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10 RV Deodorizing Tips to Keep Your RV Smelling Clean

| Updated Oct 10, 2022

Let's face it, RVs can be stinky. Between the black water tank and the smells that come with adventuring, you need to following RV deodorizing tips to keep your RV smelling clean…

As a long-time RV owner, I have combatted all kinds of bad smells that come with RVing. Bad odors are a part of life but the good news is they don't need to be a permanent part of your RV lifestyle.

Yes, the various RV tanks and fridge that gets turned on and off do tend to emit a foul odor. But, it is possible to alleviate and even completely get rid of these smells.

Here are some great RV deodorizing tips that will help you prevent and get rid of unwanted odors.

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10 RV Deodorizing Tips for a Clean Smelling RV

Unsurprisingly, the list of most common RV odors begins with toilet-related smells. So, we're going to cover that, but also cover the less in-your-face and more unexpected smells that come along with camping.

1. Use a Quality Black Tank Treatment

image of a digestant to clean an rv black tank sensors

Most of your unpleasant smells are going to come from your RV's black tank. This is the tank where the liquid and solid waste from your toilet goes.

That is, of course, if you have a traditional RV toilet instead of a self-contained toilet. If you don't the differences, I recommend reading the 5 Most Common Types of RV Toilets.

If you do have a traditional RV toilet, then you'll want to use a chemical treatment. Jennifer and I highly recommend Happy Camper Holding Tank Treatment. A scoop of Happy Campers can make you a happy camper!

Recently, we've also been impressed with the Thank Tank. As far as RV holding tank treatments, I would begin and end your search with those two options.

However, if you want a homemade option, I have written an article on the best homemade RV black holding tank treatment known as the geo method.

2. Use RV Toilet Paper

Another toilet-related tip worth mentioning is using RV toilet paper. Not standard toilet paper. This will indirectly improve the smell in your RV. Let me explain why…

When you don't use RV toilet paper (that is, TP specially designed for RV toilets), it can build up and get stuck in your RV's holding tank. It will contribute to the widely-feared and detested “poop pyramid” that is, unfortunately, a well-known problem in the RV world.

So, be sure to read The Stinky Truth About RV Toilet Paper and use the Best Toilet Paper for RV Use.

3. Regularly Clean the Water System

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Dirty water equals smelly water, and even your fresh water tank can have odor problems. If left untouched for a long time, your freshwater tank will develop a smell of its own.

This is especially true if you're water source contains elevated sulfur levels, which isn't uncommon when camping in secluded areas. This can lead to a rotten egg smell, which you really don't want mixed in with your morning coffee.

In addition to the above video, here are some helpful resources to ensure you have clean water without any nasty odors:

4. Keep Baking Soda in Your RV Fridge

15 Tips for Properly Storing a Camper or RV

Another common odor source in RV is the refrigerator. This comes with the territory because RV fridges are often turned off between road trips, and even sometimes during them.

This inconsistent use leads to a lingering smell that can be difficult to get rid of. The best way to combat this smell is also the easiest way (and the cheapest!). It's to keep an open box of baking soda in your fridge.

The baking soda naturally absorbs the odors, leaving you with a fresh-smelling fridge.

5. Clean Out Your Fridge More Often Than At Home

Baking soda isn't going to cut it all on its own. Offending food products need to be removed on a highly regular basis as well. The same goes for wiping down your RV fridge shelves and drawers.

Since your RV fridge is confined in a small living space, the smallest spill of pickle juice (or whatever) can turn into the biggest bad smell that infiltrates your entire RV.

So, it's highly recommended you clean out any uneaten food after a couple days and wipe down the shelves and drawers every week or two.

6. Reduce Condensation in your RV

Most unpleasant odors are caused by moisture, leaving a moldy smell in your RV. It's a good idea to take extra effort to reduce the condensation in your RV. This will not only help it smell better but keep your air safe to breathe.

To learn how to do this, read How to Reduce Condensation in Your RV. That article includes a list of the 5 Best RV Dehumidifiers.

And our RV Lifestyle community members suggest using a small fan to circulate the air in your RV fridge to keep things colder.

7. Put Dirty Laundry in Airtight Containers

Another common source of smell comes from your dirty clothes. After days of hiking and exploring, it's no surprise that this smell can become overwhelming fast.

So, it's a good idea to keep your dirty laundry in an airtight container until you can wash it. Simple plastic bins you can buy at any big box store will do the trick.

(By the way, you might want to check out 10 Best Campground Laundry Etiquette Tips & Tricks.)

8. Take Trash Out Daily

The same is obviously true for trash as it is for dirty laundry. It quickly stacks up in your trash can and the smell permeates your entire RV.

I recommend you take your trash out daily or as often as possible if daily isn't an option. To support this good habit, I recommend purchasing a small trash can with a lid. The lid will help keep the smell in and the small size will force you to take it out sooner rather than later.

9. Use Shoe Powder

10 RV Deodorizing Tips to Keep Your RV Smelling Clean 1

Since we've mentioned dirty laundry, it's no surprise that dirty shoes are a big culprit. Shoes can really stink up a small space fast!

Dr. Scholl's Odor-X works very well. You can keep it wherever you store your shoes and put it in before or after you wear your shoes (or both!).

If you prefer a natural option, this talc-free Natural Foot and Shoe Odor Eliminator is highly rated.

10. Keep Air Fresheners On Hand

The last suggestion may be the most obvious, but it's still effective. You can opt for aerosol air fresheners or plug-in types, like essential oil diffusers.

Of course, Febreze is a leading brand in this department, but there are plenty of different products to choose from. You can go with whatever brand and pleasant scent you prefer.

Planning for next year?

What About the Florida Keys?

10 RV Deodorizing Tips to Keep Your RV Smelling Clean 2

Do you want to hit Key West, the Everglades National Park, and all the other great things the Keys have to offer? Well, we have just the thing for you. Jennifer and I love traveling to the Keys, so we've created a complete 7-Day RV Adventure Guide: Florida Keys. This downloadable guide includes a suggested itinerary and a list of the best RV parks along the way.

We also have a 7-Day RV Adventure Guide to Florida's Atlantic Coast and Florida's Gulf Coast. If you're interested in all three, you should check out our Florida RV Travel Guide Bundle.

10 RV Deodorizing Tips to Keep Your RV Smelling Clean 3

Mike Wendland

Published on 2022-10-10

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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