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8 Hacks to Keeping Your Van Squeaky Clean This Summer


Nothing beats the feeling of sunshine on your face with a cool salty breeze blowing through your hair. Although adventure vans are the perfect companion for summer fun, they don’t appreciate these elements quite as much as their owners.

To keep your van looking and running like new for many years to come, it’s important to understand how to properly care for your van in summer vacation conditions like sand, sun, and humidity. Plus, you’ll enjoy everyday life in your traveling home more if you’re in a clean and beautiful space.

That’s why we’re sharing our top tips for keeping camper vans clean in the warmer months—though many of these suggestions apply year-round. Learn how to protect your investment and improve your quality of life with our tricks for cleaning both the interior and exterior of your van. Then hit the road in search of surfing, hiking, biking, and more summer fun with absolutely no worries!

Cleaning Your Van



You can save your future self from tons of work by stopping dirt in its tracks. Put systems in place to prevent dirt, dust, sand, and water from being brought into the van. Some options are using a designated towel to wipe off your feet outside the van or a textured welcome mat to get rid of debris on shoes. Even better, create a storage solution near the entrance to your van so you can take off and stow your shoes as soon as you enter the space.


Avoid becoming overwhelmed by keeping your van interior organized. If everything has its own designated place, your van will immediately feel cleaner. With less clutter, you will also have an easier time keeping dust at bay. For more innovative and clever tips for organizing your van, check out our post. Also, to prevent produce from going bad quickly in the heat or crumbs attracting bugs, don’t leave food out in the open. Keep your fridge organized and pared down to the essentials so you don’t get the unpleasant surprise of a van-pervading smell coming from some mysterious forgotten food item.


Photography: @winnebagorvs


All cleaning products are not created equal, and some cleaners can actually damage the surfaces of your van. For example, corrosive, acidic cleaners and pressure washing can damage your paint job and even remove your van’s decorative decals. Do your research—including consulting your van’s instruction manual—to ensure you’re not doing more harm than good with your scrubbing sessions. But don’t get overwhelmed by the thought of endless boxes of specialty products—many simple household cleaners work just fine for a van’s interior surfaces.


Any van owner knows that part of keeping your van clean and fresh involves maximizing the limited space. Take this into account with your cleaning supplies and tools. Whenever possible, choose a cleaning product that has multiple functions. If you have a home base and are going on a trip with the van, you can even transfer cleaning solutions into smaller bottles to save space. A handheld vacuum will work wonders without taking up much space, as will a collapsible bucket.


Photography: @winnebagorvs


UV rays can cause a surprising amount of damage to vehicles by drying, cracking, and bleaching surfaces. To prevent vinyl and leather seats from cracking under the intense rays of the sun, treat them with a special protectant. Get tinted windows or use window coverings to prevent your interior upholstery from fading over time. The rays and heat can also damage tires and the rubber seals around doors, so be sure to give them some attention with a protecting product as well. Lastly, to preserve the looks of your van’s body, treat it to a regular wax.


If there’s one summer element more damaging than the sun, it’s salt. Saltwater and salty, humid air can corrode many elements of your van. Luckily, you can prevent most long-term damage by cleaning the exterior of your van every one to two weeks. Clean it yourself or find a car wash near you that will service a van of your size. Coastal regions also often come with humidity which can encourage mildew inside your van. If you’re planning on spending lots of time in humid conditions this summer, consider investing in a small dehumidifier. Also, keep wet items like swimsuits and towels outside as much as possible by setting up a quick outdoor laundry line.


Cleaning Your Van
Photography: @winnebagorvs


The dirtiest thing in your van is probably the gear you use for outdoor activities. Backpacks, rock climbing equipment, bikes, wetsuits, and similar items pick up all of the surrounding elements and can quickly track grime into your home. Prevent this with a plan. Maybe you leave your gear outside if you’re in a remote location where no one would swipe it. Or, try to shake off dust and dirt from equipment and fabrics outside the van before bringing them inside. If you must store things like backpacks inside the van, consider a plastic storage container near the door that keeps the debris contained and out of the rest of the space.


Keep the van feeling fresh by tidying up daily and whenever you make a meal. Clean the interior of your van more thoroughly with a vacuum and cleaning supplies once a week. Depending on where you are, you might need to clean the exterior of your van once a week or once every few weeks. If you are taking the van on a summer road trip, do a major cleaning before you go and another after you return. You should also get your van’s mechanical components checked periodically for sun and salt-related oxidation.

Your rig will treat you well if you treat it well, so follow the above tips to keep it in ship-shape condition. No matter what activities you have planned this summer, you can travel worry-free by implementing these easy solutions to keep your van exterior protected and the interior feeling like a vacation sanctuary.

Longing to get on the road in search of adventure this summer? Find the perfect van to take you there at Rec Van.