Ideas to help keep the carpet and upholstery in your motorhome free from dirt and grime.
By Janet Groene, F47166
No matter where you live, everyone needs a place to leave wet, dirty shoes and clothing so the filth is not dragged inside. In farmhouses this area may be called a mudroom. In fancy language, it’s a foyer (foh-YAY), or vestibule. In boats it’s regarded as a wet locker.
How can you improvise the best features of a mudroom to help keep your motorhome’s interior cleaner? Here are some ideas that may work for you. The suppliers and sites listed here are for shopping guidance only. No endorsement by the writer or this magazine is implied, and other options undoubtedly exist. In fact, FMC readers are encouraged to first consult the RV Marketplace in the June 2011 issue of the magazine or online at FMCA.com in order to patronize FMCA commercial member companies.
According to the Wall Street Journal, rubber overshoes and galoshes are making a comeback even in fashionable New York City. Find overshoes and overboots at http://www.totes-isotoner.com/ and http://www.slipfreeshoes.com/. Simply peel off your “outdoor” shoes, and your “indoor” shoes are clean and dry. Most overshoes are thin and supple for easier removal, so they don’t wear long in everyday use. Heavier rubber boots are available from industrial suppliers and specialists such as http://www.gemplers.com/.
Rediscover the old-fashioned shoe scraper. Do an Internet search or go to http://www.solutions.com/, http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/, or http://www.uline.com/. Shoe scrapers are sold for home, office, or industrial use. They come in different styles and sizes and in fun, decorative models. You also can make your own by mounting one or two old-fashioned scrub brushes on a board.
All doormats are not alike. Some do a good job scraping off sand and debris but aren’t absorbent. Others soak up their weight in water but aren’t abrasive. Some doormats let debris fall through, which is a good choice for outside the entry door. Others hold dirt, allowing you to take the whole mess outside to shake it out. The ideal doormat should be quick-drying so you can stow it before getting under way.
Doormats with a variety of designs, ranging from custom-imprinted mats to whimsical phrases (“Hi, I’m Mat”), are available in stores, from garden suppliers, and online. Commercial mats, including heated versions for cold floors or special mats to dry snow boots and ski boots, are available at www.globalindustrial.com.
To show your FMCA spirit, consider the doormat available from FMCAstore.com, which is emblazoned with the FMCA logo.
The doormat that is best for you may not be the most comfortable or effective for your dog. Even a small dog can track in a lot of dirt on its paws, claws, and fur, but some doormat bristles are tough on small paws. We keep a large, clean, terry towel handy to wipe down our pet before allowing it in the motorhome. While your dog is enjoying the tummy rubs, sand and mud drop into an absorbent cloth.
In the dark ages before we had push-button entry steps, many RVers used a sturdy plastic milk crate as a step. It still can be a good choice. Dirt falls through the holes, and the crate itself makes an ideal carry-all for those small items that get packed away last before you leave the campsite. If you do use this option, be sure that the surface beneath it offers enough stability.
A selection of outdoor carpets can be found at http://www.outdoorrugshop.com/. These carpets come in many sizes, materials, colors, and patterns to complement your motorhome. A polypropylene carpet can be used on the slab or bare ground. If it’s a manageable size, no larger than 4 feet by 6 feet, it easily can be hosed off, shaken dry, folded, and stowed for a quick getaway.
In a variety store, I found a woven plastic beach mat about the size of a beach towel. Dirt rinses from it easily, it dries quickly, and it rolls up into a neat package secured by hook-and-loop fastening material. It’s an ideal runner for muddy campsites. We rarely stay more than two nights in each spot, so I also buy bamboo beach mats on sale at the end of the season and use them as disposable runners.
Consider a no-shoes-indoors rule to keep dirt, water, mud, and mold spores out of the interior. It’s a huge nuisance, but perhaps you can dedicate an area near the door for shoe storage. It could be inside the motorhome or located in a basement compartment just outside the entryway. Buy or improvise a shallow boot tray to fit this area. It can be removed and cleaned often.
Many motorhomes have awnings on the entry side, but if you don’t have one, consider adding a smaller, window-size awning over the entry door to protect the doormat, door, and steps. This awning can be retractable or even removable. You might install a track for a bolt rope or add a few fittings for mounting a shade sail.
What’s a shade sail? It’s a piece of weatherproof fabric that has grommets that allow it to be tied in place to create shade as needed. It stores flat and can be moved easily as the sun passes overhead. Also called a sun fly or shade triangle, it can be found at camping suppliers, marine stores, and http://www.shadesailoutlet.com/. Keep in mind that large shade sails can be a handful in high winds.
To make your own shade sail, hem a triangle, square, or rectangle of fabric such as canvas or Sunbrella-brand material, and then install grommets so the “sail” can be attached at three or more points to provide shade and to channel water away from the door.
Find a place near the entry for a supply of plastic bags. Bag up wet umbrellas, muddy boots, and sodden raincoats until you can deal with them.
If you’re lucky enough to have a coat closet or broom closet just inside your motorhome’s entry door, consider using it solely as a wet locker. That way, you will not have to hang wet rain gear, backpacks, and sports equipment in the shower. Put a tray in the floor to collect drips and dirt, and add ventilation louvers in the door. If space allows, mount a small blower or muffin fan to provide extra ventilation in the closet. Our 12-volt-DC muffin fan was scrounged out of an old computer.
Heated closet rods, which help keep a damp closet dry, are available from closet suppliers or from http://www.naturestapestry.com/. Dehumidifiers made for gun safes also can work in a tiny closet. When choosing a closet dehumidifier for your motorhome, consider the cost of replacement media versus a device dependent on electricity. In any case, a wet locker and its contents need frequent airing. An antimold spray from http://www.allergycontrol.com/ can be used to coat closet surfaces. It needs to be reapplied approximately once a month.
Electric and nonelectric boot dryers and glove dryers come in a variety of styles. See ski suppliers or shop online at http://www.cozywinters.com/ or http://www.seaproductsonline.com/. Make a simple boot dryer with dowels mounted on a wood base.
Most of us use rechargeable hand vacuums, but an old-fashioned whisk broom is an even quicker tool for doing quick brushups. Keep one handy for brushing off coats, shoes, slacks, and jackets after hiking in areas where you pick up burrs, sand, mud, or leaf mold.
Make-do floor covers can be dangerous, so keep safety in mind when choosing mats and throw rugs. You may have seen self-adhesive plastic or craft paper carpet covers used in motorhomes at RV shows. They’re made for temporary commercial use, but they are convenient and affordable enough for consumers, too. Do you have grandchildren coming to stay for a week? Will you be ski camping or visiting Vermont during the rainy season? Consider unrolling some of this material over the carpet. It will last about two weeks and can be thrown away once you’re done with it. Sources include http://www.plasticover.com/, http://www.pro-tect.com/, and www.floor-protection-resources.com.
You may have been asked to don disposable, paper-like overshoes when visiting a hospital or a museum, or before touring a high-end motorhome at an FMCA convention. These shoe covers are available for less than 10 cents a pair from sources including http://www.galeton.com/ and http://www.prosafetysupplies.com/. If you have a strict no-shoes rule in your motorhome, keep them on hand for guests.
|If you have a question or comment about full-timing that you'd like to share with Janet or are interested in becoming part of her full-timer's panel, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org; or write to Janet Groene, Family Motor Coaching, 8291 Clough Pike, Cincinnati, OH 45244. Janet and Gordon Groene's book Living Aboard Your RV, Third Edition ($14.95 plus shipping) is available from Workamper by calling (800) 446-5627 or by visiting www.workamper.com. The book also can be ordered from the publisher, McGraw-Hill, at (800) 822-8158.|