Van Life Hack: How to Stop Condensation in a Campervan

campervan condensation

Van Life Hack: How to Stop Condensation in a Campervan

Buy or Sell Campers

Buy or Sell Campers

8 July 2023

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Venturing into the world of van life is an exhilarating experience, but it comes with its fair share of challenges. One of the most common issues that nomadic travelers and campervan enthusiasts encounter is condensation. The buildup of moisture inside your van can lead to a range of problems, from discomfort to potentially serious damage.

In this article, we’ll explore effective strategies to deal with condensation, prevent its formation, and keep your campervan cozy and dry during your adventures.

Whether you’re in one of the most popular conversion vans out there – a sprinter van – or a camper van conversion of any kind, a motorhome or RV, we’ve got you covered with practical tips to combat condensation and make the most of your van life journey. 

Jump straight to:

Understanding Condensation in a Van

Condensation is an inevitable companion for anyone embracing the nomadic lifestyle of van living.

Let’s get started by delving into the science behind condensation, exploring concepts like relative humidity, sources of water vapor, dew point, and the intriguing phenomena of condensation forming both inside and outside your campervan.

While understanding condensation may not sound like sound like the most thrilling topic, that the basis of knowing how to prevent condensation and moisture. You need to understand it.

So let’s go back to the classroom on this…

What Actually is Condensation?

Condensation is the process by which water vapor in the air transforms into liquid water.

It happens when it encounters a surface that is colder than the dew point temperature. Essentially, when air becomes saturated with moisture, the excess water vapor – unable to remain in a gaseous state – condenses into tiny water droplets or frost on surfaces, such as windows, walls, or glass.

In the context of van life, condensation can lead to issues like dampness, mold, and discomfort if not properly managed. 

There are three factors that come into play here:

  1. Relative Humidity (RH)
  2. Water vapor sources
  3. Dew point

Let’s take a deep dive:

Relative Humidity (RH)

Relative humidity, often abbreviated as RH, is a crucial factor in the battle against condensation and moisture inside your van.

It’s a measure of how much moisture the air holds relative to the maximum amount it could hold at a given temperature.

When the RH reaches 100%, the air is saturated, and condensation begins to occur.

So what?

The colder the air gets, the less water vapor it can hold.

This reduction in the air’s moisture-carrying capacity is why you often encounter condensation issues during colder nights or in regions with lower temperatures. As the temperature drops, the relative humidity increases, bringing the air closer to its saturation point.

Inside your campervan, this phenomenon can become particularly problematic during cold seasons or when you’re parked in chilly climates. When the interior temperature of your van drops significantly, especially overnight, it may cause the relative humidity to rise to 100% or near it.

This is when condensation is most likely to form on surfaces inside the van, such as windows, walls, and even ceilings.

To address this, you’ll need to take proactive measures to manage both the temperature and humidity levels inside your van.

Proper insulation, ventilation, and moisture control will play a crucial role in creating a more comfortable and condensation-free environment for your van life adventures. Let’s explore the best way to avoid condensation further in the upcoming sections.

How To Measure RH Inside of Your Van

Relative humidity (RH) is typically measured using a device called a hygrometer. Hygrometers come in various types, for van life or camping purposes, portable electronic hygrometers are often the most convenient and accurate choice for monitoring humidity levels in the air inside your van.

Water Vapor Sources

Understanding the sources of water vapor and the amount of water vapor within your campervan is key to managing condensation.

Moisture can infiltrate your van from various sources, including cooking, breathing, and even damp clothing – they can all form condensation. To stop breathing is not an option, but by properly identifying and addressing these sources as far as possible is the first step towards a drier interior.

Dew Point

The dew point is the temperature at which air becomes saturated and moisture begins to condense. When the interior of your van cools down, perhaps during a chilly night’s sleep, it can reach the dew point temperature, causing condensation to form on surfaces.

Basically, the dew point is the point at which you get condensation. To stop condensation forming, you ideally want to avoid the dew point at all costs!

Campervan with wetsuit drying on door

Preventing Condensation in Your Van

Condensation in your motorhome or campervan can be a persistent issue, but with the right strategies, you can maintain a cozy and moisture-free interior. In this section, we’ll explore practical ways to combat condensation and ensure a comfortable van life experience.

Campervan Ventilation & Airflow

Proper ventilation is your first line of defense against condensation. Adequate airflow helps regulate humidity levels inside the van by expelling moisture-laden air and replacing it with drier outdoor air.

Proper airflow is essential to avoid moisture and condensation buildup inside your campervan. Let’s explore some key techniques to maintain optimal ventilation:

Ventilation Fans

Install roof-mounted or window-mounted ventilation fans that can be used to exhaust humid air and bring in fresh air. These fans are particularly useful during cooking or sleeping when moisture levels tend to rise.

You can ensure a steady flow of fresh air by using ventilation fans. This not only helps prevent condensation but also keeps the van interior feeling fresh.

Crack Windows

Crack open windows slightly to create a cross-ventilation effect. This encourages air circulation and helps prevent moisture buildup. It may seem counterintuitive to keep windows open when it is cold outside, but keeping them closed just locks moisture in – causing condensation and damp.

If you see moisture buildup and condensation starting to form, you have too much moisture in the van and you need to let it out.

Controlling Moisture In A Campervan

We all need to be aware of the risks of condensation leading to dampness and mold growth. Regularly inspecting and addressing any damp or mold issues, will help maintain a healthy van interior, but to effectively stop condensation in your motorhome or campervan, it’s crucial to control the sources of moisture within the vehicle:

Moisture Absorbers

Many vanlifers claim to have had good results with employing moisture-absorbing products like silica gel packets, cat litter in stockings(!), or dehumidifiers to keep humidity levels in check, especially in enclosed storage areas. 

Avoid Drying Wet Gear

After rainy adventures, make sure wet gear like clothing and footwear dries outside the van or in a dedicated drying area to prevent excess moisture buildup. If commissioning a bespoke campervan build, consider this when designing your van.

Avoid Showering Inside your Van

Indoor showers for campers produce a lot of steam. Even with a dedicated extractor fan in the campervan bathroom, it’s asking a lot for it to get rid of all the condensation and steam. Wherever possible, shower outdoors or use gym facilities. 

If you really can’t resist it, leave all the extractor fans and roof vents running for at least a couple of hours after a shower.

Keep Track of Humidity in the Van

Monitor and manage the humidity in the van to prevent condensation. Installing a hygrometer will help you keep track of moisture levels. Be vigilant in spotting condensation as it occurs. Regularly check windows, walls, and other surfaces for signs of moisture buildup – if you see condensation, you need to take action and adjust your approach.

Cooking in your Van

Ideally, we’d recommend that you avoid cooking inside your van in the winter months, but we know this is a tough one. When preparing meals in your campervan, use proper ventilation to channel cooking steam outside the van. This prevents excess moisture from accumulating on surfaces.

Additionally, consider what you’re cooking – boiling veg etc produces steam, which inherently becomes condensation on your windows. However, using a contained pan, such as the vanlife favourite – a Ridge Monkey – to heat or cook something ‘dry’ creates less steam. It’s worth keeping in mind!

📚 Read more: Van House Kitchen Essentials for Camper Vans and Van House Living: How to Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle on the Move

Outdoor stove top by beach

Keeping Your Camper Warm

Maintaining a comfortable temperature inside your campervan not only makes it nicer to spend time in your van, but also helps combat condensation. When the interior temperature is closer to the outside temperature, you reduce the risk of reaching the dew point.

But how does that work if the outside temperature is cold, and you’re heating your van?

When it comes to condensation, the warmer it is, the lower the relative humidity and the more water vapor the air can hold. The more water vapor the air can hold, the less condensation will form.

Heat Your Van

Invest in a heating solution, such as a diesel heater, to maintain a cozy temperature, particularly during colder seasons. Combined with good ventilation (see above) and good insulation (see below) this is the most effective way to reduce condensation. But avoid propane heaters – burning propane produces a LOT of water vapor – about 1 pint of water for every pint of fuel burnt!

That’s a lot.

To overcome the moisture produced by this type of heat, you’ll need to open a lot of windows…and on a cold night, that seems to defy the point. It’s just not the most efficient way to heat your rig.

Some vanlifers will argue the case for a woodburner and the idea that they provide ‘dry’ heat…and they are good, but there is the hassle of storing logs, fitting a chimney, and generally the risks associated with fire in a small space. One thing most vanlifers will agree on: an externally vented diesel heater is the way forward. 

Insulate Your Van

Properly insulate the interior of your van to retain heat and prevent rapid cooling. Good insulation minimizes the risk of reaching the dew point temperature – the point at which condensation is caused.

Window Coverings

Utilize thermal window coverings, especially during colder nights, to minimize heat loss through windows and maintain a warmer interior.

By integrating these strategies into your van life routine, you’ll not only reduce the risks associated with condensation but also ensure a more enjoyable and comfortable journey.

In the next section, we’ll explore additional tips and equipment to help you effectively deal with condensation in your campervan, RV or motorhome.

📚 Read more: Van Life In Winter: How To Survive

Campervan interior with wood cabinetry

Ways to Deal with Condensation and Moisture in your Van 

In the world of van life, condensation is an ever-present challenge. Despite your best efforts, it may not always be possible to entirely prevent condensation from forming, but you still need to navigate the problems that condensation can cause.

With that in mind, what you can do is equip yourself with effective strategies to get rid of condensation when it occurs.

In this section, we’ll explore a couple of the best practices and tools we’ve discovered to tackle condensation head-on and ensure a comfortable and moisture-free experience in your campervan or motorhome.

Whether it’s utilizing specialized cloths, or employing modern devices like window vacuums, these methods have proven invaluable in managing condensation and maintaining a cozy and dry interior. We wouldn’t try living in a van without these!

Absorbent Cloths: Chamois Cloth vs. Microfiber Towel

When condensation occurs, it’s essential to address it promptly. Two handy tools for this purpose are chamois cloths and microfiber towels, each with its advantages:

Chamois Cloth: A chamois cloth, made from natural or synthetic materials, excels at absorbing moisture quickly. It’s especially useful for wiping down surfaces where condensation has formed, such as windows or metal surfaces. Chamois cloths are known for their high absorbency and streak-free drying capabilities.

Microfiber Towel: Microfiber towels are versatile and highly absorbent, making them a valuable addition to your van life toolkit. They can handle various tasks, from cleaning and drying surfaces to wiping away condensation. Microfiber towels are also machine washable, making them easy to maintain.

Personally, we love a good chamois! Less potential for fuzz, and vey absorbant if used regularly. They may start the season dry and crusty, but after a few uses…they out-perform microfiber towels for us.

Just be careful where you store towels and cloths in the interior of the van – it seems counterproductive to dry your windows, then leave the wet cloth in the same space. We find the glovebox in the cab is a good option.

Window Vacuum

A window vacuum – such as the Karcher Window Vac – is a handy device designed to quickly and efficiently remove condensation from windows and other smooth surfaces – it’s a great ally in the battle against the dangers if condensation. Here’s how it can be a game-changer in your fight against condensation:

Effortless Condensation Removal

Window vacuums use suction and a rubber blade to effectively and streak-free remove moisture. They are particularly useful on windows and glass surfaces prone to condensation.


With a window vacuum, you can say goodbye to manually wiping down surfaces. These devices do the job swiftly, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your van life adventures.

Reduced Streaking

Window vacuums leave surfaces dry and streak-free, enhancing visibility and maintaining a clear view from your campervan.

Check out this YouTube review from Barking Nomads:

Electric Dehumidifier in a Motorhome

An electric dehumidifier can be an effective way to prevent condensation inside your motorhome or campervan. These devices are designed to extract moisture from the air, helping to maintain a drier interior environment. A quick blast can help prevent condensation build-up. They are a tempting ‘easy fix’ if you want to stop worrying about condensation, but it’s essential to consider both the advantages and drawbacks when contemplating their use.


Efficient Moisture Removal

Electric dehumidifiers are proficient at removing excess moisture from the air, which can significantly reduce the risk of condensation on surfaces.

Set-and-Forget Operation

Once set up, dehumidifiers typically operate autonomously, making them a convenient solution for maintaining optimal humidity levels.



Dehumidifiers can be bulky and take up valuable space inside your motorhome. Their size and weight may not be practical for smaller van conversions or for those who prioritize a minimalist interior.

Energy Consumption

Electric dehumidifiers consume electricity, which may not be ideal if you’re living an off-grid or energy-conscious lifestyle. They can strain your power supply, especially in situations where electricity sources are limited.

When considering an electric dehumidifier, weigh the benefits against the potential downsides, and assess whether it aligns with your van life priorities.

While they can be a valuable addition for some, alternative strategies like improved ventilation, moisture control, and insulation may be more suitable for others seeking to manage condensation efficiently.

As you navigate van life, you’ll encounter varying levels of condensation and moisture challenges. Having these tools on hand, along with the strategies mentioned earlier, will help you effectively manage condensation and keep the interior of your van warm, dry, and comfortable.

In the following section, we’ll delve into some popular ‘solutions’ to discuss the efficacy as part of your condensation prevention efforts.

Man in campervan with arms crossed, smiling

“Solutions” to Avoid in your Camper Van Build

In the ever-evolving world of van life, there are popular solutions often considered as foolproof remedies for condensation and moisture issues. However, like many things in life, the effectiveness of these solutions can be a subject of debate within the van life community.

Let’s dive into two such “solutions” – vapor barriers and moisture absorbers – and explore why their degree of success might not always be as clear-cut as it seems.

Vapor Barriers: The Controversial Conundrum

The Claim: Vapor barriers, often consisting of plastic sheeting or materials designed to prevent moisture from infiltrating your van’s walls and ceiling, are touted as effective condensation fighters.

The Contention: While vapor barriers can indeed reduce the ingress of moisture, they also have some noteworthy downsides. Moisture that manages to get trapped within the walls can lead to unseen mold growth, structural issues, and a “sweating” effect on the interior metal surfaces. Essentially, having the opposite effect of what is intended.

The Conclusion: The van life community is divided on the wisdom of using vapor barriers. Some argue that, if installed correctly, they are the best way to stop condensation. Others caution against their use, emphasizing the importance of proper ventilation and moisture management over vapor barriers.

It’s really hard to know, some van builders swear by them, others don’t. It really all comes down to the quality of installation.

This YouTube explanation from Florida Van Man gives a really good overview:

Moisture Absorbers: A Manmade Miracle?

The Claim: Moisture absorbers, such as desiccant bags or buckets filled with moisture-absorbing substances, are hailed as a straightforward, fool-proof solution to draw excess humidity from the air.

The Contention: While moisture absorbers can indeed reduce humidity levels inside your van, their effectiveness is limited. They need regular replacement or recharging, and in extremely humid conditions, they may struggle to keep up.

The Conclusion: Van lifers often share mixed experiences with moisture absorbers. Some find them helpful for localized moisture control, especially in small spaces like closets or cabinets. However, others argue that these products might not be the ultimate answer for overall condensation prevention, especially in large van interiors.

We’ve established that condensation is hard to beat; moisture absorbers may play a a part in reducing the amount of condensation, but they won’t fully control it.

So, What’s the Verdict?

The truth is, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to managing condensation in your camper van. The effectiveness of vapor barriers and moisture absorbers can vary depending on factors like your van’s size, location, and usage patterns. 

In the end, it’s essential to approach these “solutions” with a degree of caution and a willingness to experiment. Every van lifer’s journey is unique, and what works best for you might not be the same as what works for others.

So, have some fun, explore different strategies, and join the lively debate in the van life community as you seek to conquer condensation and make your camper van as cozy and dry as possible.

Dangers of Moisture and Condensation in your Motorhome or Campervan

Moisture and condensation in your motorhome or campervan are not merely inconveniences; the dangers of condensation can pose a real threat to your well-being. Understanding these risks is crucial for maintaining a safe and comfortable van life.

The Threat to Your Van’s Integrity

Condensation is water that collects on various surfaces inside your van. Over time, this seemingly harmless moisture can cause significant harm. One of the most concerning threats is its potential to corrode the metal components of your vehicle. The integrity of your van may be compromised as condensation takes its toll, leading to structural issues that can be costly to repair.

Additionally, the surface of the van can suffer. Stains, mold, and water damage can mar the interior, affecting both the appearance and resale value of your cherished motorhome or campervan.

Comfort and Safety Concerns Caused by Condensation

Condensation can impact your comfort and safety during your van life adventures. When moisture forms on windows, walls, and ceilings, it can make the interior feel colder, even dangerously so on cold nights. This can lead to discomfort, disrupted sleep, and potential health issues.

Prolonged exposure to a damp and chilly interior can result in respiratory problems, allergies, and general discomfort. Condensation’s impact on your well-being is a serious concern that should not be underestimated.

Taking Action to Preserve Your Van and Comfort

To mitigate the dangers of moisture and condensation, it’s imperative to take proactive measures. Implementing effective ventilation systems, investing in insulation to maintain a comfortable interior temperature, and employing moisture control strategies are key steps in preserving both your van’s integrity and your own well-being.

By addressing these issues head-on, you can enjoy your motorhome or campervan adventures to the fullest while ensuring that your vehicle remains a safe and comfortable haven on the road.

Condensation on the window of a campervan

Tips for Storing Your Van to Avoid Condensation

Properly storing your van when it’s not in use is essential for preventing condensation and ensuring its longevity. Here are some valuable tips to help you store your van effectively and protect it from the damaging effects of moisture:

Ventilation Matters

Even when your van is not in use, maintaining airflow is crucial. Crack open windows or vents slightly to allow fresh air into the van. This helps reduce humidity levels and minimize the potential for condensation.

Identify and Address Sources of Condensation

Before storing your van, thoroughly inspect it for sources of condensation. Check for any signs of moisture buildup, and address them proactively. This might include removing wet gear, cleaning surfaces, and ensuring all areas are dry.

Invest in Moisture Control

Consider using moisture-absorbing products, such as desiccant bags or dehumidifiers, inside your van during storage. These can help manage humidity levels and prevent condensation.

Cover Your Van

If storing your van outdoors, invest in a quality cover that provides protection from rain, snow, and moisture. A cover can save your van from the detrimental effects of exposure to the elements.

By following these tips, you’ll not only save your van from potential damage caused by condensation during storage but also ensure that it will be in excellent condition and ready for your next adventure. Proper storage is a vital aspect of van ownership that contributes to both the vehicle’s longevity and your peace of mind.


Van life enthusiasts know that campervan, RV and motorhome condensation can be a bit of a challenge, but it’s a challenge worth embracing. From understanding the impact of air from the van on a cold night to protecting the metal of the van from corrosion, addressing condensation is essential for a comfortable and safe van life experience.

Since the early days of van life, adventurers have been finding innovative ways to combat moisture and condensation. Whether it’s improving ventilation, investing in insulation, or using moisture-absorbing products, these solutions not only save your van but also enhance your overall comfort.

Remember, a van isn’t just a mode of transportation; it’s your home on wheels, and taking steps to prevent motorhome condensation ensures that your van will also be a reliable and cozy haven for all your future journeys. So, embrace the challenges, explore the solutions, and enjoy every moment of your van life adventures to the fullest.

Campervan Condensation FAQs

1. How does condensation form inside a van?

Condensation forms inside a van when warm air containing moisture comes into contact with a cold surface. As the air inside the van cools down, it cannot hold as much water vapor, causing condensation to form.

2. Why is condensation a problem in a campervan?

Condensation in a campervan can lead to various issues such as mold, mildew, and dampness. These can damage the interior, furniture, and fabric, as well as create an unhealthy living environment.

3. What are some common causes of condensation inside a campervan?

Some common causes of condensation in a campervan include inadequate insulation, poor ventilation, cooking inside the van, and high humidity levels outside. These factors contribute to excess moisture in the air, leading to condensation.

4. How can I reduce condensation in my campervan?

To reduce condensation in your campervan, you can take several steps such as improving insulation, maximizing ventilation, using a dehumidifier, and employing a vapor barrier. These measures help control the moisture levels inside your van.

5. What is a vapor barrier and how does it help prevent condensation?

A vapor barrier is a material that prevents moisture from passing through walls, ceilings, and floors. By installing a vapor barrier during your van build, you can minimize the transfer of moisture from the air into the van’s interior, reducing the chances of condensation.

6. Can I use a dehumidifier to stop condensation in my campervan?

Yes, using a dehumidifier can be an effective way to stop condensation in your campervan. A dehumidifier helps remove excess moisture from the air and maintain optimal humidity levels inside the van, thereby preventing condensation. 

7. Are there any specific tips to prevent condensation on windows in a campervan?

To prevent condensation on windows, you can try using window insulating film, applying a layer of anti-condensation coating, or using window vents to promote airflow. These methods help reduce the temperature difference between the window surface and the air inside, minimizing condensation.

8. How important is ventilation in controlling condensation?

Ventilation plays a crucial role in controlling condensation. Proper ventilation helps circulate air, remove excess moisture, and maintain a balanced humidity level inside the van. It is advisable to have both passive and active

9. Why Does Condensation Form On The Outside Of Your Van?

You might have noticed condensation forming on the exterior of your van, particularly in the morning. This occurs when the metal of the van’s exterior becomes colder than the dew point temperature, causing moisture in the surrounding air to condense on its surface. It’s a natural phenomenon and not a cause for concern.

10. Why Does Frost Form On The Inside Of The Windscreen?

Frost forming on the inside of your van’s windscreen can be a perplexing sight. It happens when the glass surface inside your van becomes cold enough to reach the dew point temperature and condensation on the windows freezes. While it might seem counterintuitive, this frost formation is a result of moisture inside the van and can be mitigated with proper ventilation and insulation.

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