Caravans can fall into disrepair relatively quickly when they’re parked up, especially if left out in the elements without the proper care and attention.
It’s important to know that your investment will always be maintained and ready for future travel as well as holding the best possible resale value, if that’s a path you’ll be taking at some point.
With these tips you can feel confident that you’ve covered all bases for storing a caravan when not in use or simply parking it up between trips.
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Tips for Storing a Caravan
Download the Caravan Storage Checklist
To really help ensure that your caravan will stay well-maintained (even when not in use) download the 12-page Caravan Storage Checklist. With 100 pre-filled tasks for you to complete, checkboxes to tick off and the ability to customise it to your needs, you’ll have solid peace of mind that your caravan is retaining it’s condition and value.
What you get:
- 10-page PRINTABLE checklist (fully customisable)
- 12-page DIGITAL checklist (interactive PDF for your device)
- 100 pre-filled tasks
- Checkboxes to tick off
- Add in extra tasks
Empty the Caravan
First things first, the caravan needs to emptied out as much as possible before being parked up for next season.
Things to empty out of the caravan:
- Perishable food
- Kitchen items that don’t need to stay
- Dirty non-slip cupboard matting
- Non-permanent bathroom items
- Linen (less chance of getting damp & mouldy)
- Toys & recreational equipment
Make a List of Replacement Items
While you’re emptying out your van, make a list of any items that need to be replaced or topped up for the next time you head out on a trip. This could be kitchen, bathroom, first aid items and so on.
Clean the Caravan
Next, before even contemplating storing the caravan, it will need a very thorough clean – inside and out.
Any dirt or grime that is left to fester in the van will drastically increase the probability of mould growth and smells being present when you open it back up for your next trip. As for the outside, making sure the van is completely clean helps to maintain and preserve the life of your caravan for future use and resale.
INTERIOR Caravan Cleaning Tips:
- Strip the beds & remove all linen
- Wipe down all surfaces to eliminate dust & mould growth
- Wipe down the 12v fans, TVs and electronics
- Take batteries out of remotes & devices
- Clean the air conditioning filters
- Wipe out inside cabinets
- Wipe out inside washing machine & empty filter
- Empty & clean toilet
- Clean bathroom vanity & shower
- Vacuum & mop floors
- Wipe down windows, frames & hatches
- Clean out the pipes
The outside of the caravan will need just as much TLC as the inside. Use a ladder, hose and broom to clean the exterior walls, roof and solar panels.
Don’t forget to gurney or hose & broom the awning. Make sure it’s well and truly dry before being rolled away, otherwise the vinyl will go mouldy.
EXTERIOR Caravan Cleaning Tips:
- Roof & solar panels – use a ladder to clean with hose and broom
- Exterior walls – hose and broom
- Awning – hose/ gurney and broom
- Wheels – hose and sponge
- Underneath – hose and broom
Clean Your Gear
Before packing all of the caravanning gear away for storage, make sure everything has been cleaned and allowed to completely dry.
Caravanning gear to be cleaned:
- Camp chairs
- Outdoor tables
- Outdoor Matting
- Muk Mat
- Ropes, poles, pegs
- Wheel chocks & levellers
For more gear, check out the 50 Most Popular Caravan Accessories post.
Empty & Clean Toilet
A caravan toilet that hasn’t been throughly emptied and cleaned can leave a bit of a lingering smell in a closed up caravan.
Empty the caravan toilet and rinse the cassette multiple times with water and detergent to really make sure it’s as clean as possible. Don’t forget to clean inside the chamber where the cassette lives, plus do the toilet seat and bowl.
If you’ve never had to do the caravan toilet thing before, here’s How to Empty a Cassette Toilet.
Empty & Flush Grey Water Tank
If your caravan has a grey water tank, now’s the time to empty it and flush it out, ready for use next time. The best way to give it a really good flush is to fill the tank up with water and take the caravan for a drive to agitate, then empty it all out and leave to dry.
Clean & Cover the Pipes
Over time, the caravan pipes exiting from the kitchen, bathroom and shower can get a bit smelly from debris building-up inside the pipe walls.
Before emptying the caravan water tanks, give the pipes a good clean first. Bicarb and vinegar help to break down gunk and freshen up the pipes, plus a drain snake can help to clear out any blockages.
How to clean caravan pipes:
- Boil a full kettle of water
- Pour boiling water down all of your drain holes
- Put a tablespoon of Bicarb Soda in each drain hole
- Pour White Vinegar on top of the Bicarb and let it fizzle
- Allow the solution to sit for 5 – 10 minutes
- Meanwhile, boil another full kettle of water
- Finish by pouring boiling water down each drain & flush with tap water
- Send a Drain Snake down for an extra clean if necessary
Once all of the pipes have been cleaned and had plenty of time to air dry, it’s time to cover them up. This will keep any critters from getting in, plus stop wasps from nesting inside the pipes. A piece of fabric secured with a rubber band will do.
Check the Anode Rod
Many caravans have a sacrificial anode rod in the hot water system, which needs to be changed every 12 months or so (depending on how often you use the van). Before storing the caravan, it pays to have a look at your anode and see if it needs replacing.
Here’s the full guide on How to Replace a Caravan Anode Rod.
Check Wheel Bearings & Tyres
Before storing a caravan it’s handy to check the wheel bearings and tyre tread to see if anything needs to be replaced before hitting the road again. By the time you’re ready to go on another trip you may have forgotten that those things even needed to be done, so better to be organised ahead of time.
Lubricate Hitch & Stabilisers
Use WD-40 or a silicone-based spray to lubricate the hitch, the four corner stabilisers and anything else that can get stiff hinges.
Refill & Turn Off Gas
Make sure the gas is turned off at the bottle and burn off any leftover gas in the lines. Don’t forget to refill any empty bottles before you forget.
If you’re storing the caravan in an enclosed space when not in use, it’s recommended to store the gas bottles outside in an open and shady area. If that’s the case, ensure you’ve covered the gas line openings on your caravan so that bugs can’t get in.
- Turn gas off at the bottle
- Burn off leftover gas from lines
- Refill empty gas bottles
- Store bottles in an open & shady area
- Cover the gas lines
Keep the Batteries Charged
To avoid finding dead batteries that need to be replaced (which can be a huge expense!), it’s best to keep them charged.
If the caravan has a solar system and is being stored out in the sunshine without a cover, the roof panels will do a good enough job of keeping the batteries topped up.
If the caravan is being stored inside or under a cover, you will need to keep it hooked up to 240 volt power with a 15 amp plug. Since nothing is being used inside the van, besides possibly some standby lights, the power draw will be minimal. This is just to maintain your batteries so they don’t completely drain beyond repair.
How to keep the batteries charged:
- Park the caravan outside and uncovered so any roof solar panels can keep the system charged
- OR, if storing the caravan undercover, plug into 240v power with a 15a plug
TIP – Unplug all appliances in the van (e.g. fans, tvs, microwave, diesel heater and washing machine), to help reduce any power consumption.
Replace the Water Filter (if necessary)
If you’ve got a filter in your caravan for drinking water, check to see if it’s due to be replaced before parking up for the season.
TIP – Sticky tape a note inside the kitchen cabinet door recording the date of the last filter change.
Empty Water Tanks
Water sitting inside a stationary tank for any prolonged period of time can go stale and take on a yucky taste.
Emptying the caravan water tanks if it’s going to be parked up for months is a good idea. Then just flush them out and refill when the time comes to hit the road again.
If you’re worried about mould growing in the empty tanks, it shouldn’t be an issue in Australia as they will naturally air dry with our climate. If you’re interested, you can delve deeper with this article – Should You Store Caravan Water Tanks Full or Empty?
If your caravan water tanks are due for a clean, check out the step-by-step instructions below.
Defrost Freezer & Clean Fridge
Here’s how to make sure the fridge is beautiful and clean for next time.
- Switch the fridge off
- Empty all contents out of the fridge and freezer
- Defrost the freezer
- Wipe out all shelves and surfaces
- Keep the doors ajar for air flow
Flip the Mattresses
Now is a good chance to flip all of the mattresses over for even wear. You can do the same with the dinette cushions if they’re double-sided.
Leave Interior Doors & Drawers Open
Once the caravan has been emptied out and thoroughly cleaned, go around and open up all of the cupboard doors and drawers. It helps to leave everything open so that the air can move freely around. This will help reduce mould growth.
I also recommend leaving the beds open that are on gas struts and have storage underneath. Again, it all helps for air circulation.
Leave Roof Hatch Ajar
Another trick for preventing mould is to leave one or two roof hatches ajar, as long as the rain can’t get in. A bit of airflow will also stop the van from getting musty and smelly.
Close all Windows & Blinds
To keep the sun out and protect your cabinetry timbers, plus the fabrics of your interior textiles (couch, mattresses, cushions etc.), close up all of the windows, blinds and curtains.
Add Moisture Absorbers
To help prevent mould from forming inside the caravan, place some moisture absorbers or bowls of bicarb soda throughout the caravan. In particular, focus on the smaller spaces where air flow will be at a minimum (drawers, cupboards etc.).
Don’t forget to check them every few months and change them over once they’re full of moisture. If you use bicarb it might need a mix every so often between replacements.
Store on a Level Surface
To avoid shortening the lifetime of your caravan’s tyres, store the caravan on a flat, level surface and make sure that the tyres are pumped up to their recommended pressure. A concrete driveway or concrete blocks work well for storing a caravan.
For those who have gas fridges, keeping the van level will be imperative for keeping the fridge working.
Park Your Caravan Undercover (if possible)
If you’re lucky enough to be able to park your caravan under a carport or inside a shed or garage, that’s by far the best place for storing a caravan. Parking the van undercover gives the advantage of slowing down the natural wear and tear process caused by long-term exposure to the elements.
Benefits of storing a caravan undercover:
- No hail damagae
- No water ingress
- No branches, leaves, sap and bird poo falling onto the van
- Less sun/ UV exposure
- Less chance of bugs and critters moving in
The reality is though, many of us don’t have access to a raised-roof garage or carport tall enough to house a caravan. But, don’t stress, the next tip will work just as well for storing a caravan, which will help to extend the life of the RV.
Invest in a Caravan Cover
If you’ll be storing your caravan out in the elements between trips, it would be wise to invest in a caravan cover. In fact, even if you can park the van under a carport, a caravan cover will still add an extra layer of protection.
A caravan cover will eliminate the worry of leaves and branches piling up directly against the caravan exterior. Although they can still gather on top of the cover, a quick brush-off once a month will keep things clean. And although there may still be ants and spiders dropping in from above, a big solid cover will reduce the number of free loaders who eventually decide to move in.
It’s always nice to pull off the cover before the next trip and know that the caravan underneath is still clean.
Another benefit of a caravan cover is limiting the wear and tear caused from the hot Australian sun beating directly down upon the caravan’s paint, fittings and fixtures day-in, day-out.
Benefits of a caravan cover:
- Keeps the caravan clean
- Reduces wear and tear from the elements
- Eliminates leaves, branches, sap and bird poo from building-up directly against the caravan roof
- Reduces bugs, ants and spiders
Avoid Overhanging Trees
If (like most people) you’ll be storing your caravan in the front or backyard when not in use, it’s important to avoid parking underneath low hanging trees as much as possible.
The most obvious annoyance about parking below trees is that they will inevitably drop leaves and possibly even branches (especially during storms). With this comes extra maintenance and cleaning that will be required between trips to make sure you don’t have leaf litter building up on your caravan.
Leaf litter build-up traps in moisture, which can lead to mould and deterioration.
Another reason to avoid storing a caravan under trees is that ants and spiders will drop in off the trees and feel entitled to set up home!
Reasons to avoid overhanging trees:
- Leaves will fall and build up on the van
- Falling branches may cause damage in storms
- Creates extra cleaning between trips
- Ants & spiders can drop onto the van
But, we can only work with the space we’ve got right? So, if you can’t avoid parking underneath trees, definitely make sure to get yourself a good caravan cover.
Avoid Leaning Anything Against the Caravan
Continuing on with the free-loading ants, you’ll want to avoid leaning anything up against the caravan.
Remember, ants live in tunnels under the ground. And where do they go when the rains are coming? Up!
Any item that is touching the ground at one end and making contact with the caravan at the other, will provide the perfect bridge for ants to march up on.
Check Caravan for Ants Regularly
I know, I know, I keep banging on about bloody ants. But, let me tell you, having ants nesting in your caravan walls, chassis, fridge cavity, pantry and so on is no fun!
Now that you’ve covered your caravan and made sure nothing is leaning against it, the main access in for ants are via the wheels and stabiliser legs, as you obviously can’t avoid having them touch the ground.
There are a few preventative things that can help stop ants entering the caravan from the wheels and stabilisers.
Tips to prevent ants accessing the caravan:
- Spray the wheels and stabiliser legs regularly with bug spray or degreaser (weird, I know – but it works)
- Put a barrier circle of talcum powder or bicarb soda around the points touching the ground
- Park on concrete driveway or blocks if possible
Besides the wheels and stabilisers, it’s good to check both inside and outside the caravan once a month to make sure ants aren’t moving in. If so, at least you will have time to get on top of the problem before packing up the van for your next trip.
For more on ant prevention, check out my 18 Tips to Stop Ants in the Caravan.
Lock the Hitch & Wheels
To help secure your caravan, always add a coupling lock so that no one can reverse up to your van, hitch up and drive away.
An extra precaution, which some people like to add, is a wheel clamp. This may depend on where you caravan is being stored.
For more on protecting your caravan from theft, check out these 13 Caravan Security Tips.
Cover the Hitch Coupling
When storing a caravan, it’s highly recommended to cover the caravan’s tow hitch coupling with something waterproof like an upside down bucket or similar. Tying a rag around the electrical components will also add an extra layer of protection.
For peace of mind, check your caravan insurance policy and make sure that everything is up to date. Contact details, storage address, agreed value, additional modifications and accessories (especially if you’ve made any upgrades) and so on.
Here’s everything you need to know about Caravan Insurance in Australia.
Turn the Wheels Every 2 Months
Caravans apply a fair bit of weight to the tyres, which can strain and weaken the rubber over an extended period of time. If you want to get more life out of your caravan tyres and avoid getting flat spots, turn the wheels every two months or so.
Regular Checks while the Caravan is Being Stored
To help keep your caravan clean and well maintained, it helps to go around and do the following checks every few months.
☐ Replace moisture absorbers once full
☐ Turn wheels (every 2 months)
☐ Brush leaves etc. off caravan roof if parked outside
☐ Open up windows & air the van out
☐ Wipe down the interior surfaces to prevent mould
☐ Check for ants
Caravan Storage Checklist
Prepare your van for long-term & short-term storage with the Caravan Storage Checklist.
- 100 pre-filled tasks to complete
- Checkboxes to tick off
- Add in extra tasks
- Download once, use over-and-over again
- DIGITAL & PRINTABLE