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How to Dewinterize Your RV From the Outside In

| Updated Jun 20, 2023

Bookmark this post! It might be that time again! Winter is thawing and warm travels are ahead. Here's how to dewinterize your RV from the outside in. Use this post as a Checklist.

Now that the winter weather is beginning to thaw out, it may be time to get your RV ready for the warmer months. That means it’s time to “de-winterize” it. 

If you practice “winterizing” your RV, then many of the steps will feel like you are completing that process in reverse. 

It should only take a couple of hours and is a necessary step to a safe and fun RV season. The exception to this is if your battery or tires need work done. Those may extend out your time, so plan accordingly. 

The following outlines what de-winterizing is and the simple steps to follow to make sure your rig is road ready! 

What is Dewinterizing Your RV? 

Dewinterizing your RV is the term used to describe the process of taking it out of winter storage and getting it prepared for the camping season. 

You will want to have a checklist of items to do and processes to complete before you hit the road in the spring. 

When is the Best Time to Dewinterize? 

There is no best time to de-winterize your RV. It will largely depend on what part of the country you live in. You need to check your local weather forecast to ensure that temperatures will not dip below freezing again. 

If, by chance, you dewinterize because you thought your cold season was over, but a freezing spell comes through, don’t worry. Just keep the temperatures warm inside your RV until it warms up again. 

And make sure your holding tanks are empty during the cold spell. 

Try to dewinterize at least a couple of days before your trip in case your battery or tires need to be replaced or repaired.

Leisure Travel Vans Wonder RV on the 2020 Ford Transit cutaway chassis
Leisure Travel Vans Wonder RV on the 2020 Ford Transit cutaway chassis

How to Dewinterize the Exterior of Your RV – Checklist

Start dewinterizing with the outside of your rig. The following are items to check, clean, and apply protectant products. 

  • Wash and wax the exterior of your vehicle. 
  • Check the vent caps and covers, and the air conditioner pieces, for any damage or animal activity. You might find wasp nests or bird nests. 
  • Inspect the rest of your roof for any holes or cracks. If you need to seal them, use quality roof sealant once your RV is dry. You may also want to apply a roof treatment at this time. 
  • Inspect the seams of the body of your rig. Look around the doors, windows, and slide-outs and repair any damage. 
  • If you use solar panels, give them a wash since they will work better if cleaned. 
  • Open and wash your awning. If you need to add lubricant to the moving parts, do so. 
  • Inspect the wiring, gas lines, and plumbing for any damage. 
  • Wash gaskets to remove dirt and resin using soap and water. Then add a UV protectant for the season. 
  • Check under the RV for any animal nests or spider webs. 

Call your local RV service center for assistance if you have any questions. 

Mike and Jennifer's RV Lifestyle hat collection

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Who needs a hat?

Who needs a hat? You do! Dad hats aren't just for dads. This comfy one's got a low profile with an adjustable strap and curved visor. Just the thing to wear on your next RV Lifestyle adventure.

Preparing Your RV Battery

Getting your batteries road-ready is dependent on how you keep them during winter. If you kept the batteries charged, you likely don’t have to do much. 

If you did not keep the batteries charged, you’ll of course need to charge them. 

Inspect your batteries, and clean any corrosion around the terminals. You can use a mixture of hot water and baking soda to clean them. 

You’ll also want to check for any cracks. If your battery has a crack, replace it. 

If you did not leave your battery installed during the winter months, you must, of course, reinstall it. 

Getting Your RV Tires Ready

The only thing between your rig and the road are tires. You need to make sure that they are safe to drive on for miles on end. 

First, inflate all tires to the correct air pressure. It is not unusual for tires to lose 2 to 3 PSI every month in storage. 

Not only does checking your air pressure keep you safer, but it can minimize wear and tear and prevent blowouts. In other words, it keeps money in your pocket!

Be sure to check the following on your tires:

  • Cracks along the sidewall and the tread.
  • Tighten lug nuts to manufacturer specifications.
  • Inflate the tires when temperatures are cold to get the most accurate PSI.
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Do you recognize THIS interior?

How to Dewinterize the Interior of Your RV – Checklist

Next up on how to dewinterize is to check out the interior of your rig. Look for the following items: 

  • Check for unwanted creatures living in your RV, like spiders or rats. 
  • Clean the interior. Wipe down all surfaces and cabinet interiors, and vacuum the rugs. 
  • Replace towels and linens with clean ones. 
  • Check the ceiling for any signs of water damage or discoloration. 
  • Open the door and windows to air out the interior. 
  • Change out air and water filters. 
  • Open the refrigerator and cabinets. If you smell any foul odors, check for old food or mold caused by too much moisture. 
  • Clean your windows and screens.
  • Test your appliances to make sure they are in working order. 
  • Make sure that your fire and CO2 alarms and LP gas leak detectors are working correctly. (Don’t underestimate the importance of gas detectors in RVs!)

If you notice any offputting odor in your rig, consider using a dehumidifier during the next winter season. 

Sanitize Your Water System

This is also the best time to sanitize your water system. You want to remove any antifreeze from the system. Then sanitize it before finally filling up the tank for your water heater. 

I have written several excellent articles on sanitizing your water system if you want a step-by-step guide to this process. 

Extra Things to Check

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Check your first aid kit.

In addition to the interior and exterior items to winterize, there are some other things you should check. 

  • Check that RV propane tanks are working and filled. Ensure that they do not have any leaks. 
  • Check your generator. Fuel it up and examine the exhaust system for damage. 
  • Restock emergency supplies and first aid kits (check expiration dates!).
  • Make sure that registration and insurance are up to date. 

I suggest checking out our list of RV Safety Essentials, too.

I hope this guide on how to dewinterize your RV has helped! Once you're ready to go, you can head off on an adventure, like this one to the Natchez Trace or the Great Lakes…

New ebook from Mike and Jennifer Wendland – the Natchez Trace

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The Natchez Trace Parkway will capture your imagination, soothe your jangled travel nerves, open your mind and inspire you with the history that unfolded along its 444 miles.

Each of the 7 Days of the ebook has:

  • Suggested Mileposts to explore
  • Places to Eat in each area of the 7 sections
  • Campground descriptions and links
  • Links to all the special places and information
  • Links to videos that show more in detail
  • and a lot of highlighted information for each section

PLEASE NOTE: This is NOT a printed, hard copy guide.

Whether you want to follow the footsteps of explorers, discover natural beauty, or visit historic sites, the Trace has something to grab your attention and leave you eager to see what’s at the next milepost.

You can see why this is one of our favorite US routes to explore. We’ve traveled it a half dozen times!

Mike and Jennifer's Great Lakes Shoreline Tour (U.S. Side)

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Instead of the usual 7 Days that some of our other guides can be done in, with this one, we’re suggesting that you budget more time. This is why we are calling it a “Tour” instead of a 7-Day Guide! There are 86 pages in this new ebook.

In this new Great Lakes Shoreline Tour we cover in detail:

  • Notable U.S. Cities/Towns along each Great Lake (US side) like Watertown, Grand Island, Geneva-on-the-Lake, Vermillion, Mackinaw City, and so many more!
  • What to See/Do Around EACH Lake: Ocqueoc Falls Scenic Site, Les Cheneaux Islands, Antique Boat Museum, and many, many more places, including BONUS side trips!
  • And good Campgrounds for each Lake (US side) – at least 4 or 5 for EACH Lake! With all the info you need to set up reservations.

Mike Wendland

Published on 2022-04-16

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

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