What Can I Leave in My RV over the Winter?

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You open the door to your camper for the first time in three months, and it hits you… 

The rank, indescribable smell of rodents (and other pests) who made themselves at home in your cozy camper during the winter months. It was a paradise to them: insulated walls, a ready food supply, drawers to build their nests in, and plenty of things to gnaw through.

Now you get to go through the tedious, painfully smelly process of clearing out the squatters and sterilizing every inch of your RV, just to get rid of that post-winter smell. 

But it doesn’t have to be that way. 

With a little knowledge and preparation during the winterization process, you can keep your RV from becoming a winter resort for small rodents. 

What can I leave in my RV over the winter?” First, let’s talk about what NOT to leave.

Items You Should NOT Leave in Your RV over the Winter

To be clear, cleaning out your RV for winter isn’t only about preventing rodents. Cold temperatures can affect items differently, so let’s explore what NOT to leave in your RV over the winter.

Make sure to store your RV over the winter (https://unsplash.com/photos/rfwAeiFT4mk)

Don’t: Food and Hygiene Supplies

Food attracts rodents. When you remove their food source, they’ll look elsewhere for shelter.

Now, you may think that as long as the food is sealed in plastic bags or Tupperware containers, it should be safe. Unfortunately, you’d be wrong.

Mice and rats can chew through plastic containers like olive oil bottles, so cardboard boxes are easy pickings for them. 

While it’s safest to remove all food items, you can use your RV for emergency food storage. As a best practice, only leave heavy-duty food storage containers and canned food in your RV over the winter.

While hygiene products don’t spoil, the scent attracts bugs and rodents, so make sure you take out the soap, deodorant, and toothpaste, as well.

Don’t: RV Batteries

Frigid winter temperatures won’t only wreak havoc on your RV’s battery, but the charger, too. When chargers get cold, they discharge faster, which decreases their effectiveness. 

For more information on how to safely disconnect an RV battery,  check out the video below:

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Don’t: Liquids

Completely drain the holding tanks, including the onboard sewage tank, and add nontoxic RV antifreeze to your plumbing system to keep them from drying out.

Leaving residual liquids in your water tanks could lead to freezing and detrimental expansion–ultimately causing damage to fittings and water lines.

Don’t: Electronics

If you live in an area where the lows routinely dip below freezing during the winter, you’ll need to either remove your electronics or store your RV in a climate-controlled environment.

Electronics that include LCD screens have liquid in them, which can freeze and expand—ultimately leading to damage.

Don’t: Propane Tanks

Propane tanks should NEVER be stored inside your RV, no matter what season it is.

You should always store a propane tank in a ventilated space. preferably outside where the sun hits it. If you’re worried about depressurization at extremely low temperatures, you can look into heated insulation for your tanks. But depressurization typically isn’t a problem until you get to -40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Items to Keep in Your RV During the Winter

Now that you know what NOT to store, let’s delve into the items that you can leave in your RV during winter.

You can store all the bedding inside your RV. (https://unsplash.com/photos/id7EXciI1fY)

Do: Bedding and Towels

As long as you’re in a dry climate where humidity and mold aren’t an issue, it’s safe to store textiles like bedding, towels, and clothing over the winter. If you’ve experienced mold infestations in the past, consider sealing these duvets and hand towels in oversized ziplock bags or run a dehumidifier. 

Do: Dishes and Kitchen Utensils

These items aren’t affected by cold temperatures at all, so they can stay. for the winter season. To keep them in good shape, wash them after every RV trip. That way, you’ll have clean silverware to use during your first spring RV excursion.

Do: Some Electronic Devices

Whether or not you should store electronic devices in your winterized RV depends on your region’s climate. Most electronic devices and small appliances are safe until winter temperatures dip below zero, including coffee makers, toasters, kettles, etc.

But as mentioned above, LCD screens have liquid in them so freezing temps can cause irreversible damage. When storing devices with LCD screens, tread lightly.

Do: Emergency Supplies

For emergency situations, store essential supplies in your RV during winter. Some items to consider include:

  • Warm clothes
  • Blankets
  • Bottles water
  • Lighters
  • Non-perishable foodstuffs (in cans or heavy-duty storage containers)

Storing essential supplies in your RV prepares you for any unforeseen circumstances that could occur during winter. A good idea is to rotate your supplies to keep them fresh.

Winterization Tips for RV Owners

Here are a few helpful tips to remember while winterizing your RV:

  1. Don’t forget to disconnect electrical appliances like coffee makers, toasters, and sound systems before you winterize your RV. 
  2. Consider adding a fuel stabilizer to the gas tank to protect your engine. When gas sits the ethanol separates from the fuel and can wreak havoc on your engine.
  3. Drain the water lines and water storage tanks and add RV antifreeze to prevent costly freeze-related repairs.
  4. Keep cabinets and drawers open to allow for air circulation and prevent mold and mildew growth.

If you need a full guide on winterizing your RV you can read more here.

Helpful Winter Storage Tips

Winterizing your RV involves finding suitable storage and preparing to store the camper safely.

In areas known for their extreme cold, it’s best to store your camper in an indoor RV storage space. By storing your RV indoors, especially in climate-controlled storage spaces, you won’t have to worry about extreme temperatures damaging your items. 

The good news is peer-to-peer storage marketplaces like Neighbor.com are making it easy to find indoor RV storage. You’ll find safe and affordable RV storage options that are close to home.

Summary

Storing your RV during winter is essential for maintaining its condition and ensuring a hassle-free camping experience come spring. Don’t forget to check your RV insurance and take care of exterior maintenance tasks as well. With a little preparation and care, your RV will be in top shape when the camping season returns.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Leave a TV in an RV Over Winter?

If your TV is not an LCD screen TV, then yes, it is safe to leave a TV in an RV over winter, as long as the temperature does not drop lower than -20 degrees and the TV is given 24 hours to acclimate before use if stored at temperatures below 40 degrees.

If it’s got an LCD screen, then the liquid inside will freeze below 32 degrees and could cause damage. 

How Do You Store Bedding in a Camper Over Winter?

It’s best to store them in airtight containers to prevent mold or pests from destroying them. You may also choose to cover your mattress for the same reasons.

Should I Disconnect My RV Battery for Winter?

It is advised to always disconnect your RV battery when in storage, as this keeps your RV battery and electrical system healthy.

How to Store a Travel Trailer Outside?

To store a travel trailer outside, clean and wax it first, use a storage lot-rated cover and tire cover for protection, drain the water system, choose a safe location, cover up your RV, protect the tires, save your batteries, add fuel stabilizer, and make it critter-resistant.

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