RV Odor Problems: How To Remove 10 Different Odors From Your RV

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rv-odor-eliminator-by-teamstickergiant.jpg Nothing is nastier than a foul RV odor that just won’t go away.

When your total square footage is less than a small efficiency apartment, keeping your RV smelling sweet and clean is pretty important.

Hanging the old familiar pine-scented cardboard tree from your rearview mirror might mask the smell for a day or two, but it won’t fix the problem.

You’re better off addressing each individual problem area with a more effective solution to get rid of the RV odor once and for all.

This list of RV odors and ways to address them will keep your sinuses happy, so you can breath easier while you’re cruising down the highway.


#1: RV Sewer Smell In The Bathroom

This can be a tuffy.

There are oodles of different chemicals for eliminating RV toilet odor. Some are recommended for use when your waste is deposited in a septic system, and others are designed to go down the city sewer. One thing is for sure though, they don’t always do the job!

A lesser-known issue with RV toilets is the lack of adequate ventilation for the black water tank. It is vented out the roof of the RV, but many times while driving, the wind will actually push air back down the vent pipe rather than draw the RV odor out.

The Cyclone Sewer Vent is designed to create a powerful vortex that will suck the odor out of the black tank with only a modest breeze. There are a number of these kind of vents available. This video demonstrates the Extreme Cap:

 A friendly reminder: Always drain your waste tanks after every RV outing!


#2: RV Kitchen And Bathroom Drain Odors

During periods of non-use, water contained in P-traps under every sink and the shower will have the opportunity to grow bacteria. This smell can travel all through your RV.

To keep them from smelling during periods of storage, mix a cup of baking soda with a gallon of water. Pour some in every drain then dump what’s left into a sink — so it will go into the gray water tank.


#3: Rodent Odors Onboard RVs

There is nothing worse than the smell of a dead mouse baking in the hot sun. Been there, done that! The only way it will go away is to find the carcass and remove it. Then, follow up with a good scrubbing of the area.

If your RV is going to be stored for a period of time, a good offense is the best defense in order to avoid rodent problems in your RV.


#4: Bad Smelling Potable RV Water

Sooner or later it will happen. You fill up your fresh water tank only to discover the water smells or tastes horrible. It’s so bad you can’t even make coffee with it. Many areas of the country are plagued with water that smells of sulfur. The only way to clean out the smell from your water system is to sanitize your RV water system with a diluted mixture of household bleach and water.

If bad water is a reoccurring problem in your area, consider installing a water filtration system.


#5: Closed Up Stale RV Storage Smell

If you’ve ever gone RV shopping and toured the second row of used motorhomes, you know what I mean. There is nothing fresh about these babies. They have been sitting for years with little or no use — closed up tight so every odor just builds on the next. When you step inside, you just want to get out ASAP so you can breath again!

rv-odors-accumulate-during-storage-by-SteelMaster-Buildings.jpg To avoid this particular RV odor, your recreational vehicle needs to breath.

Installing vent covers over the existing roof vents will enable you to leave the roof vents open slightly, allowing hot stale air to escape. You might consider solar powered vents to draw the air out more efficiently.

Removing this deeply ingrained type of RV odor will require everything listed above plus cleaning every surface in your RV. There are products like Bad Air Sponge or Smelleze RV Deodorizer that claim they can absorb storage and mildew odors.  I’m old school, I believe in the power of Pine Sol.


#6 & #7: Smelly RV Carpet & Pet Odors

The best cure for smelly or pet stained carpet is to tear it all out and install laminated flooring. The RV industry hasn’t done RVers any favors over the years by installing wall to wall carpeting. Just because it was cheaper for the manufacturer, it sure wasn’t the best choice for floor covering.

You can have your carpeting professionally cleaned to take care of much of the odor. When you do, invest in throw rugs to help keep the carpeting as fresh as possible for as long as possible.

Many carpet cleaning companies can also steam clean your upholstery. This will help eliminate pet odors from Fido sleeping on the sofa all day.


#8: RV Refrigerator Odor

To avoid a nasty mildew smell in your RV refrigerator wipe down the inside with soapy water after every outing. Then let the refrigerator and freezer sit with the doors left ajar to allow all moisture to evaporate. I use bungee cords to tie them back so they don’t accidentally close when I move the RV into it’s parking spot. Leaving a shallow bowl of baking soda in both the refrigerator and freezer compartments will absorb any refrigerator odor that may develop.


#9 & #10: Propane & Ammonia Odors In RVs

These 2 odors mean big problems. If you smell a strong ammonia odor, the source will be the cooling unit of your refrigerator. There won’t be any question about the odor, because it will be strong enough to bring tears to your eyes. There is nothing you can do on your own to fix the problem; this requires the specialized knowledge of your RV dealer. Be prepared, it will be expensive.

rv-odors-from-propane-by-curtis-carper.JPG Propane odor can come from many sources in and around your RV from the propane tanks to the stove, oven, refrigerator, water heater and furnace.

Don’t forget all the gas lines connecting these appliances to the tank as well! A small brush and soapy water can be used to check fittings for leaks. Just be sure you have adequate ventilation before you go inside to look for the problem. If you’re the least bit unsure of what you’re doing, call the professionals.

RV odors are a common, yet annoying, problem. Don’t waste your time with products that do little more than mask the issue or (worse!) introduce a new smell to cover up the bad odor. For the most part, it’s best to invest in some elbow grease and give your RV a good cleaning.

This video highlights a number of ways to eliminate moisture and mildew odor from your RV:


I’ve been involved in RVing for over 50 years — including camping, building, repairing, and even selling RVs and motorhomes. I’ve owned, used, and repaired almost every class and style of RV ever made. I do all of my own repair work. My other interests include cooking, living with an aging dog, and dealing with diabetic issues. If you can combine a grease monkey with a computer geek, throw in a touch of information nut and organization freak, combined with a little bit of storyteller... you’ve got a good idea of who I am. To date, I've shared my RV knowledge in over 300 articles here at The Fun Times Guide! Many of them have over 25K shares.

118 thoughts on “RV Odor Problems: How To Remove 10 Different Odors From Your RV

  1. Curtis,

    We have a Fun Finder 19′ travel trailer. When have been getting a sewer gas smell in the trailer on intermittent occasions. I noticed the smell every time we dump the tanks at first. The inside of the unit would become unbearable. Lately, we have had the smell appear for apparently no reason. Then, it will disappear. It doesnt seem to
    make a difference if the tanks are full or empty. Last time we noticed it, we turned the ventilation fan in the bedroom to intake instead of exhaust, and it seemed to keep the odor away. I have tried filling the traps, and the Thetford toilet seal holds water OK. I am thinking of replacing the seal on the bottom of the toilet/flange
    next. Before I do that, would you tell me if this is a highly unusual condition, or do RV tank/toilet issues usually include intermittent odor?

    1. John, I doubt the seal at the flange is the problem. You would have water leaking there if it wasn’t sealing properly. I’m thinking you have a vent problem. Instead of an updraft certain conditions are allowing air pressure to come down the vent pushing odor out into the trailer. I’d look at adding a better vent like this: http://www.anythingrv.com/staticpages/index.php/RV_Vents_ToiletVents
      Something that will follow the breeze and insure a good updraft.

  2. Try an odor eliminator, I found one called RV Shocker. I took the smell right out, and it is environmentally safe so I don’t have to worry about any harsh chemicals lurking once we take off on the road. You can find it at http://www.biocidesystems.com/rvshocker.html.

  3. Hi we have a perfume musky smell in our 5th wheel and it is so strong that you can smell it outside. It kind of smells like mildew under the smell is there something that someone could of bought to try to cover up mildew smell. We can not find where the smell is coming from it is trough the whole trailer.

  4. Nancy, If I’m reading your question correctly this is an RV you recently purchased that you fear someone else tried to cover up an odor?  Only they know what they tried.  I’d recommend airing out the RV for a week or so then close it up again and follow your nose real close to try and isolate the problem.  The worst odor I ever chased down ended up to be a dead mouse under the center console in a car.  Closed up and sitting in the sun was enough to lead me right to it.  I about stripped the interior looking for it though.

  5. Hi~  We have a 30ft fith wheel. There is an oder coming from under neath ~it seams~It is in the hallway, livingroom, bedroom! It smells like sewer!!! UGH!!!We have dumped the the grey & black water yet the smell is just there! Any help??

    1. Krzymom007, With the odor that widespread I wonder if you have a leaking waste tank.   Are your tanks out in the open under your RV or are they enclosed within an insulated bottom?  If enclosed the leak could have spread throughout the insulated bottom causing the odor to come up pretty much everywhere.  Is there any indication of water leaking out to the ground?  Stains, or residue at a seam maybe.  I don’t want to suggest tearing open the underneath unless you can confirm there is a leak first.  Be conservative in your search, odor can travel easily from its origin.

  6. Dear Curtis

    we have a Thetford Cassette C2000 C/CS and it is wonderful EXCEPT when we drive over corregated or rough roads the lid makes a very loud clapping sound.

    we have turned the toilet to face the rear of the motor home – no effect and we have tried to tighten the hinge but no change – we now pass a rubber band over the seat and secure on either side but you must know a better way.

    really value your opinions


    peter – Seaford – Victoria _ Australia

    1. Peter,  I’d go to your local home center and look for some stick-on cushioning buttons.  They are little rounds of felt with peel and stick adhesive on one side.  The lid will still bounce, but the felt will stop the banging.

  7. I have read all the sewer gas odor comments but haven’t gotten an answer to my original question of why we have a severe odor only when the window is open and the exhaust fan is running in the bedroom. We are staying in an rv park and using the sewer connection.

    1. Gloria, If the exhaust fan is pushing air out, you may be sucking fumes in through the window from either your sewer connection or a neighboring one.  On the other hand if the exhaust air is bringing air into the RV it may be located close enough to the waste vent pipe on the roof that it is drawing fumes into the RV.  It may be a case of prevailing winds working against you and pushing fumes from your vent pipe towards the roof exhaust fan opening.

  8. dear curtis, we have a parkmodel 38 foot camper that has a terrible odor of lp gas in it, we found that one of the kids must of bumped the stove on the way out of the door, it was on all weekend. we were lucky it didnt blow up! anyway we have aired it out for 48 hours and checked for leaks, which there is none but we still have a strong odor of lp gas in there, in the wood , carpet, curtains, and so on….any ideas on how to remove that odor????

    1. polarisguy, Lots of fresh air and spray deodorizer. Then when you close it up I’d hang a couple automotive air fresheners in it. Artificial pine tree smells better than LP.

  9. Hi Curtis – I have a 5th wheel 34 foot — this is our 3rd season — for some reason we are experiencing a sewer smell only in our kitchen sink area. We have had this happen since the first year but only one time. We have cleansed out the gray water tank using the in store cleaner for rv’s and also just good old cleaner pine sol, mr clean, etc. we have checked the trap and also the vent seems to be all good. Anything else you may suggest?
    Thank you in advance for your response.

    1. Colleen Busch, This link http://tiny.cc/dwb5gw will take you to a type of roof vent that is designed to help eliminate sewer odors. It swivels and follows the prevailing wind causing a slight suction to help draw out the smell from the black tank. If you have a separate vent for your gray tank it should work there as well but I’d bet the odor is coming from the black tank.

  10. We live in Washington state with a lot of rain. Our motor home always has that mildew smell when we haven’t used it for a long time. I have, so far, washed all the curtains, linens, and taken everything else out. How do I get that smell out?

    1. Maggie, Carpeting is a big odor sponge too. Storage is always a tough one because there is no air movement. Carpeting and furniture trap odors big time. If it’s possible to leave a vent open just enough to let in some fresh air and better would be to leave a fan running a day or so before you plan on using the RV. Auto air fresheners(pine tree) may help to overcome the odor too.

  11. i have a trailer with bad sewer odors from black tank every time we flush the commode.tried cleaning tank,odor chemicals,and running water down roof vent with no luck. the odor only comes from commode and fills trailer up.there is no odor in trailer until you flush commode

    1. tim, Sounds like it’s time to try a Cyclone sewer vent cap. http://tiny.cc/i8voiw They are designed to rotate so the prevailing winds draw the gasses out by creating a negative pressure in the tank. As it is now it seems the winds are pushing down into the vent creating a positive pressure so when you flush the smell rushes out.

  12. i am at a loss, my furnace in my 92 jayco 900 series is great for pumping out some heat, but the smell is intolerable. It doesn’t smell like propane, and the furnace is clean. the exaust is putrid. Any thoughts on where to start?

    1. The Trull 5, I wonder if a rodent has died in the duct work. I had a mouse die under the console of a car once. When the summer temps came and the car got hot the smell was enough to make you wretch. I about completely stripped the interior of that car looking for it.

      1. Thanks for the reply Curtis, I ended up taking the furnace out of the trailer and running it – no strong smell like before. I noticed a medium-sized wasp nest in the exhaust (next to the pipe but not in it) so I have removed it. I have a hard time believing that a wasp nest could put off an odor like that, but I will fire the furnace up again tonight and see. Only though is that the nest was “cooking” in there. I’ll post an update when I am able to get it tested.

  13. Curtis,
    We purchased an 1999 tent trailer with a fairly strong odor of mildew. We did not realize how difficult to deal with and permeating this was going to be. We’ve pretty much stripped it bare, cleaning what we could while replacing the plywood on the ends and seats, washing the upholstery and curtains, and buying new cushions and canvas (we call it our $6 million trailer). Now, while cleaning and deodorizing we realized that the heater stinks highly of mildew – seemingly on the metal(?) – we removed it from the unit and cleaned its space in the cabinet. We’ve spent so much already, another 400-600 dollars for a furnace that will barely be used is where I draw the line and am searching for some ideas on how to clean the one we have. What would you do? Is there any hope?

    1. Diane, I recently read that painting mildew on house walls won’t kill it, you have to use bleach. Makes sense to me that a bleach solution would kill off any remaining mildew in your situation too. When it comes to a furnace the heat it produces should help as well. Once it cooks for a while it should bake out any odor inside the actual furnace. Don’t overlook the duct work. The heat won’t be as high there and you may have to clean or replace the foil tubing.

      1. I didn’t think that bleach should be used on the veneer surfaces, but had considered it. There are chemical sprays that you spray on and leave, but there again, didn’t think that that would be good for the cabinets and paneling. I used borax on all the surfaces and found out today that all the work I did yesterday was for naught. It still reeks – we have to shower and wash our clothes when we come in (and we’re standing out in the elements since the trailer has no canvas!). Turns out the furnace is the least of our worries. Now I’m afraid that we will never get this smell out of the wood and veneer that can’t be replaced by us. I do have a fire and water damage restoration company coming out tomorrow to see if there is anything they can do. I knew how to look at used pop ups structurally, but never thought the mildew odor was so pervasive. If anyone out there smells even the hint of that sweet disgusting odor, RUN FOR THE HILLS – do not buy! I’m afraid even a parts dealer wouldn’t want this. Should have been free, not what we paid for it.

  14. Hi Curtis, we have a Keystone Fuzion 2010 40 ft… Recently we have been smelling this rotten egg smell at times an other time a poop smell… We recently tore out the under belly and notice there was an over flow and poop was all under it… We cleaned it out, removed the cover and tossed it… However, last night we woke up to this awful smell in the bedroom only. It’s when the heat and air is on only… We have checked vents, and obviously took care of the poop smell in the under belly. The rotten egg smell is coming from the front of the 5th wheel where the bedroom is… We are at a loss… Would it be possible for something dead causing the issue? Does it smell like poop and then rotten egg… Those two smells are always together… One for a while, then the other for the rest of the time. Any ideas?

    1. Lizzy Tish, It’s possible a rodent died somewhere. I had it happen in a car once and the smell was unbelievable when the interior got hot from the sun. Anything nasty in the heat duct work is likely to smell things up when the furnace is used.

  15. Hello Curtis! My husband I recently bought a Hybrid camper with two pop up pull outs. The camper has two problems that we have tried to remedy without any luck.
    #1 The people we bought the camper from accidentally left fishing worms in a styrofoam container in the freezer for 3 months. The smell was totally overwhelming. I didn’t have hope that it would smell good again and well, I was right. It hasn’t. We put several boxes of baking soda in it as well as scrubbing it out with bleach. The smell has lessoned but it is still there.
    #2 The camper itself has a very strong odor of a bleach mix/some kind of overwhelming floral scent. When I stand outside the camper I can smell the odor. Again, we bleached everything to no avail.
    We would love any suggestions you might have!

    1. Brooke, Many years ago my Dad left what he thought was a milk container filled with frozen water in the icebox cooler he had built into our converted school bus. Weeks later he discovered the milk box was actually filled with frozen fish. Oops! He ended up building a new tin liner for the ice box and starting all over to get rid of the stench. Looking at some forums I read that Febreze http://tiny.cc/3l53kw will help. Another product Fridge It http://tiny.cc/un53kw may help too. I haven’t tried either one but they might help.

  16. hello we bleached our tank this spring like always but now every cup of water tastes like bleach any ideas on how to fix this. we have rinsed the tank several times.

    1. lyons, Fresh water, keep running water through the tank. If you too much bleach this might take some time.

  17. Hello, we are looking into moving to a town that has a lot of sulfur in their water. Do you recommend a way to keep the odor out of the lines, or a way to clean the tanks if we move from this area? Thank you

    1. Noel, Sanitizing your water system with bleach should kill any odor it accumulates. As to preventing the odor an inline water filter designed to remove minerals should do the trick. Here’s an example: http://tiny.cc/9ces0w

  18. what if the refrigerator hasn’t worked in a while? could that still be the cause of the ammonia odor?

    1. Crystal, The only way there can be an ammonia odor is if the cooling unit is leaking. If you smell ammonia, your refrigerator is doomed. If it’s an older model it will cost more to have the cooling unit replaced than it’s worth.

  19. Curtis we just bought a 30′ play mor it is in great shape except we have to clean out the black tank. It is full. We also noticed that the water coming from the sinks smells like yeast. Any idea of what is the cause of that odor? Lisa

    1. Lisa, If the black tank was left full it’s likely the fresh water tank hasn’t beem sanitized for a long time. I’m assuming you mean the faucets, not the sink drain, but either way bleaching the system should do the trick. Add 1 cup of household bleach to a gallon of water. Pour it into the empty fresh water tank. Fill the fresh water tank then run water trough all faucets, both cold and hot. Don’t forget the shower and toilet. Let it sit over night then drain the system and refill with clean water. Run the faucets until there is no odor of bleach and it will be safe to use. For the sink drain, pour some bleach down the drain. There’s a P shaped water trap under each sink that may be the source of odor. By cleaning the fresh water system and pouring a little bleach down the drain that problem should clear up as well.

  20. Can I drill a hole into my RV cooler to rid the frig of the ammonia smell? We want to use the RV without the frig this winter and repair/replace the refrigerator in the spring.

    1. Tim, I think it would be better to remove the cooling unit all together. Residual ammonia will likely continue to smell even if you drill a hole in it. I doubt that the fumes are safe to breath either. It may require you removing the fridge to remove the cooling unit, I don’t know if you can do it from outside the RV.

  21. Hi Curtis, we have a pull behind camper and keep having a mold problem. It is white and starts on the cabinets. I have only seen it on the lower ones, and it take a while. We haven’t been using our camper as much as we used to so it is sitting more. One time the bathroom vent wasn’t closed and I think this problem may have started after that. I hung Damp rid bags in there this time which did seem to help, it’s been 4 1/2 months since we have had it out. If I use a bleach solution to clean it will that keep it from coming back? This time I also have an unusual odor in the camper that I hadn’t noticed before. I have looked around and didn’t see any leaks, but find the mold worrisome. Thanks!!

    1. For the kids, Yes, I believe a diluted mixture of bleach and water would help kill the mold. The next most important factor is removing moisture. Using the RV will cause condensation and moisture to build up. Be sure to dry and ventilate so that all dampness is removed before you close up the RV for storage of any real duration. If it’s damp inside the mold will return.

  22. Hi Curtis, we own a keystone outback 2010 just purchased last year. We noticed a poop smell occasionally when we have the air conditioner on. There is a slight smell sometimes with just the fan as well. There is also a sulfur smell coming from the closet that is over the hot water tank. Any ideas of what the cause may be and how to get rid of it?

    1. Annette, Usually the problem with toilet odor is inadequatte venting out the roof. You might try a more effective roof vent like this: http://www.campingworld.com/shopping/item/cyclone-sewer-vent/31992
      That will help to better draw the odor out of the black tank.

  23. Hi Curtis, We opened our Bambi airstream to find a dead rodent odor. We took everything out and searched high and low to find it with no luck. Do you have any suggestions where the most likely spot would be?

    1. Diane, That may be a tough one. Rodents don’t make a habit of dying out in the open. Usually they go into small crevices and walls. Their common territory is the kitchen, under cabinets and such, but the problem is they can get into any small opening like around water line entrance points. The bad part is even if you air it out, once you close it up for periods of non-use the odor is going to come back. I once had a mouse die inside the console of a car and I almost totally stripped the interior before I finally found it. Good luck.

      1. Thank you Curtis! I crawled under my camper and everything was sealed tight around the waterlines and gas line. But I did find a hole they had chewed through at the back of the wheel well where it joins the outer skin. They had eaten through the rubber caulking. I have sealed it up with stainless steel pot scourers. I was told that would keep them out.

  24. Curtis, we’re gate guards in the Eagle Ford Shale and are hooked up to a non-potable black water tank like they use to provide water to cattle. Fresh city water is replenished every 2 weeks and to be on the safe side we add a cup of Clorox to the 500 Gallons of water. Lately the water coming out of the faucets is slightly foamy and smells like vinyl. First we thought the Clorox might have been dissolving the water hose from the 500 Gallon Tank to the RV, thinking if the hose has any PVC (Poly Vinyl Chloride) in it. However after replacing the hose with a new one, the foam and Vinyl smell persists. Any pointers would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    1. Karl, I think the answer is pretty obvious, as long as you are hooked to a non-potable water source who knows what is being pumped into your RV. Any chance that you can set up a rain catchment system and avoid using that cattle tank source?

      1. Thanks Curtis. I found the culprit. It was the “Garden Hose” they provided that was giving off the Vinyl Smell and Foam. I replaced it with a 50ft Marine/RV Water Hose and the smell and foam stopped immediately. I think the Clorox was dissolving the Garden Hose and causing the foam and smell. Hope this info might be useful to someone else. Thank you for your support. Cheers!

  25. I am getting
    a smell of sewage from the AC units from time to time. I checked the condensers
    for blockage and there seems to be no problem on the roof. We clean the filters
    weekly due to a high pollen count in this area. This only seems to happen in
    the evening time. HELP

    1. Charles, I can think of two possibilities. If water is being held up in the A/C and not draining away properly there is the opportunity for bacteria to grow. I’ve had it happen in auto dash A/C’s where it smells like dirty socks on a hot day. Make sure the A/C drain is clear allowing condensation water to run off properly then douse the area with spray disinfectant. It may take repeated doses to clear up the problem. The other possibility is the sewer vent is located close enough that when the wind is just right sewer fumes may be getting drawn through the A/C. The best cure for that is a swivel vent top that will allow the wind to swing the vent so the wind dissipates the odor. This link will show you a Cyclone Vent for that purpose.


  26. Curtis,
    Forester 2861DS it is in AZ the rv windows are protected from sun and heat with that sunshade styrofoam insulation. it has a stand alone ac lg 10k btu (vented out the driver window), along with the overhead. we are now experiencing a sour/vomit odor from the furnace vents.These vents whether the small inlets or the large return vent are allowing hot smelly air into the rv when the rv a is in the on mode. currently the temp here is >100 degrees.

    Elza & Bub

    1. Becky, Outside beats inside, it has to go somewhere. The black tank vents out through the roof, outside is where the smell is suppose to go.

  27. we live in our fifthwheel and the bathroom sink smells, really don’t know until we brush our teeth and lean down. have you ever had this happen ours is new been in it for 3 months

    1. Dora, The only way odor can be coming back from the gray tank is if there is no “P” trap under the sink. Also if they took a short cut with the vent for the sink and ended it under the cabinet instead of running it up through the roof you might get odor in that area.

  28. Hi, I have a class C Tioga that when driving down the freeway or in town I get raw black water sewage smell flowing through my whole RV. I removed the toilet and checked all the seals and always ensure there is plenty of water in the toilet when traveling. My vent on the roof is not blocked. What is causing this problem?

    1. Paul, It may be that wind passing over an air conditioner or some other roof item is being directed in such a way it is causing a down draft right at the black tank vent pipe. I’d try a http://tiny.cc/2e941x a Cyclone Sewer Vent which will direct all fumes down wind as you drive and help create a draw that will expell odors instead of pushing them back down the pipe.

      1. I ordered it last night after watching the video. My plan is to install it tonight on the black water vent. I assume that would be the correct vent to install it on.

          1. Is that traditionally the vent above where the toilet is because i have the same vent on the other side of the rv as well.

  29. I have a 1982 tioga and flush the fresh water tank and the cold water that comes out is fine
    its the hot water when its turned out smells like some kind of fragrance. im stumped.

    1. Nikki, Time to bleach the water system. mix 1 cup of household bleach with a gallon of water and pour it into the fresh water tank. Fill the tank with water. pump water through the system until you smell bleach in the water coming out of the faucets… Both cold and hot! Run water through all faucets, showers, and toilet. Let it sit overnight. Drain the water tank and fill with fresh water. Pump through the system until you don’t smell bleach. This may take multiple tanks of fresh water. That should kill the odor.

  30. We notice a sewer oder in our bedroom after we empty the black water. It lingers for quite some time. When we empty the black we always follow it with gray. Any usggestions?

    1. Your waste tanks are vented through the roof and would be sucking air in during dumping so I can make some general suggestions. Keep windows closed, turn the air conditioner off while dumping, and maybe installing a turbo vent on the vent pipe going through the roof will help vent odors be directed into the prevailing wind. http://tiny.cc/031q6x

  31. I have a 2009 Jayco Bungalow I only have a odor problem in the bathroom sink, I have changed out the vent cap and same results. No other faucets, shower, or toilet have the odor. I cleaned out the P trap by removing it, this did not have a odor. My only thought I have left is old water being stored in the wash machine hook up system that I do not use and is on same vent / drain system of the sink.

    1. I think you may have answered your own question. If the washing machine P-trap does not have water in it odor maybe filtering back to the sink.

  32. Good afternoon,
    I have a 2013 Summerland. We opened up yesterday and when we used the hot water heater and let the hot water run, but there was a smell coming from the water. It smells to me like nail polish remover. Is there anything that I can try to get the smell out?

    Thank you,

    1. Sanitizing the fresh water system annually is the best way to address odors from the water. For one cup of bleach into your freshwater tank and then fill the tank completely full. Run all of your water faucets and the toilet until you smell bleach. Let the water system set overnight and then pump all the water out through a faucet. Refill the tank with fresh water and pump that out and repeat until you no longer smell bleach. If you still have an odor your source of water may be the problem

  33. We have a 2007 RV trailer. There is a smell in the cupboards and closets. Our clothes smell terrible. Food has the same taste as the odour. To the point where u cant eat it. Does anyone have any ideas to get rid of it.

    1. I am assuming you have done the obvious and washed down the interior of the coverage with a mild detergent possibly with some bleach in it. That would be the first attempt. If that fails I am a little concerned that you may have a water leak and moisture has gotten into the walls and you are smelling mold. You might want to investigate and make sure that isn’t the case. Next thought would be to put an air freshener in the cupboards to help kill the odor

      1. Yes we have washed the whole inside down. With orange a peel and bleach. The smell is still there. We keep damp traps in trailer, cupboards. Air fresheners. Speay Febreeze on couch. We find it strange that the smell is in the cupboards more so. As the bedding it can be washed once no more smell but clothing in cupboards. I usually wash all winter. With everything I can think of to get the smell out. Still this morning I pulled out a jacket to wear that had been in the trailer. And The smell is thrre

        1. If the trailer is sealed up tight it might be the chemicals in the paneling from manufacturer off-gassing. If a roof vent or two can be left open with maybe a solar powered fan in place, just enough to circulate some air might help. Leave a few cupboard doors open as well.

          1. Curtis I replied on Janet’s 1st post if you could also read that, if paneling is ‘offing gas’ what can you do about it? We leave windows and cupboards open and the odor is still there. We have no signs of leakage and we clean/seal the roof at the beginning of each camping season.

    2. Janet McEvoy we also have a 2007 Jayco Jayflight that has the same problem. I’ve resorted to putting bread in the microwave and marshmallows in glass jars. Anything in the cupboards absorbs the smell, boxed foods, plastic dishes, clothing, towels etc everything! We’ve wiped everything down and keep windows cracked, it doesn’t help. We don’t cook inside or shower. Thoroughly empty black and gray water each time we use it. There’s got to be an answer. It almost smells like a ‘newly purchased smell’ but that should be long gone by now!

      1. Enough time has gone by since Manufacturing it wouldn’t seem likely that the problem is off-gassing from the paneling. Since both of you have Jayco RVs have you tried contacting Jayco directly?

      2. Cindy.
        I cant say a knew smell. But it does stink. On the 24th of May we painted inside of cupboards. We put 2 of the 360 extractors. I think thats what you call them. We left doors open on cupboards when we left. This weekend we will know if all that money and hard work has paid off. Thank you Cindy. Its nice to have someone that doesnt think your crazy.

  34. Curtis, I have a Jayco Jay Flight, 2015. We draw off city water, so don’t use the fresh water tank, however, the water smells of rotten eggs! Everything I read addresses sanitizing the tank, but we have direct feed from the faucet through the RV hose to the camper. Suggestions?

    1. I would still recommend sanitizing the fresh water tank which will in turn sanitize all the water lines within your RV. Beyond that if you have a foul odor it is coming from the water source. Some City Water Supplies though they may be classified as drinkable often have problems such as sulfur odor. The next thing you can do if sanitizing does not cure the problem is add an inline filter system to your waterline coming into the RV.

      1. Thank you! I did have the filter, but just removed it thinking maybe it was coming from that. I was wondering about the possibility of the odor coming from the hot water tank? Our camper was delivered brand new, on site, and is permanent. We have never traveled with it and have been hooked up to city water since the beginning. I have asked our neighboring campers if they are having issues with odor and they have not.

        1. Sanitizing the fresh water tank will also sanitize the water heater. Once you add bleach to the fresh water tank and run all the water Outlets once you smell bleach in the hot water coming out of the faucet you will have introduced bleach to the water heater which will sanitize it. On the off-chance that your water heater has accumulated sediment in it you can flush water through the water heater and out the drain plug of the water heater before you sanitize the system.

        2. Hot Water Tanks have an Anode Rod that when bad will allow the water to smell like rotten eggs. An anode rod is a solid metal cylinder that gets screwed into a water
          heater’s drain plug to prevent the steel water heater tank from rusting
          inside. Anode rods are made from aluminum, magnesium, or zinc, all
          metals that will “sacrifice” themselves through electrolysis and save
          the exposed steel water heater tank from a similar fate.

  35. We bought a 2006 Inspire in April we too it out this weekend and noticed a smell coming from the Norcold refrigerator. We ran the generator straight for 4 days due to the high temps here in the dunes up to 111 degrees. The refrigerator we ran on AC the whole time. We smelled like am oil smell especially when you would open it.
    It’s not as noticeable when it’s closed, but you can still smell it.

    This is our first coach, we used to have a 5th wheeler never ran across this issue.

    We’re hoping it’s something small and it doesn’t have to be replaced.

    1. I don’t know of anything that would create an oil smell inside a refrigerator. If a cooling unit gets punctured there is an ammonia smell. Has anything been spilled in the refrigerator and maybe accumulated at the bottom underneath trays? All I can recommend for killing order in a refrigerator is baking soda

  36. Hello Curtis we have a 2004 Fleetwood Caravan Micro lite Travel Trailer. We have had it for about a week. About a day ago we woke up and smelled a really bad odor. The oder we traced it to the floor vents for the air. It smells like a sewage type smell. The thing is we never use the toilet ever ever. We only use the campground facilities. The black tank is closed and the gray water tank is open.The black tack was cleaned and rinsed out before it was delivered to us. We even put tape temporilraily over the vents to cover the stench. That only worked for the night as the smelled returned this morning. Any idea what it might be?

    1. I have not run into this with an RV but previous cars if bacteria manages to collect within the ductwork the smell from the air conditioner is like dirty socks. The cure for that was to spray lots of Lysol into the air duct where the air is sucked in. If your air conditioner is ducted you might try spraying Lysol from the air conditioner into the ductwork. I’m kind of guessing at this point but that is an idea anyhow.

  37. how do you get rid of a formaldehyde smell? We bought a 2009 Dutchman……it has been cleaned and cleaned and still can’t get rid of smell that burns my eyes and throat when I smell it. It also gives me a headache.

    1. we have had it airing out with all windows and doors open and fans running for 2 months now, and the smell is still super strong when you first walk in the door.

      1. we just bought it 2 months ago and as soon as we brought it home we noticed the smell. In trying to figure it out…..we have found and fixed the front wall that was rotten. Had the roof replaced that was rotten, replaced the board under the refridge, and spot cleaned the entire camper…..needless to say, it is the cleanest camper in the world and we have found every problem we believe we could possibly find….the only thing left to think it is, is that I have a sensitivity to the formaldehyde of the all the wood paneling in it. My husband and son said they smell a slight smell of like wood but it doesn’t bother them. I smell it really strong when I walk in and my head starts to hurt and my throat burns. I can’t stay in this camper. :( We have had this camper for 2 month now and I can’t use it! So disappointing! Please help!

      2. that is not a good sign. Usualy lots of fresh air is the cure. The paneling must be loaded with formaldehyde. It might be possible to paint the walls to stop the off-gassing of formaldehyde. Check with your local Home Center to see if such a product is available.

  38. HI Curtis ~ just want to thank you for all the time and effort you spend on the RV’ing fam here!! I have a 1996 American Eagle ~ High end very nice ~ BUT ~ I feel dizzy when I am in it and especially over my kitchen area and my bathroom. I cut off the damaged wall paneling and wallpaper from my walls at the dining table and next to my bed as the metal beams that frame the vehicle were producing condensation and once I opened up the wallpaper and cut off the damaged thin plywood the moisture stopped!!! BUt now I have walls that have the second very very thin layer of wood stuck on styrofoam. IS open exposure now to the styrofoam or wood creating some toxic chemicals that could be making me dizzy?!!

    1. I doubt it is the styrofoam or wood that is making you dizzy but if you have moisture trapped in the walls you could have mold as well. I’m afraid I don’t know how to advise you if that is the case.

      1. Thank you Curtis, really appreciate the feedback ~ I did have someone come look at it and they do not think it is mold ~ I think in all honesty I am just super sensitive to any rocking motion and am feeling sea sick! LOL

        1. Ahhh, I have a neighbor who has a hard time accepting that RV’s will move some. That may be a hard one to cure.

  39. Help help. I left my camper the other day no ac on. Came back smell of ammonia nearly knocked me down. I googled and all says it’s the fridge but it is working fine. Only smells after running ac. Left the ac off the next evening about 7 turned ac on cooled great. Went to bed woke up about 2 with the strong odor of ammonia. Even camper experts says fridge not ac but the fridge has no odor at all inside or outside. Propane tanks are turned off. I’m at a loss. I thought the ac had a leak but it would not cool if it did. Somebody please help. Thank you…

    1. Just turned my ac on stood on something so I could smell the air coming out and immediately upon turning it on had the ammonia smell so no doubt at all it is coming out of the ac. Everyone says no way it’s the ac but way.. LOL It is…

    2. The a camper experts are correct, it is your refrigerator that is leaking. If it has not stopped cooling yet it will very soon .It is not your air conditioner it is definitely the refrigerator . And I am afraid at that point your refrigerator is junk.

      1. Yep it is junk alright. It is in the yard. It would not stop leaking and I’m afraid my camper may be junk too. I assume the odor has absorbed into everything in the camper. I had to have it removed to stop further contamination. Thanks

  40. We live in our RV and have a well water. Lately we have had a smell of rotten eggs or sewer every time we turn on the sink or try to take a shower. I refuse to even drink it because it smells so bad. We are using a regular water hose. Could this be the problem? HELP!!

    1. A regular water hose May be part of the problem, I would also recommend sanitizing your RV water system with bleach. If you still have an issue with older the problem maybe the well .

      1. We tried the bleach thing and it worked for one day. My son lives in a trailer house and is on the same well and his water is fine. We are going to try using a different hose and hopefully that will help.

  41. I have one more bad smell to add. Boiling battery, it smells like rotten eggs. We just had to replace one of our batteries.

    1. Not only is a boiling battery a bad smell, it is also a very dangerous explosion hazard. That smell is the battery producing gas that the slightest spark will ignite with a big bang. Also consider that in general it is wise to replace all batteries at the same time. The bad battery will degrade the rest of the batteries. Installing one new battery will cause it to be degraded to match the remaining batteries.

      1. Hey Curtis, My husband and I are wanting to get a EMS surge protector. What do you recommend for a fifth wheel . WE are a 30 amp

        1. Sadly I can’t give you a specific recommendation. In 40 years of RVing I have never had one. Currently I am living full time in a boon docking situation using solar power. In my situation I don’t see any point in having one. That said if you are camping in an area that seems to have unreliable electricity or excessive lightning storms It might be a good idea. Whatever brand you choose make sure it matches the rating of your RV. Do you have a 30 amp electrical system or a 50 amp electrical system?

          1. We have a 30 amp system.
            We camped at Pais Moutain St Park. The meter was bad. Not a good experience. St Park is beautiful and they were very nice. But it did fry our microwave, fridge, and converter.

            Donna Nunn

          2. Interesting situation. I can’t say for sure but a meter only measures the amount of electricity used. It might have been a bad transformer feeding the meter but no matter the damage was done. Good luck in future, a surge protector should prevent further problems.

  42. Sewer smell coming from cabinets and drawers that are located next to the toilet! A wall is between the toilet and drawers. When we open the drawers the smell is horrible. We think the cabinet and drawers are located over the black tank. It’s the only place that smells. Any ideas! Please!!!

    1. Often the sewer smell is the result of ineffective Venting out through the roof. There is a vent pipe going from the black tank up through the RV and coming out through the roof. Sometimes if the wind is in the wrong direction it will actually push the gasses back down rather then siphon them away. A “Camco Cyclone Roof Vent” may help direct the gasses away from the vent pipe. You can find them on Amazon.

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