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How To Get Musty Smells Out Of Camper Cushions

cushions with musty smells in RV

How To Clean Your Camper Cushions

Have you ever come back to your RV after a long time away and noticed a strange stale smell? It could be coming from any part of your RV, but the cushions are likely culprits. Most people don’t like to travel with this scent, so it’s good to know how to get musty smells out of camper cushions.

This usually isn’t a huge problem, but it could indicate that there is mold or mildew in your RV, which needs to be dealt with. Keeping your cushions clean will make everyone more comfortable, and it will make your whole RV smell better! Let’s discuss some solutions below so you can enjoy fluffy, fresh-smelling camper cushions.

Air out RV

The first thing you can do when you notice a musty smell is introduce some fresh air into the equation. Camper cushions tend to smell stale if the RV has been closed up or left in storage for awhile. A bit of fresh air can help quite a bit!

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If it’s a dry and sunny day, open up the doors, windows, and vents of your camper and let it breathe a bit. This should clear out most of the stale air, and it will help you determine if the cushions actually need help or if the whole vehicle just smelled kind of bad. Give the whole camper a sniff test so you can see if there are any definite sources for the mustiness.

The cushions could use a bit more outdoor exposure, so take these out and lay them out in the sun. Sun is great at drying moisture and killing microbes that live in damp, musty conditions. Sun treatment is a great and easy way to improve the smell of your cushions. 

If you’ve tried the steps above and have determined that the seats of your chairs, dinette, or couches really do stink, now we can move on to discussing how to get musty smells out of camper cushions.

Wash cushion covers

The first thing to do is remove and clean the cushion covers (if there are any). These covers can get dirty and trap moisture, debris, and even mold particles. Throw these covers in the washing machine, or soak them in water and detergent if the smell is particularly strong.

Some cushions don’t have removable covers, and if this is the case for you, you can skip this step. 

Clean the cushions

Once you have the cushions separated, it’s important to examine what they’re made of. Many camper cushions are made of foam. This is a fine material to use for padding, but when it comes to cleaning, it’s difficult to work. Foam can disintegrate if it goes through a washing machine and even firm scrubbing can make it break apart.

If you’re dealing with foam, you need to be gentle. It’s best to hang the cushions up in a sunny outdoor environment, spray them with cold water, and leave them out to dry.

Vinegar/baking soda

You can also use a vinegar and baking soda mix if you’re learning how to get musty smells out of camper cushions. This is a good treatment method for foam cushions that have a stubborn smell that won’t leave. Because it’s a chemical solution and doesn’t involve scrubbing/soaking, this is safe to use.

Sprinkle baking soda over one side of the cushions and let it sit in the sun for awhile. Then flip over the cushions and repeat the process on the other side. Once the baking soda has had time to sit and sink into the fibers, spray the cushions with a 50/50 mixture of water and vinegar. Don’t completely soak the cushions, but make sure you do apply an even layer of mist. 

Let the cushions dry completely in the sun before shaking them off, placing them back inside their covers, and returning them to the RV. They may smell like vinegar for a few days or weeks, but the smell will fade eventually.

Steam cleaning

If you have hardier cushions (not made of foam), you may want to consider steam cleaning them. Some furniture items are also fixed in place, and the cushions cannot be removed or washed in any other way. Steam cleaners are a great way to kill any microbes hiding in the cushions.

Steam cleaners should only be used on cushions with fabric upholstery. If you have furniture that’s covered by leather, suede, or vinyl, then you should only use cleaners that are specific to those materials. Heated steam could melt or damage these surfaces.

Apply an Odor Eliminator

Once things have been cleaned up, the cushions might still have a faint odor or smell like cleaning products. An odor eliminator is a great way to neutralize or overpower these scents. Removing the old odor is a crucial element when you’re learning how to get musty smells out of camper cushions.

The Zero Odor Multi-Purpose Household Odor Eliminator is a popular and well-reviewed option that neutralizes bad smells. It doesn’t cover them up, but it eliminates the odor at the source. It’s also non-toxic, which makes it great for household use if there are kids or pets nearby.

You can also use air fresheners and wall plugins if you’re just waiting for the smells to fade naturally. Using a cover-up scent shouldn’t be your only solution, but it can be a good supplement if you’ve already completed other cleaning methods and are waiting for them to take effect.

Use Furniture Covers and Dehumidifiers

You can follow the steps above to remove musty smells, but it’s great if you can prevent them from occurring in the future. There are things you can do to make this happen, such as using furniture covers (if you don’t already have them) and reducing the level of humidity in your camper.

Humidity leads to mold, mildew growth, and musty smells. If you plan on leaving your RV sealed up for a long time (such as during seasonal storage), try to run a dehumidifier from time to time. You can also remove sources of moisture and spread desiccants around the vehicle to prevent condensation from forming. Dry campers won’t smell nearly as bad as moist ones!

Track your RV maintenance

Hopefully, this guide helped you learn how to get musty smells out of camper cushions. Now you can enjoy a clean and fresh-smelling RV for the trips ahead. 

Make sure you keep track of all your RV maintenance and repairs with an online tool such as RV LIFE Maintenance. Not only can you keep all of your documents in one place, but you’ll also receive timely reminders when maintenance is due to help you avoid costly repairs and potentially serious accidents.

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