My RV Smells Musty, How Do I Get Rid of Musty Smell in RV Camper?

Christopher London
11 min readJun 4, 2024


Find Out Why Your RV Smells Musty and How to Get Rid of That Musty Smell in This Post

My RV Camper Smells Musty Like Mildew, Why?

If you own an RV camper, you may have experienced the unpleasant and persistent smell of mustiness. This musty odor can make your camping trips less enjoyable and can even affect your health. In this blog post, we will explore the reasons behind the musty smell in RV campers and provide effective solutions to eliminate it.

First Off, Does a Musty Camper Smell Always Mean Mold?

No, there are several things that can create a musty or mildew like smell in your camper.

What Does Mold Smell Like in an RV?

Mold in an RV can emit a distinct and unpleasant odor. The smell of mold in an RV is often described as musty, earthy, or damp. It can be similar to the smell of wet or decaying leaves, wet soil, or a damp basement. The odor may become more noticeable when the RV has been closed up for a period of time or when the air is humid. If you detect a persistent musty smell in your RV, it is important to investigate and address the potential presence of mold to prevent further damage and maintain a healthy living environment.

Clearly this can create a bit of confusion when assessing the situation, but don’t worry just yet, because the likely cause of odor is one of these:

Causes of Musty Smell in RV Campers:

a. Moisture and Humidity:

RV campers are prone to moisture buildup due to their compact size and limited ventilation. Moisture can seep into the camper through leaks, condensation, or wet camping gear, leading to the growth of mold and mildew.

b. Stagnant Air:

When an RV camper is closed for an extended period, the air inside becomes stagnant, allowing odors to accumulate.

c. Dirty Upholstery and Carpets:

Dust, dirt, and spills can accumulate on upholstery and carpets, providing a breeding ground for bacteria and mold.

d. RV AC Smells Musty

Ultimately, when it comes to musty mildew smells in your RV or camper, you’re going to want to quickly eliminate humidity, find and address the source of water causing the problem.

How to Get Rid of Musty Smell in Camper:

A. Identify and Fix Leaks:

Inspect your RV camper for any signs of leaks and repair them promptly. Leaks can contribute to moisture buildup and mold growth.

How Do I Identify Leaks in My RV?

Identifying a leak in your RV is crucial to prevent further damage and address the issue promptly. Here are some steps to help you identify a leak in your RV:

1. Visual Inspection:

Start by conducting a thorough visual inspection both inside and outside your RV. Look for any signs of water stains, discoloration, or soft spots on the walls, ceilings, and floors. Pay close attention to areas around windows, doors, vents, and seams.

2. Check Seals and Caulking:

Inspect the seals and caulking around windows, doors, roof vents, and other openings. Look for any cracks, gaps, or deterioration in the seals. Damaged or worn-out seals can allow water to seep into the RV.

3. Test with Water:

If you suspect a leak but cannot visually identify it, you can perform a water test. Start by closing all windows, doors, and vents. Then, using a hose or a bucket of water, carefully pour water over the suspected areas, such as the roof, windows, and seams. Have someone inside the RV to check for any signs of water penetration or dripping.

4. Monitor for Drips or Water Accumulation:

After a rainstorm or when washing your RV, check for any drips or water accumulation inside the RV. Pay attention to areas near windows, doors, and roof vents. If you notice water entering the RV, it indicates a leak.

5. Inspect Plumbing System:

Leaks can also occur in the plumbing system of your RV. Check for any signs of water leaks under sinks, around toilets, or near water connections. Look for wet spots, dripping water, or unusual moisture.

6. Use a Moisture Meter:

If you suspect hidden moisture or water damage, you can use a moisture meter to detect elevated moisture levels in the walls, floors, or ceilings. This can help pinpoint the source of a leak.

7. Seek Professional Help:

If you are unable to identify the source of the leak or if the damage is extensive, it may be necessary to seek professional assistance. RV service centers or technicians experienced in RV repairs can help locate and fix leaks effectively.

Remember, addressing leaks promptly is crucial to prevent further damage, mold growth, and musty odors in your RV. Regular inspections and maintenance can help identify and resolve leaks before they cause significant issues.

How Do I Repair a Leak in RV?

Repairing leaks in RV campers is essential to prevent further damage and maintain a dry and comfortable living space. Here are the steps to repair leaks in your RV camper:

1. Identify the Source:

Before starting the repair, locate the source of the leak. Inspect the area where water is entering the camper, such as windows, doors, roof vents, or plumbing connections. Look for cracks, gaps, or damaged seals.

2. Clean and Dry the Area:

Thoroughly clean and dry the area around the leak. Remove any dirt, debris, or old caulking to ensure a clean surface for the repair.

3. Replace Seals and Gaskets:

If the leak is due to damaged or worn-out seals or gaskets, replace them. Remove the old seals or gaskets and install new ones according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Ensure a proper fit and tight seal.

4. Apply Caulking:

For small cracks or gaps, use a high-quality RV sealant or caulk to seal the area. Apply the caulk evenly and smoothly, covering the entire affected area. Pay attention to seams, corners, and edges where leaks commonly occur.

5. Repair Roof Leaks:

If the leak is coming from the roof, inspect the roof for any damage or deteriorated roofing material. Repair any cracks or holes using an appropriate RV roof sealant or patch kit. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application.

6. Fix Plumbing Leaks:

If the leak is related to the plumbing system, identify the specific area of the leak, such as a pipe or connection. Depending on the type of plumbing material, use the appropriate method to repair or replace the damaged section. This may involve tightening fittings, applying pipe sealant, or replacing a section of pipe.

7. Test for Leaks:

After completing the repairs, test for leaks by spraying water over the repaired area or simulating rain conditions. Check for any signs of water penetration or dripping. If the leak persists, reevaluate the repair and make necessary adjustments.

8. Seek Professional Help:

If you are unsure about the repair process or if the damage is extensive, it is advisable to seek professional assistance. RV service centers or technicians experienced in RV repairs can provide expert guidance and ensure effective leak repairs.

B. Increase Ventilation:

Open windows and roof vents to improve air circulation inside the camper. Consider using dehumidifiers or moisture absorbers to reduce humidity levels.

C. Clean and Dry Upholstery and Carpets:

Regularly vacuum and clean upholstery and carpets to remove dust, dirt, and food particles. If possible, remove and wash removable covers and cushions.

D. Use Natural Odor Absorbers:

Place bowls of baking soda, activated charcoal, or coffee grounds in different areas of the camper to absorb odors. These natural odor absorbers can help neutralize the musty smell.

There are several effective products available to eliminate camper cabin odors.

Here are some popular options:

1. Activated Charcoal:

Activated charcoal is known for its ability to absorb and neutralize odors. Place activated charcoal bags or containers in different areas of the camper cabin to help eliminate unwanted smells.

2. Odor Absorbing Gel:

Odor absorbing gels are designed to trap and neutralize odors in the air. They are easy to use and can be placed in various locations within the camper cabin.

3. Odor Eliminating Sprays:

There are various odor eliminating sprays available that can be used to freshen up the camper cabin. Look for sprays that are specifically formulated to neutralize and eliminate odors rather than just masking them.

4. Baking Soda:

Baking soda is a natural odor absorber. Sprinkle it on carpets, upholstery, and other surfaces in the camper cabin, let it sit for a while, and then vacuum it up to help eliminate odors.

5. Essential Oils:

Some essential oils, such as lavender, lemon, or tea tree oil, have natural deodorizing properties. Add a few drops to a diffuser or mix with water in a spray bottle to freshen up the camper cabin.

e. Air Out the Camper:

Whenever possible, leave the RV camper open to allow fresh air to circulate. This will help eliminate stagnant air and reduce the musty odor.

f. Use Mold and Mildew Removers:

If you notice mold or mildew growth, use appropriate cleaners to remove them. Follow the instructions carefully and ensure proper ventilation during the cleaning process.

g. Consider Professional Cleaning:

If the musty smell persists despite your efforts, it may be beneficial to hire professional RV cleaning services. They have specialized equipment and expertise to deep clean and eliminate stubborn odors.

What if My RV AC Smells Musty?

Why Does My RV AC smell musty and what do I do to fix it?

Is a Musty Smell Coming from My RV Camper AC a big problem?

A musty smell coming from your RV AC can indicate a potential problem that should be addressed. While it may not necessarily be a big problem, it is important to investigate and resolve the issue to prevent further complications. Here are a few reasons why a musty smell from your RV AC should be taken seriously:

1. Mold and Mildew Growth:

A musty smell often indicates the presence of mold or mildew. Mold and mildew can cause health issues, especially for individuals with respiratory conditions or allergies. It is important to address the source of the smell to prevent the spread of mold spores and maintain a healthy living environment.

2. Clogged Drain Line:

The AC unit has a drain line that removes condensation. If this drain line becomes clogged or blocked, water can accumulate and create a damp environment where mold and mildew can grow, resulting in a musty odor.

3. Dirty Air Filters:

If the air filters in your RV AC are dirty or clogged, they can trap moisture and promote the growth of mold and mildew. As the air passes through the filters, the musty smell can be circulated throughout the RV.

4. Reduced Air Quality:

Mold and mildew can negatively impact the air quality inside your RV. Breathing in mold spores can lead to respiratory problems and allergic reactions. It is essential to maintain clean and fresh air in your RV for your comfort and well-being.

5. Potential Damage to AC System:

If there is mold or mildew growth within your RV AC system, it can lead to damage and reduced efficiency. Mold can clog the drain line, block air filters, and affect the overall performance of the AC unit. Regular maintenance and addressing the musty smell can help prevent costly repairs or replacements.

6. Unpleasant Living Environment:

A musty smell can make your RV uncomfortable and unpleasant to be in. It can affect your overall camping experience and enjoyment of your RV.

To address the musty smell from your RV AC, it is recommended to clean or replace air filters, check for any clogs or leaks in the system, and consider using mold and mildew removers. If the issue persists or if you are unsure about performing the necessary steps, it is advisable to consult a professional RV technician for further assistance.

If My RV AC Smells Musty, What Do I Do to Fix it?

To address the musty smell in your RV AC, you can try the following steps:

1. Clean or Replace Air Filters:

Regularly clean or replace the air filters in your RV AC to prevent moisture buildup and the growth of mold and mildew.

2. Clean the AC Unit:

If possible, clean the AC unit and its components, including the evaporator coils, condensate drain pan, and drain line, to remove any mold or mildew buildup.

Now, there is also the possibility that the AC unit is creating excess condensation from operating in high heat. RVing DIY Newbie to Pro has a great video addressing this;

3. Use Mold and Mildew Removers:

There are specific mold and mildew removers available that can be used to clean the AC system and eliminate the musty smell. Follow the instructions on the product carefully and watch this video by Wayward Waggs .

4. Improve Ventilation:

Ensure proper ventilation in your RV by opening windows and using ceiling vents or fans to promote air circulation and reduce moisture buildup.

If the musty smell persists or if you are unsure about performing these steps yourself, it is recommended to consult a professional RV technician who can inspect and service your AC system.

How to Prevent Your RV Camper from Getting a Musty Smell Again:

a. Regular Maintenance:

Conduct regular inspections and maintenance to identify and fix any potential sources of moisture or leaks.

b. Proper Storage:

When storing your RV camper, ensure it is clean, dry, and well-ventilated. Remove any perishable items and clean all surfaces thoroughly.

c. Use Moisture Absorbers or Dehumidifiers:

Place moisture absorbers or desiccant packs in storage compartments to prevent moisture buildup during periods of inactivity. You can also purchase small and highly effective dehumidifiers for your camper.

We recommend The TABYIK 35 OZ Small Dehumidifier for these reasons;

Compact Size:

The TABYIK 35 OZ Small Dehumidifier is designed to be compact and portable, making it suitable for campers and RVs with limited space.

Efficient Moisture Removal: This dehumidifier is designed to effectively remove excess moisture from the air, helping to prevent mold, mildew, and musty odors in the camper or RV.

Quiet Operation:

Many campers appreciate that the TABYIK dehumidifier operates quietly, allowing for a peaceful camping experience.

Energy Efficiency:

The dehumidifier is designed to be energy-efficient, which is important for campers who may have limited power sources while on the road.

Easy to Use:

The TABYIK dehumidifier is typically user-friendly, with simple controls and easy maintenance.

d. Keep Windows and Vents Closed During Rain:

To prevent water from entering the camper, close windows and vents during rainy weather or when washing the exterior.

Do You Still Have a Funky Smell in Your RV or Camper?

Perhaps, the smell was misdiagnosed. It might fall under one of these stinky categories for which we have complete guides on how to assess and eliminate the odors:

The most likely cause for your RV smelling like urine is that urine has been left in the toilet without much water allowing it to dry or create a layer of odor causing residue in the toilet bowl.

A possible reason for your RV smelling like ammonia could be a buildup of urine in the holding tank, which can produce ammonia-like odors when it decomposes.

A rotten egg smell in your RV toilet is often an indication of a problem with the plumbing system. It is likely caused by the presence of hydrogen sulfide gas, which has a distinct rotten egg odor. This gas can be produced when organic matter in the holding tank decomposes, or if there is a problem with the RV’s ventilation system.

Most Common Reasons: blocked or damaged black tank vent , leaking seals, holding tank issue.

Remember, regular maintenance and inspections are crucial to prevent leaks in your RV camper. Addressing leaks promptly and properly will help maintain the integrity of your camper and prevent further water damage.

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Christopher London

Chris London, Owner/Marketing Director for Pixel Productions Inc, is an expert in brand building, Ecommerce Development, and online marketing.