Caring for your caravan over winter
Most caravans and motorhomes will go into hibernation over the winter, re-emerging in spring for another season of use. That period of time, however, is a long time to go with no TLC, and there’s plenty you can do to ensure that your caravan is in tip top condition and ready to go after the winter break.
1. Cover it up
Wherever you store your caravan over the winter, make sure it is well covered: both to protect the exterior and to minimise the cleaning you have to do before its first use the following year. Covers should be breathable and hardwearing – be warned that if you have been exposing the cover to summer sun, it may have degraded a little.
Alternatively, choose a protective coating, which is easy to apply, inexpensive, and fairly easy to wash off when it’s time to tour.
2. Protect the bodywork
Whether you are using a protective cover or applying a protective coating, you’ll still need to make sure that you give your caravan a thorough clean before its break. Use caravan-specific cleaning products and avoid pressure washers if possible, as these can easily damage seals.
Make sure, while cleaning, that you inspect carefully for damage and mould, and fix before the winter to avoid further damage.
3. Drain down
If you’re not using your caravan over the winter, then draining down is essential, as it is the best way to protect against damage from frost and ice. Bear in mind that even the smallest amount of water can freeze up and cause damage over winter – and removing all water will also help to protect against mould growth. From pumps to shower heads, be thorough and methodical.
4. Clean the interior
This has two purposes: to make sure everything is clean and that there is no chance of mould growing, but also to check that you have remembered to remove everything from the caravan before the winter!
Do what you can to prevent the build up of mildew: leave the fridge door ajar, keep cushions away from the caravan walls and make sure that doors and windows are fully closed. It may be common sense, but is very important.
5. Clean and drain the toilet
Admittedly it isn’t the most pleasant job, but cleaning and draining your toilet will make life much easier when you next use your caravan. Cassette toilets should be drained and cleaned thoroughly before storing, and the waste tank emptied, cleaned and sterilised. The valve blade that seals the toilet from the waste tank should be cleaned too, before being wiped with a suitable lubricant and then left partly open to avoid it getting stuck in the shut position during a period of no use.
6. Disconnect the gas
Again, probably common sense but incredibly important! Make sure gas canisters are disconnected if possible, or close the valves on top of the cylinders if not. Store cylinders in accordance with safety instructions – and be warned that if you are putting your caravan into storage, some storage operators will refuse to allow gas cylinders to be stored with your unit.
Ultimately, proper care over winter could save you stress and money when it’s time to tour again: preparing your caravan for winter is not the most exciting job in the world, but one that has more benefits than you think.