Each spring, before the first camping trip, I clean the camper like I’m Felix Unger on steroids. It’s amazing how dirty the rv gets when it’s been sitting unused for at least half a year. It’s during this cleaning that I get a more thorough inspection of any repairs that might be needed.
Before we go any further, let’s not assume we all have the same standards of clean. I’m reminded of this every time I pass by my children’s bedrooms. And every time I see someone not wearing gloves at the dump station. That being said, I can reasonably assure you that my idea of clean would fall well within the accepted standards.
So, without further procrastinating, this is how I clean the interior of my camper.
Products & Equipment
- Window cleaner (i.e. Windex)
- Multi-surface cleaner (i.e. Formula 409 or Clorox Wipes)
- Bathroom cleaner (i.e. Scrubbing Bubbles or Tilex)
- Paper towels
- Vacuum with attachments
- Broom and dustpan
Washing the Interior
Let’s not kid ourselves. Cleaning the interior of your camper is not that much different than cleaning the inside of your house. However, there are a few things that are unique to cleaning the inside of an RV, but for the most part cleaning windows, walls and the kitchen is pretty much the same no matter whether you’re in your RV or your home.
First thing I do is open all the windows to let the camper breathe.
The next thing I do is remove everything from all cabinets as well as the seat cushions from our two dinettes. Not only does this help me to clean the interior of the camper, but it helps me take mental note of anything that we might be low on, such as paper plates or RV toilet paper.
Then it’s time to clean.
I subscribe to the top-down theory of cleaning, so we’ll start with the ceiling, work our way to the walls and finish with the floor.
So, starting at the ceiling, the first thing I do is thoroughly clean the vents. I remove the screens and wash them down with a hose, and use a Clorox Wipe to scour the inside of the vent, including the vent cover. This also gives me an opportunity to make sure the vent is in good working order. When clean, I leave the vents open. Since one is a Fantastic Fan vent, I turn the fan on and exhaust the stale air.
Once the vents are clean it’s onto the air conditioner. The key here is to clean the vents and the filter.
The rest of the ceiling is just a quick wipe down, making sure to get the cobwebs and such. Pay attention to any discoloration, as this would be evidence of water damage.
After the ceiling, I move onto the bathroom. We have a small hybrid travel trailer, so our bathroom is one of those one-piece deals where the shower stall and the toilet share the same space. I use a Clorox Wipe for the walls, shower head and toilet, first. Then I open the toilet and turn my attention to the black tank. Usually I just spray the garden hose in there as best I can, and then drop in an Eco Toss-In packet, which is an environmentally friendly deodorizer and treatment product by Thetford. Make sure you have enough water in the tank, at least enough to cover the bottom.
Most RVers use an attachment on their garden hose to clean the black tank, such as a flexible swivel stick. I admit I have not ever cleaned my holding tanks this way, although I should. Instead, I dump some ice into the tank before we leave for any trip. The ice bounces around in the tank while we drive, knocking off the crud sticking to the walls. Works for us.
The last thing I clean in the bathroom is the floor. Since it’s also the shower floor, it’s a pretty simple matter to clean the floor. Just use enough Clorox Wipes until the job is done, then hose it down the shower drain.
After the bathroom it’s time to clean inside all the cabinets. Start at one wall and work your way around. Nothing too complex here, just wipe everything clean.
After the inside of the cabinets are clean, then I wipe down the outside of the cabinets and the walls. Again, look for discolored wood or wallpaper, anything that might show sign of water damage.
Counters and dinette benches are next; again, a simple matter of using a Clorox Wipe to scour it clean.
The last thing I clean is the floor. Usually I start with the floors in the storage areas. This is where the vacuum cleaner with attachments works best, especially a crevice tool when getting in and around the water pump, water heater and other assorted obstacles.
The main floor of the camper gets extra special treatment. Broom away the dirt first, and then follow it up with a mop, using any diluted floor cleaner mixed with water. Last summer I replaced our rotted floor with a new one, and I topped it with peel-and-stick vinyl tiles. This spring I was happy to see that my new floor made it through its first winter rather well.
See you next week when we talk about How to Safely Drive an RV: Tips & Tricks for all Vehicles.
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