Pests-Proofing your RVs, Campers and Travel Trailers for Winter Storage

Updated for 2023

Camping has always been a fun outdoor activity, but it’s not for everyone. However, the Covid-19 pandemic changed all of that and made many people who wouldn’t have otherwise considered it get out and explore the great outdoors. Now, camping is more popular than ever before. As of 2022, more than 11 million households in the United States own a RV, camper, fifth-wheel, or travel trailer.

In most parts of the U.S. and for most campers, camping season runs from early spring to late fall. When the winter months hit, it’s generally too cold to camp. You can’t keep the camper as warm as you need it and it’s too cold to spend leisure time outside. So, you park it, winterize it, and wait for it to warm up so you can get back out again.


What Kind of Pests Try to Get Inside RVs?

When the winter months come, pests and rodents like to find warm places to nest. That’s how they end up inside our basements, attics, and our RVs. Rodents are the biggest concern – mice, rats, squirrels, and even chipmunks. You may also have trouble with ants, bees, dirt daubers, and wasps.

They’re all just looking for food, water, or shelter, so your RV will seem appealing. But they can do a lot of damage, which can end up costing you quite a bit of money in repairs.



The underpinning of your motorhome is where rodents tend to make their mark the easiest. They can chew through electrical wires, plumbing lines, and rubber and plastic hoses and end up disabling your RV. They can also make their way in through holes near the propane, sewer, and water pipes underneath.

It’s fairly easy to determine if you have a rodent problem in your RV. They’re messy little creatures. If your problem is squirrels, you may find the shells of acorns laying around. Holes in places where they shouldn’t be or stuffing pulled out of cushions are also signs of mice and rats. Both are ways to tell that rodents have gotten inside and tried to gather materials to make a nest for themselves.

If you discover a rodent problem, act quickly to minimize the damage. Set traps to catch them. You’ll know you’ve gotten rid of the problem when you have a full week without catching any new rodents in your traps.

Also be sure and give your camper a thorough cleaning. Rodents are nasty, disease-carrying little creatures. Their urine and droppings contain viruses which can make humans sick. Be sure and wear rubber gloves to clean and disinfect any area where you suspect there may have been rodent activity.


Believe it or not, your fifth-wheel can become a home to termites. It’s not a common problem, but it can still happen, because all campers have some wood in them as part of their construction. Termites can be difficult to control on your own. If you suspect termites, the best thing to do is call a professional pest control service to assess the damage, determine what type of termite it is, and get rid of them for you.

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs can get inside sofa cushions and mattresses. You may not realize they are there until your next trip, when everyone wakes up with red marks on them that are itching like crazy. You’ll find many do-it-yourself suggestions online to get rid of bed bugs, but the best option is to call a professional pest control service to get rid of them for you. You’ll also need to wash all your sheets and blankets in hot water to kill any that might be on the bedding. High heat can kill bed bugs and their eggs.


Ants of all types are able to get in travel trailers through small openings and, before you know it, they have set up a colony. The best way to ensure you don’t have an ant problem is to clean out all the food and drinks when you store the camper for the winter.

Bees, Wasps, Dirt Daubers

Bees, wasps, and dirt daubers can set up nests in the undercarriage and corners on the outside of your motorhome. If you find one, you’ll want to remove the nests immediately and you may need to call a professional to do it so you won’t get hurt or stung. These flying insects won’t necessarily cause damage, but if they are able to build their nests and colonies over the winter, they can grow and can create a big problem for you and your family outside your travel trailer when you start camping again. Investing in a cover for your motorhome is a good way to prevent them from being able to set up nests.

If you don’t see the pest or the damage, there are other ways to know if you have a problem. One clue is if you smell a bad odor inside. Try your best to track down where you think the smell is coming from. If it’s inside your air ducts, drains, or holding tanks, it could be a pest. If the smell is coming from moist areas like the kitchen or bathroom, the problem may be mold. The first thing you will want to do is clean and air out your camper. Your motorhome just may need a good refresh. However, if the smell lingers or comes back, then you will need to determine if you’re dealing with mold or pests and take the appropriate steps to get rid of them.

How Do I Keep Pests Out of My RV?

Clean Your Camper

Before you store your RV for winter, clean it thoroughly. Clean out the fridge, stove, drains, and cabinets. Clean the bathroom and the kitchen sink. Dump the trash and clean out the can. Clean out from under the chairs, couches and tables. Sweep and vacuum all floor areas and wipe down all surfaces. You don’t want any leftover crumbs, small bits of food, or standing water to attract unwanted pests. Also, remove anything that can be used for materials to make nests like toilet paper, paper towels, or soft clothes.

Get Rid of the Food

One of the easiest ways to make sure pests stay out of your camper, is to make sure you take out all foods – perishable and non-perishable – when you get ready to store the camper for the winter. Before it starts rotting, all types of critters will be interested in it and try to get inside to eat it. Once it starts rotting, it can produce and attract moths, weevils, small beetles, and fruit flies. Fruit flies in particular will mate and lay their eggs on rotting food, creating an infestation.

Don’t just check the pantry cabinets for food, especially if you have children: be thorough. Check all drawers and corners of the camper for any food your children may have left behind.

Get Rid of Standing Water

Once you clean the sinks and the refrigerator, make sure you wipe all the water out. If you have an ice maker in your fridge, make sure to empty the water out of it. Critters are looking for water sources in the winter, and you don’t want your RV to become that.

Seal Up the Vents

Pests use the vents on travel trailers as a door. It’s an easier way for them to gain access inside. So, be sure and seal up the vents when you decide to store your camper for the winter. You can use spray foam, RV caulk or sealant, or stainless steel wool to plug the small holes and keep pests out. You can also place peppermint oil or peppermint-infused granules and moth balls near the openings. Mice don’t like these products and they will help keep them from trying to get inside. Placing dryer sheets all over your fifth-wheel is also a good pest deterrent.

Install Insect Screens

Put insect screens on the outside openings for your camper’s furnace, hot water heater and refrigerator. The screens are made to keep insects and other small pests from getting inside through the openings.

Check the Sealant and Caulk

Check the sealant and the caulk around your doors and windows. Sun, rain and snow can cause wear and tear, creating gaps and cracks that make it easy for pests to get inside. If you find any, be sure and repair them.

Spray WD-40 Around Your Vents

It seems like WD-40 is one of the best multi-use products on the market. It can come in very handy in the prevention of wasps. Spray it around all of the vents on your camper to keep wasps from nesting.

What Should I Consider When Choosing Long-Term Storage Facilities?

Some people are fortunate enough to be able to park their camper on their property. Other people live in neighborhoods where the HOA prevents them from storing their travel trailer in their driveway or yard. It’s important to choose wisely when picking a long-term storage solution.

Whether you’re parking your RV at home or at a storage facility, don’t place it near overgrown fields, wood piles, or wooded areas. Those are prime places for rodents and pests to nest and it will make it easier for them to find your camper.

When choosing a long-term storage place, be sure and take a walk around the area you’re considering. Look for things that might be concerning and address them with the managers of the parking area. If you don’t get answers that suit you, pick a new place.

If you have access to electricity, stringing white rope lights on the ground around your travel trailer and leaving them on can create a protective barrier against rodents and nocturnal animals. If you can’t plug into an electric outlet, then consider throwing moth balls around the camper to keep pests away. You can also sprinkle ant or rodent killer on the ground around the RV as a deterrent, if it’s in a place where there won’t be any pets.

It may also be worth setting traps inside of or around your RV. The traps can capture rodents before they do too much, if any, damage. If you set traps, just make sure you check them regularly. You don’t want animal carcasses to begin rotting – that can cause other issues.

If possible, choose a facility that is fenced in and paved, or at the very least, has a gravel parking area. This will help keep pests out, as well. And regularly check on your camper whether you have it parked at home or at a storage facility. If possible, go by the lot once a week, or at the very least, once a month. Walk around your RV, check the undercarriage, and inspect the inside. Doing this will alert you to any pest problem you may have and allow you to get it under control quicker.


You expect to encounter all types of critters while you’re camping, but you don’t want them inside your RV. While rodents and pests are searching for food, water, and shelter in the colder months, they may end up finding it in your travel trailer. As part of your winterization process, be sure to take the needed steps to keep pests from infesting and damaging your camper.