How do I keep my RV from smelling foul when I open it back up in the spring?
The key is to banish the “stink fuel” before you close the RV up for winter. What I mean is you need to get rid of all the things that mold, mildew and other smelly organisms need to flourish. Start with the obvious stuff, like empty the refrigerator (and wipe out with SMC), remove all food and liquids, and remove or prop up all cushions to encourage airflow. Also, leave all storage hatches open for air to circulate. Then, clean and vacuum and place dehumidifier bags around the cabin (two to three bags for more than 36 feet). Then it’s time to really attack moisture.
So that means I have to clean out the plumbing, too, right?
Cleaning the drains and the sump prior to storage is absolutely crucial to keep odors and bacteria from becoming a problem. The RV can absorb the odors and mildew that grow in moist, dark environments and they will spread throughout the RV. Clean with SMC; spray it on and absorb with paper towels or rags, or drain the soapy water in approved drains. Rinse and dry the area.
Then use Shurhold’s Moldaway to clean the drains in sinks, showers, etc. Put a scoop into each drain with a cup of water, let it work for a few minutes, then rinse. Moldaway will clean and deodorize drains without harming the piping. It will also help clean the sump container by oxygenating the sump water, killing mold/mildew spores and other bacteria, safely and without bleach. Depending on where your RV is stored, your yard may suggest you flush antifreeze through the system.
Is there anything special we need to do for our soft surfaces, like carpets and canvas?
The cleaner these surfaces are, the better they will look upon recommissioning. First, vacuum and shampoo your carpet with SMC, and let it dry before sealing up the RV. This will reduce the likelihood of any bacteria growing there. Remove cockpit carpet if possible; minimally, roll it up and store in the cabin after it’s cleaned.
It is best to remove your canvas and store it in a dry environment if you can, then clean it in spring with Moldaway or Brite Wash.
What about the outside?
A clean bottom and drive gear are also very important; make sure you reference your owner’s care guide for drive maintenance. The undercarriage should be washed with a pressure washer and/or plain water with a soft-to-medium brush. Soaps and detergents are generally not used. Again, wax is a good idea.
Is that it?
Well, no. Then there are all of your mechanical, electronic and other systems to be readied for a long storage nap. You absolutely must consult your owner’s manuals on these crucial tasks because it can affect your warranty.