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How To Prevent Campervan Condensation

For anyone who has travelled in a campervan, it’s almost a certainty that you’ve had to contend with campervan condensation at some stage.

Having lived in our home on wheels for over nearly 4 years now, we think we’ve got some pretty solid solutions to the problem. And touch wood, don’t really have too much drama with it.

So we’re going to let you in on all of our quick fixes, longer term solutions and van build considerations.

Then rather than worrying about damp and mould taking over your campervan or motorhome, you can just get out and enjoy your travels.

What Is Campervan Condensation?

Put simply, condensation is water that collects as mist or droplets on cold surfaces when humid air comes into contact with it. In the context of a campervan, this happens when it’s warm inside the van, cold outside and there’s moisture in the air.

The main place you will notice it is on windows. But it can also make bedding or clothes feel damp, a musty odour might be present and if ongoing, patches of mould will start to appear.

Campervan Condensation Causes

Basically anything that puts moisture into the air and increases the level of humidity contributes to condensation.

So this can be steam from cooking or showering, having wet clothing hanging around, internal plumbing leaks, external water ingress, soggy pets, and also simply breathing.

As much as you can avoid some, it’s obviously neither practical or possible to do away with all of these causes. And so it’s the effect of these actions that need to be addressed.

Heating your living space so that it’s comfortable to be in when it’s cold outside without proper ventilation can also substantially contribute to campervan condensation. This is because it creates a higher difference between internal and outside temperatures.

But with proper ventilation it can massively help so more on that in later.

Vanlife Kitchen

How To Stop Condensation In A Campervan

So here’s the thing, you will always have some level of condensation. It’s simply impossible to completely eradicate it. And unfortunately it requires pretty much constant management.

But the good news is there are lots of ways to minimise it so that it doesn’t cause damp or worse problems such as mould, mildew, ruin upholstery, cause wood to rot or metal to rust.

These will of course not only cause the condition of your van to deteriorate, but more serious are the associated health issues.

If you have any kind of breathing issues such as allergies or asthma it’s even more important to keep on top of campervan condensation issues.

Decrease Moisture Levels

As we just said, it’s impossible to eliminate all sources of humidity. But an effective way to reduce campervan condensation is to counterbalance it. In other words, directly remove moisture from the air.

Lots of vanlifers use moisture absorbing or dehumidifying crystals. But whilst they are especially great for places that are hard to ventilate such as wardrobes or cupboards, they are less effective for use in the larger living space.

That’s simply because you would have to replace them so often. You also need to be ​​really careful with them around small kids and pets as they are poisonous if ingested.

To reduce humidity in your living space, the best option is to invest in an electric dehumidifier. But there are lots of other different types of campervan dehumidifiers also.

Remove Visible Condensation

Whether it’s preventing dampness in motorhomes or self-built campervans, windows are always the weakest link. Fortunately, as they are visible and accessible areas, campervan window condensation build up is much easier to remove than behind walls and inside cupboards.

You can of course dry them with a cloth or paper towel when condensation appears on your campervan windows. But then you just have something else damp hanging around. The best way we have found to do this job is with a Karcher Window Vac.

Then you can simply tip the moisture away down the drain or outside. It’s brilliant! We also use this to thoroughly dry our shower room after use (and clean our solar panels). It’s honestly one of the most useful bits of vanlife gear we have.

Campervan Windows

Increase Campervan Ventilation

This may not seem like a natural thing to do if it’s blowing a gale or freezing outside, but one of the best things that you can do to prevent condensation in a campervan is to crack your windows, and roof vents if you have them. Ideally two at opposite ends for cross ventilation.

Unless we’re parked somewhere we’re unsure about, if we’re in the van we usually always have our back and front living space windows cracked a tad.

You should always have your extractor fan turned on when cooking or showering to immediately extract the large influence of moisture they cause. During warmer weather you can of course just have the doors and windows open.

The MaxxAir is the best campervan extractor fan as it can be used when raining. But whichever way you do it, establishing proper airflow is crucial in how to stop condensation in a campervan.

Campervan Ventilation

Floor and roof vents are also worthwhile. But we’ll cover those more later on, because if you haven’t already got them it’s not so much of a helpful suggestion.

An easy addition you can make though, if you don’t have them, is to add wind and rain guards to your cab windows. This means the front of your campervan is always well ventilated. As we have a washing line running across our cab and use it for drying damp towels etc it’s a must for us.

Campervan Condensation Prevention

Having some decent thermal blinds are a must for preventing campervan condensation as they act as a barrier between the hot air in the van touching the cold of the window. You will of course get some condensation build up in between but it’s nowhere as much.

This may seem obvious, but don’t leave damp stuff hanging around. Try to dry stuff outside or if it’s super wet or there’s lots of it, get yourself to a laundrette and whack it all in a dryer.

On that note, always make sure things are properly cupboard dry before putting them away.

Adding damp clothes into a cupboard and closing them up is one way street to mould town.

And if you are leaving the van unoccupied for any length of time, good practice is to leave all the cupboard doors open so there’s less chance of anything festering inside.

Keep Anything Damp To A Minimum

Regularly check for any plumbing leaks, especially in the garage or areas that you don’t see very often. Same for seals around any external holes such as aerials, solar cables, roof vents.

Even the smallest drip can cause damage that can be hard to reverse.

Have fluids well secured while on the move and be sure to clean up any major spills promptly and thoroughly.

Sealing Campervan roof

We’ve had a few incidents when we’ve not put stuff away properly and driven off over the years. It’s important to make sure moisture doesn’t get trapped under anywhere.

When it comes to how to stop condensation in a campervan and pets – especially dogs – they unfortunately don’t go hand in hand. Wherever possible try to thoroughly dry them before bringing them inside, damp dogs are not a vans best friend.

Damp is caused by moisture build up going unchecked for too long. So keeping your home on wheels clean and tidy is an essential part of preventing campervan condensation.

But when doing a deep cleaning do pick a warm breezy day to do it. That way you can open up all the doors and windows and let the place completely dry out before closing it back up again.

And last but by no means least, whack the heating on and crack the windows. I’m not joking! It might seem really counterintuitive to allow cold air in when your heating is on, but hear me out.

As the cold air pushes in, it replaces the moist warm air and after a short time equals out leaving you with dry warm air which is the enemy of campervan condensation.

We have this diesel heater and it’s done us proud for years – you can read all about how we installed it here.

Campervan Damp Build Considerations

We should maybe have put this right at the beginning. But if your campervan is already built we wanted to present you with what you could do, rather than stress you out with what you could have done!

But maybe there’s a few alterations you could easily make too?

Slats under your mattress are a must for preventing campervan condensation. If not, because of the lack of ventilation and trapped moisture it’s a given you get mould growth occurring.

Vanlife bedroom

If your design means this won’t work, try one of these Dry Matts that prevents moisture build up.

Where possible always use treated wood, especially for damp prone areas such as flooring.

Dropping in a couple of floor vents is also a good idea. If you have any gas appliances, gas safety drop outs near to them are mandatory, but also double up to provide ventilation.

Campervan Roof Ventilation

The best weapon you can have in your arsenal when it comes to how to stop condensation in a campervan is however the Maxx Air fan. It’s super powerful but unlike other extractor fans on the market can be used even when it’s raining.

We have ours over our kitchen, right outside our shower room. And with a window cracked at the opposite end of the van it creates a brilliant air flow through the entire living space.

Similarly, a roof vent over your bedroom area is excellent for removing the moisture from the air created from your breathing while you are sleeping.

Campervan Insulation

If you’re not sealing off your cab, it’s essential that you remove the factory fitted ceiling lining and properly insulate the cab roof area. Otherwise it’s just a thin, smooth, cold piece of metal which is the perfect place for campervan condensation to form.

Also consider sealing the cab off – there’s a heck of a lot of glass in there.

Speaking about insulation, taking the time to do this properly will pay dividends to your vanlife comfort when it comes to the trials and tribulations of campervan condensation.

The best two materials that you can use are either sheeps wool or recycled plastic insulation.

This is because they are open non-woven materials which allow water vapour to pass through the insulation and therefore don’t support mould growth.

how to prevent campervan condensation

We also have a vapour barrier in between our insulation and wood panelling on our walls and ceiling. But there are two different schools of thought on this.

Basically that it either helps to keep moisture out of your insulation or that it traps it in.

We opted to use it in our van build and can confirm we don’t have many mould or damp issues at all. But we couldn’t be conclusive about it unless we literally took our van apart.

Read the article we wrote on everything you need to consider when insulating a van here.

And there you have it, all our very best tips for keeping campervan condensation at bay. Take precautions, be proactive, and whatever you do, don’t ignore it!

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