We are among tens of thousands of RV owners who due to many circumstances (work being ours) we cannot just pick up stakes and move to follow the “70’s” (temperatures that is!). That day WILL COME….but just not now!
So we, like many will do the annual ritual of putting our RV “to bed” in winter storage.
I thought I would share with our followers some tips and pointers that we have employed and picked up along the way from other veteran RVers.
New to our routine this year is the employment of low voltage LED tube rope lights on the floor underneath the perimeter of our 1973 Avion 28′ travel trailer.
In following one of our all time favorite fulltimers, AStreaminLife.com, Steve and Courtney have promoted the use of under trailer lighting to ward off mice and other varmints when camping in the great outdoors. Using their suggestion, we have purchased solar powered spot lights (check out AStreaminLife’s Amazon shop for the ones we purchased based on their excellent reviews) to use when boondocking and then the above pictured LED Rope lights when we have electric hook ups available.
Well, so we got to thinking that if this has worked for them in the wild….why would it not also serve as a good deterrent indoors? Since our RV storage garage (we rent near our house) has electricity (and we pay a little more for that each month) why not use this low voltage LED rope lighting we purchased to use while camping….during the winter too! I akin the look to a bit of a “STAR WARS” effect!
We have consistently put rat/mouse bait traps in and around this garage for the past two seasons where we have stored our Pewter Palace. This has been more of a preventative action but we have seen where the little green bait blocks have shown some “tooth wear” from nibbling varmints so yes, they are there. BUT we have, knock on wood, not had ONE bit of any hint of varmint intrusion into our RV itself.
A few things you will need from the store before you dive into winter storage prep:
- BOUNCE Brand scented dryer sheets (get the big box!)
- Clorox (or similar with color-safe bleach) brand pop up wipes
- Scented draw string tall kitchen garbage bags
- LED Rope lights, white light bulbs- not colored
- RV Antifreeze (the pink stuff!)
- Plastic box type varmint bait boxes and the green hard bait blocks (these do not trap the varmint and let them rot in there, they bait them to the green block which then eventually kills them when they go to see a water source away from your rig!)
NOTE: for the purpose of this blog post, I am not going to go through the entire black and grey tank dumping and prepping procedure or the system flushing for long term storage. I am purely focusing on interior tips for winter storage to protect from varmints and any damage to interiors.
A few basic and kinda “no brainer” tips to prepping your RV for winter storage:
Remove ALL and ANY types of food stuffs, oils, herbs/spices -ANYTHING that acute little noses could sniff out and consider a potential food source during bleak, long winters.
Remove all liquid, aerosols, pumps and semi liquid items including canned goods because freezing will cause them to burst and create a total mess (not to mention serve as a glorious buffet dinner for varmints)!
Remove any rags, towels, pot holders that may contain even trace of oils, food handling, etc. Varmints love to nest in cloth and paper goods like paper towels, napkins so remove them too and use them at home over the winter or store for next summer…..if you leave anything hang it on a hook or put in a scented trash bag with a Bounce brand scented dryer sheet in side bag with items.
Wipe off all counters, refrigerator inside and out, stove top, table tops, sink, dish drainer, cutting boards, pots/pans with a Clorox bleach brand pop up style wipes.
More about the cook stove– be sure to lift the stove top off, remove any crumbs, food particles, grease where the mechanicals are and wipe down entire area, grates, gas pipes, burners, etc with Clorox wipes,
Use a Clorox (or similar) brand pop up wipe to go over interior and exterior of refrigerator, toilet, sink, tub, all handles in kitchen and bathroom areas in particular.
Why Bounce Brand? We have sworn by the Bounce Brand of scented dryer sheets for over two decades now when camping doing our living history reenacting to keep away varmints AND crawling/flying bugs and insects. Doing this type of camping we use a canvas tent, a canvas floor cloth (that is not connected to the tent sides like moderns are) and have often slept on air mattresses on the floor. We are sometimes camping for 3-8 days and in all sorts of open fields, woodlands and in all sorts of weather conditions. Bounce sheets are excellent for putting around the perimeter of the interior of a tent and they really DO keep insects away. A benefit is that the inside of the tent always smells nice too! We put sheets under our bedding, around the interior perimeter of the tent itself and inside our clothing bags/boxes. It serves to rights that Bounce’s ability to ward off insects and varmints in a tent will do the same in a garage and RV! We have used them successfully when we owned a Class A motor home for five years and now in our Avion for past two years. (knock off brands have not proven themselves nearly as effective!)
Prepping your bedding and cushioned areas:
We strongly recommend tilting up all mattresses and cushions that are in your sleeping and dining areas if you cannot or chose not to remove these completely and store them at home over winter. Not only does this provide less of a “hacienda of dark seclusion” for any varmint intruders to build a nest, but it also provides far more air circulation around such materials thereby inhibiting mold, mildew, etc from building up on both the cushion/mattress and the boards that lay underneath them.
Doing this we have (knock on wood here…) never had any issues.
Below you will see on the left photo, our dinette cushions standing on long end and one of our twin mattresses on its side. Note the other bagged items and placement of dryer sheets all around too! These bags do contain comforters, extra throw pillows, beach towels. We DO take our bed sleeping pillows home for winter storage and do not leave them on the RV.
What about Clothing Storage over the Winter in the RV?
We do keep a complete set of camping clothing on our RV at all times so we are ready to go at a moments notice. We keep things organized by putting items in plastic lock lid style shoe storage boxes (they fit best in our over bed cupboards) and under bed lock lidded plastic totes, so winter prep is actual pretty minimal.
Here are some additional steps we do take for winter storage for clothing/dressing areas:
- Bounce sheets get put inside the floor of all drawers and then on top of any items left in drawers. Bounce Sheets also get placed inside every overhead storage cupboard and placed in every scented trash bag that is used for linen storage.
- I am sure to remove any liquids, eg. perfume, deodorants, mousse, hair spray cans/pumps, etc. due to potential for freezing/bursting. Check bathroom areas and remove from all over and under cupboards from bath area too!
- We remove any leather shoes/sandals due to potential for dusty mold and leather could be a food source in a pinch for varmints. I leave things like rubber flip flops, crocs, etc.
Final Steps… that are often forgotten!
Remove ALL batteries from any flashlights, headlamps, portable radios, clocks, alarm clocks, kitchen devices, etc. and TAKE THEM HOME and use them over the winter.
Ensure you have correctly used RV antifreeze in your systems and retain some visible in the toilet bowl and put an extra dose down each sink drain to ensure there is some sitting in traps and bends in piping.
Be sure you have put Bounce sheets also in all interior AND exterior storage/mechanical areas like water heater box, oven fan area, exterior refrig access panel area, sewer service area, exterior storage areas that go underneath dinettes or beds, etc. Here you can see our furnace and sewer pipe vent area being protected with dryer sheets.
Some notes on exterior/interior prep…
If storing your RV outside in winter the issue of “to cover or not to cover” is going to be yours. It is recommended that all aluminum campers like our Avion and Airstreams NOT be covered because covers can adversely scratch the surface. That being said, we do know Avion owners who have had decent luck with covers-much will depend on where you live. If you do use a cover, be sure you allow sufficient ventilation so that mold and mildew do not happen inside the RV.
If your RV is outside in winter, be sure to check pressures, treat the tires with tire protectant and cover them from daylight with either a tire cover and/or sheet of plywood, etc.
Close all curtains to prevent fading of cushions and interior finishes-especially if wood interior like ours is. If you have those pseudo fabric type pleated horizontal blinds I believe it is NOT recommended to drop them down as the pleats will stretch out and the shade will not look or work well in future. Perhaps in this case, if no curtains are available to draw closed, then take some old sheet, cut it up and place it over the valance and hang down over window to prevent interior fading while keeping the fabric blind up and pleated for storage.
We do not recommend installing Reflectix or similar silver insulation batting on windows because you may cause undo condensation on interior of windows unless you keep ceiling vents open to allow air exchange. Plus, using Reflectix inside on windows will create a totally dark cave inside your RV which is what varmints would just love!
Spray all locks (storage bays, doors, hitch locks, spare tire locks, bike locks, etc) with your preference of lubricant to keep in good shape when not used for length of time.
- Put RV house batteries on trickle charger.
- Chock your wheels, sounds crazy if you are on a level garage, but its just one of those things Kevin is fixated about…but its good practice because once you get in the behavior of always chocking your wheels you are less apt to forget when really needed!
You have NO IDEA who may be able to access your storage area……why take a chance?
- Lock your RV doors even if in a locked storage garage.
- Apply your hitch lock even if RV is locked in storage garage.
As possible visit your baby at least once a month over the long winter— just to do a quick visual check around the inside and outside and to hug her and let her know you miss her and cannot wait to get back taking her camping again!
Safe Travels! We LOVE to hear your feedback about this post or any of our blog posts!
One life..Live it!
Kevin & Luisa Sherman