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Removing Mold and Mildew from Your RV

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Mold and mildew are two of the worst enemies an RV owner could face. They can cause allergic reactions or even illness. They’re highly persistent and an spread if they’re not eradicated.

Obviously, the best way to ensure that mold and mildew will not recur and spread is to find and eliminate the source of moisture that causes them. With this blog, we’re talking only about how to clean mildew- and mold-infected areas inside and outside your RV.

Perhaps the most important consideration is killing the mold or mildew and removing the stain that they leave without discoloring any part of your RV. The wrong cleaning agent can ruin carpet or upholstery.

Cleaning Interior Surfaces

Hard surfaces are often the places that mold and mildew show their ugly face. We’re talking high-moisture areas of the RV, especially the bathroom but also the kitchen. Surfaces adjacent to, and including, windows also are prone to mold/mildew growth, as is anyplace where leaking water collects.

If you don’t like using chemicals, try some natural mold/mildew killers, which are less likely than chemical cleaners to damage carpet and fabric: tea tree oil with water; white vinegar and warm water in a 1:1 mixture; or about 2 dozen drops of grapefruit seed extract with 2 cups of warm water. Spray any of them onto the mold/mildew and let the solution work in. The infection will die off within hours (vinegar), a couple of days (tea tree oil) or a few days (grapefruit). Then wash with soap and rinse.

If a stronger remedy is needed, mix one part bleach with four parts water in a spray bottle and shake. Let the solution work against the mildew/mold for about an hour, which should kill it. Wipe, then wash with a household cleaning soap in water and rinse. Caution: You cannot use bleach on fabric or carpet without damaging it. Reserve bleach solutions for hard, impervious surfaces, such as counters, sinks, showers or backsplashes.

Some chemical and commercial cleaners with citrus are available. They will work similarly to the natural solutions. Test for colorfastness in an unseen area before using.

Exterior Cleanup

Mold or mildew on the exterior of an RV is not unusual, especially if the RV has been sitting and not regularly washed. If it sits in an area that continually heats and cools, such as a parking space that’s shaded part of the day, it may be more susceptible.

The signs are obvious: Black or dark green growth appears on the surface of the fiberglass or aluminum and spreads. Often it will form in patches where water is frequently present and slow to dry, such as below a drain rail or window.

What you need to do, as inside the RV, is attack it with an agent that kills the culture and wipe it off. A good example is LA’s Totally Awesome. It’s sold in spray bottles and is quite cheap—probably less than $2 a bottle. You can find it at discount stores or online.

How it works is simple: Spray liberally and directly onto the infected area and let it work—less than a minute will do. Wearing disposable gloves, use a clean rag or paper towels to wipe it off. You’ll have to work your cleaning material into cracks and crevices to make sure you get all the mold/mildew.

It’s possible that you’ll remove some oxidized paint and wax as you scrub and wipe the cleaner off. Follow up the mold/mildew removal by washing the area you’ve cleaned with a good automotive cleaning agent and water. Rinse thoroughly and let it dry. Then put on a fresh coat of wax.

Testing for Toxic Mold

Is the mold in your camper toxic? Find out with a toxic mold test kit, about $10, plus a lab analysis fee. Toxic mold may best be removed by a professional wearing a protective mask and clothing.

Image Credits: Prolab

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