Key Steps to Winterizing Your RV


Remember that RV you spent all summer touring about the country in? Well, it’s that time of year when you need prepare for the long winter months ahead. It is very important that you take these steps to protect your RV; if you don’t, this can result in some very unpleasant discoveries next year when you try to go out on that first trip of the summer! Don’t wait for surprises. Follow these simple steps to protect your new or used RV.


Winterizing the plumbing in your RV is probably the most important component to preparing your rig for winter. If there is any chance of the temperatures reaching freezing, this is a must.

First off you need to flush out any water reservoirs: the blank and gray tanks, the water heater and fresh water system. Once you have drained out the water you have several options open to you. You can either use Antifreeze or air pressure to winterize the plumbing, and each of these has their advantages and disadvantages.


Pros: Antifreeze is the most common and also the most effective method of winterizing your plumbing.

Cons: Antifreeze is very dangerous, so be sure to use antifreeze that is approved for RVs and is non-toxic. When you next feel like taking your RV out on a trip, you will need to thoroughly flush out the system several times to get the taste of antifreeze out.

Air Pressure:

Pros: Using air pressure is much cheaper than Antifreeze. Also, you don’t have to worry about tasting antifreeze if you hadn’t flushed it out enough times.

Cons: You might not be able to get all the water out. There will most likely be parts that you will still need to drain manually. Water will also collect in the faucets and if that freezes, could easily cause damage. To prevent this, open each faucet briefly while blowing air through the system.

If your RV has an Icemaker or washing machine, follow the instructions in the manufacturer’s manual to winterize them.

Interior Preparation

Winterizing your plumbing is far from the only thing you should be doing, though. The rest of your rig’s interior needs some work as well. The last thing you want to do in the summer is open up the RV to the smell of old food, mold and small rodents. And yes, rodents will try to get inside your RV; it would be like a five star resort for them to spend the winter months in.

The first thing you want to do is remove any food or fragrant items from the RV. This includes soap, shampoo and toothpaste. Clean everywhere. Crumbs have habit of hiding in tight nooks and crannies. There should be nothing to even resemble a food source for mice, rats or squirrels when you are done. Clean and defrost your refrigerator and freezer. Prop open their doors and leave an open container of baking soda inside to absorb odors. Leaving dryer sheets, like Bounce, about the rig should help deter rodents, but traditional mousetraps are quite effective.

Close all the curtains and blinds to protect the upholstery from the sun. Take batteries out of flashlights and clocks, but don’t forget to put them back in again next summer. Use moisture absorbent like Damp Rid or Dri-Z-Air, this will help prevent mold and mildew from taking root.

Exterior Preparation

When preventing rodents from moving in to your RV you can’t just rely on not having any appetizing smelling items in there. Examine the exterior of your rig, from top to bottom, looking for any openings that could let in a rodent. Don’t forget a mouse can fit through any hole that you can stick your finger in. Patch any openings you find with duct tape or expanding foam.

The best place to store your RV during the winter is under some kind of man-made shelter, like a carport. Unfortunately, not all of us have access to something like that. The next best thing you can do is getting a cover. These are usually made from polypropylene, which is relatively cheap. The benefit of this material is that it’s breathable which helps prevent mildew from growing on it. Parking on wooden boards and getting tire covers is also recommended. The frozen ground and asphalt can be damaging to the tire over time.

Now, assuming you have taken all the right precautions, next summer when you go out to your RV it will be just as you left it: undisturbed by rodents and with working plumbing.