Mould in a Caravan (prevention & removal)

🦠 Dealing with Mould in a Caravan (Prevention & Removal)

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Dealing with mould in a caravan or camper is something that many van owners may have to deal with from time to time.

Mould in a caravan is not good for your health, it’s unpleasant to look at and it makes the caravan smell musty. Vinegar is fantastic at fighting against mould, plus keeping the air and surfaces in your caravan dry and clean will play a huge part in mould prevention.

Mould spores are in the air and a part of nature, so they’re not something we can totally eradicate. But, we can work on preventing mould from setting in when it comes to the cleanliness, usage and storage of caravans.

Here I will take you right through how to get rid of mould in the caravan, plus share some tips to help mould prevention in the future.

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Mould in the Caravan

Why is there Mould in my Caravan?

It’s important to note that the ideal breeding conditions for mould is damp air that is still and undisturbed. So, now that we know what it likes, we can work to counteract that.

Given that mould likes still air, lets open the windows and vents to allow air flow. If it flourishes in undisturbed areas, then regularly wiping surfaces and keeping areas clean will help to prevent mould in the caravan.

Causes of Mould in the Caravan

  • Condensation from humid, wet or cold climates
  • Leaking water pipes or taps
  • Water seeping in around window seals
  • Water finding it’s way in through the roof or walls due to damage or cracks
  • Being closed up for long periods with everyone breathing inside
  • Keeping the windows and vents closed while cooking and showering inside the van
  • Closing up the caravan without it being completely dry after cleaning or use
10+ RV Condensation Tips →
Mouldy Caravan Vent
Mouldy Caravan Vent

Mould Prevention while using a Caravan or Camper

There are a number of ways to prevent mould in a caravan. The first is to keep the air flowing by opening windows and vents, plus make sure you’re using an exhaust fan while showering and cooking.

Running the heater for a few minutes every few days is a good way to dry the air out when you’re using the van. This helps to reduce moisture in the air from everyone breathing in a closed-up van, plus it also eliminates the moisture from cooking and showering.

• Heating the Caravan Off-grid →
Cooling the Caravan in Summer →

The caravan needs to be kept as clean as you can, including regularly wiping down all surfaces. This includes the ceiling and walls, as dust and condensation can tend to build up there, which is the perfect breeding ground for mould and mildew.

Mould Prevention in a Caravan

If there are any spills in the van, clean them up immediately. For soft furnishings that get wet, take them outside to dry out straight away. Also, hang your shower towels outside to dry if you can.

In pop-tops and expanders, make sure that all canvas is completely dry before packing the caravan or camper away, to prevent future mould. If you have to pack it away wet on the road, open it back up to dry out as soon as you can.

I cannot recommend Moisture Absorbers enough, especially in the back of closets and under sinks. They help to pull that moisture from the air that would otherwise settle and attract mould spores.

COMMON SPOTS FOR MOULD IN A CARAVAN
• On the front internal wall where damp can occur in winter
• In the back of cupboards and closets
• Upper internal walls and ceilings
• Corner sections
• Bathroom & shower cubicle
• Kitchen & cooking areas
• Bunk areas where there’s less ventilation
• External air vents and Air Conditioning vents
• Around windows & blinds
• Roof hatch areas
• Underneath wet towels
• Window curtains, blinds & fly screens

Signs of Damp in Caravans

A common sign of damp in the caravan is when you start noticing a ‘musty’ type of smell inside. You’ll particularly notice it when you first open the door and walk in.

Oftentimes you’ll actually be able to see the black or grey mould forming in corners around the walls and ceiling of the van. You may also notice mould patches on some of the fabrics, such as cushions, curtains, mattresses or linen.

Signs of Damp in a Caravan:

  • Musty odour
  • Black marks on walls, ceiling, around doors and windows
  • Soft walls when pushed in with fingertips
  • Patches that look damp
  • Condensation droplets on walls & ceilings

Mould in Static Caravans

Mould and mildew will grow off organic matter and really relish in warm, humid environments. Even if your caravan isn’t being towed all over the countryside, but sits parked up somewhere, mould is still a very real issue.

In fact mould in a static caravan can be more of problem if the surrounding weather conditions outside of the caravan and environmental factors within the van support that mould growth.

Mould in the caravan window frame
Mould hidden in the Caravan Window Frame

Areas to watch for mould growth include bathroom walls, window sills, kitchen areas, ceilings and corners.

If your static caravan doesn’t get a lot of sunlight and ventilation, mould could become a problem. Remember to regularly air it out and turn the heater on to keep drying out the air. Keep wiping over the hard surfaces to reduce dust and damp. Keep an eye on any leaks from pipes and taps, plus make sure that no water is entering the van during rain events.

It’s important to regularly inspect all areas of your caravan so that you can stay on top of any leaks, cracked seals or any other damage.

If your caravan is being parked up between trips, below are some tips for storing a caravan that will keep your van clean and well-maintained in the meantime.

30+ Tips for Storing Your Caravan →

Is Mould in a Caravan or Camper Dangerous?

Having mould present in your caravan or camper can be dangerous to your health. Although a small amount or mildew won’t hurt you, the problem is that if it’s present in a caravan or camper, it can take hold fairly quickly if you don’t get onto it.

As mould produces allergens, irritants and toxins, inhaling those spores can cause illness and irritations. People can suffer from allergic reactions, sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, skin rashes, respiratory problems and issues with the immune system and nervous system.

Mould in the back of a caravan closet
Mould in the back of a Caravan Closet

There are even some unseen mental health effects, which can be caused from exposure to mould, including memory loss, chronic fatigue, mood swings and migraines.

People More Sensitive to Mould Reactions:

  • Babies and children
  • Elderly people
  • People with skin problems (e.g. eczema)
  • People with respiratory problems (e.g. asthma)
  • People with weakened immune system (e.g. those undergoing chemotherapy)
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Caravan Mould Cleaners & Removers

Can You Clean Caravan Mould with Bleach?

You’ll often hear bleach being recommended as an effective mould-killer, but actually the opposite is true. While bleach will kill some surface mould, it will not penetrate the membrane underneath.

Not only does this mean that the mould will grow back, it will actually see the bleach as a threat and grow back even stronger! If the bleach is used on a porous surface (like fabric or wood), the mould will move further into the surface to avoid the “threat.”

BLEACHVINEGAR
• Only kills surface mould• Mild acid
• Bleaches mould so you think it’s gone – it’ll reappear in a few weeks• Kills 82% of mould types
• Encourages mould growth as bleach is seen as an “attack”• Cheap & easily accessible
• Toxic to breath in as a cleaner• Safe around pets & children

Cleaning Caravan Mould with Vinegar

Regular white or distilled vinegar contains a mild acid, which is effective in killing around 82% of moulds. Vinegar is also safe to use around kids and pets, plus also in small spaces, such as a caravan or camper. You can find white vinegar in any supermarket for just a few dollars.

White Vinegar
White Vinegar (eBay) →

Difference Between Vinegars:

You’ll notice you can get White Vinegar, Distilled Vinegar or Double Strength Vinegar. The only difference is the acetic acid level, which is what does the actual cleaning. So, obviously more is better in this case.

  • White Vinegar: 4 – 5% acetic acid
  • Distilled Vinegar: 5 – 8% acetic acid
  • Double Strength Vinegar: 8 – 10% acetic acid

To be honest, any of them will do a great job. If you want to opt for a stronger option, you can go for a higher acidity, but the standard White Vinegar will still work well.

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Removing Mould from the Caravan

There are many parts of the caravan and camper that can suffer from mould attack. Here I’ll go through the method for how to clean mould from each section of your caravan or camper.

Always wear gloves, mask and goggles when cleaning mould, so that you protect yourself from ingesting any mould spores.

As vinegar already contains 90 – 95% water, I don’t recommend diluting it for the purpose of killing mould. You want it to be as strong as it can be for this job.

*Note: Do not use vinegar on aluminium, cast iron, waxed wood or natural stone – the acid may damage the finish.

Removing Mould from a Caravan Awning

Mould on a caravan awning can be caused by rolling it up while it’s still wet, which could be from rain or just dewy mornings on the road.

Another cause of mould on the awning is from the surface acquiring a build-up of dirt and dust, which mixed with dampness, is the perfect breeding ground for mould. Especially if the awning has been rolled up for a while and collected rain water.

Removing mould from caravan awning:

  1. FILL a spray bottle with undiluted vinegar
  2. SPRAY the entire awning with vinegar (not just the mouldy areas)
  3. LET the vinegar sit for 1 hour
  4. SCRUB the awning with a brush (to break up the mould)
  5. HOSE the awning to rinse all vinegar & mould off
  6. SPRAY with more vinegar
  7. ALLOW the awning to dry
  8. ROLL away the awning once completely clean & dry
Cleaning Mould off Canvas →

Removing Mould from Caravan Walls & Ceiling

If you’re not sure if there’s damp in your caravan walls, it would be well worth investing in a Moisture Meter for under $30 off eBay. The outlay to get long-term water damage fixed in a caravan will far outweigh the small outlay to hopefully detect any issues early on.

Damp Moisture Meter
Moisture Meter (eBay) →

As we’ve already discussed, mould can occur in your caravan interior for a number of reasons.

Removing mould from caravan walls and ceilings:

  1. FILL a spray bottle with undiluted vinegar
  2. SPRAY the area of the wall affected by mould
  3. LET the vinegar sit for 1 hour
  4. AGITATE the mould with a brush or cloth
  5. RINSE the brush/ cloth in warm water
  6. WIPE the area with a damp cloth & warm water
  7. ALLOW the area to completely dry

Cleaning Mould from Caravan Fly Screens

If you’ve got the white fly screens on your caravan windows, you’ll notice over time that little mould spots will show up. With some gentle cleaning you can remove much of the dirt and any mould to get your fly screens looking like new again.

Caravan Fly Screen with Mould
Black spots on the Caravan Fly Screen

Removing mould from caravan fly screens:

  1. FILL a spray bottle with undiluted vinegar
  2. OPEN your caravan window and make sure the fly screen is visible
  3. SPRAY the entire fly screen with vinegar
  4. LET the vinegar sit for 1 hour
  5. GET someone to stand on the outside of the caravan & hold something flat against the fly screen
  6. SCRUB the mesh with a damp cloth or small brush (toothbrush would work)
  7. WIPE down the mesh with warm, soapy water
  8. SPRAY the mesh with vinegar once more
  9. LEAVE the caravan windows open until all fly screens are completely dry
  10. CLOSE windows and continue to keep them clean

Cleaning Mould from Caravan Cushions, Mattresses & Curtains

It’s common enough to find mould and mildew growing on soft furnishings in the caravan, such as cushions, fabric seat covers, mattresses and curtains.

Removing mould from caravan cushion covers and curtains:

  1. TAKE the affected cushions or curtains outside
  2. REMOVE covers from cushions
  3. BRUSH as much mould off the fabric as you can
  4. PUT the curtains/ cushion covers in the washing machine on a cold wash (to avoid shrinkage)
  5. HANG covers & curtains on the washing line
  6. FILL a spray bottle with undiluted vinegar
  7. SPRAY the mould affected areas with vinegar
  8. AIR dry on the washing line (dryer may cause shrinkage)
Mouldy Caravan Curtain
Mould on the inside of the Caravan Curtain

Removing mould from caravan mattresses, fabric seats & cushion inserts:

  1. FILL a spray bottle with undiluted vinegar
  2. SPRAY the cushion/ mattress areas affected by mould
  3. LET the vinegar sit for 1 hour
  4. USE warm, soapy water and a cloth to clean the affected areas
  5. ALLOW the cushion/ mattress/ seat to completely dry
  6. CLOSE up the van once everything is dry
  7. LEAVE covers & bedding off for a few days if you can
  8. CONSIDER getting cushions/ mattress professionally cleaned if you can’t get the dark stains out
20+ Tips for Cleaning a Caravan →

How to Stop Mould in a Caravan Fridge

How can you stop mould growing in your caravan fridge between trips? Well, let’s look at why the mould is growing there in the first place.

  • Moisture – any frost or ice left in the fridge/ freezer will provide this
  • Bacteria – will grow in any warm, damp environment
Caravan Fridge
Dirty Caravan Fridge

Preventing Caravan Fridge Mould Growth:

  1. Completely empty out fridge & freezer of all food, drinks, containers etc.
  2. Wipe out any food & spills from the fridge
  3. If there’s ice build-up in the freezer, let it defrost and wipe out the water with a towel
  4. Leave the fridge & freezer doors ajar while you’re caravan is in storage

Removing mould from caravan fridge:

  1. PUT on protective gear
  2. FILL a spray bottle with undiluted vinegar
  3. SPRAY the entire inside of the fridge with vinegar
  4. LET the vinegar sit for 1 hour
  5. USE warm water and a cloth to clean out the fridge
  6. REMOVE each shelf to clean every section & corner
  7. ALLOW the fridge to completely dry
  8. LEAVE the fridge door ajar while it’s not in use
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Caravan Packing List

Caravan Packing List

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Conclusion

For dealing with mould in a caravan, prevention is always the best option. If you do find you’ve got mould, vinegar in a spray bottle is the best way to combat the mould growth to clean the area.

As mould likes humid areas and will populate on organic matter, keeping the caravan and camper clean is essential. You also want to make sure the van is regularly aired out to reduce moisture and increase air flow.

Tips for Preventing Mould in a Caravan:

  • Dry clothes, shoes & towels outside as much as possible
  • Keep windows, vents and hatches open as much as possible
  • Make sure all canvas is completely dry before packing away
  • Use kitchen range hood when cooking
  • Use bathroom exhaust fan while showering
  • Turn on the heater/ dehumidifier frequently to dry out the air
  • Regularly clean the caravan
  • Regularly wipe down walls & ceiling
  • Regularly air out cushions, mattresses, bedding & linen
  • Regularly check for leaks and damaged seals
  • Use moisture absorbers to draw in any moisture in the air
10+ BEST Caravan Washing Lines →
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3 thoughts on “🦠 Dealing with Mould in a Caravan (Prevention & Removal)”

  1. I have a false wall in my undersink cupboard. And because of the design I can’t get in behind it. At one stage I had to replace the sink drain seal however water had gotten in behind the false wall and now I smell mould whenever I open the cupboard. Recommendations for an area that can’t be cleaned???

    1. That sounds really tricky. If there’s been previous water damage, you will have to remove the false wall and replace any timber harbouring dampness and mould. That way you can start fresh knowing that the mould won’t continue to spread.

  2. Thank you for this article on cleaning mold from a caravan.
    We’ve found some on the floor of our back wardrobe after a damp check was done during last service.
    We had that fixed by resealing the skirt awning rail but was left with the black/ grey area on the floor
    We’ve now treated it and hope it won’t spread any further.

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