March 13, 2016

Unless you want to drink antifreeze, change a flat tire, and run out of power…all on your first trip of the season, de-winterization is just as important as winterization. Thankfully the process is quick and easy.

Water Sanitization

This process will clean both the water pipes and storage tank regardless of if you used RV antifreeze or compressed air to winterize.

Water Storage Tank

If you added RV antifreeze to your storage tank, drain it first.


Dilute 1/4 cup of household bleach for every 15 gallons of tank capacity into a bucket of water then into your storage tank with the help of a funnel.  Do NOT pour the bleach directly into your tank. Fill the rest of the tank with water and then drive your camper around a bit to let the water and bleach mix completely while also agitating the water around in the tank to reach and clean the very top. Let this solution sit overnight.

Water Pipes

To clean the interior pipes, let’s first remove your water filter (if applicable) and rinse it manually. Turn on your water pump next and run water through every plumbing fixture. This includes the sink, interior shower, exterior shower, and even the water heater (which needs to be taken out of bypass mode to push water through the entire water heater system. If the hot water heater wasn’t bypassed, you’ll need to drain all of the antifreeze from that system first (we recommend bypassing it in future winterizations). Continue running the water until no more pink antifreeze is coming out and about 1 minute of clear, diluted bleach water has passed. You can now drain your water storage tank and replace the water filter.

Extra Credit

If desired, you can fill your water storage tank back up and run clean (without any bleach) water through your pipes before draining the tank again. However, the bleach is diluted to such a low amount that this isn’t necessary. Additionally, if you use the city water hookup on your popup, run it for a few minutes (with a plumbing fixture turned on) to flush clean water through it’s piping.



Hopefully your deep cycle batteries were on a battery maintainer all winter in a temperature controlled location. If not, they’re likely damaged and needing replaced since these types of batteries loose about 10% per month in storage, even more in the cold of winter. More information is available at the “Battery Maintenance” post.

Before that first trip of the year, you’ll want to first charge the batteries before checking their water level. Add water as necessary according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Wheels and Tires


Tire pressure and wheel lug nut tightening should be checked before every trip, but especially so before your first of the year. View the “Wheel & Tire Maintenance” post for complete instructions, including how to grease those bearings.


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I've been camping regularly since I was a kid, from quick Cub/Boy Scout trips to week-long backpacking trips and everything else in-between. We got a popup camper when our kids were 1 and 3 years old to enjoy more time outdoors together alongside a few conveniences like heat and running water. Since then, we've spent over 75 nights together as a family in our popup camper. I've learned a lot about the intricacies of a popup tent camper during this time and love to share those lessons here for the benefit of others.