One of the challenges of hiring or owning a touring van (motorhome, camper van, RV or caravan) is dealing with condensation. In this article we share why it’s important to reduce condensation on windows in your van. Read our tips and tricks on how we manage and reduce condensation on the windows in our Motorhome.
So what is condensation?
In terms of our Motorhomes, condensation is caused by the difference in temperature inside and outside of the van. When humid air inside our van touches a cold surface, such as the cab front window, it causes water droplets (condensation) to form.
Why do you need to reduce condensation?
Condensation can cause a build up of mildew and damp, which is bad news for :
- your personal health, and
- the health of your Motorhome, camper van, RV or caravan
Damp in a van can cause a lot of damage and result in costly repair bills. It could also impact the value of your van when trying to sell or part-exchange it if damp is detected during a professional habitation check.
Where do you typically find condensation?
The most obvious signs of condensation are on windows. When we collected our first motorhome, we noticed a lot of condensation on the cab windscreen, skylight and the overhead shelf each morning. Now we use external screen covers and there’s rarely any condensation in the front cab area.
Basically condensation can form anywhere warm moist air touches a cooler surface. So external walls that touch an area with no air flow such as a bed against the roof, or bench seats / sofa could all collect condensation and become damp. So what can you do about it?
Here are our top 10 tips to reduce condensation in your motorhome, camper van, caravan or RV.
Step 1: Consider Investing in External Screen Covers.
This is not a cheap option but we were amazed at the difference our screen covers made during our first winter. They kept our motorhome warmer during the evening and in the morning there wasn’t any condensation on our front windows.
External covers work much better than internal covers as the external covers keep your windscreen relatively warm. Internal screens keep the van warm however, the window will get very cold and therefore attracting lots of condensation by the morning.
We use Taylor Made External Screen Covers. We managed to buy ours 2nd hand on eBay. It’s well worth keeping an eye on eBay as people often sell them when they trade-in or change Motorhome models.
Step 2. Open windows, doors and skylights.
Sounds obvious but it’s the quickest and easiest way to remove built up moisture. We keep our skylights open as much as possible when the weather permits. Leave a window or a skylight open whilst cooking or having a shower so that the steam can go straight out and reduce moisture collecting on walls and surfaces in your van.
Step 3. Use an extractor fan
If you have one installed in your van then use it to reduce condensation on your windows. Extractor fans are really useful again when cooking or having a shower as they quickly suck the steam out before it can build up inside your van.
Step 4. Invest in a handheld window vac.
Highly recommended for vans and at home: These are a brilliant gadget to use if you do find condensation on your windows. Quickly collect and extract the moisture from walls, ceilings, windows and shower areas to ensure mould doesn’t have a chance to take hold.
We use a rechargeable Karcher handheld vac, which lasts for several days before needing a quick top-up charge when next on a hook-up at a campsite.
A handheld window vac for a streak-Free Cleaning – The quick and easy way to clean flat surfaces, such as windows, tiles, worktops, condensation and mirrors leaving a sparkling, streak-free finish.
Step 5. Use campsite facilities such as showers & tumble dryers
If it’s too cold or wet outside to leave a skylights / window open then moisture will soon build up inside your van. Limit the amount of steam you’re generating inside your van wherever possible. For example:
- make use the campsite showers
- If the campsite has a tumble dryer then use it to dry out wet towels
- Think about what you cook, having pans boiling on a hob will generate lots of steam. Get creative with ‘low steam’ dinner cooking
Step 6. Allow airflow around your van.
Whenever possible we open the main habitation door and garage doors to allow air to flow around the van. Obviously during the winter this isn’t practical for too long, unless you’re going to sit in your van wearing ALL your clothes 🙂
Air flow is also important to think about if you’re not using your van for a while or you put it into storage. It’s a good idea to create plenty of air flow by leaving cupboard doors open as well as the fridge and freezer doors.
If you’re leaving your van in storage it’s a good idea to remove everything. It’s tempting to leave food in the cupboard such as tins and unopened packets, but these may attract unwanted furry visitors. It will also stop the air flow and may cause mildew or damp to collect in cold corners.
Last winter we left our van in storage for a couple of months. To reduce the risk of mildew we totally emptied our van. Cupboards, shelves, bedding, sofa throws and garage stuff. We’re pretty organised so we store most things in our van in cupboard baskets or in the range of ‘Really Useful Boxes‘. So it was quick and easy to unload everything into our garage at home. All our van items are packed away and labelled up ready for our next road trip.
Storage Boxes (Really Useful Range) – These are the best storage boxes for home or motorhome as they’re strong, secure and stackable. Really Useful Boxes come in a range of sizes for garage and cupboards. We use these at home too to keep kitchen and garage cupboards organised.
Don’t forget about your sofas, cushions and beds, they all need airflow too. Remember to pull your sofa cushions away from the external walls. Again this will help reduce the risk of condensation and damage to your sofas.
If you have sofa throws then consider taking these out too when your van is not in use. We use sofa throws to protect against muddy dog paws, but the throws are never left in our van when not in use. They’re taken home, washed and packed away until our next road trip. Instead we use dust sheets to protect our sofas and front cab seats, they work really well. (Tip: we use old bedding sheets as dust sheets, so next time you’re having a clear out re-use/re-cycle your old bedding to protect your van).
If you have a bed like ours that drops down from the ceiling, then it’s a good idea to drop it about a foot. The roof gets very cold when the van isn’t being used so this could cause your mattress to become damp. We also prop our mattress up onto a couple of small boxes, just enough to allow plenty of air flow underneath the mattress.
Step 7. Use moisture traps
These are great at capturing moisture, we LOVE these. Again, when your van is not being used for a while place moisture traps around the van. We use 4 large moisture traps, which sit on tea towels to protect the surface:
- one sits in the bathroom sink
- a second one sits in the kitchen sink
- the third one sits on the shelf above the cab front window
- and the fourth one sits on the living room table
Moisture Absorber Dehumidifier – Unibond Aero 360 Moisture traps, do an amazing job of trapping moisture to keep your van dry.
We have found plenty of retailers online and even supermarkets that sell the refills for these whilst out on the road or follow the link below.
Unibond Aero 360 Moisture Refill packs – These refill packs last quite a while so they’re a great option for van storage through the winter.
Step 8. Keep everything dry
Don’t put wet or damp items back into cupboards or wardrobes until they are completely dry. We use our shower or garage to dry out wet items with a vent open and the bathroom door shut.
Body Rag towels are great for quick drying, highly recommend giving these a try.
Step 9. Regularly check for leaks and moisture puddles
It’s so important to check your motorhome, camper van, caravan or RV inside and out on a regular basis. Make sure everything stays nice and dry. If you spot any moisture then wipe it away and watch that area closely for a week or two. If more water puddles collect then you need to take action quickly. Is it a leak? Or is it an area that can be managed with more air flow or a moisture trap?
Step 10. – Arrange for a yearly habitation check
If you own a motorhome, camper van, RV or caravan we would highly recommend having a yearly habitation check, which includes a professional damp test. The yearly habitation check is required during your vans warranty period, but why not invest in this yearly check-up even when the warranty has expired. Keeping up this yearly van health check will help spot problems early and hopefully avoid long term damage and expensive repair bills.
In our motorhome’s first yearly habitation check damp was found in the corner of the garage. We would never have spotted it and it was being caused by a poor seal from new build. Thankfully the professional damp test soon picked up on it and our van was fixed under warranty. So it’s well worth having your van checked out once a year.
So that’s our top tips to reduce condensation on windows in your Motorhome, camper van, RV or caravan. We hope you’ve found these useful.
Have you discovered any good tips for managing condensation in your van? If so we’d love you to share them in the comments below.