You enter your camper and WHAM – the smell hits you: that musty, old, sorta wet FUNK. It may be common, but it’s not overly pleasant. We have a super easy hack for how we have kept our camper smelling like new year after year!
Campers are Notoriously Musty
And why shouldn’t they be, right? They sit outside, many have thin walls (especially pop ups or hybrids) and they really brave the elements right along with you when you camp. Over time, the moisture and humidity from the outside creep into your camper and settles everywhere. If you have ever walked into an older camper and smelled that musty smell, you know what I am talking about.
As the years tick by, it’s pretty much inevitable that your camper will smell less new and more musty. However there are several things that you can do to prevent the onslaught of the musty camper. You need to be diligent, but it is well worth the effort.
Keep that Camper Smelling Like New
The other day we were at the Dollar Tree and we noticed that they had a fresh batch of the Moisture Eliminators that you see pictured above. So as we usually do once or twice a year, we stocked up. (If your local dollar store does not stock these, you can buy them online, but the dollar store is by far the cheapest.)
These rather inconspicuous looking containers have proven to be worth their weight in gold.
Here’s how they work: the activated charcoal inside attracts moisture from the air around it and traps it inside. You peel the seal off of the container and simply sit it in the camper. It continually pulls the moisture out of the air in your camper and when it fills up, you dispose it and replace with a new one!
We were super skeptical at first, but for a buck apiece, we knew it was worth a shot. That was 4 years ago and with consistent use, our camper still smells pretty great. The interior has also held up great – no mildew, mold, etc.
How often should you replace these moisture eliminators?
We replace ours every 4-8 weeks. How quick they need to be replaced can depend on many factors, including the time of year, outside humidity and moisture levels, etc. The clear sides of these containers make it pretty easy to see when the insides are filled with muck and need to be replaced.
We stock up every few months and buy 5-10 at a time. This makes replacement super easy and therefore, more manageable.
How many should you have open at once?
Our camper is a 28 foot travel trailer and we only keep one of these units open at a time. It works great. If you have a bigger camper or live in an environment that tends to be super humid and/or wet, you can always open two units at a time.
What are some other ways to keep your camper smelling great?
Here at home, I am a big fan of candles. I almost always have one burning when I am going to be home all day. Open flames and campers, however, are a pretty dangerous mix. You will want to avoid having an open flame anywhere inside your camper. It’s just not worth the risk.
When it comes to good smells, you might also think of taking along an essential oil diffuser. I would probably recommend against that, seeing as how the diffuser works buy literally dumping wet air into the atmosphere. You really don’t want to add any unnecessary moisture to your camper. If you really want to bring your oils along, however, you might consider heating them in wax/oil melter instead.
So here are some other items that can help with improving a camper’s smell:
- Dehumidifier – You can run a small dehumidifier in your RV to help eliminate moisture in the air and create a drier interior.
- Febreze Air – Neutralizes odors and leaves a pleasant scent behind.
- Wax Melter – I’ll start with a disclaimer – PLEASE don’t EVER leave a wax melter (or any appliance, for that matter) unattended in your camper! But assuming that you are at your campsite and keeping a watchful eye, wax melters give off the fragrance of a candle without the need for open flames.
- Dryer Sheets – Place scented fabric dryer sheets around your camper. Not only will the smell create a pleasant aroma in your camper, dryer sheets can deter some kinds of bugs!
Do you have tips or products that you use in your camper to keep it smelling great? Share what has worked great for you in the comments!
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41 thoughts on “The Easiest Hack to Keep Your Camper Smelling like New”
The storage under our camper bed stinks so bad that I can’t have it opened. Will these Eliminators work in there as well? I don’t know what else to do.
Any idea if the smell is moisture related? If so, I’d absolutely stick one or two of these in there and see if it helps.
Yes!!! Ours was so damp too! I keep 2 underneath it with a dryer sheet or 2. It needs done kind of ventilation but idk what to do under there.
We drilled 2” holes on either side of the bed pedestal and put in drain covers. It allows circulation and reduces condensation build up.
We use . charcoal bags found on Amazon to eliminate odors naturally. Use them anywhere and everywhere. They’re all natural and can be reactivated by placing them in the sun for an hour once a month. I write the date in the outside label.
Hi Judy. Can I leave these charcoal bags in the camper all winter in New England when I put it away for storage
Yes it helps a lot, so does a container of cat litter and plain charcoal without the lighter fluid and baking soda. I’d mix the charcoal and cat litter in a container that would interact with the air and use the unspillable fridge box of soda. First wipe the area down with a scented cleaner like lemon or Pinesol
For gross smells crumpled
Up news paper will take away smells too
Good to know, thanks!
I clean all non porous surfaces with a mixture of alcohol and peppermint oil. Alcohol evaporates leaving fresh peppermint aroma. Peppermint also repels spiders and mice.
I have a horrible moth ball stench in mine.. the previous owner used them and I can’t seem to get the smell out. I think I may give these a try. Wish me luck
Oh no! That sounds awful!! Definitely try these. Let me know if they help at all.
Try odoban cleaner. Amazing results
I love this stuff and use it all the time!
Look in the cubbies and under everything there might be some of the balls left behind!!! Those give me an awful headache! I got the smell out of my parents camper by using an air purifier and cleaning everything throughout … good luck! Over the winter I like to put out peppermint on cotton balls to help keep bugs and rodents away
Did you ever get the moth ball smell out? I’m in the same situation and I am so sad I can’t stand being in our new to us camper 😭
Another trick that works is using the sachets (paper envelopes) that you find at Kirklands, At Home or Hobby Lobby. I bought 4 and placed them through out the camper. 🥰
In the winter, I leave a few small pans of charcoal in closed spaces. I also sprinkle dryer sheets everywhere. Helps keeps bus out (I do no know why) and smells great when I open the door!
Interesting! Thank you for sharing!
We used dryer sheets everywhere when our camper was stored. Kept bugs and nice out and made it smell nice. We were also diligent about closing the windows when fires were burning to keep the smoke out.
Dryer sheets definitely work great!
Buy a Marie Callenders creme pie. Eat the pie. Save and wash pie pan. Pour 1/3 box of baking soda into a quart zip lock bag. Add 1/4 cup Downy Liquid Fabric Softener. Zip shut and knead the two together. Pour mixture into pie pan evenly. Absorbs bad odors and leaves a fresh smell. Worked on smokers cars I have worked on too.
We have a smelly truck I’m going to try this one!! Love that you also get to eat some pie with this method! LOL Thanks for sharing!
Does it need to be a Marie Callender’s creme pie? I’m kind of fond of apple.
I love Marie Callender’ Raselberry Pie!
You’re too funny AND helpful!!
If your local store is out of the absorbers, you can order them online from Dollar Tree, but you do have to order a whole case of 36.
Irish Spring bars of soap…smells clean fresh and deters rodents
Our rodents are the Irish Spring.
I use Irish Spring around the trailer. It is great. I grate a few bars and place them in little plastic cups around the trailer.
No it doesn’t, mice got in chewed it and found droppings right beside it, same for sachets with peppermint, cinnamon etc. Steel wool and foam around possible entry points worked. We use Dri-Z-Air in the trailer for winter storage, found the dollar store ones didn’t pull enough moisture out. I hang Scentsy car bars in the trailer for a fresh aroma.
I’m new at owning a camper? Do rodent tend to hang out in them when stored away?
Yes, they love seeking warmth in campers, especially during the winter months!
I’ve used a candle before, but I put it in the kitchen sink. I didn’t want anything to happen to my little home.
I have been camping for years, I have tried everything from Bounce dryes sheets to Irish Spring soap shavings to keep the mice and rodents, then one year I bought a product called Cab Fresh–they worked for awhile but I still kept them all around. This year I bought peppermint oil and soaked the cab fresh bags in the oil. I place them all around our 39ft camper and the smell is amazing. Had to go in to do something and my friend said how nice it smelled. Lets hope it keeps out the little critters. I also bought some cinnamon scented pine cones and soaked them in cinnamon oil and hung them on the door knob of the bathroom. We shall see how that all work–it does smell goo though.
I’ll bet that smells amazing!
All these articles kept saying how great this was. Well, we put one of these in our pop up camper. The next time we used it, just one week later, the container had leaked, and we had the oily stuff all over the floor, and counter top. It took 3 or 4 cleanings eith Dawn dish soap and water to get it all cleaned up. We store the pop-up in our garage, so I don’t know how it got a leak in the container. We’ll never use these again.
We love them and still 6 years later haven’t had an issue. Did the plastic on yours get cracked? I’m sorry to hear that you had such a bad experience with them!
Great ideas folks… in New Zealand we don’t have dawn soap.. any idea what else I can use??
I have a travel trailer parked under cover. I put a protective cover over the roof vents in the bathroom and living area. The cover allows ventilation 24/7 even in the rain. They attach to the roof vents on top of the trailer using the existing holes. Easy to do. Once the covers on on you can keep the roof vents open and it allows air circulation throughout the trailer. I never have to use anything to keep the smell down as there is none.
Camco 40711 Aero-flo Roof Vent Cover (Black)
We have those too, so nice to have the vents wide open, even in a rain storm!