Guide to Storage and Organizing Your RV

Published Categorized as RVs

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It’s always hard to go from living in a spacious home where everything has a place and there is always counter space for added belongings, but living in an RV can be a completely different experience. With RV organization tips, you will find that there is much less counter space and you’ll need to get creative when trying to organize and store your belongings.

In this article, I will share some tricks that I have learned from others as well as a few that I discovered on my own to create extra storage space and the best ways to utilize all of the areas in your RV to your advantage for adequate RV organization.

In the first part of this guide, you will see a few examples of how I organize my storage compartments with RV storage ideas and in the latter part of this article, I explain some tips you may want to use in your own RV whether it’s a class A, B, C, or tow-behind unit.

Table of Contents

Buckets: My Secret Weapon

(Photo courtesy Lexington Container Company)

I’m a big fan of recycling and repurposing items, so whenever I come across a good bucket I keep it to use for my RV organization ideas. I particularly like the food-grade buckets because there is a rubber “O” ring in the lid and this makes them watertight and airtight.

There are numerous ways to use buckets and you can really get creative when using them for extra storage. Here are a few of my favorite ways to use buckets for RV storage ideas or other purposes but you may find other uses for them that work for your needs. RV organization tips:

  • Pet food. I have a large dog so I buy dry dog food in 25-pound bags. I usually keep one bucket inside my RV and another one or two buckets in the storage compartments I access from outside for RV organization. Be sure to read my full article on RVing with your pet as well.
  • Dirty laundry. I like to fish and hike in my spare time and as we all know, those activities can produce some really smelly odors on your clothes. When I’m boondocking somewhere where I need to conserve water and can’t use my small washing machine, I will keep my dirty clothes in one or two of these airtight buckets in my basement storage compartments until I can get to the area where I have access to a laundromat or the water I need to use my own small washing machine.
  • Recyclables and trash. As I said before, I am a huge advocate for repurposing and recycling, so I always have one bucket dedicated to recycling things like aluminum soda and beer cans, plastic milk or juice jugs, and canned vegetable or soup containers. I usually try to rinse these out and crush them to conserve room in the bucket. For wet garbage, I repurpose plastic grocery bags I get from almost every store I shop at for groceries or day-to-day needs. I take those bags and tie them as closely as I can get them and then I put them in a food-grade air-tight bucket and stash them in one of my compartments until I can empty them later.
  • I stow most of my fishing and photography gear in some of these buckets and you can too. For the most part, I feel comfortable stowing my fishing gear down below in my basement storage compartments, but I do keep my cameras, lenses, and other essential gear stored away in smaller compartments in my living counter space.
  • Conserving water. When I am boondocking, I try to conserve my fresh water supply so I have a couple of plastic dishwashing tubs for cleaning my dishes. After I do my dishes I empty those tubs into one of these airtight buckets and keep it in the RV bathroom so that instead of using my fresh water supply to flush my toilet, I use this saved water that would have otherwise been drained into my gray water holding tank.

Where to Find Buckets to Use for Storage

To begin your RV organization ideas journey with these buckets, there are several online retailers such as Amazon that sell them as well as big-box stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot. However, I try to find them for free from bakeries or restaurants. Often time’s bakeries order icing for donuts and that usually comes in buckets in varying sizes and restaurants (especially hamburger joints) get their pickles delivered in them as well.

Most of the time these places just discard them when they are empty, so I sometimes will ask a favorite restaurant to save them for me instead of throwing them away.

Other Containers You Can Use for Storage

Yes, some of my favorite containers for use as storage are manufactured by Rubbermaid.

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Last update on 2024-07-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

They make a wide variety in several shapes and sizes and they stack well too. I like to keep my power tools such as drills and saws in these containers and I also will store clothes that I wear only in colder weather in one of these totes too.

Another good use for these is to keep things like hoses and electrical supply cords in one easily accessible spot which helps to save time when setting up or tearing down your campsite. These are not watertight so I don’t recommend leaving them outside in inclement weather.

Storing Tools to Conserve Space

Some folks will advise you to buy plastic clip-in handle holders to use on the upper side of your lower storage compartments and store tools as RV organization ideas but I recommend against that.

(Photo courtesy of Camper Trailer Australia)

Plastic fails and breaks, especially if it is subjected to constant movement. A better idea here is to skip the three-to-five dollar plastic fixtures and buy a roll of plumber’s strap (pictured above).

Need to hang ’em? Check out our full article on what to include in your RV toolkit.

It’s far less expensive and since it’s steel, it won’t fail under the stress of being in motion. Another benefit to using a plumber’s strap to secure items is that you can design and shape the strap to hold the item almost exactly to the size of the item. This is not an option when ordering cheap plastic broom holders, and if you’re a wise RVer, you’ll work this out on your own.

Storage Tips for Each Part of Your RV

There are all sorts of ways to have RV organization ideas or create storage space inside your RV, so we’ll take a look at the best ways to utilize these tips in certain areas of your RV such as the RV bedroom, RV kitchen, RV bathroom, RV living area, and even the driver and passenger areas. I’ll also give you some ideas of what works best for the type of RV you are traveling in and some possible scenarios that may relate to you.

Storing Cold-Weather Gear

This is a great question and one I have dealt with on every RV that I have owned. For example, the current RV I travel in is a fifth wheel that I purchased from a very nice elderly lady that had lived in it for nearly 12 years after her husband had passed away.

One of the first things I noticed after taking ownership of my RV was that there was a very expensive box spring and mattress on a metal frame used in most traditional sticks-n-bricks homes. Since I didn’t need that, I redesigned my bedroom and built up an area that eliminated the frame and box spring and also allowed me to create additional storage space.

While all RV organization modifications will vary depending on the size or shape of your RV, I recommend that you take a look at Lindsey’s article on how to install a bed in a converted van and that should give a good idea of how to design your new bed platform and create a good working storage area below your design.

Related: How to RV in the winter

Maximizing Closet Space

I also try to maximize as much space as I can. Hanging clothes take up a lot of space so I recommend using this handy item that allows you to use more vertical space in your closet instead of one row of horizontal area.

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Last update on 2024-07-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Another handy item to use in your closet is a collapsible storage compartment for things like shoes and folded clothes. When combined with the fold-down hangers I showed you above you will really maximize your space.

Aibrisk airpods Charging case
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Last update on 2024-07-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This handy item is good for trailers and most classes of motorhomes. Their very simple to use, you simply hang them on the top of your cabinet door and start using them. I have two of these in my RV, in the bedroom I use one to keep coats and jackets and in the RV bathroom, I hang wet towels to dry on the other one.

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Last update on 2024-07-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Organizing Your RV bathroom

I like to use a shower caddy in my rig and this works well in most RVs. Most of these simply hang on your shower water faucet. You may have to shop around for size and shape that fits your needs and I also don’t recommend traveling down the road with it in the hanging position. I always take mine down while I drive from place to place, but when you are stationary they are a great way to save small space.

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Last update on 2024-07-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

In case you need recommendations for toilets: Best RV toilets

Another popular way many RVers store their toiletries is to use a mesh shoe organizer. However, you should be mindful of how much weight you add to it when hanging it on an RV shower curtain rod. RV equipment isn’t made as sturdy as fixtures you would have in a traditional home so adding too much weight could be an issue. I would also recommend only using this item when you are stationary as well.

Organizing Your General RV Living Area

When I purchased my 5th wheel, it was used and I bought it from a lady that used it at only one location where it stayed year-round. She had a very nice glass-topped coffee table in front of the sofa bed (which I also replaced to create more storage and reduce weight) in the living area. You could think about RV desk ideas, and a creative way to install one while saving space.

There was no way I wanted to travel with a glass table bouncing around my coach so I replaced it with a trunk that now serves as a table and works for storage for some of my art supplies and photographic equipment.

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Last update on 2024-07-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Another item I added to my RV kitchen was this canned food organizer. Before I purchased this item, I discovered that when I was going from place to place the cans I had stacked in the cupboard were unstable and would fall over while in transit. Now they are much more stable and I feel comfortable driving down the road knowing that when I open the door to my trailer I’m not going to find a mess in my RV kitchen.

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Last update on 2024-07-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Another space-saving thing I use as RV kitchen storage ideas is “nesting bowls”. These are great for saving shelf space and if you like to cook as much as I do, they are essential when mixing up a recipe where measurements need to be precise. You can also find some of these nesting and stackable items used for cookware but you should be mindful that while they will save storage space, they will still have handles that make them an item that needs a bit more space to stow them.

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Last update on 2024-07-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

For more kitchen items, read my article on RV kitchen essentials.

Final Words

So there you have it, these are just a few of the ways I conserve small space and organize my RV, but the rest is really up to you. Be creative and think outside of the box. Remember, home is where you make it, so make the best of it. Safe travels to you, and hopefully, I’ll see you out there somewhere.

Organizing on the outside of your rig too? Read these guides for storing your adventure equipment.

By Brian

Born and raised in Michigan, contributing writer Brian C. Noell is a retired hospitality industry professional that now works remotely as a visual artist, writer and photographer as he travels around the United States in an RV with his dog Lizzy, an eighty pound Appenzeller hound dog.