How to Winterize a Camper?

Winter’s coming, and it’s time to brace yourself and your camper. Whether it’s an RV, travel trailer, or pop-up, they all need winterization to endure the chilly season. It’s not just about cranking up the heat; there are more factors involved to ensure your mobile home’s survival. But worry not! We’re here to make this process easy as pie, and by the end, you’ll be a pro on how to winterize a camper.

Why Winterize Your Camper?

To Preventing Damage:

The most immediate reason to winterize your camper is to prevent possible damage from freezing temperatures. Frozen water expands, which can wreak havoc on your camper’s plumbing system, leading to expensive repairs come springtime.

Maintaining the Camper’s Value:

Additionally, maintaining your camper properly, including a thorough winterization process, helps retain its resale value. Just like regular servicing for your car, consider winterizing a necessary tune-up for your camper.

How do You Winterize a Camper

For those adventurous spirits, a camper is not just a vehicle but a home away from home. Just like a house, your camper also needs care and maintenance, particularly when the winter season arrives. Here’s your step-by-step guide on how to winterize your camper, ensuring it stays safe and in good shape for the harsh cold season.

How to winterize an RV for winter living

1. Drain the Water Systems

Your first step should be to remove all water from your camper’s systems. Don’t forget the freshwater holding tank, hot water heater, and black and grey water tanks. This is critical because any water left can freeze, leading to damage to your RV’s plumbing system.

2. Bypass Your Water Heater

After draining all the water, you need to bypass your water heater. This crucial step ensures that the antifreeze you’ll use later won’t find its way into the heater, saving you from a laborious cleanup task.

3. Use Non-Toxic RV Antifreeze

Now, it’s time to pump RV-grade, non-toxic antifreeze through the plumbing system. This specific antifreeze is designed to safeguard your pipes from freezing temperatures, thus averting potential harm.

4. Clean the Interior Thoroughly

Spend some time giving your camper’s interior a thorough clean. Remove any remaining food, drinks, and other perishables. Ensure your refrigerator is empty and leave its door open for better ventilation.

5. Cover Your Camper

Finally, shield your camper from the elements using a high-quality cover. It’s an investment that can save you from potential damage costs and maintain your camper’s appearance and structural integrity.

By following these steps, you can effectively winterize your camper, ensuring it stays in optimal condition to take you on many more adventures once the winter season passes. Remember, a little bit of effort and attention now can save you from significant trouble and expense later!

How to Winterize a Camper With Antifreeze

Winterizing your camper is crucial to protect it from freezing temperatures and prevent potential plumbing damage. The key step is using RV antifreeze to replace water in the pipes, tanks, and appliances.

Start by draining all water from the fresh water system – open faucets and ensure water pumps are empty. Also drain and flush the black and grey tanks thoroughly. Detach any hoses and remove filters.

Next, pour non-toxic RV antifreeze into the fresh water tank. Use only RV-specific antifreeze, not regular automotive antifreeze. Turn on the water pump and open faucets one at a time, allowing antifreeze to flow through until you see it coming out. Flush antifreeze through all fixtures – sinks, shower, toilet etc. Get antifreeze into all drains and traps.

Circulate the antifreeze by periodically operating the pump to coat all interior surfaces. Pour some down each drain. Add antifreeze to washing machine, dishwasher, or any other appliances if equipped. Consult manuals for appliance-specific steps.

You can also add RV antifreeze to black and grey tanks to prevent valve damage. Once done, your camper is winterized and ready for storage! Follow proper procedures in spring to de-winterize before using again. Taking the time to winterize with antifreeze will protect your investment from costly freeze damage.

What Should I Remove from My RV in the Winter?

When winterizing your camper, there are specific items you should remove to prevent damage and maintain cleanliness. Here’s a look at what you should take out:

Perishable Food Items

Any food that can spoil or attract pests should be taken out of your RV before winter storage. This includes open food containers and perishable items.

Liquids that Can Freeze

In low temperatures, certain liquids can freeze and expand, potentially causing containers to rupture. Such items include bottled water, drinks, cleaning products, and toiletries.

Valuable Electronics

Electronics can be damaged by extreme cold. So, it’s a good idea to remove devices like TVs, computers, and smaller items such as GPS units, cameras, or tablets.

All Propane Tanks

Remove and properly store all propane tanks. Leaving them in your camper can lead to unnecessary risk, especially in fluctuating winter temperatures.

Personal Items

Remove personal items such as clothes, bedding, and kitchen utensils. Leaving these items can lead to musty odors and potential pest infestations.


Not just your camper’s main battery but also batteries in devices like smoke detectors or clocks should be removed. Cold temperatures can cause batteries to drain or freeze, leading to potential damage.

By removing these items from your RV, you ensure the preservation of both the vehicle and the items themselves, ready to be used when the winter thaws and your next camping season begins.

Ensuring Your RV’s Exterior is Winter-Ready

In the process of winterization, the exterior of your RV also needs proper attention. This involves a series of steps that help maintain the structural integrity of your RV and prevent damage.

how to winterize your rv

Checking for Cracks and Seals

Your RV’s exterior may develop cracks and seals over time due to various weather conditions and usage. Before the winter sets in, it’s crucial to inspect your RV’s exterior thoroughly. If you find any cracks or seals, it’s essential to repair them. Water can seep into these cracks, and when it freezes, it can expand, causing further damage.

Covering Your RV’s Roof Vents

Roof vents are a potential entry point for snow and ice. By covering your RV’s roof vents, you can prevent snow and ice from entering your RV during the winter. You can use RV vent covers, which are designed for this specific purpose.

Cleaning and Waxing the Exterior

Cleaning and waxing your RV’s exterior isn’t just about aesthetics. A thorough wash can help remove dirt and grime that may cause damage over time. Waxing adds a layer of protection that helps prevent damage from harsh winter conditions.

Protecting Your Tires

Your RV’s tires also need care during winter. Make sure to clean them thoroughly and check for any signs of damage or wear. If your RV is going to be stored for an extended period, consider using tire covers to protect them from extreme cold and UV damage. To maintain your RV’s exterior, you can read this blog
Everything You Need to Know About Maintaining the Exterior of Your RV.

Winterizing the Engine of Your RV

If your camper has an engine, it needs special attention too. Here’s how you can winterize it:

  • Changing the Oil: Before storing your camper, it’s good practice to change the engine oil. Clean oil can prolong the engine’s life and ensure it starts up smoothly when the camping season arrives.
  • Checking Antifreeze Levels: Ensure that your engine’s antifreeze levels are adequate. Antifreeze prevents the engine coolant from freezing, which could otherwise cause significant damage.
  • Maintaining Your RV’s Battery: If you’re not planning on driving your camper during winter, consider disconnecting the battery and storing it in a warm place. Cold weather can drain a battery, so it’s best to keep it stored where it can stay at a consistent room temperature.

Remember, the process of winterizing your camper requires meticulousness and care. By paying attention to the interior, exterior, and engine, you’re ensuring a longer life for your camper and more memorable trips in the years to come!

Can You Winterize a Camper by Yourself?

Absolutely! Winterizing your camper is a doable DIY task, provided you follow the steps correctly and use the appropriate tools and materials. However, if you’re not confident about doing it yourself, there’s no harm in hiring a professional to ensure the job is done right.

When you do it yourself, not only do you save on professional servicing costs, but you also become more familiar with your camper’s systems, which can be beneficial for maintenance and troubleshooting down the line. With a bit of time and effort, you can successfully winterize your camper and rest assured, knowing it’s well-protected against the cold season.

Read More Articles Like This:

Video Guide: How to Winterize a Camper to Live in?


  1. Can I Use Regular Antifreeze to Winterize My Camper?

    No, you should not use regular automotive antifreeze for winterizing your camper. Always use non-toxic RV antifreeze.

  2. How Much RV Antifreeze Do I Need to Winterize My Camper?

    Typically, two to three gallons of RV antifreeze should be sufficient. However, the exact amount can vary depending on the size of your camper.

  3. Can I Skip Draining My System and Just Add Antifreeze?

    No, it’s essential to drain your system first. Skipping this step could result in diluted antifreeze, which won’t provide adequate protection.

  4. Do I Need to Cover My Camper in Winter?

    While it’s not mandatory, it’s highly recommended to cover your camper. A cover can protect your vehicle from harsh weather elements and potential damage.

  5. Do I Need to Remove My Camper’s Battery in Winter?

    Yes, it’s generally advised to remove the battery during winter storage. This prevents the cold from draining your battery.

  6. How Long Does it Take to Winterize a Camper?

    On average, it takes about 2 to 3 hours to winterize a camper fully. However, this can vary depending on your camper’s size and complexity.


Winterizing your camper is a crucial task to ensure its longevity and prevent unwanted repair costs. From draining your system to adding antifreeze, covering your camper, and taking care of the little details, you’re now equipped with the knowledge on how to winterize your camper. Now, you can face the chilly season knowing your camper is safe and snug!

Leave a Comment