rv Education 101

RV Education 101 - How to Clean and Sanitize your RV

Hi, I’m Mark Polk with “RV Education 101.” We deep clean our RV every winter prior to storage and in the spring after storage, but today, with concerns over COVID-19, simply cleaning the RV is not enough. Now we need to clean and disinfect our RVs. We have family members in the RV. We stay at different campgrounds all over the country, and many of you are renting your RVs for additional income.

What I think is really important to understand, especially during this pandemic, is how to thoroughly clean, sanitize, and disinfect our RVs. This is what we’re gonna discuss today. To really disinfect against COVID-19, we need to first understand how the virus is spread so we know how to disinfect against it. Studies show coronavirus is transmitted primarily by inhalation or from touching contaminated surfaces and then transferring the virus to your face or eyes.

Recent studies indicate the virus can remain airborne for up to ten minutes and remain on some surfaces for several days, so we need to be concerned about sanitizing against airborne germs and germs on all the various surfaces in the RV. Let’s talk about how you do that. The first step is to thoroughly clean the RV with a general cleaning product. Products like Simple Green or Mr. Clean are good all-purpose cleaners. All surfaces in the RV must be cleaned before you disinfect. The reason is cleaning helps remove germs, but it does not necessarily kill the germs. Disinfectants kill germs.

The CDC website lists products that disinfect against COVID and the EPA has what is called the “List N Tool,” where you can enter an EPA registration number of a product to see if it is a disinfectant that works against COVID-19. The EPA registration number is typically found on the rear label of the product. There are lots of disinfecting products listed, and after reviewing the list, there are three disinfecting products that we always use and keep in our RV: rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and regular household bleach. 

Having these products on hand is one thing, but understanding how to effectively use them is another. For example, I’m a fan of Clorox when it comes to disinfecting. I always recommend RV owners disinfect their RV water system when they take the RV out of storage or whenever you notice an odor in the water system. But did you know not all Clorox products are disinfectants? That’s why it’s important to always read the labels on the products. This Clorox product is not a disinfectant, but this one is. Always read the labels to make sure what products disinfect and what products do not disinfect.

RV 101 tip: This Clorox product is a cleaner plus bleach and kills COVID-19 within 30 seconds. Something else important
to understand is most disinfectants only work if you follow specific directions. Let’s look at some of the products you can disinfect against COVID-19 if you follow the direction. The three products I will concentrate on are rubbing alcohol, Clorox bleach, and hydrogen peroxide. All three are disinfectants if you follow the directions.

Always wear and use personal protective equipment for the products you are handling. Process to disinfect using rubbing alcohol: Rubbing alcohol needs to contain at least 70% alcohol to be effective as a disinfectant. Make sure you read the label. Do not dilute rubbing alcohol when you use it to disinfect.

RV 101 tip: It’s a good idea to test rubbing alcohol on surfaces to make sure it will not damage the surface prior to using the product. We already cleaned the surface to remove germs. Now we can wipe or spray the rubbing alcohol on the surfaces we are disinfecting. Rubbing alcohol must sit for a minimum of 30 seconds to effectively disinfect and kill germs. If it dries too quickly. You can reapply it on the surface again.

Process to disinfect with hydrogen peroxide: We use hydrogen peroxide in the RV all the time. To disinfect, it must contain at least 1.4% hydrogen peroxide. What you typically buy in stores is 3%, so it will disinfect, but I would test it on surfaces first to ensure
it will not damage any surfaces prior to using it.

We already cleaned the RV to remove germs. Now we can wipe or spray the hydrogen peroxide on the surfaces we are disinfecting.
Leave it on the surface for a couple of minutes to kill any germs. 

Process to disinfect with Clorox bleach: If you are using regular Clorox bleach, use a half cup per gallon of water, but it may be easier to use disinfectant wipes. We already cleaned the surface to remove germs. Now we can wipe the surface with the disinfectant wipes. Follow the directions for how long to leave it on the surface to kill the germs.

Now that we know what products to disinfect with and how to do it, here are seven tips on disinfecting your RV and preventing exposure to COVID-19.

Number one, when you enter the RV, remove your shoes and place them on a mat. This helps prevent tracking what may be on the soles of your shoes throughout the RV, and it helps keep the RV cleaner.

Number two, wash your hands as soon as you enter the RV, using regular hand soap and warm water. Number three,
disinfect any surfaces you frequently touch like door handles, faucets, cabinet handles, and your phone.

Number four, use a HEPA air purifier to help prevent and control airborne germs from lingering and spreading. A study by NASA found HEPA filtration is effective at capturing particles below 0.3 microns. There are lots of air purifiers to choose from, and after researching different products, we decided on this Levoit Core 300 model to use in the RV.

Number five, after you clean surfaces, disinfect all porous and nonporous surfaces in the RV. This includes everything in the kitchen, the living room, bedroom, and the bathroom. Use the disinfectants we discussed earlier on nonporous surfaces, and use a spray disinfectant like OdoBan on porous surfaces like fabrics and upholstery.

It is best to use disinfectant wipes to disinfect the toilet, tub, and shower surfaces, but do not dispose of the wipes in the RV’s holding tank. Dispose of the wipes in the trash.

Number six, opening vents or windows in the RV is perhaps the easiest way to allow airborne germs to exit the RV.

Number seven, last but not least, wash your hands, social distance, use hand sanitizer, and wear masks according to guidelines.

It’s important to remember, for a disinfectant to kill germs, you must follow the product manufacturer’s directions. We can all continue to travel and have fun in our RVs by understanding and practicing these simple cleaning and disinfecting procedures.

Happy camping from Mark Polk of RV Education 101

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