No one likes clutter. Those piles of papers, mounds of clothes, and other random (and numerous) items that gather up on the floor and counter can easily turn a small space like an RV into a cramped and unpleasant living quarters. Clutter causes stress and often leads us to spend too much time cleaning and not enough time enjoying ourselves.
But how do you turn a small space filled with people and all their stuff into a less cluttered and more organized RV?
It’s not as hard as you might think. By following a few simple rules and organization tips you can get rid of that clutter and create a clean and inviting RV.
1. Take stock of all that stuff
Do you really need 6 folding chairs and 12 drinking cups? Unless you are traveling with a large family, or you really like to entertain, the answer is probably “no.”
Even in a small space, it can be easy to accumulate an excess amount of stuff.
There are souvenirs to collect, extra blankets for that trip into the mountains, and at least one spare water hose. You know, just in case. Every time you take another trip you add more stuff, and before you know it the RV is jammed full and bursting at the seams.
Which is why it’s important to regularly take stock of what you have shoved into the back corners and hidden under the bed.
As full-time RVers, we are constantly in the process of purging. We take stock, evaluate, and eliminate on a regular basis. If something hasn’t been used in a while (or ever), it’s got to go. We donate items to local shops or give them away to our campground neighbors.
If you are a weekend camper, use the end of a trip as the opportunity to take inventory of what you keep in your RV. Empty out drawers and cupboards and decide what is essential and what should stay home the next time around.
2. Designate a place for everything
The simplest way to keep your RV organized and clutter-free is by designating a specific home for everything. Don’t just find homes for big items. If you really want a clutter-free RV, make sure that everything from the can opener to the dog’s water bowl has a spot of its very own.
3. One in, one out
A great way to reduce clutter and keep the accumulation of extra stuff under control is by employing the one in, one out rule. This rule couldn’t be simpler.
If you bring a new pair of shoes into the RV, one old pair must go out. If you get a new camping chair, get rid of the old one.
This rule is a great way to allow yourself new or upgraded items without accumulating an excess amount of things.
4. Make a cleaning schedule and stick to it!
When your house is on wheels, clearing off counters and putting away clothes and dishes before you drive down the road is an absolute necessity. But what about a day to day cleaning schedule?
In our RV we have a daily pick up session every morning after breakfast.
We wash the dishes, make the bed, hang up clothes, and clear surfaces of any items that have sat since the day before. Things get messy and cluttered very fast in a small space such as an RV. By starting each day with a figuratively “clean slate” we’re always one step ahead of the clutter monster.
5. Make use of the walls & ceiling
With a lack of surface area to store items, making good use of the walls and ceiling is a great way to create a more organized, less cluttered RV. There are lots of ways to get things up off the floors and countertops.
- Store spices in magnetic tins
- Place fruit and vegetables in a hanging basket
- Install a wall-mounted soap dispenser in the bathroom
- Create a place for extra clothes or toys in a hanging mesh net
- Hang a small bulletin board and use it as a place to store reminders, receipts, and other frequently-used papers
6. Store maps and campground brochures in a magazine rack
If your RV is anything like mine, then you constantly have a pile of campground brochures, maps, and various pamphlets for nearby attractions floating around. All this loose paper can create a huge mess. We solved the problem by hanging a magazine rack near the couch to store all these papers. Every time we arrive at a campground the new brochure goes in the top, and the old brochure is either discarded or filed in a small expandable folder for future use.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box to create a rack that fits your space. You can use a fabric multi-pocket wall-hung organizer, a heavyweight canvas caddy, or a wooden magazine rack. You could even mount a few metal file folders on the wall.
7. Hooks all around
Hooks reduce clutter by creating an easy place to put things that might otherwise get tossed on the counter or draped over a chair. Placing hooks around the RV in convenient locations is a great way to employ the “a place for everything rule.” Hooks can be useful in a variety of places around the RV.
- by the front door for keys and sunglasses
- in the bedroom for sweatshirts and other frequently worn clothing
- in the shower for towels and wet raincoats or bathing suits
- in the closet for cleaning supplies
8. Go digital
If you really want to keep a neat, organized RV, digital media is the way to go. Books, DVDs, and CDs not only take up a ton of room, but they also add a lot of weight to the RV.
In our RV we have converted all our media to digital forms. We each have an e-reader that we download books onto. We keep our music and movies on our computers and an external hard drive. And instead of purchasing new CDs or DVDs we use streaming surfaces such as Pandora, Spotify, and Amazon Prime.
9. Keep food organized with plastic bins
One of the easiest ways to organize the food pantry is by investing in a set of airtight plastic food bins. Measure your pantry or food cupboard and then go shopping at a store such as Target, Walmart, or The Container Store. Look for bins that will fit your pantry without leaving extra wasted space.
Storing food in plastic bins not only keeps the pantry neat, but it also keeps food fresh and critters out.
In our RV we have a long, tall pull-out pantry that we filled with plastic bins. We have bins for snacks like granola bars, pretzels, and dried fruits. Bins for staples like flour, pasta, and sugar. And even an extra tall bin where I store bottles of oils and vinegars. When we go shopping I transfer the items from their original packaging into the bins. That way I always know the items will fit, and the pantry stays neat and organized.
By following these rules and tips it’s possible to turn even a small RV into an organized, clutter-free space. Stick to a cleaning schedule, make sure everything has a designated home, get creative with storage solutions, and don’t fall into the trap of carrying around more than you need.
Before you know it your RV will have less clutter and more space. Which means you will have more time to get out and enjoy yourself!