Recreational vehicle (RV) sales skyrocketed during COVID, and have stayed relatively constant in the last few years. People value the freedom an RV affords, as well as the opportunity to see areas of the country they might not otherwise explore.
Unless you are living in your RV, you most likely are not using it every day. That means you have to store it, and that means it is at risk of developing mold growth over time. The good news is that there are several proven methods for keeping mold growth at bay.
This article explores how to prevent mold in an RV during storage. It lays out some easy methods for keeping your RV clean, dry, and mold-free, so that it is ready to go when you next need it. Keep reading to find out how.
What Is Mold?
Mold is a type of fungi. There are thousands of species that produce different shapes, textures, and colors. They are larger than yeasts but not as big as other types of fungi, like mushrooms.
Note that, while the terms are often used interchangeably, mildew is distinct from mold. Mildew is a specific type of mold, but some molds are not mildew.
Different kinds of mold can live in a range of conditions. These include cooler and warmer temperatures, as well as on land and in aquatic environments.
Mold reproduces by spreading thousands of spores into the air. In most molds, these are microscopic, so they are undetectable to the human eye. They are everywhere, which is why they can even make their way into foods inside canisters in your refrigerator.
While only a few types of mold are harmful to humans, many are quite helpful. In fact, the drug penicillin comes from a specific type of mold.
What Causes Mold Growth?
Before getting into tactics for preventing mold, it may be helpful to understand what it needs to thrive and spread. Without certain elements, mold cannot survive.
Like almost every other living thing, mold cannot live without air, water, and food. It gets most of its water from the air, but it can use surface water to grow as well.
Molds feed on different things, including (like many other fungi) the decaying remains of animals and plants. This can include food products, as well as leaves, paper, wood, and fabrics.
In short, fungus growth occurs when these three elements are plentiful. While you may not be able to eliminate them all, reducing their presence in any given environment will make it hard for mold to grow.
Also, there are a few things that can kill mold. One is direct sunlight. While this may not be helpful to the inside of your RV, it is a natural remedy to keep in mind.
There also are protective sprays you can use. Many bathroom cleaners already contain chemicals that help prevent mold growth.
Why It Is Important to Keep Mold Out of Your RV?
As mentioned, most molds are not life-threatening. So, why do you need to be so concerned about keeping it out of your RV?
First, while mold may not kill you, it can cause health problems. Sports can trigger or exacerbate existing respiratory conditions. They can be a particular threat to immunocompromised people or those suffering from chronic lung diseases.
Certain types can also cause wheezing, stuffy nose, and irritate your eyes and skin in almost anyone. They also can create strong, unpleasant odors.
(If you are unsure if you currently have dangerous mold in your RV, there are ways to test for that. You can purchase toxic mold kits that will determine if there is a threat. These are inexpensive and fairly accurate.)
Beyond affecting humans, left unchecked, mold can do serious damage to the interior of your RV. It can cause stains, discoloration, and other cosmetic damage to walls and surfaces. It can damage drapes, curtains, awnings, and other fabrics in your camper.
Mold can rot wood and cause structural damage. All this can make your RV less pleasant or even dangerous to operate or stay in. It can also greatly diminish the resale value of your camper.
How to Prevent Mold in an RV During Storage
If you want to know how to prevent mold in your RV during storage, you can employ a few basic tactics. Here are the most effective ones to consider.
Inspect Your RV
One of the easiest things you can do to keep mold out of your RV while in storage is to inspect it. The main thing you want to search for is sources of moisture. These include leaks in pipes or around water fixtures in the RV.
Also check for cracks in the ceiling, walls, and around the door. Especially if you are going to be storing your camper outdoors, you need to seal any crevices where moisture could seep in.
Wipe Down Surfaces
Another simple thing to do is wipe down the walls and other surfaces inside your RV. Thoroughly clean your RV before storing it and as much as possible while it is in storage (if you have easy regular access to it). This eliminates condensation or other types of moisture, as well as the beginnings of any mold colonies.
For added mold and mildew protection, consider wiping down problematic areas with an anit-mold formula. This will ensure that the fungi are dead and keep them from coming back.
We have focused a lot on removing water sources for mold, but eliminating prospective food sources inside your RV can be effective as well. For starters, take out all fabrics. This includes curtains, clothes, towels, washcloths, and bedding.
If it is not too much of a hassle, you might consider removing couch cushions or bed mattresses as well, as mold can grow in these as well. This will make the environment much less attractive to mold spores looking for a place to make home.
Flush Out Water Lines
If you are planning to store your RV for an extended period, you will want to remove all water from the tank and lines. Some RVs come with winterizing features, but you can also drain water from the sink faucet. You can force any remaining water out by running the pump (be sure not to leave the pump running after the water has completely drained).
Run a Heater
If you are concerned about any remnants of moisture, you can run a heater inside your RV before sending it to storage. This will evaporate any remaining condensation that you may have missed or was inaccessible to you. Of course, this is not something you would want to do for longer than a few hours or while in a confined storage space, since there is a danger of igniting a fire.
Address Recuring Mold Problems
If you experience mold that keeps coming back, you could have mold growths hidden in your RV. Common culprits include leaks in ceilings and floors. Do a thorough job of checking kitchen and bathroom sinks to ensure there are no leaks.
While these eradication methods can be a headache and may require some disassembly, it is worth it. Making sure you are getting rid of any potential water sources for mold can go a long way toward staving it off.
Opt for Covered Storage
If you have the option of covered storage for your RV, this will help keep it out of the elements and lessen the risk of water intrusion. It also will help your RV surfaces last longer, which is good for its value and for keeping unwanted moisture out.
Get an RV Cover
Even if you are parking your RV under a carport or other covered area, using an RV-specific rain cover can help keep mold away. This encapsulates your entire RV. They keep moisture out while allowing the inside of your RV to breathe.
RV covers are made from polyester or polypropylene fabric and are very durable. Many come with zippered panels for easy access to your RV (so you do not have to remove the entire cover). You can find them for a few hundred dollars, which makes them an economical option.
Covers alone may not be as effective as other methods on this list. However, combined with other techniques, they can add another lay of protection.
In general, mold cannot grow in temperatures below about 40 degrees F. So, during cooler months, covering your RV may be more than enough to keep mold spores from moving in and growing.
Ventilate Your RV
Especially if you live in a dryer climate, ventilation can be a good way to prevent mold in storage. That is because it keeps humid air from becoming trapped inside the vehicle.
If your RV has a roof vent, opening it is a good way to encourage air circulation. Also, side windows can help promote cross-ventilation. For more thorough air circulation, you can run a box fan to clear out any stale, humid air.
Also, leave cabinet doors open during storage. This will help keep spaces inside your RV well-ventilated too.
Use a Dehumidifier
If you live in a very humid area, you may have explored putting a dehumidifier in your basement, crawl space, or other areas of your home. Keeping humidity levels below 50 percent (closer to 30 percent is ideal) means that there is not enough moisture in the air for mold to survive.
The largest RVs do not have the square footage of a medium-sized basement. Even a small dehumidifier can go a long way toward reducing humidity levels to the point where mold cannot grow.
You can find small, electric ones that are inexpensive and easy to transport and install. Many are programmable, so they can detect the moisture levels and only run when they spike above desirable levels. Also, you can get dehumidifiers with self-contained water tanks that you can empty yourself, so there is no need to attach drainage hoses.
Desiccants are another dehumidifying tool. These are materials that naturally absorb moisture from the air. There are different types, but common ones include bentonite clay, silica gel, charcoal sulfate, and molecular sieve.
You can place them throughout your RV, but target areas there are more conducive to mold growth. These include dark, warmer spaces.
Desiccants are an effective and easy way to reduce moisture levels, especially for long-term storage. In fact, while most dehumidifiers use compression, some employ desiccant technology to remove moisture.
Use Professional Storage
One of the easiest and most effective ways to keep mold out of your RV while you are not using it is to go with a professional storage facility. These provide indoor, sealed spaces that help keep mold out. Some even provide temperature and climate control to ensure the environment is less conducive to mold growth.
These have the added benefit of keeping your RV safe and out of the elements while not in use. Most reputable storage companies have flexible hours (if not 24-hour access), which makes accessing your RV easy.
Learn More Mold Prevention Tips
Now that you know how to prevent mold in an RV during storage, you can decide which measures are right for your camper. With a little time and diligence, you can keep your RV mold-free and ready for the open road.
At Ideal Storage, we offer new, state-of-the-art storage facilities. We specialize in customizable personal, boat, and RV storage units to fit every need and budget. Reach out to us today to see what options might work best for keeping your RV safe and clean.