Winterizing Your RV or Camper How-to-Guide

Winterizing your RV or camper is essential before putting it into storage for the winter season. Regardless if your RV is a motorhome, travel trailer, fifth wheel, truck camper or even camper van, we’ll show you the best winterizing procedures are necessary for all of your RV’s systems and components.

Look, RVs are expensive and a valuable investment. So, why not take care of your camper by making certain all points are prepped, clean and winterized properly before putting it into hibernation. To properly winterize your motorhome or camper, we recommend these steps to get it ready for storage.

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Winterizing your RV Water System

First, let’s prepare your RV’s water system for freezing temperatures. If you do not winterize your RV properly, it could result in damage not only the water system but also your RV. You don’t want to pull it out of storage to find water damage or split connections and hose because you didn’t winterize it properly.

RV Hot Water System Maintenance

      • Use the low point drains to empty your RV fresh water tank completely.
      •  Either add RV antifreeze to the fresh water system or evacuate the air from the lines. This will prevent water hoses, connections and components from freezing or breaking.
      • You’ll also need to flush and completely drain the water lines for the water heater, toilet and refrigerator.
      • Flush gray and black tanks throughly and empty completely.

See our friend, Jim Tome from Kleen Tank, instruct us how to properly clean our hot water system as well as our black and gray tanks on our RV Tank Maintenance on our blog and our YouTube video.  These methods are also useful in RV tank winterization procedures.

Winterizing your RV Electrical System

Protecting your RV’s electrical system for storage is just as important as your RV components. Your motorhome, travel trailer or fifth wheel batteries are subject to freezing temperatures. Batteries are expensive and their life can be greatly extended through proper care and maintenance.

      • Turn the battery switches to OFF. Also, turn the inverter OFF if your RV is equipped with one.
      • Remove all batteries from your RV.
      • Store batteries in a warm, dry area on a trickle charger. 

If your RV will be stored in a climate-controlled warmer environment, you can just keep your batteries on a battery tender also known as a trickle charge.

Always On Liberty - Winterizing Your RV Lead Acid Batteries

For lead-acid batteries

      • Check the fluid level before putting your camper in storage.
      • Top off your batteries with distilled water only. This will ensure the batteries are fresh and ready to reinstall for next RV or camping season.
      • Put your lead acid RV batteries on a trickle charge.

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For lithium batteries

      • To cut power to your batteries, ensure you’ve disconnected all switches. Make certain that they are truly disconnected from stereo, CO2 sensor, and any other emergency sensors.
      • Simply disconnect the main positive and negative wires that supply your lithium batteries. After the winter storage time, you should have plenty of charge in the batteries.

For both, lead acid or lithium, simply unplug and remove your batteries if you’re storing your RV outside in freezing temperatures. Store your batteries in your heated garage or basement.

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Clear Out and Clean

Now it’s time to thoroughly clean your RV completely.

      • Sweep all bare floors, vacuum the carpets thoroughly and damp mop.
      • Remove all the grit and grime that may have accumulated throughout the camping season in every crack, crevice and corner; including those hard to reach places.
      • Discard all food and contents from your refrigerator and secure it’s power.
      • Scrub all surfaces, drawers and racks with mild soap and water.
      • Wipe down all kitchen countertops and inside all cabinets with disinfecting solution and hot water.
      • Remove anything that pests may see as a food source. Inspect all locations where pests (insects, spiders, mice, rats, etc.) can enter and plug them. Some say to use steel wool but we recommend expanding foam.
      • Place anti-pest devices in all spaces including the basement and behind the basement wall to keep bugs, mice, ants, etc. from having an ongoing party in your RV over the winter or while it’s in storage. The last thing you want is to open your RV and find spiders, bugs and everything bigger (live and/or remnants) that had a hay day.
      • To help eliminate moisture that would promote mold and mildew, we highly recommend putting desi packs in each drawer, cabinet and compartment. For larger contained spaces, put in multiple packs. You can also use these to mitigate moisture issues.
      • Sprinkle a little baking soda on the carpets and put these charcoal packs to keep odors minimal.

RV WINTERIZING TIP: Put a couple drops of Peppermint Essential Oil on some cotton swabs and place inside cargo compartments, under the bed and inside cabinets and drawers. Though we’ve not proven this, it’s been said it will help deter spiders and bugs.

RV Exterior Care

After you’ve cleaned the inside of your RV, it’s time to thoroughly wash and wax the exterior.

      • Remove road grime and dirt streaks from the exterior walls and roof.
      • Use this amazing degreaser safe for RVs for tougher baked on or caked on grease or dirt.
      • Open your awnings, clean and allow to thoroughly dry before rolling up for storage.
      • Inspect for rips or tears. You can repair them while you’re winterizing your RV or put it on your list of de-winterizing tasks in the Spring.
      • Inspect all surfaces for cracks, chips or blemishes. It’s also a good time to check all seals and caulking.
      • Repair any discrepancies immediately.
      • Clean and protect your RV’s seals.
      • Windows should be cleaned inside and out.
      • Inspect for cracks and ensure the gaskets are in serviceable condition.
      • Lube the gaskets with the same protectant.

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  • Lubricate

Before putting your RV in storage, we recommend lubricating every moving part with spray silicone to lube all door locks. Also, lubricate using the same to the legs of your level-up system.

Use dry graphite spray to lube the hydraulic slide mechanisms. Top off your unit’s hydraulic tank with specialized hydraulic fluid if necessary.

Motorhome Generators - Maintenance Oil Change

Winterizing your Generator

It’s important to run your generator at least one hour under load before putting your camper in storage. After, drain the old oil, replace filter and add in new oil. Run new oil for another ten minutes under full load to check for leaks and pressurize. Lastly, check the hoses and connections around the tank and pump for leaks and weeping fluid.

Final Inspection After Winterizing Your RV

After you’ve inspected, cleaned, lubricated and took every measure to winterize your RV or camper, now is the time to conduct a complete walk-around final RV inspection:

      • Ensure the propane tank valves are CLOSED.
      • Cover the tires of the RV to prevent damage from UV rays and to mitigate degradation and dry rot.
      • Secure and lock every cargo door.
      • Make sure there are no tree limbs or branches rubbing on the roof of your RV.
      • Ensure the television antenna is properly secured.
      • Carefully coil the electrical umbilical cord that plugs into your tow vehicle and store inside the pin box of your fifth wheel.
      • Stow your electrical wires and cables in a sealed heavy-duty plastic bag with a rubber band wrapped around it to ensure no water intrusion. You may want to put a desi pack inside to keep moisture away from connection points.
      • Place a pest deterrent in your fifth wheel’s pin box with the electrical cable to prevent rodents from feasting on the cable. Also put a desi pack inside before sealing the bag.
      • Coil your RV emergency brake cable and store behind the wiring on the outside of the pin box so it’s not hanging down or exposed.

Low hanging cables place an unnecessary strain on them and their attachment points. If you can, coil and store them in a heavy plastic sealed bag and wrap tape around the opening the best you can so pests, dust and dirt is kept out.

Always On Liberty - Winterizing Your RV Camper

You’re RV motorhome or camper is now ready for winter storage. We hope these basics help as a guide and reminders of winterizing your RV fifth wheel, travel trailer or motorhome.

Be aware, these RV winterizing tips are not all encompassing. There may be other items specific to your RV’s setup or personalization that you’ll need to do.

Finally, when you’re all done, put your calendar up and start marking off the days until you can pull your camper out again for the Spring and de-winterize your RV!

Related Articles

How to Dewinterize Your RV

RV Tire Safety and Maintenance

RV Air Conditioner Cleaning and Maintenance

How to Clean and Sanitize RV Fresh Water Tank

RV Hot Water System Cleaning and Maintenance


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One Reply to “Winterizing Your RV or Camper How-to-Guide”

  1. All recreational vehicles, including RVs, must be winterized. However, before you do anything, examine the RV’s owner’s manual. Check to see if your RV has any unique winterizing instructions. Pay strict attention to the directions if there is a specific method to follow.

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