Your RV is like a vacation home that can be taken anywhere and like any vacation spot, you want it to be clean and waiting for you when you’re ready to relax. There’s nothing more discouraging than opening up your RV to realize that you left it a mess after the last excursion. The best way to prevent this is by making sure you go through a thorough cleaning every time you get home so it will be sparkling clean, well-stocked and fresh-smelling the next time you decide it’s RV time again. Of course, when you’ve just returned from a long camping trip, it’s easy to forget one or two vital cleaning tasks. To help with this, we’ve put together a complete checklist for a perfectly clean RV interior every time.

1) Do All the Laundry

If you want the rest of your cleaning tasks to really stick, your first step should be clearing out all laundry items. Start with one or two collapsible hampers set on the floor near the front of your RV and clean toward them.

Strip the bed down to the protective cover and fold all the sheets and blankets inward into a packet to keep the grit from falling out onto the mattress, then dump the bundle into a hamper.If you have removable seat covers for the couch, chairs, and front seats, grab those as well using the folding inward trick and into the hamper they go.

Your towels and dirty clothes go from your RV clothing storage directly into the hamper and while it’s not necessary every time, consider pulling down your curtains to wash as well. Once all loose cloth is out of your RV, begin the long washing process. Be sure to shake out each item (especially the bedding packet) before throwing it into your washer.

washing dished in an rv

2) Clear and Wash the Dishes

Why wash dishes by hand with your RV water supply and wastewater you’ll have to empty when you can take them into your full-sized home dishwasher? Washing as you go is a great way to stay tidy on the road but your home dishwasher is more likely to get every spot and leave your RV dishes sparkling for the next trip.

Gather all the dishes, even the mostly clean ones you hand-washed on the road, into a box and take them inside to the dishwasher. Now that the removable dirty items are dealt with and longer automatic cleaning has begun, you can start on the permanent fixtures and furniture.

Set a 30-minute timer and check back inside when it goes off to move laundry and dishes forward, then reset the timer. This can help you make sure all the loads get done in a single day.

3) Clean Out the Fridge

It’s important that you not leave anything that can spoil or draw pests inside your RV while it sits empty. Clear out your fridge and start the defrosting process. Wiping it down with a vinegar and water mixture is a great way to discourage mold and clear up spill residue in one swipe.

Check your pantry as well for open containers that could draw bugs along with things that could eventually spoil like fresh fruit. If you have hanging kitchen storage, decide what to take in for cleaning and what to wipe down and leave in place. This is also a great time to clean out your microwave and let the old popcorn smell air out.

4) Vacuum Everything

Even if you have hard floors, a vacuum is an excellent tool for sucking up every little dust mite in your RV. In fact, you might want to invest in a smaller wall-mounting vacuum as a permanent RV accessory. Vacuum every surface and everything soft including floors, bed, furniture, and curtains if they’re still up.

Don’t be afraid to bust out the attachments and aim for upper corners, air vents, and hard to reach places. If you do have carpet or upholstered furniture, consider renting a steam cleaner for an industrial grade clean. Should you choose to steam-clean, you’ll know the work is done when the wastewater comes out mostly clear except for a few suds.

5) Wipe Down Surfaces

You probably have your own favorite suite of cleaning supplies, but a good default set is Armorall for the front, Windex for the kitchen and miscellaneous surfaces, and Clorox for the bathroom. Anything that counts as a non-fabric surface, find a way to wipe it down and disinfect it.

Make sure to get in and around your shower and toilet and wipe down the insides and outsides of cabinets. Scrub anything that doesn’t come up easily, then wipe again to finish. Don’t forget the insides of your windows. Paper towels are your best friend here because they can pick up hidden grime and then be discarded rather than spreading the grime around.

6) Get the Corners

When you think you’re finished with the surfaces, go over everything again with corners and edges as your focus. Look for hidden dust, places where spiders can build, and secret pockets of grime. Where the counters and floors meet the walls and each other are great examples. If you find a place you can’t reach, try a flat Swiffer tool or rubber-banding a washrag to the end of a broomstick or wooden spoon to add to your reach.

This is a great way to get under and around furniture, and don’t forget to check inside cabinets where RVers often stow sometimes-needed items. While you’re cleaning the corners, make sure to check for trash cans (or kitty litter) you missed in your initial sweep-and-clear that may be tucked into cabinets.

Person packing towels in rv bathroom and bedroom cabinet

7) Restock the Linens and Dishes

Now that your interior is completely clean, it’s time to bring back in the things you removed, which should have finished washing by now. Restock your bathroom and kitchen with towels and re-hang your freshly clean curtains. You can either remake the bed to be ready and waiting for you or fold up the bedding and stow it in your linens space.

8) Replace Non-Perishable Pantry Items

If there are non-perishable items you count on being available in your RV at a moment’s notice, now is a good time to restock them. Things like bottles of water, granola bars, and dog treats are great to have ready in case of some unforeseen emergency where you have to leave in a hurry.

While you’re stocking, make sure there’s plenty of toilet paper in the bathroom and consider replacing or refilling the bathroom and kitchen soaps. Make sure everything is stored properly in plastic containers to keep pests away.

9) Prepare for External Clean

Now that the inside is completely clean, it’s time to scrub the outside. Even if you’re going to leave it out in the weather for a few months, it helps to wash off the road dust at the end of a trip. To make sure the inside is safe from the suds that will soon cover the exterior. Seal up the windows, door, and any additional openings. If you used your canopy, fold it out to start with.

10) Squeaky Clean RV

To clean the outside of your RV, all you need is a soapy bucket and a sponge mop but you can also work with specialized tools depending on your preference. Washing an RV is almost exactly like washing a car only bigger. It should be safe to give it a thorough scrubbing. Don’t forget to wash the wheels and you can Windex the outside of your windows for clarity if you want to. Spray down and/or scrub the canopy on both sides and leave it open to dry for a few hours.

11) Air it Out

Your final task is to ensure that your RV isn’t musty when you next return to it. Any moisture that gets sealed inside could potentially become a problem. A great way to take care of this last concern is with a little bowl of dried flowers or your favorite air freshener combined with cracking the windows slightly to help the RV stay well-aired during your absence. If you prefer to keep your windows shut, you can set a moisture absorber in the center of the RV as a reasonable alternative.

At the end of this checklist, Your RV should be refreshed and ready for your next adventure, whenever that might be. The next time you or a friend or relative find a reason to spend time in the RV, it will be squeaky clean, polished, and even smell nice. The restock will help ensure that you have to do minimal shopping for the next trip and would be OK if you wound up leaving in a hurry. Whether you’re using it for road tripping, camping, or just housing visiting relatives, a clean RV is a wonderful place to start. With the with clean up and scrub down procedure, your RV can serve every possible useful and relaxing purpose. For more helpful tips and tricks for an absolutely enjoyable RV lifestyle, contact us today!