It’s crucial to properly winterize your camper or RV before parking it for the cold season. Camper winterizing can help prevent frozen pipes, damaged appliances, and other costly repairs. Learn how to winterize your camper by following these simple steps!


Step 1: Protect RV Plumbing

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When winter proofing a camper, it’s important to protect the plumbing from freezing. Here’s what you need to do to maintain the integrity of your camper plumbing system during winter weather.

Drain Any Existing Water

Begin by disconnecting all external water sources attached to the city water line. Next, thoroughly drain all holding tanks, including the freshwater tank and the black and grey water holding tanks. Be sure to also drain the water heater and all associated lines.

Add RV Antifreeze

Remove water filters to prevent them from getting damaged and utilize a water heater bypass kit to prevent unnecessary antifreeze from filling the heater. Once the bypass kit is secure, use a plastic tube to add nontoxic camper antifreeze to the inlet side of the water pump. Then, turn on the water pump to circulate the antifreeze throughout the system. Open and close each set of hot and cold water faucets inside the RV, starting from the highest point and moving downwards, until antifreeze flows out. You’ll also want to flush the toilet until antifreeze becomes visible. Once you’ve confirmed the presence of antifreeze in every faucet, pour several cups of antifreeze down each drain. After these steps are complete, reconnect the water line to the freshwater tank.

Depressurize the System

Once you’ve drained the water and added nontoxic antifreeze to the system, turn off the water pump and open a faucet to release any pressure. Remember to close all faucets after this process is completed. Depressurizing your RV’s plumbing system helps prevent the expansion of any remaining water in the lines, reducing the risk of burst pipes or other costly issues when temperatures drop.


Step 2: Winterize Your Camper’s Interior

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Once your RV plumbing is protected, you need to winterize your camper’s interior. These steps to winterize an RV will help deter rodents and pests, prevent unwanted odors and moisture build-up, and keep your camper’s interior ready for next year.

Clean & Declutter

Begin cleaning the interior of your RV by throwing away broken items, trash, and expired food. Once all waste is removed, wipe down all surfaces and sweep, mop, or vacuum the floor. Make sure there is no standing water left inside appliances like ice makers, mini-fridges, or washing machines. Finally, leave an odor absorber inside your RV to keep it smelling fresh until its next use.

Remove Items

Remove and launder all linens, and store them separately to prevent them from building up dust or mildew. Additionally, protect your RV from theft or damage by removing all valuables and important belongings from the vehicle. It’s best to keep these items stored in a more secure area like your home or a storage unit.

Take Measures to Prevent Pests

Protect against pests by covering stove burners and removing all food and beverages from the fridge, pantry, and kitchen cupboards. You’ll also want to thoroughly clean all appliances, cooking surfaces, countertops, and kitchen cabinet interiors, leaving behind no crumbs that could attract insects or mice. If you want an extra layer of protection, set traps for any pests that do manage to get inside.


Step 3: Take Care of the Exterior

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Before you store your camper away for the winter season, take some time to look after the exterior. In addition to a general inspection, consider the following steps for winterizing the RV’s exterior.

Make Repairs

Anything that needs fixing should be addressed before leaving an RV in the elements, where existing problems could get worse. Re-caulk and seal any gaps in the door and window seals, and if you find any tears or damage to your RV’s exterior or roof, repair them with the proper materials.

Remove & Store Excess Components

To keep your RV in prime working condition, it’s best to remove and separately store certain components. Remove awnings, your RV’s battery, and any internal or external propane tanks to store them in a sheltered location. Additionally, shut off any gas tank valves prior to storage.

Further Pest Proof Your Camper

Along with your camper’s interior, you’ll also need to pest-proof the exterior to prevent unwanted intruders like insects and rodents from causing damage or infestations. Check the outside of your RV to ensure there are no small gaps or holes where critters could make their way inside. To help deter rodents and pests, fill any holes with steel wool, aluminum foil, or mesh screens.

Wash, Wax, & Cover the RV

Wash and wax the exterior of your vehicle right before putting it into storage to keep the paint in good condition. If storing in the open, you may want to invest in a fabric cover or RV tarp for the vehicle’s body and tires, providing an extra layer of protection from the elements. To avoid putting too much standing pressure on the tires, place your RV on blocks—or at the very least, rotate the tires twice a winter season.

Store Your Camper in a Safe Location

Choose a safe location to store your RV for winter. If possible, it’s best to avoid storing a camper at your house, since that leaves it more vulnerable to theft or exterior damage from falling branches and snow. The best options for winter storage for campers are covered outdoor parking spots on flat, paved surfaces, or spacious garages or storage units—especially those with climate control, which provides additional protection from the winter weather.


Need a secure place for winter camper storage? Life Storage offers RV storage solutions at our storage facilities across the country. Rent RV storage today!

This post was originally published 12/26/2018, and last revised on 04/10/2024 with updated information.

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