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Budget RV Hacks: Clean Your Rig With Vinegar

This post was updated on March 15th, 2024

How To Clean Your RV With Vinegar

Vinegar is a kitchen essential and is a key ingredient in everything from pickles to hot sauce and more. But the uses for vinegar don’t stop in the kitchen. In fact, a humble bottle of white vinegar is one of the most versatile things you can have in your RV.

Let’s take a look at 10 great uses for vinegar in your RV, from cleaning to deodorizing and more. 

1. Cleaning Your RV’s Water System

One of the handiest uses for vinegar in your RV is for cleaning and sanitizing your freshwater system. Used properly, vinegar can kill germs and mold without using a substance as caustic as bleach. That means no harmful fumes, no skin irritation, and no awful bleach aftertaste in your water if you accidentally use too much. 

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Vinegar will also remove mineral buildup in your freshwater system. If you don’t clean mineral buildup regularly, your system will clog. According to Healthline,

Research has found that vinegar is effective at preventing mold growth … and at removing some common household molds.

2. Unclog RV drains

Commercial drain cleaners contain proprietary mixes of powerful and highly caustic chemicals. Because they’re proprietary, you don’t even know what exactly you’re putting down the drains!

Instead, you can unclog drains with a simple, natural solution of vinegar and baking soda:

  1. Pour a pot of boiling water down the affected drain
  2. Pour in a cup each of baking soda and vinegar
  3. Wait about 5 minutes
  4. Pour another pot of boiling water down the drain
  5. If still clogged, repeat this process until the clog is cleared

3. Cleaning the outside of your RV

One of the most popular uses of vinegar is as a common household cleaner used to keep surfaces and floors sparkling clean. But did you know you can clean the outside of your RV with it too?

By combining a small amount of vinegar with a natural soap in a bucket of water, you can get your RV’s exterior spick and span. Even better, the vinegar helps prevent water spots from forming! 

To clean the outside of your RV with vinegar, mix in ½ cup of vinegar and ½ cup of natural soap (look for a soap that’s EPA Safer Choice certified) for every five gallons of water you use.

Be sure to test a small inconspicuous spot first to be sure the cleaning mixture won’t damage your paint or RV decals

4. Deodorize your kitchen (and more!)

Deodorizing a stinky fridge is a well-known use for vinegar, but it’s not the only thing vinegar can deodorize. If you burn dinner, or just happen to cook something strong smelling like fish, your kitchen (and likely your whole RV) is going to stink.

To get rid of orders, simply boil a pot of vinegar and water (one part vinegar to two parts water), and those nasty smells will soon be gone. 

If you have a stinky drain, vinegar can also help neutralize the odor. Simply fill the drain with a mixture of vinegar and baking soda, and the nasty smells will disappear. 5. Cleaning Your Air Conditioner

To keep your RV air conditioner functioning well, you need to clean it regularly. Using vinegar is a great way to do so. In particular, vinegar can be used to clean and sanitize the air conditioner filter and coils. 

For the filter, remove and vacuum away any large debris. Then clean the filter with a 50-50 mix of water and vinegar and a gentle brush. Be sure the filter dries completely before replacing it. 

Similarly, a 50-50 mix of vinegar and water is a great way to clean your air conditioner coils. If the coils are extra dirty, you can add some baking soda to the mix. 

6. Remove Corrosion on Battery Terminals

Corrosion occurs on RV battery terminals due to a number of factors like overcharging. When corrosion is present, it leads to slower charging, battery drain, and more. Thankfully, removing that corrosion is as easy as using vinegar and a bit of baking soda. 

All you need is a bowl of vinegar and a bowl of baking soda. Dip your brush in the vinegar, then add a bit of baking soda, and scrub the corrosion from the terminal. Be sure to use gloves and other protective gear, as you’ll be working with caustic substances. 

7. Remove stickers and decals

Peeling off RV stickers and decals leaves a nasty, sticky adhesive residue that picks up dirt and grime. Thankfully, vinegar is here to save the day yet again.

Simply spray the leftover adhesive with a mixture of vinegar, warm water, and soap. Let it sit for a few minutes, then gently wipe or scrape away the adhesive.

8. Clean exterior lights

Your exterior lights can pick up all kinds of nasty stuff on the road, from road dirt to dead bugs. With the help of a little vinegar, you can have them as good as new. 

Simply use a 50-50 mixture of vinegar and water and a rag. Spray the mixture, let it sit for a few minutes, and then gently wipe with the rag to get the lights clean. 

9. Clean RV Refrigerator Coils

If you have a residential-style fridge in your RV, you need to clean the coils regularly to ensure proper function and longevity. Just like cleaning the rest of your fridge, this is a great use for vinegar in your RV.

Your fridge coils can be accessed from the rear exterior of the fridge, underneath the fridge, or from inside the fridge behind an access panel. With the fridge unplugged and the coils exposed:

  1. Brush off or vacuum debris from the coils
  2. Spray the coils with vinegar and let them soak for about 10 minutes
  3. Scrub gently with a coil brush or a soft bottle brush
  4. Wipe off the coil and let it dry before plugging the fridge back in

10. Clean RV furniture

Whether it’s from spilled food or a rambunctious pet, furniture stains happen. Using vinegar is a safe and great way to get rid of them.

For messes on your RV’s furniture, spray the stain with a 50-50 mixture of water and vinegar and let it soak in for a few minutes. Then, clean the stain away with a rag or paper towel. If this doesn’t do the trick, use a toothbrush or other small brush and scrub the stain away. 

Get more tips from RVers

Vinegar is a super handy product to have in your RV. It can unclog drains, clean and sanitize your water system, and plenty more, all while being an all-natural solution. The uses for vinegar in your RV are nearly endless!

One of the best parts about RVing is engaging with the community of traveling enthusiasts. iRV2 forums allow folks to chat with other RVers online, and get other perspectives on everything RVing, including products, destinations, RV mods, and more.

2 thoughts on “Budget RV Hacks: Clean Your Rig With Vinegar”

  1. I meant 2-3x/year for the coffee maker! (Whoa, 23x — now that’s a lot of coffee!) Seems the dash didn’t quite get into the text….

  2. Thanks for sharing these helpful tips! I fully endorse vinegar as a household cleaning agent, whether with soap or baking soda. Readers may already know of the following, but for others who could benefit, I’ll share a few other uses.

    + My furbaby spreads her food/snacks onto the kitchen floor (I know!), and I don’t need to worry about harsh/toxic chemicals.

    + White vinegar + distilled water 23x/year cleans my auto-drip coffee maker.

    + A good soak with vinegar + salt can help lift rust from cast iron cookware. Scrub away the rust with a good brush, re-season (grease & bake), and you give your cookware new life!

    Happy Travels!

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