Ways To Prevent Moisture Buildup

Preventing Moisture Can Stop Dangerous Mold From Growing

Living in a van is great until the walls start to get wet and the whole place smells like mildew. Condensation is an inevitable part of van life, but there are some things you can do to prevent moisture buildup. Some are simple lifestyle changes, while others are products designed to improve ventilation and reduce humidity.

Moisture can be a serious problem for those who live in vans. If left unchecked, it can cause rot and water damage and create a perfect breeding ground for mold, bacteria, and fungus. Plus, it’s just unpleasant to live in a damp environment.

I’ve seen a lot of cute van interiors, but wood is a common element in many of them. If wood is a major part of your van build, you have another great incentive to prevent moisture buildup. Humid conditions can warp and crack the wood, ruining your entire interior design. Below are some tips to help you prevent or reduce moisture in your van.

Run a Dehumidifier

A Pohl Schmitt Electric Dehumidifier for a 225 sq ft space helps to prevent moisture buildup.
Pohl Schmitt Electric Dehumidifier (Amazon)

Dehumidifiers are useful additions to any van. Many small, portable models should be able to cover the necessary amount of space. If you need to prevent moisture buildup, a dehumidifier can help you attack the problem before it takes hold. Pulling moisture out of the air will keep your van drier and prevent condensation from forming.

If you need a good dehumidifier, try this Pohl Schmitt Electric Dehumidifier. It’s specifically made for smaller areas like cars, RVs, and individual rooms within a house. This compact unit could be perfect for an interconnected space like a van. If you run a dehumidifier in a humid region, first make sure your doors and windows are shut.

Improve Ventilation to Remove Moisture Buildup

Next up, improve your ventilation. It’s much easier to prevent moisture buildup if you keep the air flowing. Stagnant air can become damp and swampy, so it’s best to keep the air moving within your van. You can use your vehicle’s A/C as often as the battery allows. This is a good way to stay cool and improve airflow.

If you need additional ways to ventilate, you can try installing a vent/fan on the roof of your van. Place these over areas where water could evaporate, such as the kitchen or bathroom. Make sure you open these vents or run the fans whenever you’re cooking or showering. This will keep the entire van cooler and help you eject humid air.

Finally, you can use an electric fan or two inside the van itself. These will keep the air moving and can help introduce fresh air into the space. If it’s drier outside, open the windows and doors to let a breeze flow through.

Place Desiccants Around the Van

Sometimes moisture buildup occurs in the nooks and crannies of your van. It’s hard to reach these places with a fan or dehumidifier, so you may want to turn to desiccants for help. These substances are designed to absorb water from their surroundings, including the air. Some are store-bought products, while others can be made at home.

Popular desiccants include:

  • Silica gel
  • Montmorillonite clay
  • Dry rice
  • Calcium chloride
  • Diatomaceous Earth
  • Coffee grounds
  • Salt

You can scatter these loosely or place them in permeable packets. Place desiccants in high-moisture areas around the van. It’s a good idea to put them on windowsills, the corners of kitchen cabinets, underneath sinks, etc. If you notice any particularly damp areas, use a desiccant to prevent moisture buildup in the future.

Prevent Moisture Buildup With Vapor Barriers

Condensation forms more easily on certain surfaces. Smooth metal is an easy target for condensation, so any exposed metal in your van could become damp to the touch. You can try covering the metal with vapor barriers to prevent this. You must apply these barriers perfectly to be effective, but you can use them to reduce moisture in a van.

If you want a similar effect that’s more forgiving, try sound-deadening materials that rough up smooth textures on your walls. LizardSkin is a spray-on that mutes noise and improves insulation. It also covers smooth metal textures and makes it harder for condensation to form. If you frequently touch your walls and notice they’re wet, you may want to consider a solution like this.

Install Air-Tight Window Covers

Glass is another material that moisture can easily adhere to. As such, the windows in your van may become damp and dewy regularly. If you want to minimize this effect, try installing air-tight window covers whenever you don’t want natural light.

If air can’t reach the glass, airborne water particles will also be shut out. You need to use special covers for this method to be effective, but you can keep your windows clean and dry using this tactic.

Cook Outside More Often to Prevent Moisture Buildup

You can also make lifestyle changes to prevent moisture buildup in your van. One thing you can try is cooking outside as much as possible. This is a common tip, but it’s applicable to anyone who wants to reduce the level of heat and humidity in their living space.

Kitchens inside RVs and vans tend to produce a lot of fumes, steam, and heat. If you use a propane heater or stove, this is doubly true. If these fumes build up inside the van, you’ll be left with damp walls and a perfect breeding ground for bacteria.

Cooking outside enables the heat and moisture to escape upward. A portable kitchen setup is useful for any full-time traveler. All you really need is a camping stove and maybe a bucket or external hose. You’d be surprised to know how many things you can cook outside. Plus, it’s a great way to enjoy the fresh air.

Obviously, cooking outside isn’t always an option, especially in a particularly cold or wet environment. If you must use your kitchen, use your fans and vents to keep the air moving.

Reduce Sources of Steam and Evaporation as Much as Possible

Finally, you can do a few other things to prevent moisture buildup in your van. If you keep anything wet out in the open, that’s a potential source of humidity. Some people like to air-dry their clothing and swimsuits inside the van. If the water evaporates off these items, it will enter the air and create a swampy environment.

Try hanging clotheslines outside your van instead. This will expose the wet items to the sun and lower your internal humidity levels.

Showers will also make your van damp. Nobody wants to cut out showers entirely, but you can try taking shorter showers with slightly cooler water. If you have the option to use a campground shower or an outside shower, try that too! The less steam is in your van, the better off you’ll be.

Finally, look at your sources of heat. Propane heaters and stoves are popular in vans, but these produce fumes that make your RV more humid. If you can switch to electric heaters, you’ll be able to prevent moisture buildup. This isn’t practical for everyone, but it’s good to remember that propane heaters could be causing your problems.

How Do you Keep Your Van Dry?

Following the above tips will go a long way in keeping your van mold free and comfortable. However, vanlifers are a crafty bunch. Do you have any additional moisture-busting tips you use in your van? Let us know in the comments.

  • Emily Lawrence lives in Idaho with her husband Nathan. Despite the cold winters in this area, it's Emily's favorite season! She loves to spend time skiing, roadtripping, and just exploring the outdoors.

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2 thoughts on “Ways To Prevent Moisture Buildup”

  1. Thanks for reading, and your input. I personally use the type mentioned in the article in small areas with great success. It was chosen for its size and low power usage. But I’m personally always looking for a more efficient solution for small areas. Which dehumidifyer do you find works well for you?

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