Mold is the number one enemy of a traveling nomad’s home. Van Lifers are especially susceptible because of their smaller living area. It can wreak havoc in your home by causing possible health issues and even structural damage. There are a number of factors you can change such as insulating the floors and walls and some other less obvious things such as not having a wet towel or paper towel around for too long. Also keeping your van warm at night while you sleep can really help. I’ll be going over all these hacks and more to help you stay happy and healthy while protecting all the investment that you put into your amazing camper van tiny home.
Properly Sealing Your Van: First Step to Mold Prevention
Even in an ordinary home, leaks are no good news. Just like in your van, the annoyance of water dripping on you or your belongings are no fun. Of course, when there is a leak, there is the danger that moisture is collecting somewhere in your van without your knowledge and can cause mold.
When you add moisture, organic material, and lack of ventilation, it can result in mold. Leaky rear door seals or windows leaking can be the cause of your mold problems. Once you deal with it sooner and instead of waiting for a long time, then you can avoid the mold from spreading.
It is best to make it a hobby to check your door seals for any leaks and make sure you use plenty of sealant over any holes that you have drilled in your roof or walls. Fix any issues as soon as you see them.
Good Ventilation: It Should Always Be Your First Priority
Mold lives well in dark, poorly ventilated areas of your van. If you let in too much moisture and condensation in your van, you are creating a prime environment for mold to take hold as well as thrive. The number one thing you can do is to install a good roof ventilation fan.
Vent fans will suck out the moist air, pull in the fresh air, and create an airflow that will help keep things relatively dry inside your van. It will also provide ventilation while you are cooking inside and will help the van cool on hot days. There are some van lifers who don’t turn their vent fans off when they are in hot climates.
You can purchase the Maxxfan 6200K for your vent fans since it has a built-in rain cover that will allow you to keep it running in any weather conditions. It is definitely a must-have when you are living in your van full-time.
The Maxxfan 6200K is a one-of-a-kind ventilator system that will protect your van’s interior in any weather condition. It is a complete all-in-one system that will fit a standard measurement of 14 x 14 inches. The Maxxfan 6200K includes a powerful three-speed fan with an easy-to-remove interior insect screen.
All you need to do is simply rotate the four retaining knobs on the vent to remove the screen so you can clean them properly.
The Maxxfan 6200K is available on Amazon for $242.05 (color black) and $222.24 (color white).
If you don’t have the money to spare for a vent fan yet, it is best to get some sort of 12V fan. Make sure that you combine that with an open window so that you get the proper ventilation you need.
Mold Preventative: Treat Any Hidden Surface
One of the best ways to prevent hidden mold in your van is to treat it with mold preventative. This would include your subfloor as well as the behind your walls and ceiling. Doing this will help protect you from mold even when moisture finds its way in these areas.
If you do find mold in these areas, it is best to use a product called Concrobium, which can eliminate mold mildew prevent the regrowth of mold and musty odors. Concrobium is EPA-registered formula that crushes mold spores when it dries and leaves an invisible barrier.
The odorless solution cleans between 80 to 110 square feet, which are perfect for van life use. It contains no bleach or any harsh chemicals, so it is safe for use on a wide range of surfaces. All you have to do is simply spray it onto the affected area and allow it to dry. You don’t need scrubbing or rinsing when you use this product.
Concrobium can control mold effectively and eliminate any existing mold that you may find in your van. It can also remove any musty odors with no harmful chemicals. This product is available on Amazon in a spray bottle of 32 ounces. You can also find this product in any big box hardware store, but it is cheaper on Amazon.
Another product that will also prevent mold growth is Zinsser Bullseye 123, which is a paint primer that will create a mold-resistant film. Also, you can use this in different parts of the interior and exterior of your van. It is a water-based formula that seals uniformly and will stick to the surface without needing to sand it.
The Zinsser Bullseye 123 covers between 87 to 112 square feet, and it dries to touch within 35 minutes. It also has excellent stain blocking resistance and can be used with any oil or latest topcoat products. You can purchase the Zinsser Bullseye 123 on Amazon for $10.70.
To fully ensure that your subfloor is safe, it is best to use both Concrobium and Zinner Bullseye. Rest assured that you don’t have to worry about mold if you are going to use these products.
Insulate Your Floors, Walls, and Ceiling: Note for Your Van Build
When it comes to vanlife, insulation is a constant debate in the community, but the right insulation can help you reduce the chances of getting mold in your van. The insulation should run against the metal of your van. If there are any gaps in between the insulation and the metal, you will run the risk of condensation, which can lead to mold.
Now, it is nearly impossible to get the rigid insulation to fit perfectly in some areas of your van. In these areas, you would need to use Roxul Batt Insulation so that you would be able to stuff the insulation in different nooks. It is an expensive buy and will be easy to work with.
The Roxul Batt Insulation is excellent for absorbency, and it is non-combustible fire-resistant up to 2150 degrees Fahrenheit. It is easy to use and fast to install.
Install Sound Deadening: Also Can Help With Mold Prevention
Condensation forms when the warm air meets cold air on a particularly smooth surface, and it can eventually lead to mold. For an added preventative measure, it is a good idea to install textured sound-deadening materials during the process of your van build.
You can use LizardSkin to make the surface area less smooth and tougher for the condensation to form. It is engineered to lower the interior temperature of your van from 25 to 30 degrees with just only a 0.040 inches thick application.
When you buy one kit, it can cover up to 100 square feet, which is enough for your van. The LizardSkin is made from a water-based composition of high-grade acrylic binders with ceramic insulation particles so that it can create a thermal barrier.
You can purchase the LizardSkin kit on Amazon, and it will include everything that you need to get the job done easily and quickly.
Install Vapor Barrier In Your Van: Great Way to Prevent Mold
A great way to stop condensation that will lead to mold is to install a vapor barrier in your van. Now, this method may require you to rehaul your current van. If you have a newly built van or want to reconstruct the inside of it, it is best to add a vapor barrier to ensure that your van is properly insulated.
A vapor barrier can help keep any moisture out of your van, which is great if you frequently travel in rainy or humid places. It can also keep moisture from turning into condensation inside your van.
The vapor barrier may not be a good option when the inside of your van is already finished. If you are still starting the process of your van build, it is best to consider adding them. You can also add them in future overhauls that you may have in mind.
When you do decide to add one, it can be a great tool for keeping any moisture and condensation from forming while you sleep.
Crack A Window Open Once In A While
An easy and effective way to prevent mold is to open a window simply. It’s not always freezing or raining where you are, so it is best to crack a window open. Getting some fresh air into your van will allow air with less water vapor to enter. It can reduce the humidity and therefore reduce the level of condensation that can lead to mold.
You just need to be sure to pick your movements when opening your window. There is no rule on how long you should keep the window open, so the longer, the better it will be. It is best to open your window or a vent whenever you are cooking inside your van.
Heating from cooking can turn into steam and will then turn into moisture. Condensation will then happen when you don’t practice this, and you don’t want that to happen.
Don’t Hang Up Wet Clothes or Towels To Dry Inside Your Van
The best way to save some money during the summer is to wash your clothes at a laundrette, then hang them up in your bathroom to dry overnight. It works perfectly but doesn’t do this during the winter season if you can avoid it. The extra moisture in the air can cause havoc on the condensation levels.
Setting up a clothesline outside is best if you are at a campsite or other places. Doing this will let the moisture circulate freely, and your van can stay dry at all times. When you are on the road, it is best to consider using a dryer at a local laundromat.
You will have to pay for the machine, but it will save you the stress of unnecessary condensation. If you have the space and the budget, it is best to buy your own machine. You should also be able to add something to the exterior of your van so that you can hang your clothes. Purchasing clotheslines that are made for campers is important.
If you are in a wet or rainy location, you need to ensure you use an umbrella so that your clothes won’t get wet. Once the rain stops, you can easily shake out the umbrella.
It can be tempting to hang clothes inside your van, but doing so can cause condensation. Hanging your clothes overnight can be the best way to dry your clothes quickly and cheaply. However, there are risks that are not worth taking. Instead, it is best to find a place outside to dry your clothes so that you can enjoy a dry night of sleep.
Clean and Dry Your Van: Make It A Habit
Before you hit the hay every night, you need to make sure that your van is clean and dry on the inside. When you have any messes during the day, make sure that you clean them up when you leave messes, which can lead to a small bit of condensation.
If anything spills, it is best to grab some paper towels and dry up any excess moisture as soon as possible. Retracing your steps on the day can help you find some things that need to be cleaned up or dry any spots where water could have spilled. Cleaning as well as drying the inside of your van should be a part of your daily evening routine.
The more you do it and make it a habit, the less you will have to worry about condensation inside your van that can lead to mold. Cleaning will help you keep from collecting any dirt or developing other problems inside your van. It may also take some time to get used to but keeping your van space clean is important, especially when you live in a humid or wet climate.
Keep Your Van Warm: Great At Stopping Condensation
Keeping your van warm is one of the best ways to stop condensation while you are sleeping. When the water molecules are cooled down enough, it will result in condensation. It often happens during the night since the temperature usually drops.
There is no need to keep your van super hot, but you need to make sure it is not too cold as well. Be sure to find a comfortable temperature where you can stay and fall asleep. For you to get the right temperature, you may need to experiment a bit. The temperature can change from place to place or season to season, so you may need to adjust it when you move locations.
There is no need for you to change the temperature during the day, but you need to ensure that you turn up the heat in the evening, so there is time for the temperature to reach the right number. When you are worried about being too hot to sleep, it is best to consider using thinner blankets instead of one thick one.
Doing this can add or get rid of layers as needed. While you keep the temperature up during the night, it may not completely stop the condensation, but it can help. There are different types of heaters that you can use to maintain a warmer temperature inside your van.
Here’s an article that I have written about the best 12V heater that you can use for your van.
Cover Any Exposed Metal: Condensation Can Collect In the Metal
If possible, make sure that you cover any exposed metal in your van. When the metal cool down and as the temperature changes, condensation can collect on the metal, which eventually leads to mold. Now, condensation can show up anywhere, but when it has nowhere to go, it will go on metal.
Not like your clothing, metal won’t absorb any condensation, which means that the condensation will just sit there until it is wiped off or until the temperature in your van becomes stable. You can use fabrics to cover any exposed metal, or you can look into the more long-term solution, such as wood insulation.
The exposed metal is fine and sometimes necessary, but you might want to minimize that. The less metal is exposed to condensation, the less it will develop and form mold.
Leaks, condensation, and mold are serious business when it comes to your van. It is worth taking the extra time to check for any leaks and treat hidden areas so that you can prevent mold from happening. Just like in an ordinary home, mold is not the best thing to have as it can be bad for your health as well as your van. Make sure that you take care of your van so that you can live healthily on the road. Happy traveling!