Annual RV Maintenance for Your Pop Up Camper

It's time for much-needed fall maintenance with Peggy Sue!

"There's birth, there's death and in between there is maintenance."  I don't think Tom Robbins was describing an RV, but the quote could apply.  Between buying and selling your RV, maintenance is going to be part of the process.  The question is what should you be doing and when?

Annual RV Maintenance For Your Pop Up Camper

First, let's talk about products.  I encourage you to use RV specific products for cleaning and camper upkeep.  There are a lot of naysayers out there that will wag that handy bottle of bleach along spouting off parts per million and lots of other formulas.  Just don't.  RV specific products are designed just for that job.

And, if you want a little science to back me up, think chemicals.  Mixing chemicals in a contained space can be harmful and cause unanticipated reactions.  I'm not going to make deadly claims here.  I'm not a scientist.  But, use the right product for the job. 

Clean or Change Filters in your AC

If your RV has been in high demand, you need to check your RV AC filters regularly.  For us, that is every 2 or 3 trips.  But for campers using their campers more often, check monthly.  Our filters in the Mach 10 that we have can be washed with mild detergent and replaced.  Neglecting this task will increase energy costs and make your unit have to work harder.

Check your AC vents for dust and build up.

Inspect Roof Seams and Seals

Go over the seals and seams with a fine tooth comb every six months - twice annually.  The beginning of spring and end of summer would be optimum times to do this task.  If you need to add sealant it will dry better during those times.  I use Dicor 501LSW-1 Lap Sealant - 10.3 oz.  This does an excellent job and is easy to apply.

Tire Pressure and Lug Nuts

This should be done before every trip.  If you don't have a tire pressure gauge, get one now!  Check your pressure before you leave your driveway.  Air pressure will change in just a few minutes.  So, before you get to a station with air, the pressure could change.  I have a TEKTON 5941 Digital Tire Gauge, 100 PSI.  It only takes a few minutes to do this.  And it will keep you safe on the road.  Also check again before you leave the campground going home.  Be sure to check those lug nuts too!

This tire gauge is simple to use and fits in the glove box to always have it on hand.

Pack Your Wheel Bearings

Every 10,000 is the recommended time to pack your wheel bearings according to Trailer Life.  Some people choose to do this task as a DIY project.  However, you could always take this to your local mechanic or RV Service Center.  If you go the mechanic route, make sure that the person doing the works on trailers and knows how to do the work properly.

Electrical Connection to Your RV

Make sure that your electrical connection to your RV is giving your brakes a signal.  Every time we hook up to our vehicle to ride out, we test this.  We've never had a time when it didn't work.  But testing this before the day of leaving might be handy if you have an older camper.  You know your rig, but don't take chances with this.  If it isn't working, schedule a repair.

RV Awning Maintenance

Keep your awning free of mold and mildew.  This build-up is harmful to our awning over time.  I use 
303 Mold & Mildew Cleaner & Blocker Removes Stains.  While you are cleaning, check for tears that could increase over time.  Small tears can be repaired before they grow larger.

303 products always get the job done!

Waste Systems

For your black water tank or lines (this applies to porta potties), make sure that you are using products that are designed for RV waste systems to clean and maintain your lines.  Harsh chemicals could destroy your system.

Always us RV TP!  I cannot stress this enough.

Always use RV specific toilet paper.  We use Thetford Aqua-Soft Toilet Tissue.  It will break down for easy cleanup.  Next, be sure to use the right chemicals to control odor and help wastes to break down.  In our porta potty, we use Thetford Aqua-Kem RV holding tank treatment.  This liquid treatment can be used in smaller increments so we aren't wasting packets for large black water tanks.

Water Systems

In our pop-up camper, we only have a freshwater line - not a tank.  But it is important to keep the lines clean along with the fresh water hose.  After quite a bit of research, I recommend starting with
Thetford Fresh Water Tank Sanitizer Detergent and Sanitizer Treatment.  These two products can be used to safely clean the fresh water hose and fresh water lines.

To clean your fresh water hose:
  • Elevate one end of your fresh water hose.
  • Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of Thetford Fresh Water Detergent.  
  • Add enough water to fill the hose slowly keeping the elevated end in place.
  • Allow the hose to sit for an hour.
  • Flush with clean water.
  • If you want to sanitize the hose, follow the same steps using the same amount of Thetford Sanitizer.
If you have a fresh water tank on your pop up, you can certainly clean your freshwater tank these same products following the instructions and amounts for your tank.

To clean your fresh water lines, you will need a Valterra P23507VP Plastic Hand Pump Kit to pump the cleaners and water into your line to start the process.  I would recommend using 1 1/2 teaspoons of product per gallon of water added to your lines.  Allow this to sit for a few hours and flush clean after each step.

This Valterra Winterizing Pump can also be used to clean your fresh water lines in your pop up.

The important thing to remember here is no bleach.  You will still have people to recommend this but just don't.  If nothing else, I fear that bleach could damage your water system and valves.

Clean the Exterior of Your Camper

Campers get dirty, and you do need to keep them clean.  Use a cleaner that is specific to RV materials. Camco 40493 Pro-Strength Wash and Wax. is an excellent choice.  If your camper is really dirty, get a nice Drillbrush Softer Bristle Scrub Brush.  You can attach this to your drill for those places that need a little more elbow grease.

Clean the Interior of Your Pop Up Camper Canvas

Keeping the interior of your pop up camper canvas is just as important as the exterior.  Dush, grease, and dirt can cause mold and mildew to grow.  Use a mild detergent like Woolite to clean the interior of your canvas after periods of heavy use.  I would say every season if you camp that often.  Be sure to let everything dry thoroughly before closing it up.

Clean and Treat the Exterior of Your Pop Up Camper Canvas

Once you have tackled the interior of your canvas, be sure to treat the vinyl and canvas portions of the bunk end as well.  For actual canvas, use something like 303 Products 303 Fabric Guard, Upholstery Protector, Water and Stain Repellent.  It will keep your canvas performing its best.  For the vinyl, 303 UV Protectant Spray for Vinyl, Plastic, Rubber, Fiberglass, Leather & More will keep your material working its best!

Clean and Protect with 303!

I've created an RV Maintenance Checklist that you can download and use.  You can also save this list to your Google Drive if you like.  As long as you own your RV, you are going to be doing your maintenance.  And if you aren't doing it, be sure to take your rig in for regular maintenance at your dealership.

Until next time...

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  1. I've been working on cleaning our roof and found that a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser has literately been magic. Our roof (or half of the roof at this point) is white again!

    1. Great! I'm glad this worked for you! Thanks for sharing!

  2. We are looking into getting a pop up much time overall do you think you spend yearly maintaining it? I.e. is it a huge time sink? I consider the basic cleaning of things and checking of tires to be a normal thing, but the system flushes, packing bearings, roof maintenance, and winterizing - what does that add up to? THANKS!

    1. Hi! Great question. Yearly maintenance is not that bad. I probably spend about 1 day per season doing annual maintenance stuff. Sometimes it is less. I usually spend that day giving everything a big outside wash and wax, deep clean, etc. As far as wheel bearings go, I pay someone to do that. And we check the tires as we go. System flushes, etc. depend on your set up and if you have tanks or not. But, it is worth it!

  3. Great article and a nice way to promote online. I’m satisfied with the information that you provided roof repair

  4. Great article. Can you double check your link to the PDF. When I click on it, I get your Summer Camping Checklist. Which I like as well. :)

    1. Thanks for letting me know! I'm not sure what happened. I just updated the link! Have a great day!

  5. Great info. My husband does all this stuff to our pop up, but we’ve decided to give our pop up to our son & his little family. He’s never owned a camper, so I’m happy I’ve found your site and info. I’m going to purchase most of your product recommendations and put them in a garbage can wrapped in a bow… so he’ll have them to use. His dad will show him what to do, but this info, he can refer back to regularly. Thanks!

    1. I'm so glad this was helpful. And I hope your son enjoys his new camper! That is great that you are gifting it to him!


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