How To Winterize A Camper In 5 Easy Steps (Complete Guide)

Winters can be harsh on a lot of things, including our campers!

This is why it’s important to prepare your camper or RV for the winter months.

Luckily, winterizing your camper doesn’t have to be a tedious task. Nor does it have to be a guessing game of whether you’re even doing it right.

In this guide, we’ll show you step-by-step how to winterize a camper quickly and easily, plus answer a few frequently asked questions.

Steps To Winterize Your Camper

To start the winterization process, make sure you have the following supplies on hand.

Once you have the necessary supplies, we can get started! Watch this step-by-step walkthrough or read on below for written steps to winterize your camper or RV.

RV Winterization - How To RV: Camping World

Step 1: Start by Draining Water in the Pipes

This is a fundamental step because you don’t want the water to freeze and destroy the plumbing.

  • Start by removing any water filters because the chemicals used will destroy any installed filter.
  • Then start draining both the black and the gray water tanks. Use the wand to clean the black one.
  • You also need to drain the water heater but make sure that it’s turned off and let it cool down. Then simply remove the drain plug and open the pressure relief valve. I like to loosely replace the drain plug instead of leaving it off over winter.
  • Finally, open all the hot and cold faucets and low point drain lines. This will make sure that all the remaining water is drained and out of the system.

What Are the Black and Gray Water Tanks?

Most campers have two types of waste tanks: one gray water tank and a black one.

The gray water tank collects water that comes from showers and sinks. It’s dubbed the “gray tank” because of it’s grayish look due to the soap and dirt residue.

The black water tank is a fundamental piece of equipment in your camper. This tank is located under your rig and it holds the wastewater from your toilet.

The black water tank collects liquids and solids, so it requires special attention and care. This tank doesn’t only take human waste, but it also collects water to flush the toilet along with the toilet paper. So we recommend buying special toilet paper that easily degrades and doesn’t clog your pipes.

Scott Rapid-Dissolving Toilet Paper

Scott Rapid-Dissolving Toilet Paper

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Step 2: Bypass the Water Heater

After draining all the water, you need to bypass the water heater before adding the antifreeze in the next step. This step is mandatory to prevent any anti-freezing material from reaching and ruining your water heater.

Check if your camper has an installed bypass kit. If it doesn’t, you can install one or have it installed by a local RV facility.

Valterra P23505LFVP Water Heater by-Pass Kit

Valterra P23505LFVP Water Heater by-Pass Kit

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Step 3: Add Non-Toxic Antifreeze to Your Camper System

  • Start by installing the water pump converter kit or you can just remove the inlet of the water pump and place it inside the antifreeze container.
Camco Pump Converter Winterizing Kit

Camco Pump Converter Winterizing Kit

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  • Then close all the faucets and drain lines that were previously opened.
  • Turn on the water pump to take the antifreeze into the water system.
  • After the system is pressurized, open each faucet and turn on the hot water, you will see pink antifreeze.
  • Do the same with the cold water.
  • Repeat the process for the cold water and hot water.
  • Close the water pump and open all the faucets.
  • Pour some of the antifreeze down the drains of all the sinks, the shower, and in the toilet itself and flush it. It’s important to check that the water heater is turned off and all faucets are closed.

Step 4: Clean the Camper from the Inside

  • Remove all food to prevent insects or mice from using your camper as a shelter
  • Wipe down all the counters and the seats
  • Clean the fridge and turn it off for winter
  • Check for any holes in your camper and if you find any, fill them with caulk. Check out our guide to keeping mice out of your camper for a more detailed explanation for sealing your camper. Trust us, you don’t want to open your camper in Spring and find a rodent infestation.

Step 5: Shut Down Any Components of the Camper

  • Make sure that all awnings are clean and taken down. Check out our guide on how to clean RV awnings for the quickest and easiest way to do this.
  • Shut off any gas tanks
  • Fix any leaks in the roof. Check out our step-by-step guide to replace a rubber roof on a camper.
  • Change the oil before storing the camper.
  • Lastly, we want to remove the fully charged battery from your RV and check the water levels (filling it up if needed). Store the battery in a warm location and hook up a battery maintainer to keep it properly charged. Check out our guide on how to store an RV battery for winter for the complete process (with important tips).

Tip: Check out our huge list of RV storage facilities to find the perfect storage solution for your camper!

How To Winterize A Camper To Live In

Here are some helpful guidelines that will make your life easier and winters more enjoyable in your full-time camper.

Insulate Your Camper Windows and Floors

For the floor, use thick carpets and rugs everywhere, they’ll prevent heat from escaping your camper.

For the windows, we recommend using foam insulation boards or bubble wrap to trap heat inside. For extra warmth, hang heavy curtains over your windows.

Reflectix 24-Inch-by-50-Foot Bubble Pack Insulation

Reflectix 24-Inch-by-50-Foot Bubble Pack Insulation

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Pamper Your Camper with a Skirt

You can actually buy a skirt for your camper for extra warmth. The skirt is a certain material wrapped around the camper’s bottom, and it keeps the undercarriage protected from extremely low temperatures.

By skirting your RV, you’re making sure that there is minimum heat loss through the floor and guaranteeing extra warmth.

Hang a Thick Towel to Your Door

Choose an old thick towel and put it over the main door of the camper. The towel will minimize heat loss when you open the door.

Use Space Heaters

Buy a couple of electric space heaters, but make sure to buy from a reputable brand name. These heaters will add warmth to the surrounding area.

Lasko 754200 Ceramic Portable Space Heater

Lasko 754200 Ceramic Portable Space Heater

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Check out our guide to the best electric heater for RV use to ensure you get the best heater for your needs!

Prepare Essential Items for Emergency

  • Always have a sleeping bag stored in your camper
  • Gas-powered generator
  • Propane tanks
  • Gallons of drinking water stored in a warm place
  • Blow dryer to use in case the water lines freeze over

For more ideas to keep your RV warm check out our detailed guide on how to insulate a camper for winter use.


How much does it cost to winterize a camper?

The cost to winterize a camper trailer, fifth wheel camper, or RV will depend on the size and class of your vehicle and whether you plan to do the work yourself or take it to a professional. With that said, you can expect to pay a professional at least $125 for smaller campers and RVs and over $150 for larger ones (like Class A). No matter the size, you could save a little money and do it yourself. The cost will be determined by what supplies you need.

How cold can it get before I have to winterize my camper?

You should winterize your camper before the temperatures get below freezing, 32 degrees, for 24 hours.

How do you flush antifreeze out of a camper?

You can flush antifreeze out of your camper by simply running water (from the freshwater tank or the city inlet) through the system. Open the faucets and let the water run through until it is clear. The antifreeze will be flushed to the holding tanks which you can empty later. This is an important step to de-winterize a camper in Spring.

Can you live in a camper in the winter?

Yes, you can live in a camper during winter. It does pose some challenges though. We discuss these above, but in summary, you’ll want to:

  • Insulate your windows and floors
  • Install a skirt around the bottom of your camper
  • Hang a thick towel on your main door
  • Use space heaters and electric blankets
  • Be cautious of freezing pipes

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