You’ve enjoyed a summer filled with laughter, campfires and visits to some of the country’s most breathtaking natural wonders and state parks. Unfortunately, the leaves have changed, the kids have reluctantly headed back to school and it’s time to put your Airstream Travel Trailer away for the winter. You’ve cleared out a space in your garage or a storage facility, and now all that’s left is to clean out leftover food and park it until next spring, right? In reality, properly winterizing a travel trailer is an involved process; but when you’re able to simply turn the key and hit the road next summer, all that care and preparation will be well worth it.
Cleaning the Interior
Cleaning your Airstream’s interior is the best place to begin. Aside from the potential damage caused by standing water, the biggest threat to your travel trailer is rodent and insect damage. Thoroughly cleaning the inside of your Airstream prior to its hibernation helps ensure you don’t open the door next spring to find a family of mice calling your captain’s chair home.
· Remove every food item from the trailer, even nonperishable canned goods. Check expiration dates and toss out anything that has gone bad.
· Wipe down every hard surface with a rag and soapy water. You can go a step further and use a mild bleach cleaner, but good old fashioned soap and water is generally enough. Check every nook and cranny for crumbs before turning off the fridge and wiping it out as well.
· Clean out the bathroom and remove any toiletries. Bag up the toiletries and bring them indoors. Thoroughly wipe down every surface with a soapy rag.
· Take out the towels and bedding. Wash them and store in a plastic storage container. Before you shut the door behind you, vacuum off any carpeting or upholstery and sweep the floor.
Washing Your Airstream
After several miles and trips through the insect-infested wilderness, your Airstream is probably in desperate need of a good scrubbing. Unlike a traditional camper or RV, your aluminum Airstream requires special attention, but don’t assume specialized cleaning products are a necessity. A little elbow grease and an afternoon is all that’s required to clean your Airstream’s exterior:
· Wash your Airstream’s exterior with a mixture of warm water and a mild, all-purpose detergent. Use a soft cloth or chamois to prevent scratches and always wash your Airstream on a cloudy day or in the shade, when the metal is cool.
· Eliminate any hard water marks with a mixture of one part white vinegar and one part water.
· Rinse the trailer thoroughly before drying with a separate chamois to prevent streaks. Finish by polishing the Airstream with a good quality non-abrasive automotive wax. Follow the manufacturer’s directions and always work the chamois with the aluminum’s grain.
Paying Attention to Those Pipes
Lastly, it’s important to eliminate any standing water from the Airstream’s pipes. Frozen water expands and can damage, or completely destroy, your trailer’s pipes.
· Empty the Airstream’s holding tank and drain the fresh water tank before blowing any remaining liquid out with compressed air.
· Open up every faucet before turning off and draining the hot water heater.
· Locate the water pump and disconnect the suction end. If you’re having trouble finding the pump, refer to your owner’s manual. Place a hose, complete with a fitting, onto the pump. Stick the hose’s other end into a jug of RV antifreeze.
· Turn on the pump and allow it to run through every faucet. It will take anywhere from one to three jugs of antifreeze to completely clean out the pipes.
· Finish up by reconnecting the water pump and pouring antifreeze down every drain. Be sure to rid any antifreeze from the surface of your sinks, toilet and shower because it will stain.
Now that your Airstream is protected, it’s time to close the doors and windows, cover any vents with mesh to keep rodents and insects at bay, check to make sure any lights, heaters or pumps are off and lock up behind you.
Author: Judy Addams is a guest blogger and Airstream Travel Trailer enthusiast. When Judy’s not updating her blog, she can be found traveling across the country in her vintage 1962 Airstream Trade Wind. Her latest trip was up the Atlantic seaboard.