Having a clean and organized RV is not only safer while barreling down the road at 65 miles an hour, but it will save frustration and headaches later on in a trip.
How many time have you looked in various cabinets for a specific screwdriver or your favorite hot sauce? Does that one closet tend to burst open with too many sweaters? Do you think you might be asking a little too much of your tow hitch with all the extra items you have in your trailer? If so, a good decluttering might be necessary.
Space is at a premium in an RV and vacation time is precious. Having your RV shipshape and ready to take on any trip is an important part of RV ownership.
These six decluttering and cleaning steps are specifically for RV owners. They include not only various decluttering techniques but also a few things you may not have thought of.
Step 1. What items spark joy?
There are various decluttering techniques out there. From the rage purge to the gentle art of “death cleaning.” The current fad is the KonMari method. Created by Japanese organizing expert, Marie Kondo, her technique is to not just randomly toss out your stuff, but to ask yourself if an item first “sparks joy.”
While paper plates, spark plugs, campground flyers, hand sanitizer, and other random RV items may not spark a lot of joy, you can also ask yourself these questions: “Have I used this recently?” or “Does it deserve a place in my tiny space?”
While decluttering, keep similar items together.
The key to the KonMari method is to gather up all similar items and put them together in one place. This allows you to see how much you are actually carrying around.
To KonMari your RV, wait for nice weather and drag everything out of your RV. Go through the closets, cabinets, under the bed, and utility storage. Group the items by category on a table in the driveway or on a tarp in the garage.
Start with one category (Kondo recommends clothing), pick up each item and ask yourself if you have used it in the last six months to a year.
If you only take a few trips a year, ask yourself if you have used it in the last six to eight trips. If not, put it into a pile to give or throw away. Put all of the items you intend to keep together and we will revisit them.
Step 2. Time for the elbow grease.
Now’s the time to scrub down your camper. To make this job easier, have everything you need nearby. This includes cleaning supplies, buckets, a hose, hot water, washcloths and towels, and maybe some music to make the time go by faster. Do a thorough clean of all nooks and crannies.
Scrub out the bathroom and around the doors and windows. Wash out the cabinets and scrub the walls. Vacuum the carpets and the upholstery. If you didn’t do it in the fall, this is also a good time to sanitize the black, gray, and fresh water tanks. Essentially the point of this exercise is to start with a clean slate.
Step 3. Declutter items you may have forgotten about.
Now is also a good time to declutter and take care of some things you may have forgotten. If you have a Class A, B, or C RV, take the time to have the oil and other fluids changed. Replace out old spark plugs or belts. Have the engine checked for any wear and tear.
You can also take the time to replace out your auxiliary battery or change out the batteries on weather radios, flashlights or other devices. What some people tend to forget to declutter is their paperwork.
Do you have updated or outdated registration and insurance? Do you have instruction manuals for all appliances and tools? Update these items and put them together in one folder or specific location.
In addition, take a look at your RV keys. Are you toting around keys that you don’t need? Do you need to make duplicates of your keys and put them in a safe location?
Step 4. Embrace the module.
Let’s go back to your “to keep” items. These can include kitchenware, clothing, towels, sheets, or anything that is specifically related to your rig.
Give them all a good dusting or washing and create modules that hold like items together. Pack them into appropriate bags, holders, or organizers. This can include a bathroom kit that can be used in the RV or at a campground bathroom.
How about a waterproof folder that holds all loose paper and book maps? Or maybe a small box that holds all spices and condiments that need to be moved from dinette to outdoor picnic table? Use modules to contain things like jumper cables, random boxes of food, loose tools and supplies, and assorted bathroom items.
Step 5. Get a fresh look.
Now that your RV is sparkling clean and decluttered, this might be a good time to also give it a fresh look. Maybe paint a few walls or add some new carpet, upholstery, or curtains.
Some carefully chosen artwork, doorknobs, or wallpaper can give an older RV a fresh look. What makes RVs different from homes is that many of the items you tote around tend to be less decorative and more useful.
Granted, there are full-time RVers who decorate their RVs and even these items should be gone through. You don’t need to give your camper a complete makeover, but a few new items can bring on the excitement of a new camping season.
For more ideas, see these Simple Ways To Make Your RV Feel More Like Home.
Step 6. Start the next trip right.
A decluttering session is also a great time to create a camping checklist. This can be either a paper list that has been laminated, a notebook, or a digital list on your phone.
It should include items that usually need to be purchased before a trip such as food or paper towels. It should also include things to do before a trip such as checking the oil or the tire pressure.
It can also include a list of dream trips or campground wishes. Just like any shakedown trip, having a list in front of you will help when all your family really wants to do is hit the road and leave winter behind.