black tanks?

Dawn dish soap is one of the most popular household cleaners and its uses are nearly limitless. Obviously, it can be used to clean dishes (it’s right in the name) but this soap can also be used as a pest remover, drain cleaner, stain remover, or just as an easy way to make a bubble mixture for kids.

It’s important to properly clean your RV water tanks so you’ll want to make sure that Dawn is a good choice before you start using it. Many people have incorporated it into their maintenance routines and some of the benefits are listed below:

  • Eco-friendly: One of the best parts about using Dawn dish soap in RV black tanks is that it’s an environment-friendly soap. It doesn’t contain phosphates and can be broken down by bacteria. This means that it’s a safe and biodegradable soap to use even if you’re cleaning/dumping your tank in a strict or natural environment.
  • Cheap: Another great bonus is that Dawn dish soap is quite affordable! If you use high-end cleaners that are specifically engineered for tank cleaning, that price can add up fast. On the other hand, Dawn is cheap and it won’t make a dent in your wallet. In addition, you only need to use ¼ to ⅓ cups of Dawn dish soap at a time so the average large bottle will last you for multiple months.
  • Non-corrosive: Dawn is also a gentle and non-corrosive soap. It’s effective at breaking down grease, eliminating odors, and softening blockages but it won’t eat into the material of your tank. Other effective cleaners exist (such as bleach) but they can be harmful to your tank and the surrounding pieces. You can use Dawn with peace of mind and won’t have to worry about the long-term effects it will have on the integrity of your plumbing system.
  • Easy to buy in bulk: Finally, Dawn is widely available in stores and online and easy to buy in large quantities. If you clean out your tank regularly you may just want to get a large container and work your way through it. If this is the case, Dawn is a fantastic option. You can find it at pretty much any grocery store and might even be able to find it in gas stations or small mini-marts along your journey. Loading up in large quantities is easy and affordable.
Approved dump site © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How to clean an RV black tank

Now we know that you can use Dawn dish soap in RV black tanks but that knowledge won’t do you any good unless you follow proper tank-cleaning procedures. It’s important to do a deep clean of your tanks at least twice a year but you’ll probably want to do it even more frequently than that if you live in the RV full-time.

Your black and grey water tanks should be dumped frequently so that odors and blockages don’t become a problem. Generally, the rule of thumb is that it’s time to empty them once they are about 2/3 full.

RV connections for dumping and flushing tanks © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many of us just don’t like to think about it until we have to but cleaning out RV tanks is quite simple. Here’s what you need to do:

Use disposable plastic gloves to wear when performing the deed. You’ll eliminate any chance of spreading bacteria if you toss the gloves before going into your RV.

Drain the tanks by connecting the sewer hose and emptying the contents into an approved dumping site. Drain the black tank first. Always! Once drained, close the black tank valve. Then open the gray water valve to empty it. The reason for this is to clean the hose attached to your wastewater tanks. The residue will go into the septic system at the campground.

Clean out buildup by using a tank rinser, flush valve, or macerator. This will help prevent blockages in the future. When finished, close both black and gray waste tank valves.

Add 4-5 quarts of fresh water to the tanks to provide a good base for future use. The system needs a certain amount of water to operate so never leave it completely dry. Finally add ¼ to ⅓ cup of Dawn dish soap to your tanks and you’re ready to go.

Approved dump site © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Other cleaners for RV black tanks

Using Dawn dish soap in RV black tanks is certainly an effective method but it’s not your only choice. There are numerous other tank treatments that have been used over the years and some of them might work better for you depending on your preference and the availability of certain products in your area.

While you can always use store-bought water treatments there are a number of homemade tank cleaners you can try as well. Some of the most popular ones include:

  • Citric acid: This is a mild, naturally occurring acid that can break down build-ups and improve the smell of your holding tanks. It can be combined with Borax, water, and baking soda to strengthen its cleaning ability.
  • Fabric softener: Fabric softener is another good way to break down buildups in your tank and improve the smell. This is a mild and pleasant cleaner that has proven to be effective.
  • Yeast: Believe it or not, kitchen yeast is a good RV tank cleaner too. Yeast is an active culture that feeds off the bacteria and waste in a tank. It might take a few days to become effective so some people combine it with hydrogen peroxide to make it stronger.
  • Water and more water: Surprisingly enough, some people get by just fine without using any kind of special add-in. As long as you use plenty of water to flush out your tanks, you may not need to add a chemical cleaner. However, if you’re having problems with blockages and smells, one of the previous options can be helpful.

Related articles:

Worth Pondering…

Learn from yesterday, live for today, look to tomorrow, rest this afternoon.

—Charlie Brown, from Peanuts

16 Must-Have RV Accessories

These camping essentials are the key to a smooth journey

You just stood there, clueless and more than a little terrified, staring blankly at your new mobile living space. It was yours now. It was new. It was perfect. And obviously, you were also excited on top of everything else.

But what you slowly realized as the newness of the moment wore off was this: This thing is also very incomplete. This shiny new travel trailer needed help. It needed partners. It needed supporting characters to become the “adventure capsule” you dreamed of.

Class A motorhome on parking pad © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But you could not find a resource that covered all of the items you needed in one spot. And you didn’t have the time or energy to try and pull together recommendations from over a dozen different sources.

How do you know what you really need to buy for your new RV? This is the million-dollar question, right? Because we are all willing to buy what we know we will need and use, but nobody wants to buy stuff they will never use.

And, that my friends, is the motivation for this article.

Fifth wheel trailer on parking pad © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. RV First Aid Kit

A first aid kit readily available in an emergency isn’t just a good idea—it’s a necessity for every RVer. A well-stocked first-aid kit and manual can help you respond effectively to common injuries and emergencies. You can purchase first aid kits and refills at the Red Cross store, most drugstores, online, or assemble your own.

Contents of a first-aid kit should include adhesive tape, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic solution or towelettes, bandages, calamine lotion, cotton balls and cotton-tipped swabs, gauze pads and roller gauze in assorted sizes, first aid manual, petroleum jelly or other lubricant, safety pins in assorted sizes, scissors and tweezers, and sterile eyewash.

Related Article: Road Trip Ahead! What Do I Pack?

Familiarize yourself with the items in the first aid kit and know how to properly use them. Check your first-aid kits regularly, at least every three months, to replace supplies that have expired.

If you travel with pets, pet first aid manuals are also available.

Travel trailer on parking pad © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. RV Tool Box

A basic tool kit could quickly become your best friend. You never know when you’re going to need a screwdriver to tighten/loosen something or a hammer to pound something in place.

Just about anything in your RV that can snap, crack, rip loose, tear, bend, leak, spark, or fall off will do exactly that at the most inconvenient time. Something will need to be tightened, loosened, pounded flat, pried, or cut. To help you deal with everyday problems and annoyances, maintain a well-equipped tool box in the RV (always store on curb side).

Contents should include Phillips and Robertson head and flat bladed screwdrivers (large, medium, small), standard and needle-nose pliers, channel-lock pliers (medium and large), 10-inch Crescent wrench, claw hammer, hobby knife with blade protector, wire cutters, tape measure, silicone sealant, electrical tape, battery jumper cables, open and box-end wrenches, silicone spray, WD-40 lubricant, bungee cords, road flares/warning reflectors, fold-down shovel, stepladder, and heavy-duty tire pressure gauge.

Many RVers also carry a socket wrench set, small drill bit set and cordless drill with a spare battery, and digital voltmeter.

Tear drop trailer on parking pad © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Gorilla Tape 

Gorilla Tape is a brand of adhesive tape sold by the makers of Gorilla Glue and available in several sizes and colors, including camouflage, white, and clear. Gorilla Tape can solve many problems while on the road—and you can do most anything with this stuff. RVers have used it to temporarily repair a sewer hose, keep a driver’s side window from continually falling, and even affix the coffee maker to the counter so that it doesn’t move during travel.

4. LED Flashlight

Flashlights are a must-have on any road trip. 

5. Assorted Fuses

Vehicle fuses can blow at any time so it’s a good idea to keep extras around. We like to travel in a variety of sizes. But remember—something caused it to blow in the first place. Address the original issue as soon as you can. 

Water hose connection with pressure regulator © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Potable Drinking Water Hose

RV potable water hoses are lead and BPA-free. I recommend traveling with two hoses since you never know how far your RV will be parked from a city water connection.

Related Article: The Safety Checklist for When Your RV is Parked

Sewer hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. RV Sewer Hose

A high-quality sewer hose is essential to avoid any unpleasant leaks or malfunctions. I prefer the Camco RhinoFLEX kit that includes a 15-foot hose, a fitting that connects to your RV sewer outlet, an adapter that fits any sewer connection, and storage caps for each end. The durable hose is reinforced with steel wire so you can shape it as needed. Also, carry a 10-foot extension—you’ll be glad you did.

8. Disposable Vinyl Gloves

Emptying the RV black water tank is probably the most common reason to have disposable vinyl gloves around. But, they can also be used for a variety of other things like cleaning and handling food. Yes, you should absolutely use disposable gloves for sewer tasks.

Sewer hose hookup with translucent elbow fitting © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

9. Translucent Sewer Hose Elbow Fitting

If your sewer hose kit doesn’t come with a transparent connector, we recommend adding this accessory to your list. Clear connectors will give you a good idea of when the tank has been fully emptied. That way you won’t be stuck guessing when a good time is to close the connection.

Sewer hose hookup with sewer hose support © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. RV Sewer Hose Support

This product helps to hold the sewer hose in place and prevent a failed connection between the RV and dump station. It’s a recommended accessory if you’re camping at a site for long periods and want to avoid other travelers from tripping or moving your sewer hose connection. Also, some areas require sewer hoses to be elevated off the ground.

Class A motorhome on parking pad © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

11. Heavy Duty RV Dogbone Electrical Adapter

Every RVer needs to carry a few power adapters often referred to as dogbones to make sure that they can connect to whatever power is available to them. These power adapters will have a smaller, lower amperage plug (male blades) on one end and a larger/higher-amperage receptacle (female terminals). Look for UL-listed versions of these adapters preferably with rigid grab handles. They do not change the power output.

Recommended electric adapters include:

  • 50-amp RV plugged into 30-amp source
  • 50-amp RV plugged into 15-amp source
  • 30-amp RV plugged into 15-amp source

12. RV Stabilizer Jack Pads

Prevent hydraulic or electric jacks from sinking into the ground by using RV stabilizer jack pads. Available in sets of four they are solidly constructed of durable polypropylene with UV inhibitors. Interlocking for convenient storage they are available with a handy strap.

Heated water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

13. Heated water hose

A heated RV water hose is required for winter camping. This product will give you safe drinking water even when temperatures dip below freezing. These hoses cost $100 or more depending mostly on length but will save you a lot in frozen pipes. A heated hose has a heat strip along the side of the hose that heats up when plugged into a 110-volt electrical connection. Some brands are rated to keep water flowing at minus 40 degrees.

Related Article: What’s in Your RV Emergency Kit?

Progressive Electric Management System © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

14. Electric Management System

There are four electrical issues an RVer can encounter while traveling: surges, miswired pedestals, high/low voltage, and wiring issues inside the RV. We’ve had a power surge, situations where pedestals were miswired, and both high and low voltage situations. Fortunately, our Progressive Electric Management System has protected us from all of these situations.

Check out the units available from Progressive Electric Management Systems or Surge Guard. Both portable units and hardwired units are available.

15. Toilet chemicals

The black water tank works more efficiently with what is commonly called “toilet chemicals.” Toilet chemicals are bacteria and enzymes designed to break down solids and control odor.

Commercial RV products are sold in liquid, crystal, and tab (drop-in packet) form. They are sold under numerous brand names. All seem to work pretty well and the major real difference is convenience—it’s easier to drop the tab in than to pour in the liquid plus there is no splash. These products are readily available at RV outlets.

Class C motorhome on parking pad © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

16. Other considerations

Other considerations, supplies, and equipment include fire extinguishers (one in the galley, one in the bedroom, and one outside of the RV in a basement compartment, plus one in the toad/tow vehicle), NOAA weather radio, heavy-duty whistles, emergency waterproof matches, jumper cables, ice/snow window scrapers, work gloves, and blue tarp.

Related Article: RV Emergency Kit Essentials

Now that you know the 16 must-have RV accessories, are you ready to hit the open road? Plan your route with one of the many online tools available today and don’t forget to take photos of your experiences. Happy travels!

Worth Pondering…

I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.

—Stephen Covey

The Safety Checklist for When Your RV is Parked

All the basics you need to know

Parking an RV can be daunting. Oftentimes, drivers may be so focused on perfect parking placement that they aren’t sure what to do next. There are a few simple steps to follow once you’re in a place to ensure your rig and its contents are safe and secure. Here are some tips to help you get started.

Motorhomes on level concrete sites © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Leveling and Stabilizing

RV leveling is critical for more than comfort. It ensures appliances like the fridge work and slide-out sections can move freely.

Self-leveling Systems

Like many newer models, your rig may have a self-leveling system, requiring the push of a button to make sure everything is even. Some have manual leveling options. You can change the levels for up to two tires at once to get the evenest setup.

You may need to relevel your RV if the ground shifts under the weight of the rig. 

RVs on level gravel sites © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Manual Stabilizing

RVs without this auto-level feature including many travel and fifth-wheel trailers and older motorhomes will require more work. You can purchase heavy-duty plastic leveling blocks that interlock to help raise or lower your RV. These options increase RV safety by preventing the blocks from separating when you need more than one.

Related: On the Road Again: Summer Road Trip Safety Tips

First, place a bubble level in the center of the floor in the RV interior parallel with the front bumper. Your rig may have a center level and levels that align with the axles to make this process easy. The center reading will help you tell whether to add blocks to the left or right tires. Drive the rig onto the blocks after placing them in front of or behind the wheels on the RV’s lower side. Repeatedly check your level until it is even. 

Motorhome on mostly level site © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If the ground is very uneven, create a ramp with blocks by placing one in the direction you’ll drive. Then, add two stacked blocks butting up to the first. Add a three-stack in front of that if needed. Check your level between each block addition.

Safety tip: The wheels must be perfectly centered on the blocks to prevent the motorhome from rolling and ensure it is level.

Once the RV is even, get out the chocks. These safety accessories are often made of plastic or rubber and prevent the RV from moving forward or backward. Place chocks in front of and behind the tires that did not require blocks. 

Trailer set up on-site © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Slides

RV slides conveniently add square footage to your living space. Some RVs have electric slide outs that extend in minutes. If your rig has this feature, make sure it’s level and push the button or flip the switch to extend the slide out.

Related: 30 RV Hacks and Tips for a Successful Road Trip

Parking Brakes

Pull out the parking brake knob in the cab. It should be yellow. Always engage the parking brakes once the rig is parked, level, and chocked. 

These RVs required leveling blocks at the rear © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Awnings

RV awnings offer sun and rain protection. They can also make your RV more energy efficient by limiting how much sun enters through the window. If your awning opens automatically, make sure you are connected to shore power or a generator. If using an inverter, your batteries must be charged to power the awning motor.

Open your motorized awning by flipping the switch inside the cab or on the remote. If the awning doesn’t open, you may need a new remote battery. Ensure you are plugged into a power source and the parking brake is set. If the brake is not engaged, the awnings may not open.

For manual awnings, undo travel locks on the arms. These safety devices may be part of the RV or as simple as velcro or string. Loosen the rafter knobs on the back of the arms to allow the awning to open. Use an awning rod to reverse the locking level into the “roll down” setting.

Electric power, city water, and sewer connections © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Reach for the awning loop and slowly pull the awning backward away from the RV. Avoid adjusting the awning on windy days as you could damage your rig or harm yourself. Once extended, lock the rafter arms by sliding them into place on the RV exterior. Tighten the bolts on the rafter arms to spread out the awning material and make it taught, avoiding flapping in the wind.

Extend the awning arms to allow for a slope with the part of the awning furthest from the RV a little lower than the part that connects to the rig. This slight decline will encourage rain to flow away from the RV and prevent it from collecting and collapsing.

Electric management system © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV Electrical Hookup

When you pull into your campground site, it’s tempting to plug right in and turn everything on. However, you want to keep safety in mind, especially when dealing with electricity. First, it’s a good idea to test the hook up with a polarity tester to make sure the campground’s wiring is in good shape. If it’s not, your polarity tester will tell you before you fry any or all of the components of your RV electrical system.

Related: 10 RV Driving Tips

Electric management system © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Or better yet invest in an electric management system. This electric detection device will protect you from four electrical issues an RVer can encounter while traveling: power surges, miswired pedestals, high/low voltage, and wiring issues inside the RV.

City water connection © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Water Connection

Find your RV fresh water drinking hose in your RV storage. Add a water pressure regulator before attaching the loose end of the hose to the potable campground water spigot. Make sure you are using the potable water spigot as it is safe to drink. 

Do not turn on the water pump if you are connecting to a city water connection as it is already pressurized. Only use the pump if you are pulling water from tanks inside the RV when you cannot hook up to an outside water source. Once attached to the spigot, slowly turn it and have someone in the RV turn on a sink. Once the water runs into the RV, you know the connection is correct.

Sewer connection © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Emptying Grey and Black Water Tanks

First, a quick clarification for anyone new to RVing. When you run an RV faucet, the water goes into built-in grey water holding tank. Anything flushed down the toilet flows into a black water tank. 

Related: Five RV Tips BEFORE Your First Road Trip

Dump station for when you don’t have a sewer connection © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Most large rigs will come with 60-80 gallons of grey water capacity and 40-60 gallons of black water capacity. That means these tanks can go a few days to a couple of weeks before needing to be emptied depending on the usage.

Sewer connection © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many resorts offer full hookups which include a sewer connection on the RV lot which allows the tanks to be dumped as needed without needing to leave the camping site. The alternative is driving the RV to a dump station in the campground. Full hookup sites come with the obvious benefit of avoiding the need to move the RV and relevel and stabilize after each dump. 

Wear disposable plastic gloves when dealing with sewage to prevent stomach bugs or other sewage-related illnesses. Make sure the RV gray and black water sewer valves are securely closed before opening the cap.

Connect one end of the sewer hose to the RV sewer valve and the other end to the park sewer dumping station inlet. Slowly open the black water discharge valves to drain the system. When empty, close the valve.

Motorhome set up on-site © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Next, follow this process with the grey water. This order of operations will wash the sewage out of the hose, preventing an unsanitary mess. Once done, close the grey water valve. Disconnect the hoses and attach the caps to the RV valves. 

Related: 12 Simple RV Maintenance Tips

If you are staying long-term at an RV park you will leave the sewer hose attached.

Throw away your disposable gloves before thoroughly washing your hands. 

Worth Pondering…

Remember, Safety First, and Happy RVing!

30 RV Hacks and Tips for a Successful Road Trip

Road trips are still very much a trending means of travel and here are some tips to know before you plan one

Traveling by RV is amazing. You have the freedom to choose your routes and move based on your schedule. Preparation is vital for the success of any road trip.

Adapting to the RV lifestyle can be overwhelming—overwhelmingly fun. Sure, there are a few things here and there to get used to but, overall, it’s an adventure you’ll wish would never end. The beauty of a road trip is the journey—it isn’t just about reaching your chosen destination. With that being said, it’s important to remember that the journey is often long and proper preparation is the key.

To relieve any stress or anxiety you may have about the RV lifestyle and to help elevate the fun of it all, I’ve gathered 30 RV hacks and tips to help ensure your next trip is your best trip.

Ambassador RV Resort, Caldwell, Idaho © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Create an RV Departure Checklist

There are certain RV camping essentials you need to take with you such as your RV paperwork (insurance, registration details, roadside assistance documents, and road maps). Whether it’s a physical copy or one stored on your phone, having a checklist available can save you the trouble of leaving something behind or having to turn around once on the road.

Kitchen essentials © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Kitchen Essentials

If you plan to prepare meals in your RV (and why wouldn’t you?), you’ll need to ensure you have all the equipment and supplies you need. For example, you’ll require bowls, plates, cutlery, cups, pots and pans, knives, chopping boards, and matches. You’ll also need to pack products to clean these items once you’ve used them such as sponges, detergent, and trash bags.

Bedroom essentials © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Bedroom Essentials

The RV checklist for the bedroom includes linen and bed sheets, duvets and blankets, pillows, and laundry essentials. You might also want to pack towels in your bedroom because RVs usually lack storage space in the bathroom.

Related: Best Preparations for an RV Road Trip

4. Bathroom Essentials

Fully stock your bathroom with your bathmat and toiletries. Toiletries could include a toothbrush, toothpaste, liquid soap, shampoo and conditioner, lotion, deodorant, and a hairbrush. And don’t forget the toilet paper and bathroom cleaning products too.

Las Vegas RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Clothing Essentials

Nobody wants to go away and realize they only have one pair of underwear and socks, so make sure you pack your clothes carefully. Work out the number of days you’ll be away and decide which clothes you want to take and how frequently you’ll do laundry.

Your clothing pack list should also be influenced by the location and time of year. For example, if you’re going on vacation to the coast make sure you pack sunscreen, sunglasses, and your swimsuit. If you’re heading to the mountains be prepared for all four seasons.

Music © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Entertainment Essentials

You won’t spend all your time outside and on the go, so you’ll want to pack some entertainment. The type of entertainment depends on you and your family and the amount of space you have in your RV. Some examples of entertainment essentials include music, movies, laptops, games, puzzles, toys, and books. 

7. Personal Essentials

Personal essentials you’ll need during your RV travels include your smartphone and charger, credit card and cash, and campground and RV park confirmations. Another personal essential might be medications.

Shopping for groceries at a farmers market © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Grocery Essentials

A major positive about RV travel is that you are self-sufficient meaning you can be off-grid and explore the backcountry. However, if you’re planning on going off-grid and away from stores make sure you think about the grocery packing list. Since you’ll need sufficient food in your RV to last during your time in the backcountry, pack plenty of canned goods, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and cereals.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Planning the Best Summer Road Trip

9. Camping Essentials

Whether you plan to go off-grid or not, you’ll also need camping supplies. These may include flashlights, maps, pocket knives, a compass, water filters, and ropes. If you plan to do specific camping activities such as hiking, fishing, or kayaking, you should also pack these items.

Connections for fresh water and sewer systems © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. First Aid Essentials

Accidents can happen which is why it’s important to be prepared and ensure your first aid kit is fully stocked. Ensure that your kit includes bandages, band-aids, antiseptic wipes, disposal plastic gloves, a thermometer, and any other medications or creams you might need. You might want to pack some insect repellent and bite and sting ointment. 

Familiarize yourself with the items in the first aid kit and know how to properly use them. Check your first-aid kits regularly, at least every three months, to replace supplies that have expired.

If you travel with pets, pet first aid manuals are also available.

Columbia Sun RV Resort, Kennewick, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

11. Sunglasses

When hitting the road in your RV, you’ll a good pair of sunglasses, regardless of whether you’re heading to the beaches or to the mountains. No one wants to stare into the sun for hours on end, not to mention that driving without sunglasses can be dangerous. Do yourself (and your eyes!) a favor and remember your shades.

12. Turn the propane valve OFF before traveling

This should definitely be on the departure checklist, but fire safety is worth stressing more than once. Traveling with your RV’s propane valve open is a fire hazard. With all the shaking that occurs on and off the road, propane connections can loosen or come apart entirely while in transit.

Connected water hose with pressure regulator © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

13. Create a Campground Setup Checklist

A setup checklist will ensure everything is set up as it should be. You checklist should include:

  • Check the site for low hanging branches or obstacles on the ground
  • Locate the electrical, water, and sewage hookups
  • Pull your RV in, close to the hookups, and level it with blocks or stabilizing jacks, if necessary
  • Make sure the circuit breaker on the pedestal is turned off before connecting the power cord to the electrical pedestal
  • Connect the water hose using a pressure regulator
  • Attach your sewer hose to the drain hook-up and dump the black water tank followed by the gray water tank—be sure to wear disposable vinyl gloves for this process
12 Tribes Casino RV Park, Omak, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

14. RV Tool Box

A basic tool kit could quickly become your best friend. You never know when you’re going to need a screwdriver to tighten/loosen something or a hammer to pound something in place.

Related: Prep Your RV for Summer Travel

Just about anything in your RV that can snap, crack, rip loose, tear, bend, leak, spark, or fall off will do exactly that at the most inconvenient time. Something will need to be tightened, loosened, pounded flat, pried, or cut. To help you deal with everyday problems and annoyances, maintain a well-equipped tool box in the RV (always store on curb side).

Vista del Sol RV Resort, Bullhead City, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

15. Gorilla Tape 

Gorilla Tape is a brand of adhesive tape sold by the makers of Gorilla Glue and available in several sizes and colors including camouflage, white, and clear. Gorilla Tape can solve many problems while on the road—and you can do most anything with this stuff. RVers have used it to temporarily repair a sewer hose, keep a driver’s side window from continually falling, and even affix the coffee maker to the counter so that it doesn’t move during travel.

The Lakes and Gulf Resort, Chowchilla, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

16. Assorted Fuses

Vehicle fuses can blow at any time so it’s a good idea to keep extras around in a variety of sizes. But remember—something caused it to blow in the first place. Address the original issue as soon as possible. 

17. LED Flashlight

Flashlights are a must-have on any road trip. 

Orange Groove RV Park, Bakersfield, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

18. Deep Cell Batteries

Batteries are life. They keep everything running especially when you’re off the grid. Batteries also die if you don’t keep them adequately filled so they can maintain their charge. Check batteries monthly and add distilled water as required.

19. Potable Drinking Water Hose

RV potable water hoses are lead and BPA free. I recommend traveling with two hoses since you never know how far your RV will be parked from a city water connection.

Heated water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

20. Heated Water Hose

A heated RV water hose is required for winter camping. This product will give you safe drinking water even when temperatures dip below freezing. These hoses cost $100 or more, depending mostly on length, but will save you a lot in frozen pipes. A heated hose has a heat strip along the side of the hose that heats up when plugged into a 110-volt electrical connection. Some brands are rated to keep water flowing at minus 40 degrees.

Sewer hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

21. RV Sewer Hose

A high-quality sewer hose is essential to avoid any unpleasant leaks or malfunctions. I prefer Camco RhinoFLEX kit that includes a 15-foot hose, a fitting that connects to your RVs sewer outlet, an adapter that fits any sewer connection, and storage caps for each end. The durable hose is reinforced with steel wire so you can shape it as needed. Also carry a 10-foot extension—you’ll be glad you did.

Related: 12 Simple RV Maintenance Tips

22. Disposable Vinyl Gloves

Emptying the RV black water tank is probably the most common reason to have disposable vinyl gloves around. But, they can also be used for a variety of other things like cleaning and handling food. Yes, you should absolutely use disposable gloves for sewer tasks.

Sewer hose and translucent elbow fitting © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

23. Translucent Sewer Hose Elbow Fitting

If your sewer hose kit doesn’t come with a transparent connector, I recommend adding this accessory to your list. Clear connectors will give you a good idea of when the tank has been fully emptied. That way you won’t be stuck guessing when a good time is to close the connection.

Sewer hose support © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

24. RV Sewer Hose Support

This product helps to hold the sewer hose in place and prevent a failed connection between the RV and dump station. It’s a recommended accessory if you’re camping at a site for long periods of time and want to avoid other travelers from tripping or moving your sewer hose connection. Also, some areas require the use of a sewer hose support.

Lakeside RV Park, Livingston, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

25. Heavy Duty RV Dogbone Electrical Adapter

Every RVer needs to carry a few power adapters often referred to as dogbones to make sure that they can connect to whatever power is available to them. These power adapters will have a smaller, lower amperage plug (male blades) on one end and a larger/higher-amperage receptacle (female terminals) on the other end. Look for UL-listed versions of these adapters preferably with rigid grab handles. They do not change the power output.

Recommended electric adapters include:

  • 50-amp RV plugged into 30-amp source
  • 50-amp RV plugged into 15-amp source
  • 30-amp RV plugged into 15-amp source

26. RV Stabiliser Jack Pads

Prevent hydraulic or electric jacks from sinking into the ground by using RV stabilizer jack pads. Available in sets of four they are solidly constructed of durable polypropylene with UV inhibitors. Interlocking for convenient storage they are available with a handy strap.

Not a good way to treat tires © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

27. Tires

Check the age of the tires—RV tires usually age out before they wear out. Check the sidewalls for cracking. Use a high-quality truck tire pressure gauge to check that all tires are properly inflated. 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.

Electric Management System © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

28. Electric Management System

There are four electrical issues an RVer can encounter while traveling: surges, miswired pedestals, high/low voltage, and wiring issues inside the RV. We’ve had a power surge, situations where pedestals were miswired, and both high and low voltage situations. Fortunately, our Progressive Electric Management System has protected us from all of these situations.

Check out the units available from Progressive Electric Management Systems or Surge Guard. Both portable and hardwired units are available.

Sunny Acres RV Park, Las Cruces, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

29. Carbon Monoxide Detector

Carbon monoxide (CO) is produced when fuel is burned. LP-gas, gasoline, or diesel-fired equipment in and around your RV creates CO. Most of the gas appliances vent to the outside; however, a blocked flue, exhaust pipe, or even a breeze in the wrong direction can bring CO inside the RV. Generators are frequent offenders especially in tight quarters such as an RV rally where the exhaust can flow from one RV to another.

CO detectors generally have a 10-year lifespan from the time they are first activated. If the CO detector in your RV uses a battery, it should be replaced annually. Use only the type of battery recommended by the manufacturer. Many, but not all detectors have a low-battery and/or an end-of-life signal.

Hidden Lake RV Park, Beaumont, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

30. Smoke Detectors

Everyone should be aware of smoke detectors mounted in RVs. The simple act of making toast can set them off as can smoke from a campfire or outside grill. They can be annoying but they will save your life in the event of a fire. All they require is a new battery every year.

Sea Wind RV Resort, Riviera Beach, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Other considerations

Other considerations, supplies, and equipment include fire extinguishers (one in the galley, one in the bedroom, and one outside of the RV in a basement compartment, plus one in the toad/tow vehicle), NOAA weather radio, heavy-duty whistles, emergency waterproof matches, jumper cables, ice/snow window scrapers, work gloves, and blue tarp.

Now that you know the top 30 hacks to make your road trip more fun, are you ready to hit the open road? Plan your route with one of the many online tools available today and don’t forget to take photos of what you see. Happy travels!

Worth Pondering…

I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.

—Stephen Covey