Van Life Hygiene: Keeping It Clean, Cool, And Calm

RVing is really fun, just like how much happiness camping and going on trips to other places brings to other people. However, since going on an RV trip means having to be away from all the comforts of urban lifestyle and doing things on your own most of the time, it can be a challenge especially in terms of keeping your RV clean, safe, and pleasant-smelling. Some might wonder if they should plan every single detail and prepare every bit of their trips. The answer is: not really. You just have to live a normal life, as though you did not go somewhere out of your comfort zone. For those who are asking how, this article is for you.

How can we keep the proper hygiene in the RV? Clean the inside and outside of your RV thoroughly, using the proper materials and cleaning supplies. Empty your tanks and disinfect all surfaces to help prevent diseases, especially the coronavirus. Lastly, be spontaneous and do not stress too much.

This article can be considered as your one-stop guide in keeping your van life hygiene. We will be discussing steps on how to clean your exteriors, including some tips and tricks to make cleaning easier and much better. We will also discuss steps, tips, and suggestions on how to clean the inside of your RV, as well as the bathrooms and toilets. This includes tips on how to keep your toilets fresh-smelling all day long. We will also discuss the CDC guidelines of disinfecting your RVs to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. Lastly, we will also talk about taking care of your mental health while you are in your RV.

How To Clean Your RV Regularly: Exteriors

Educate Yourself About Your RV

It goes without saying that when you are using something for the first time, you should not rely on your firsthand experience first and foremost. Get your instruction manual and read it carefully. This will serve as your Bible on how to take care, use, and manage your RV so that it will last for a long time.

Especially, it can give you a lot of tips and tricks on maintaining your RV, cleaning its interiors and exteriors, and several others. It also includes information on the cleaners you should and should not use, as well as other care instructions for some parts of your RV. Go to your RV manufacturer’s website for more details on how to clean your RV correctly, or you can also shoot them an email if you want more details. Do not throw the manual as it is your guide on making your RV last longer.

Use A Hose And Always Work Top Down

Just by looking at your large RV, you might feel discouraged cleaning it. Do not be intimidated and use the proper tools in cleaning.

Start by giving it a good spray down. This will help loosen dirt, dust, and grime, making it much easier to remove and it will also help you save time since you don’t have to do other things just to loosen the dirt on your vehicle. Always start from the top down to the bottom. If you scrub the bottom first, the moment when you need to reach the top, the dirt will cascade down and you’ll have to clean the bottom again.

Also, starting from the top saves you more time and effort in cleaning your RV.

Dividing The Work Into Smaller Pieces

This does not mean chopping your RV down, obviously. This simply means that you need to break the cleaning into sections so that you will not be overwhelmed in cleaning your RV, given its large size. Cut them into quarters visually then start and take your time. You will not notice that the RV is too large to clean or that you will have to clean more since it will be finished in no time.

This also applies inside your RV. Divide the interior of your RV into sections, then focus on places where you have to do more tasks in cleaning, such as the bathrooms, kitchen, and storage area. That way, the remaining ones will be the areas where minimum cleaning is required.

Get Rid Of The Awning Legs First

Remove the awning legs while cleaning your RV. Cleaning the awnings with the legs still attached will just make everything harder for you. The awning falls flat against the side of your RV when you remove the legs, making it much easier for you to scrub it without stressing too much on it. This is a surefire way to finish cleaning your awnings faster and much better. You can just assemble the awnings back after cleaning them, anyway.

Clean Your Windows And Do Not Forget The Seals

Clean both sides of your window so that it will not be clouded with filth and grime, which can seriously affect how your windows work. Surely you do not want to wake up in the morning, thinking that it is foggy outside when in reality, the sun is shining brightly already.

Use a window cleaner and a clean microfiber cloth if you have a smaller RV but invest on a squeegee in cleaning windows for your larger RVs. Do not forget the window and door seals in cleaning your RV. Regularly clean it with a mild dish detergent or a specialized cleaner. Make sure that it also moisturizes your seals to keep them lasting longer.

Having moisturized seals are especially important if you are driving in the drier lands like the west and southwest, where dry temperatures are already known and it can affect your RV in some ways or the other.

Keep Mold And Mildew Out Of The Way

Mold and mildew thrive in moisture so you have to make sure that the moisture is reduced within your RV. Remember, within and not the windows and door seals which are mentioned earlier. Run your air conditioning in humid environments, also open the windows and doors whenever possible.

Buy moisture-absorbing packets for closets and storage areas. Avoid detergent in washing an item that has mildew as it can just make the smell worse. Instead, wash the items in a washer with a couple of cups of distilled white vinegar to kill the bugs and leave your clothes free from mildew.

Clean Your Tanks And Swap If Possible


Tanks can be a trove of nasty odors so it can contribute to how your RV smells like. Dump and flush your tanks as necessary to keep your RV refreshed. In cleaning these tanks, keep a pair of strong rubber gloves, a hose, a bucket, and other necessary items and use these exclusively for this task. Swap your propane tanks if they are already rusted and old as this can affect how your RV looks like from the outside. Alternatively, give them a fresh lick of paint if they are still in good working condition.

Give Your Tires Attention As Well

Do not forget your tires! Clean your tires by using most commercial tire cleaners. Rinse your tires, scrub with a natural brush and tire cleaner, and finish with a tire shine spray. Choosing the best tire cleaners can be tricky so you can depend on the reviews by the users. You can also ask the people for recommendations so that you will not end up buying the wrong or subpar brand of tire cleaners.

Clean The Roof Of Your RV Well

You should also pay attention to your roof. If you have metal roofs, you can clean them the same way you clean the exterior of your RV. If you have modern membrane roofing, use a specialized cleaner. Cleaning your membrane roofing twice a year is enough to keep it in good shape. Repair the holes, tears, cracks, and other damages as soon as possible before the rainy season comes.

It is important to keep your roof clean and well-maintained since it protects you from the elements while you are staying in your RV.

Take Good Care Of Your Undercarriage Too

Your undercarriage can be a huge source of grease, mud, and whatever else your vehicle has picked up while you are on the road. Cleaning your undercarriage can reduce gas and other nasty odors. It can also reduce the chances of the residue beneath from entering your RV. It is much better to have it professionally cleaned as cleaning it manually is a hard task.

Routine Maintenance Is Very Important

Cleaning your RV is such a good way of checking if there are parts in need of repair or maintenance. Maintain your RV properly and check for its exhaust, oil, and other important parts. Going to the professionals is the best way as they know how to deal with routine maintenance. As much as possible, if you do not know how to fix or repair your RV issues, do not do DIY as it might damage your vehicle even more. Simply trust the professionals as they know what to do more.

How To Clean Your RV Regularly: Interiors

Always Clean Where You Prepare And Store Food

Food storage and preparations are important especially when you live in your RV. Do your best to clean these spaces regularly to prevent the germs and viruses from living on the surfaces.

It is no secret that dirty food preparation and storage areas are common causes of food poisoning and gastrointestinal issues among campers and RV inhabitants. When cleaning, take everything out of your fridge, freezer and cabinets. This is also a good opportunity for you to check your expired stocks and anything you need to dispose of among your supplies.

In cleaning your fridge, spray the inside with your go-to disinfecting cleaner then wipe them out. For spills and leaks, run shelves or drawers through a dishwasher or wash them in the sink.

For cabinets: spray and wipe down the inside, taking the crumbs away which can attract pests and insects in your supplies. Uncleaned storage areas can also cause mold and mildew buildup so make sure to clean them as regularly as possible.

Use Fresh Mattresses And Linens As Much As Possible

Of course, it is not advisable to buy new mattresses every now and then. Maintain the freshness of your bed as well as the linens you use every now and then. Dirty linens can pick up lots of sweat, grime, and dead skin cells, which can cause allergies and irritation.

Always travel with two sets of linens so that once you need to change your current set, you have a spare just in case. For musty smelling mattresses, take all sheets off, then spray the mattress with a mixture of water and lavender essential oils, then allow it to air out for several hours. Always make your bed and shake the beddings out so that the dead skin cells buildup will be removed.

Baking Soda + Water = Perfect Cleaning Combination For The Kitchen

Baking soda is known for its cleaning properties and a lot of moms are using it to clean different parts of their houses, and RVs are no exception. Leave a box of baking soda inside your fridge and storage areas to keep things fresh.

You can also use a bowl of water heated up in the microwave in wiping down the sink and counters. Using hot water in wiping the sink first loosens the grime on these surfaces, which makes it easier to clean with disinfecting agents later. It also kills the germs early on so that when disinfecting comes, the remaining germs and viruses will be ultimately eliminated.

Personal Hygiene In Your RV: Showers And Toilets

Clean Your Toilets And Tanks Regularly

Toilets are a very important part of your RV since you do most of your personal hygiene here such as taking a bath, brushing your teeth, washing your face, and doing your business. Dirty toilets can cause a lot of diseases and it also makes your RV smell horrible.

Make it a habit to clean your toilet regularly as it is different compared to your toilet at home. Flush often so that you can easily get rid of the dirty stuff in it. Do not forget the black tank where your wastes are collected, so clean them regularly and properly.

Use Your Bathroom Vent Fan Properly

Turn the bathroom vent fan on when you use your toilet, especially when you do your number 2s. Keeping the vent on removes unwanted odors from your bathroom. When flushing, turn the fan off since it just sucks the foul odors and fumes from your holding tank, bringing them into the bathroom.

It will be useless to turn the vent fans on when you are just bringing the foul odors back in anyway when you flush. Remember to turn it on when you take a dump then turn it off when you flush it all away.

Always Use The Proper Cleaning Supplies

Use special chemicals to keep your RV bathroom smelling fresh as much as possible. These chemicals are specifically designed to neutralize the toilet odors in your RV. It also helps break down solid waste and toilet tissues for a smoother flush. Use these chemicals every time you empty your tanks.

Use dissolvable toilet paper in your RV toilets, too. We all know that toilet paper can cause clogging in toilets so using dissolvable ones would lessen the hassles on your end. Choose natural cleaning agents that are free from bleach, and choosing eco friendly cleaners are also a good option. Avoid using hard bristled brushes or pumice stone cleaning tools in cleaning your toilet seat; instead, use soft-bristled ones.

Cleaning vs. Disinfecting Your RV For COVID-19 Prevention

Cleaning And Disinfecting Are Different Tasks

Most people use words “cleaning” and “disinfecting” interchangeably, as though these two words mean the same thing. Cleaning means wiping down surfaces and areas to remove visible stains and soils. Disinfecting refers to killing the germs underneath those areas and surfaces. 

In other words, cleaning is for what the naked eye can see, disinfecting for what the naked eyes cannot see at all. These are very important especially that the coronavirus pandemic is still not over and the coronavirus is spread through close contact, especially in hard and flat surfaces.

Clean Everything You Touch In And Out Of Your RV

As mentioned a while ago, the virus spreads and stays longer in hard and flat surfaces, meaning RV owners should disinfect those spaces first and foremost, including the tables, countertops, open shelves, as well as the dashboard and center consoles.

Light switches, door handles, and faucets are also counted since you touch them every now and then. These are the areas that you should prioritize in disinfecting your RV to help stop the spread of the virus.

Tips On How To Properly Disinfect Your RV

Start with an all-purpose cleaner when disinfecting the interior of your RV. Use a bleach-based disinfectant after that. The solution must contain 70% alcohol as approved by the CDC.

Use paper towels or wipes when disinfecting your RV. Wear disposable gloves during the disinfection process as it protects you not only from the virus but also protects your skin for potential irritants from the cleaning products.

Do not clean using a mop or a sponge as these can actually harbor the germs and just make things worse. It is also advisable to use the highest temperature as much as possible when cleaning your dishes, utensils, and washing your clothes. If you do not have a water heater, boil some water on a stove or by the campfire.

Additional Disinfecting Tips And Other Facts For RV Owners

Always wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before going inside your RV. This applies when you go out for gas, groceries, or other personal reasons. Always have a mask ready and restock on masks approved by the CDC. Do-it-yourself masks are discouraged so as much as possible, use surgical masks for maximum protection.

Using hand sanitizers are okay but hot water and soap are still the best in killing the germs. Remove your shoes immediately after stepping inside of your RV and clean and disinfect your footwear as much as possible.

If in case someone with you starts exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, contact a doctor or go to a hospital as soon as possible. Do not continue on your trip once you exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 as it can just harm you and the others inside your RV. You will also become a superspreader since chances are, you will be meeting a lot of people while you are out on your trip on the road.

The RV And Your Mental Health

RVing Can Do Wonders For Your Mental Health

It is a well-known fact that most of us found 2020 a hard year, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic which forced half of the world to stay inside their homes under lockdowns, restricting any normal day-to-day activities, even recreational ones. RV can be considered a safer alternative to air travel and it is also a great way to escape the stress of the urban lifestyle.

RVing gives you more time to spend time in nature, which can have a meaningful positive impact on your mental health. Specialists have recommended RVing as a good way to lessen depression and anxiety among people.

The relaxing natural sceneries, fresh air, quiet atmosphere, and overall relaxing vibe can really help people recharge and recoup after being bombarded with stress and anxiety all year round.

It also gives travellers a better mood and a happier outlook in life, stronger relationships with friends and family, and more energy, better sleep and mental clarity. Lastly, it also helps you reflect on your personal life, including your decisions, regrets, dreams, and ideas since you can just enjoy the calm atmosphere nature offers.

Incorporate Wellness Activities In Your RV Life

Of course, road trips can be quite boring at times too so you can add more spark into your RV life by incorporating wellness activities in it. You can add a bicycle rack or carrier to your rig, ride a bicycle for short trips. Play games with your friends out in the open, but also observe social distancing measures. You can also include activities that you can enjoy with your friends and family without sacrificing your depression or anxiety to it.

Just Go With The Flow And Be Spontaneous

When you plan something, sometimes it makes you plan overtly which can give you anxiety and depression, especially if you keep on thinking of the negative outcomes of your trip. It is perfectly recommended for you to have some basic planning, especially with your itinerary and checklist but never plan every single detail of your RV trip.

Too much planning will just stress you out since you have to think of the negatives while wasting time in doing so, not allowing you to enjoy your trip. Accept that things may not go well as planned, so just go with it and look at the things you can capitalize on.

Be spontaneous and do things that are not in your list, such as trying things out in your local area. The point is, you can be prepared but not too prepared, or it will just ruin your journey altogether because you’ll keep on fussing on things you have no control of.

Consult Your Doctor For RV Trip Suggestions And Tips

RV can be really good for your mental health but there are some mental disorders that can place people who have it in danger if triggered in the wrong places. Before planning on going on a trip, ask your doctor for some tips and suggestions on what you should do and avoid while you are out on the road.

It is also important to keep your doctor’s contact information with you at all times, and notify trusted people of your whereabouts as much as possible. Always take your prescribed medications (if any) and restock before leaving, making sure you have the prescribed doses with you from day one up to the day of your arrival.

We still have to be careful as we want to enjoy RVing to the fullest so always ask the specialists if you have any questions or concerns regarding your mental health and travelling.


Going on trips or living in your RV can be such a rewarding experience, since your survival skills will be boosted and you will get to learn a lot of things while you are on the road. However, since you are away from the comforts of your own home, your hygiene needs to be on the top of your priority more than ever. Clean your RV thoroughly, both inside and out, and use the proper cleaning tools and products. Not only will you not catch diseases because of the dirty environment, but you will also achieve mental clarity as your mind will not be cluttered or seeing anything cluttered around you. RVing can be healing, both physically and mentally, if we maintain our hygiene in tiptop shape.

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