30+ Tips for Spring Cleaning Your RV
It’s always a welcome sign when the snow begins melting (if you are up north) and the flowers start blooming. Because springs means RV camping season begins!
But it also means you need to attend to some spring cleaning rituals for your RV.
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Spring Clean the Outside of Your RV
Wash and Wax the Exterior
You want to get all the winter sludge off the outside, including any of those black streaks that have come from the roof.
It goes without saying that you need to give the outside a good washing and wax treatment, right?
Use deionized water to prevent streaks or spots when rinsing the soap off your RV. You won’t even need to dry the RV to keep the spots off! How cool, right?
Wash and Wax – Waterless Option: Wash Wax All
Don’t forget to pull out the slides and wash the sides that are normally hidden inside when stored.
Clean Your Awnings, Slide Toppers, and Pop-up Tents
Pull the awning out and give it a good wash while you are washing your RV.
Don’t forget the slide toppers as well!
And pull the pop-up tent out of the RV basement and give it a good wash as well.
Modern awning cleaners have great cleaning properties (duh!) and also UV protection to extend the life of your awnings, slide toppers, and pop-up tents. They also work well to clean your camping chairs.
If you find that the awning has really tough stains or mildew, then you’ll need to put some elbow grease into it. Try Magic Erasers, which many people have reportedly had great success with.
Make sure everything is dry before you put things away.
RV Awning Cleaner: Thetford Premium RV Awning Cleaner for RV
Treat Your Roof & Tires
Just like the wax protects the paint coat on the sides of your RV from the damaging effects of the sun, you need to protect your roof from the same damaging effects.
Go ahead and get the large version of the 303 Protectant. Not only can you use it on the roof, the tires, the outside paint job, but also inside for your dash and leather furniture.
Treat Your Outdoor Furniture
Once all you outdoor camping chairs are dry (if you washed them earlier), you’ll want to apply a coat of Permethrin to the chairs and any other canvas like furniture you have.
Permethrin gives you a barrier against mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks when you go camping and I highly recommend that you cover your chairs in it.
It’s like a circle of protection when you are tailgating or camping.
Clean Out Those Basement Compartments
Do you have to shove your RV basement doors closed because the basement compartments are overflowing with stuff?
Now is the time for you to clean them out and organize.
Make sure everything works and is still needed. Have you used it in the past year? If not, toss it!
Remember, weight is money here. The more you get rid of, the better gas mileage you’ll get.
Spring Maintenance – Engine Fluids, Battery Water, Lubricants
While it is not necessarily a spring cleaning item, now is also a great time to check the fluids in your engine compartment.
Engine oil, transmission fluid, washer fluid, power steering, brake fluids, and engine coolants all need to be checked. And filled, as necessary.
Don’t forget about the generator oil. And hydraulic fluid for the RV jacks.
Lube the slide rails and the sewer handles.
And finally, check the coach batteries, once you replaced them if you took them out for winter storage. Make sure they have the proper amount of distilled water in the battery cells.
Spring Cleaning the RV Water System
Whew! The winter is over and that means that we have drastically reduced the chance of busted pipes from water freezing.
Be careful if you de-winterize your RV if temperatures fall again. It’s not unusual for a late spring cold snap that could do serious damage to your RV plumbing.
Flush the Anti-freeze
Did you put RV anti-freeze in your plumbing system during the winterization process?
If so, you’ll want to flush all that pink stuff out of your pipes.
Put some water in your fresh water tank or hook up to a city water connection and turn on the faucets.
Well, one at a time until each one runs clear.
Don’t forget about your fridge ice maker and water dispenser, your dish or clothes washer and your outside shower. Because who wants to step into the shower and get doused with pink stuff?
Sanitize the Fresh Water System
When you open your RV up for spring camping is a great time to sanitize your RV fresh water system.
To sanitize your fresh water system, use 1/4 cup of bleach and one gallon of water for every 15 gallons of water that your fresh water tank holds.
Add the mix to your fresh water tank and then run each faucet until you smell bleach.
Fill the rest of your fresh water tank so that the bleach water makes contact with the entire tank.
Let sit for at least four hours. Overnight is even better.
Drain your fresh water tank of the high bleach concentrated water. Refill with fresh water.
Open each faucet and let the water run until you cannot smell bleach any longer.
Again, make sure that you flush each faucet – kitchen and bathroom sinks, ice maker, fridge water dispenser, shower, outdoor shower, outdoor sinks, clothes washer, dishwasher, and of course, the toilet.
It may take more than one tank of water to flush all the lines out. But once you get the bleach flushed out of your system, you’ll have an RV fresh water system that is safe for drinking.
Replace Water Filters
Now that you have a clean fresh water system, you’ll want to keep it that way.
Replace all your water filters.
Spring Cleaning the Inside of the RV
Now that we have the outside all spic and span and looking nice, let’s work on the inside of the RV.
Organize Those Cabinets, Closets
Yes, this is definitely where we channel Marie Kondo and her The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up to our RV spring cleaning.
We did a little of this when we went through the basement compartments earlier. But now we really need to take a look at what we have in our RV.
Go through each storage compartment, under the bed & couch storage, and your RV closet to make sure that you have only what you need and nothing else.
As you put everything back, make sure to think strategically about organization – where will you use it, it this the best fit to maximize storage, etc.
Clear Out the Kitchen Pantry
Did you leave things in your RV kitchen pantry and cabinets over the winter?
It’s time to go through and make sure that you don’t have any expired, melted, or busted up food. Toss it if you do.
And clean those cabinets out! Seriously, all those crumbs and half-open packages are just begging for some ants. (Find out how to kill ants and keep them from coming back in your RV)
You should wipe down all your cabinets, but especially your kitchen cabinets, with a multi-surface cleaner.
Clean the RV Fridge
The best way to get rid of and keep RV fridge odors away is by giving the fridge a good cleaning, inside and out.
Take out all the food and drinks (tossing what has gone bad or expired), and remove the shelves and drawers for a cleaning with water and soap in your sink.
Then clean down the walls and anything that you can’t remove from the fridge with a good multi-surface cleaner.
Clean the Stainless Steel
The front/outside of the RV fridge needs some love too.
If you have a stainless steel fridge, like I do, then you’ll want to wipe it down with Weiman Stainless Steel Cleaner and Polish.
This not only cleans the stainless steel, it also protects against fingerprints in the future.
If your microwave is stainless steel, clean the outside of it as well with Weiman Stainless Steel Cleaner and Polish.
Grills, stove vent hoods, and anything else stainless steel can benefit from cleaning and polishing as well.
Microwaves, Ovens, and Stoves
Ugh, are cooking appliances sure do take a beating! Splatters, crumbs, drips, and OMG! what is that? I don’t even want to know what that residue is.
Let’s start with the microwave: the easiest of these to clean. Put a cup of water and 2 tablespoons of vinegar in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 3 minutes. This should give the water enough time to steam clean the microwave. Then let sit for about 5 more minutes to let it really soak in and cool off to the touch. Take a sponge and wipe it all down. Follow with the multi-surface cleaner to make sure you got it all out.
Stove: While the microwave water is doing it’s thing, it is time to go to town on the stove. Remove the grates and wipe down with the multi-surface cleaner. Clean those grates in hot soapy water, dry everything and replace.
Oven: Remove everything out of the oven (racks, pizza stone, thermometer, etc) and set aside. Mix up 1/2 cup of baking soda with 2-3 tablespoons of water to create a paste. Spread this out on any grimy spots in your oven. Let sit to begin breaking down the baked on gunk. In the meantime, wash the racks and pizza stone. Wipe down the oven with paper towels to remove as much of the dried baking soda paste. Spray with 50/50 vinegar/water to finish removing the baking soda paste. Wipe down again with water and paper towels. Replace racks, pizza stone, etc. into your RV oven.
Spring Clean Your RV Cutting Boards
It’s time to give your RV cutting boards some spring TLC.
For wood cutting boards, sprinkle coarse salt over the board, then rub with a cut lemon (so the juice gets onto the board surface). Rinse well with warm water. Let dry standing upright. Apply a thin coat of food grade mineral oil to condition the wood.
Plastic cutting boards take a different way to get them spring cleaned. You’ll need 2 tablespoons hydrogen peroxide, 1 tablespoon Dawn detergent, and 4 tablespoons of baking soda. Make a paste and cover the board. Let sit overnight. Wash the plastic cutting board with Dawn to remove all traces of the paste. Let dry.
Spring Clean the RV Bathroom
You’ve already gone through all the cabinets and organized them in this RV spring cleaning. But there are still some more things that we need to do specifically in the RV bathroom.
Make sure to regularly check your gray tanks through this process. You’ll be doing a lot of washing things in the kitchen and RV bathroom, and the last thing we need is for you to fill up your gray tank and have it back up into your shower that you are trying to clean.
Clean the RV Shower Curtain or Doors
You’d think that the RV shower wouldn’t get as gross as it does. But yuck!
If you have a shower curtain, take it down and run it through your washing machine. Let it air dry hanging up.
If you have shower doors instead of a curtain, then you’ll want to clean them really well. Heat up 1 cup of distilled white vinegar and add 2 tablespoons of Dawn. Spray the mixture on the shower doors (mixing up more vinegar/Dawn if need be).
Don’t forget about the frame holding the shower door. It needs cleaning too.
This same mixture is great to spray on your Oxygenics shower head. If the nozzles are really clogged, you may need to soak the entire head in a bag of vinegar and Dawn for several hours and then rinse.
Clean the RV Shower Drain
Is your RV shower drain not draining?
Well, you can’t use Drano because the chemicals can do real damage to your RV gray tank and the seals therein.
To give your drain a good spring cleaning, let’s start by pouring a large stock pot of boiling water down the drain. This will clear out a lot of “stuff” first.
Add 1 cup of baking soda to the drain. Let sit for five minutes.
Pour 1 cup of distilled white vinegar and 1 cup of hot, boiling water down the drain.
Cover with a drain cover, if you have one. Let sit for 15 minutes. Rinse with hot water.
The baking soda and hot water will break down the gunk. Then the vinegar-baking soda interaction will finish anything that is left.
This should really help clear your RV shower drain without using chemicals that could damage your gray tanks.
Add a drain protector to prevent future problems from happening.
Some RVs have a Hepvo waterless trap. This replaces the old P trap to prevent gases from coming up from the gray tank and into the body of the RV. Many of the augers, snakes, and plungers can do real damage to these waterless traps. If you have a newer RV or think you may have a Hepvo trap, do not use augers, snakes, or plungers to clear out the drains of your RV showers.
It makes it even more important that you do regular maintenance to clean out the RV drains with the baking soda/vinegar combination above.
Spring Clean the Washing Machine
Yes, your RV washing machine needs some spring cleaning as well. If you have one that is.
For a front loading machine, which the stackable washer and dryer will be, you’ll need 2 tablespoons of baking soda and 1/2 cup of white vinegar. Put both in the washer and then wash on hot.
If you have a high build-up of detergent in your RV washing machine, you may end up with a lot of suds. So keep a careful watch on this process to make sure you don’t end up with a bathroom full of suds (using high efficiency detergent also helps with this).
Don’t forget to check the filter and clean it out too. Check your owner’s manual for instructions.
Spring Clean the RV Bed
You, and possibly your dogs (if you let them on the bed), spend a lot of time in your RV bed. Probably where you spend the most time inside your RV. So let’s pay particular attention to giving this area a really good cleaning.
The RV Mattress
Let’s strip all the sheets, mattress covers, and comforters off and get down to the RV mattress itself.
If you have a foam mattress or mattress topper, you don’t need to flip it. But you should rotate it every 3-4 months if you are full-timing and annually if you are a part-timer. This helps it wear more evenly.
Then you’ll want to vacuum the mattress to get dead skin, dirt, and whatever else off it. Don’t forget the sides! If you have a removable mattress topper, make sure you remove it first and vacuum under it as well as the topper itself.
If you need to remove stains, then use as little water and Dawn as possible to get the stain out. Then apply baking soda to the top to absorb the water while running a dehumidifier and fan in the area. (Even better if you can take it outside to dry in the sun, but I realize that it may not be possible and the mattress end up even dirtier than before)
If you have a foam mattress, do not use bleach or ammonia, as that may damage the memory foam!
If your mattress has some lingering odors, then generously spread baking soda over the top of it. Let it sit for 24 hours and the vacuum off. Do not sleep on the mattress during this period.
Clean the RV Mattress Pad
You have a mattress pad on your mattress in the RV, right?
If no, why not? They do a great job of protecting the mattress from dirt, fleas, bed bugs, and more.
But just like the mattress below and the sheets above, the mattress pad needs regular cleaning as well.
Most of these can be placed in your washing machine. Just check the tag on the mattress pad for specific instructions on temperature and cycle settings.
Clean the Comforter
When is the last time you washed the comforter on your RV bed? Especially if you are a part-time RVer.
Comforters can be a smelly mess and so dirty. Whether from you or your pet or whatever life throws at it. It doesn’t really matter.
Take your comforter off the bed and to a local laundromat. With lots of quarters. Your RV washer is definitely not going to be able to handle the comforter. The typical household washer probably won’t either. But the extra-large laundromat washers and dryers will.
Your nose will thank you when you are done.
Clean Your Pillows
Think of all the times you go to bed without washing your face. Makeup and oils from your face and your hair will end up over the pillow.
Sure, the pillow case does a decent job of protecting the pillow, but we are talking spring cleaning here. So take your pillows and send them through the washer as well!
You’ll want an even number of pillows in the washing machine at a time to keep it balanced. Then run the washer on a bulky or large cycle with the regular amount of detergent. Then throw in the dryer. If they are feather filled pillows, then no heat. Otherwise, medium heat will do.
Memory foam pillows should be hand washed and then air dried, in the sun if possible. The washing machine will prove to be too rough and the dryer to hot, both of which will damage the memory foam.
Add pillow protector cases to keep your pillows cleaner going forward.
General Interior Items
Whew! We are making great progress on spring cleaning the RV!
Just a few more general interior items left to check off to have a sparkling RV.
Clean the Ceiling
What the what? They can’t get dirty you say! But oh yes, they can. I don’t know how it always happens, but the key is always – the ceilings are a mess.
If you have a vinyl ceiling, then wipe the ceiling down with a multi-surface cleaner.
If you have a fabric ceiling, then use a vacuum cleaner and then spot clean with water and Dawn detergent.
Make sure to remove all spider webs because there is always one or more in the RV after winter.
If you have a ducted air conditioner/heat pump, you’ll also want to clean the ceiling vents.
Don’t forget about any ceiling fans too, just like at home.
Light fixtures may also need to be taken down, cleaned and then returned to their original spot. I highly recommend that you do one at a time so that you make sure they go back in the right place (somehow, some of them just never seem to fit every spot even if they “look” the same)
Interior Windows and Mirrors
You’ll want to do this on a shady day to keep the streaks to a minimum.
You can use the same multi-surface cleaner that you used in the kitchen to clean the insides of the RV windows. (You’ve already done the outside of the windows when you washed the exterior of the RV)
Don’t forget to clean the tracks.
Condition Your Leather Furniture
Do you have a bunch of leather furniture? Then you’ll need to take special care of the leather to preserve it for long into the future.
You’ll want to first vacuum all the dirt and debris on the surface of the couch or chair.
Then use 303 Leather 3-in-1 Cleaner, Conditioner and Protectant to well, clean, condition, and protect the leather.
The 303 products have a lot of UV protection that is so important, especially if you leave your windows open a lot (the sun can do serious damage to your leather furniture).
Condition Your RV Dash
Similarly to how your RV leather furniture will be damaged by the sun, so will your RV dash. And that’s often a lot of open space to protect.
And the process is quite similar – vacuum up as much of the dirt and dust that you can. Then apply 303 Protectant to the dash.
It cleans, conditions, and protects from UV damage. Seriously, the 303 products are great for your RV – roof, tires, leather furniture, dash, etc.
Clean Your RV Floors
Start with a good sweeping or vacuuming. Then it is going to depend on your floor types.
If you have carpet, ugh, why? At least in the main part that is always getting so full of dirt, try replacing it with laminate flooring.
For any carpet that you do have, after a really good vacuuming, apply baking soda to absorb any odors and then re-vacuum. If you have stains, you’ll need to spot treat according to the directions on the packaging.
Meanwhile, if you have laminate flooring, get yourself the Bona Spray Mop. I’m a big fan of the Bona products, using them in the my house and my RV.
Clean Behind and Around Electronics
Electronics, like TVs and what not, attract dust like no other.
And while you may be good about occasionally wiping down the front of the TV, when is the last time you wiped down the back of the TV?
Get yourself the Swiffter Heavy Duty Duster and get behind those TVs to get that dust.
Don’t forget about any electronic cabinets – behind and under the DVD player and the satellite receiver can be so disgusting.
Removing the dust will also extend the life of your electronics.
Don’t forget to vacuum and dust the area around your LP detector. These are notorious for going off in the middle of the night because of too much dust and not because they actually detected propane.
Dust all the Woodwork with Pledge
In addition to dusting around the electronics, you need to dust all the woodwork in your RV. Yes, all that trim and cabinets need conditioning, just like the leather furniture did.
Seriously, the original Pledge is still my go to product here.
Pledge gets the dirt and grime, clears the dust, and conditions the wood for you, all in one product.
RV Spring Cleaning: Weekend Project
Spring cleaning your RV is easily a full weekend project, maybe even longer, depending on how big your RV is and how bad it is to begin with.
Don’t feel bad if you have to break down the spring cleaning into chunks – outside one weekend, inside another weekend is pretty common.
Or hire parts of it out, particularly the exterior wash and waxing and roof conditioning. That’s hard work and being up on the roof can be dangerous.
Are there any other things that we need to add to the RV Spring Cleaning checklist? Comment below!
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