One of the biggest complaints from RV owners who put their campers into storage is what they’re going to come back to; pest infestations! You know, BUGS, SPIDERS, MICE and SNAKES!? But, with a little bit of guidance, we’ll show how you can prevent insects, spiders and rodents from even entering your motorhome or camper. We’ll also show you what to do should they make it past the front door as well.
Because, one or two bugs or mice get in, they’re going to invite all of their friends and start families. And then what do you have? Insect, spider and rodent infestations! Then, it’s difficult to get rid of them.
Let’s not forget mentioning that unwanted pests also can be extremely destructive and cause serious health implications to you and your family. So, before those creepy crawlies even think about taking residence in your RV, here’s some tried and true pest deterrents you can use before putting your motorhome or camper into storage or an RV storage facility.
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RV Storage Pest Control: How to Prevent Insects, Spiders and Mice from Entering Your RV
Eliminate all food sources
Food is what pests are looking for. As we mention in our article winterizing your RV, the very first thing you need to do while preparing your RV for storage is to remove all food and residuals of food throughout your camper. This means every crumb, morsel, spill; even the tiniest remnant of food from your refrigerator, cabinets, dining seat benches, countertops, stovetop and oven, etc.
Because, if you don’t, the food chain will start to grow like a disease. It will start with bugs; ants, roaches, flies, etc. Then spiders will move in because they feed on the bugs. Unless there are no humans and cats around, mice will roll in to find cozy places to multiply. And, you know what comes next? Yes, you guessed it! SNAKES!
Oftentimes, snakes will take refuge in your camper if there are rodents present. And let’s just say, the absolute most nauseous feeling you could have is bringing your RV out of storage and finding snake skins.
So, that should be reason enough of why it is extremely important to rid your RV of every crumb and smear of food. Because they will find it. And so the food chain will be a big happy game if you don’t. Which, then leads us to our next bulleted point of preparing your RV for storage is cleaning your RV.
Clean your RV thoroughly
The above is the exact reason why it’s incredibly important to clean your RV thoroughly. Even when you’re not putting your RV into storage. You need to eliminate the possibility of pests taking refuge in your camper or motorhome by removing everything that bugs, spiders and rodents like.
So, get the vacuum cleaner, hot soapy water, sponge and let’s get to work scrubbing your entire RV; stem to stern. You want to suck up everything in every corner, crevice, crack and cranny. And, you’ll need to follow with wiping with hot soapy water until it’s so clean that you could eat off of every surface.
For you non-military types, we refer that as a field day.
Remove and pack away all bedding
While you’re cleaning your RV, you’ll need to remove all bedding, pillows, sheets, towels, face cloths, etc.
Because mice and rats love anything made of fabric because it’s warm, cozy and the perfect breeding ground for…breeding. So, I highly recommend removing everything that’s made of fabric that you possibly can. If it’s fabric that’s not sewn or screwed down, remove it.
You’ll need to take it home to launder it anyway. Once they’re all clean, you can store them all in space bags or a big storage tote until you pull your motorhome or camper out of the RV storage facility.
Remove mattresses and cushions
I highly recommend removing all couch cushions and throw pillows and storing them in a sealed tote where nothing can get inside; even the tiniest bugs or spiders. If you have room, store them at home instead of your RV.
I know it may be a pain in the behind but you may want to remove your RV mattress and taking it home with you. Otherwise, you may end up having to replace your RV mattress should it become permeated with mouse or rat urine or feces.
However, it not possible to remove your RV mattress from your camper or motorhome. Then, I highly recommend getting a six-sided mattress encasement. Not saying it’s the perfect mouse deterrent it will help protect your mattress from rodents.
However, before zipping it closed completely, I recommend placing a few desi packs between the bottom of the mattress and encasement as well as the top of the mattress and encasement. Those desi packs will help prevent and eliminate moisture in the mattress encasement.
In the Spring or when you get your camper out of the RV storage facility, wearing a designated face mask (not the paper or fabric ones), thick rubber gloves (not nitrile or latex), and one piece painter coverall suit, carefully remove it without disturbing the dust or whatever else may be on the mattress encasement. Don’t even bother washing it. Just toss it in a garbage along with your gloves and mask and seal completely.
While I offer this suggestion, that’s not saying mice won’t chew through it. That decision of whether or not to leave your mattress is yours.
Which now, leads us to the next topic; setting out pest deterrents.
RV STORAGE PEST CONTROL: Traps and Insecticides
As you’ve just removed all the food and cleaned your RV interior like you’re preparing for a visit from your mother-in-law, now it’s time to set out some pest control traps and pest infestation prevention measures.
First we’ll talk about how to prevent and kill insects (ants, roaches, fleas, etc.) and spiders. And second, we’ll talk about rodent control (mice, rats, packrats, etc.).
RV Storage Pest Control: Insect Control
If you’re RV is going to be sitting outside, dust your leveling jack pads and underneath your RV with Diatomaceous Earth. It’s a natural, food-grade, small insecticide that kills fleas, ticks, ants, cockroaches, slugs, bed bugs and more within 48 hours of contact.
Be liberal when spreading it on the ground, on and around your jack pads and the inside corners of your RV basement and exterior storage compartments. Every once in awhile, you may want to check on your RV and reapply as necessary should it be washed away by rain.
One word of caution when using Diatomaceous Earth. While it’s perfect safe to use around humans and pets, you do not want to inhale or breathe it in. So, my suggestion is to wear a prescribed face mask when applying it. Also, you may want to wear safety glasses to avoid eye irritation.
But, for the inside of your RV, to deter and kill unwanted insects and spiders, you’ll want to spray all edges and corners with Ortho Home Defense insect killer. It kills annoying home-invading (or RV invading) insects such as ants, cockroaches, spiders, fleas, ticks, scorpions, beetles, silverfish, centipedes and millipedes. You could also use it outdoors as well.
Now, there’s an natural formula that you mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Then you spray any area in which spiders gather or enter. Vinegar contains acetic acid, which is believed to burn and kill spiders upon contact. There are also claims that you can place small dishes of full-strength vinegar in dark corners to ward away spiders. Whether or not that’s just an old wive’s tale, well, you can be the judge and try if you’re more into the holistic approach to pest control.
Also, you’ll want to set out insect traps where ants and spiders will drink or lick the poison and take it back to their nests. Based on our experience with a slight infestation of insects in Florida, we’ve found that TERRO Liquid Ant Killer works wonderfully in killing ants and other small insects. They are fairly inexpensive and easy to use.
Simply place the bait stations near possible exterior access points where ants or tiny insects could enter and infest. This includes under kitchen cabinets, closets, inside drawers, under your bed, bathroom cabinets, etc.
Also, you should place them in all of your RV’s exterior storage compartments; especially near access points where insects can enter. They should last all season while your motorhome or camper is being stored or in an RV storage facility.
One thing before moving on to how to prevent mice from getting into your RV, I want to touch a little on scorpions since they are actually an arachnid. Now, we’ve not had to deal with them inside our RV fifth wheel or motorhome. But we’ve heard stories of some RVers in the southern states and southwest who deal with them on a regular basis.
Another RV tip; if you’re in warmer climates where mud dauber wasps are prevalent and already, you’ll need to install an insect prevention screen kit for your RV’s exterior furnace and water heater vents.
And lastly, an old trick a professional RV tech taught me was to place a new pet flea collar inside your RV refrigerator’s exterior access panel. Supposedly they keep wasps and bees from nesting.
RV Storage Pest Control: Rodent Control
I’m sure you’ve all seen those photos on social media showing gnawed bars of Irish Spring yet, no indication of dead mice to prove it worked. In other words, soap isn’t a pest deterrent.
Also, others, have claimed everything from using mothballs, peppermint essential oil, sage essential oil, and voodoo stuff that we won’t get into. Not because they don’t work (do they? I’d really love to know!), just that I can’t recommend as I’ve never tried them. The reason I haven’t used essential oils is because we have cats and those are detrimental to a cat’s metabolism. If you have cats as well, you may want to avoid those pest control suggestions as well.
So, you’ll have to get serious with quality rodent pest control. Now, you can always call a professional pest control and spend big bucks on providing the same service you can do for just a few bucks.
Here’s the most important thing to be environmentally conscious about. DO NOT use mouse poisons or rat poisons to kill rodents such as D-Con. This will detrimentally impact the environment. Should another animal or bird find a poisoned rodent and eat it, the poison will be passed onto the predator that ingested it.
The best way to rid your motorhome or camper of mice, rats and other rodents is by using lethal but humane mouse traps or rat traps.
They are convenient and easy to use. All you do is just press to set. Once the little guy takes a nibble of the prescribed attractant gel, it will only suffer a one-second quick blow. You could also use glue mouse traps as well. And, for rats, it’s the same principle however, you’ll be using bigger rat traps.
That said, let’s be very clear here. If you use rodent traps, I highly suggest you visit your RV storage facility and clean out any deceased rodents immediately or they will impose the nastiest odor.
RV Storage Pest Control: Snake Deterrents
Now, if you fear having snakes (that would be me!), that’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax to contend with when it comes to RV storage pest control. There is a snake repellent out on the market. But honestly, I can’t personally verify that it’s effective because we’ve never tried it.
In my opinion however, if you find snake skins (which is a big indicator that there are mice in your RV), hire a professional to get them out. They may be venomous and you certainly don’t want to deal with catching them.
Final thoughts on RV storage pest control
I know this article is a bit creepy but when you’re preparing to put your camper into hibernation in an RV storage facility or even your own back yard, you need to prepare your RV for pest intrusion. Hopefully, when you take your motorhome or travel trailer out of storage, there won’t be any evidence of unwanted freeloaders.