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How to Winterize RV Without Antifreeze in 4 Easy Steps

Written by Stephen Ryan / Fact checked by William Turner

How to Winterize RV Without Antifreeze

It’s that time of the year again. The winds are chilly, the roads are slippery, and your RV is going to be in dormant mode. It’s going to be a while until the next camping trip, and your RV, though sturdy and reliable, is not safe from these harsh temperature changes.

Of course, this is nothing a bit of antifreeze can fix. Calling in your local professionals to apply some of the stuff to winterize your RV is a great plan. However, it may be a little costly for some folks.

Luckily, there are ways to prep your RV for the winter season without having to spend on antifreeze services. With a bit of pre-planning and preparation, you can do wonders for your beloved RV during the wintertime. In this article, we’ll share ways on how to winterize RV without antifreeze easily. Keep reading.

Table of Contents

How Does Antifreeze Work


Commercial antifreeze is a mixture of chlorine-based compounds that reacts to lower the freezing point of a liquid. It’s also known as an engine coolant, as it is utilized mainly for car engines, including RV engines.

It’s become a common practice for RV owners to dump antifreeze into the plumbing of their large, vulnerable vehicles during the winter months. When water and antifreeze mix, the liquid’s freezing point increases – which means it will stay liquid throughout the winter.

How Can Antifreeze be Harmful

Like all chemical-based concoctions, antifreeze has a lot of harmful substances. When antifreeze gets dumped out of your vehicle come springtime, it’s likely to kill off all the surrounding flora.

To add to this dilemma, antifreeze could also trickle into your main water supply. Because not all of it gets drained out, you’ll likely be drinking or bathing in trace amounts of antifreeze when you use the RV again.

Learn More About Antifreeze and the Freezing Point of Water


Alternative Ways to Winterize

Fortunately, antifreeze isn’t the sole proprietor of RV winterization. There are other more practical, environment-friendly, and efficient ways for winterizing your RV – varying on what you have available, or what you’re willing to invest in.

What you’ll need

If you want to keep antifreeze out of the picture of your RV maintenance, here’s a list of the things you may want to invest on to get started:

  • Portable heater
  • Air compressor
  • Foam Boards
  • Vent Covers

Take note that all these can be applied altogether, as it will greatly increase the chances of your RV successfully getting through the winter months.

Here are some non-antifreeze ways to winterize your RV:

Step 1: Drain the Plumbing

One major factor in RV plumbing damage is the water that’s left to stagnate in the pipes. If you leave water in your pipes, these will freeze over in the water and cause some serious pipe damage. Parts will freeze and break, and pumps will be rendered unusable.

You can avoid all this distress, as well the possibility of costly repairs, by draining the water before the weather turns for the worst. Most RV’s come with a manual on how to do this, as it’s going to depend on your type and brand of recreational vehicle. While the process may vary depending on RV models, it generally follows a similar procedure.

  1. Locate the petcock and drain the freshwater from the holding tanks.
  2. Drain the black and gray holding tanks onto a designated local dump station.
  3. Check water-dependent appliances such as the fridge and dishwasher and drain them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Repeatedly flush the toilet and open all faucets until water is all drained.
  5. Makes use of a blowout plug to let compressed air pass through all the water lines for a thorough drain.

Step 2: Keep Your Pipes Warm

The last thing you want is your RV pipes to freeze over. While draining all the water will significantly decrease the chances, it’s still likely to freeze because if there’s no insulation. For this, it’s recommended that you line heat-generating insulation tape on hoses, valves, and water lines – as these are most vulnerable.

Additionally, you can also use a space heater to keep your RV warm. These small, portable devices can be kept running for long periods, which makes them ideal for maintaining heat in your RV. Be sure to position them safely, while also allowing the hot air to flow freely around.

If you can’t get a hold of a heater, you can opt to utilize your RV’s heating system. This is also built for longevity, so you don’t lose anything by keeping it on. To make it more efficient at distributing heat, open all doors, rooms, and cabinets.

Perhaps the only downside to this is that it uses up a lot of energy, and could drain out fuel if left unchecked.

Step 3: Invest in Vent Covers

While it’s ideal to bundle up for the winter, your RV needs a little bit of ventilation. Vent covers allow your RV to control the air coming in – making sure there’s free airflow. This reduces any carbon monoxide buildup that’s going to be caused by the heaters.

Vent covers don’t eradicate outside air completely but rather controls it – so that the RV’s interiors can breathe. By regularizing the airflow, the RV heater can effectively disseminate hot air and keep your water pipes from freezing.

Step 4: Upgrade or Install Insulation

There are areas in your RV that can be lined with insulation. Just like an extra blanket on a bed, the insulation layer amps up the warm, homey feel of your RV. Sealing the windows and putting up heavy curtains should protect the interiors from cold drafts.

Insulating your floors and RV skirting will do wonders to keep your RV warm. You can use foam boards as an insulating layer for these areas. Foam does a great job absorbing heat and blocking out the cold.

Other Things to Consider & Winterize

Besides your water pipes, there are a few other things in your RV that you have to meticulously prep for winter. Be sure to equip fully charged batteries in alarms, and smoke detectors, and dash cams, if any.

If you’re parked in a notoriously cold spot, put up wooden blocks in between your stabilizing jacks to prevent them from sticking to the icy ground. As you travel, be wary of black ice. These spots are usually around bridges, and if you skid on these you won’t be able to use your brakes to stop.

Additionally, you must always anticipate the weather. Check all the forecasts, and stay up to date. Lastly, if anything unexpected does happen, keep plans flexible. Wintertime is an unpredictable season, and planned itineraries could get messed up unintentionally. Be sure to prioritize safety, practicality, and fun.


Definitely, you can perform RV winterization without an antifreeze easily. Just keep the things to consider in mind, follow these tips and steps, and you’ll be good. If you liked this article, share it on social media today!

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