Monday, March 7, 2016

spring cleaning // van life behind the scenes

With another trip coming up soon, it was high time to accomplish some spring cleaning in ol' Trixy today. Every year in March or April I spend a bit of time cleaning her so she's nice and fresh when the time comes to hit the road. I took some "behind the scenes" photos so you can kind of get an idea of what my van looks like without as much decor or luggage in the way. Here's a list of what I do and recommend for any other current or future road trippers in the way of cleaning.

Get everything out. The first step is to declutter. There's usually some things left over from previous trips (I even found a suitcase  full of clothes from my last road trip last September, oops). I remove all the rugs, blankets, pillows, storage crates, rubber mats, ect.

Vacuum. As much as I hate vacuuming in general, there's something so incredible satisfying about sucking up all the crud that I've been driving around for the last year. I usually head to a gas station that has the industrial mega vacuums for cars, but this year my go-to was out of order so I drove back home and decided to use my home vacuum cleaner's hose extension instead. It worked about as well, and it was free (although in my opinion the few quarters spent at the gas station are worth it for the extra strong suction). My van usually sits for a few months during the winter, and to help combat any stale smells and moisture, I sprinkle baking soda over the floors and let it sit for a week or two before I vacuum it. This helps absorb odors and moisture, and it's easy to clean up. (I usually also just leave a box of open baking soda sitting in there when not in use for the same reasons.)

Launder everything. All the rugs, blankets, and towels that I take out go right into the laundry. I love putting it all back in when it's clean and smelling fresh!

Repel rodents. So this year I had a bit of a mouse problem that I only found out about recently when I started preparing for my upcoming trip. The mice completely ate through the bottom of one of the fabric pockets on the back of a chair, then ate into a plastic bag that was there which contained a plastic tube of cocoa butter, which he/she also ate. They also chewed off 90% of the tassels from my pillows (and either ate them or removed them to stylishly furnish their mouse abode). I didn't find actual mice (dead or alive), or droppings, but there were a ton of "chewings" that were easily vacuumed up. Since I didn't want to injure or kill any mice with traps or poison, I looked up how to repel them naturally and learned that they hate the smell of peppermint (and also balsam fir). So I took some cotton scraps from an old sheet, dropped some peppermint essential oil on them, and then hid them all about the van. I also applied some of the essential oil straight to some areas to enhance the effect. I'm definitely going to be more prepared next winter!

Get a car wash. Car washes are something I usually only spend money on once a year. In the Midwest the roads are salted in the winter to help melt ice, and this salt wreaks havoc on the undersides of vehicles. Every spring I get Trixy a nice wash to help clean all that nasty salt out.

Next on my list is an oil change, a fluid check, and a tire pressure check, and I'll be almost ready to hit the road!

Here you can see where I removed a middle seat. This ugly stump remains, but not having that huge chair there gives me a ton more space to move around, and it makes it much easier to come in and out of the side doors. Also, the green floor is usually covered with multiple rugs. It's much simpler to shake out a few small rugs if they get a bit dirty than to try and vacuum around all of the luggage. 
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