How to winterize a camper: 8 Easy Steps to Protect your Camper

By Ryan Wilson

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How to winterize a camper

As the colder months approach, it’s vital to properly winterize your camper to ensure its readiness for the next camping season. But many new camper owners are unsure how to winterize a camper.

Winterizing a camper involves multiple steps to protect your vehicle’s plumbing system, appliances, and fixtures from freezing temperatures and potential damage.

Even if you don’t live in a cold environment, learning how to winterize a camper is important for ensuring your camper doesn’t degrade during long-term winter storage.

Proper winterization not only prevents expensive repairs and maintenance but also extends the lifespan of your camper, keeping it clean and fresh for future adventures.

From draining your camper’s tanks to protecting the plumbing with antifreeze, each step is crucial in preparing your camper for the winter months.

Key Takeaways

  • Winterizing a camper protects it from freezing damage and prolongs its lifespan
  • Save money on repairs and maintenance by correctly winterizing your camper

How to Winterize a Camper

how to winterize a camper

While it mount sound a little intimidating, learning how to winterize a camper is simple . Most of the steps are things that you likely do between camping trips.

Clean the Camper Interior

Before winterizing your camper, you should give it a thorough cleaning. Remove any dirt and debris from the interior, including the fridge, cabinets, and floors. This will help prevent mold, mildew, and pests from causing issues over the winter months.

Disconnect the Camper’s Power

When winterizing a camper, you should disconnect your camper from any external power sources and remove the battery. Store the battery in a safe, dry location to ensure it stays charged and functional.

I hook up my battery to a battery tender to keep it healthy and charged; ready for next season’s camping trip. Below is the model I use and it has worked great for maintaining the battery throughout the winter.

battery tender

Battery Tender

A battery tender is a device that charges and maintains your car battery when it is not in use. It prevents battery damage from draining and dying. 

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Drain and Clean Camper Waste Tanks

Drain your black and gray water tanks at a designated dump station and give them a thorough cleaning. Use a tank cleaner or a solution of water and bleach to eliminate any lingering bacteria and unpleasant odors.


Tank Cleaner

It is good to use a tank cleaner on your camper before winterizing because it removes buildup and prevents odor from bacteria and waste. Tank cleaners also protect the tank sensors from malfunctioning (if your camper is equipped with them).

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Drain Camper Fresh Water Tank and Water Lines

After emptying your waste tanks, move on to draining your camper’s fresh water tank. Open all faucets, valves, and low-point drains to release any residual water from the plumbing system.

Prevent Camper Pipes from Freezing

There are two primary methods to protect your camper’s pipes from freezing during winter. The first is to use an air compressor to blow out all of the water from your pipes. A nice overview is provided in this video. This method takes quite a bit of expensive equipment (e.g., air compressor) and time to complete.

For my own camper, I prefer to use the antifreeze method for winterizing my pipes. First, add RV/marine-grade non-toxic antifreeze to your plumbing system. For my camper, I simply add it to my freshwater tank opening. Then, run your water pump until you see this pink antifreeze flowing from all water fixtures. Don’t forget any external water fixtures like a shower. If you have a water heater, be sure to bypass it using a bypass kit to prevent antifreeze from entering it.


Antifreeze for Winterizing Pipes

Antifreeze is used to prevent freezing in pipes when winterizing your camper because it lowers the freezing point of water and protects the pipes from cracking or bursting. 

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Preventing Mice from Entering Camper

Mice can cause a lot of damage to your camper and spread disease. The best way to minimize your risk of a mice infestation during overwinter storage is to make sure all food is removed from your camper and ensure all gaps and openings where mice might enter are eliminated. Use steel wool or expanding foam to seal gaps around pipes, doors, and windows. For added protection, consider using natural mouse repellents.

Managing Humidity in Camper

During the winter months, humidity can build up inside campers, leading to mold and mildew. Purchase a dehumidifier or moisture-absorbing packets to help control this issue. In my camper, I use DampRid Moisture Absorbers and have never had a problem with mold or excess humidity.


DampRid Moisture Absorbers

Controlling humidity in your camper is important to prevent mold growth. Excess humidity can also make the space feel muggy.

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Exterior Winterization of Camper

Inspect your camper’s exterior for any needed repairs or maintenance. Clean awnings, fix any leaks, and seal potential openings where moisture or pests might enter. Some campers may require additional insulation or weatherproofing during the winter months. Check your owner’s manual for specific recommendations for your camper model.

Also considering buying a cover for your camper as added protection to keep rain and snow from sneaking into your camper over winter.

What if I Forgot to Winterize My Camper?

problems 1

Not winterizing your camper can lead to several issues, especially if you live in areas with freezing temperatures or damp winters. Some risks of not winterizing a camper include:

  • Water damage: When water freezes and expands in the pipes, valves, faucets, and tanks, it can cause cracks and leaks, leading to costly repairs.
  • Mold and mildew: Moist and dark areas in your camper are breeding grounds for mold and mildew. If left unchecked, they can cause health hazards and unpleasant odors.
  • Rodents and insects: Your camper can be a cozy home for rodents and insects during the cold months. They might chew on wires, insulation, fabrics, and food, causing damage and infestation. An outbreak of rodents inside your camper can also spread some serious diseases.
  • Battery issues: Without proper care, batteries can lose charge and corrode in freezing temperatures, which can impact your camper’s electrical system and appliances.


Winterizing a camper is an essential task to protect your investment and ensure a smooth camping experience when the warmer months roll around again.

In the long run, the small investment in time and money to winterize your camper will save you loads of time and money in the long run as you’ll avoid costly damage.

So take the necessary precautions to protect your RV and enjoy an amazing camping adventure when the ice and snow have melted. Happy camping!

Want to know what the science says about preventing mice in campers, check out our page where we review the science of what works and what doesn’t.

Photo of author


Ryan is an avid outdoorsman who loves camping, hiking, and backpacking. He was initially reluctant to join the camper world, but after his first camping trip in one, he became a convert. He especially loves how camper ownership extends the camping season and makes it easier to be more adventurous with young kids. When not enjoying his free time, he works as a professional wildlife biologist studying the ecology and conservation of large mammals in Alaska.