UV For Your RV: What is Ultraviolet Disinfection?

Lizzie DragonMay 27, 2020

UV For Your RV: What is Ultraviolet Disinfection?

As an RV owner amid the coronavirus pandemic, it is all the more critical to ensure your space is clean and disinfected. While common disinfectants and cleaning solutions can be helpful in creating a sanitary environment, using ultraviolet disinfection systems is a powerful way to step up your RV sanitation game and create the safest space possible for you or your renters.

We recently spoke with Dr. John Cashman, President and Founder of Human BioMolecular Research Institute, about the importance of disinfecting, as well as how to properly incorporate UV disinfection into your RV cleaning routine.

Cashman says that used in conjunction with CDC-recommended cleaning guidelines, UV products can be a great way to give your renters peace of mind and a sense of safety. “You’re really just letting them know, ‘Look, I’ve done everything I can to sanitize my unit’,” said Cashman.

So, what exactly is this method of disinfection that Dr. Cashman uses even in his own laboratories? Let’s find out.

What is Ultraviolet Disinfection?

Ultraviolet disinfection, or UV germicidal irradiation, is a process used to sterilize equipment and environments. It is commonly used to sanitize water, lab equipment, and public spaces like airplanes, hospitals, and yes, RVs.

The Science of Ultraviolet Light

UV light is produced by the sun and invisible to the human eye. There are three types of UV light.

  1. UVA
  2. UVB
  3. UVC

The most energetic on the spectrum is UVC. This light has the ability to destroy genetic material inside viruses and eliminate even the most challenging pathogens in our environment like MRSA and E. Coli.

How Does UV Disinfection Work?

Though UV rays come from the sun, Earth’s atmosphere blocks UVC, as direct contact is dangerous for humans. If that’s the case, how is it that we can use it to disinfect?

Special lamps and robots have the ability to produce UVC. Utilizing the short-wavelength radiation capabilities of UVC, these products inactivate microorganisms, mainly bacteria, and viruses, and prevent them from replicating in the environment.

Ready for more science? UVC, with 200 to 300-nanometer wavelengths, is the only UV wavelength known to be germicidal. The short wavelength of UVC light fosters high energy that is absorbed in the cellular DNA and RNA, disrupting DNA pairing. In this process, nucleic acids are damaged, stopping microorganisms from infecting and reproducing.

Can UV Fight Against Coronavirus?

Although more research is needed to confirm the effectiveness of UV light against the coronavirus at the root of COVID-19, it has proven effective against related coronaviruses, including the one causing MERS disease.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has implemented the use of UV disinfection lamps into their nightly cleaning routine on New York buses, subways, and stations. David Brenner, director of radiological research at Columbia University, says this addition will reduce the level of the virus on the subway and will, therefore, reduce the risk of passengers contracting COVID-19.

How to Keep Your RV Clean with UV

Right now, RV travel is considered a less-risky option for travelers. Proper and thorough disinfection of your RV is essential to keep it that way. Here’s what you can do:

Step 1: Clean Using Common Disinfectants

*The following info is based on recommended CDC cleaning guidelines.

Before using UV disinfection methods, make sure to first clean thoroughly using CDC-recommended methods.

  1. Wear disposable gear while you clean (gloves, face masks). If you wear gloves, throw them out after each cleaning and wash your hands.
  2. Ventilate rooms while you clean by leaving the windows and door open.
  3. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after each cleaning. Use soap and water, and wash for at least 20 seconds.
  4. Use detergent or soap and water to remove dirt, grease, dust, and germs. Once the surface is clean, spray with a disinfectant.
  5. Don’t touch your face while cleaning (wearing a face mask can help prevent this).
  6. Wash all linens at the highest heat setting recommended by the manufacturer. This includes:
    • bedsheets
    • mattress covers
    • towels
    • blanket
  7. While restocking your supplies, take a moment to check expiration dates. And remember to never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleaning solution that can release toxic gases that are dangerous to inhale.
  8. Line your trash cans to make it easier to dispose of waste.
  9. Once you’re done cleaning, immediately take out the trash if it contains cleaning supplies like used paper towels or disinfectant wipes.

Step 2: Overnight UV

Install an ultraviolet lamp in your RV and leave it to disinfect surfaces overnight. If you have a larger vehicle, you may choose to use two lamps, one in the common area and one in the bedroom. Doing this can provide up to 99.9% disinfection of your surfaces!

Affordable UV Lamps

There are many affordable options when it comes to UV disinfection tools. Smart UV, Slichic, and Healthy Livin’ Solutions all have easy-to-use and inexpensive products available to keep your RV as disinfected as a science lab or hospital. No matter the size of your RV or your price range, you have choices. Find the right ultraviolet tool for you.

The Apollo UV-C Lamp

Price: $199.99

Size: 20 x 7 x 7 inches

The Apollo UV-C lamp offers double sterilization for your RV by releasing ozone and UV-C light. Using medical-grade UV (60 watts), this not only kills up to 99% of allergens, bacteria, mold, and viruses but also purifies the air and removes odor. With a timer, it is able to conform to spaces, large and small. Best of all, it’s portable!

UV Disinfection Lamp for Home

Price: $94.99 – $130.99

Size: 34 x 20 cm – 65 x 26.5 cm

A cheaper option, the UV Disinfection Lamp from Slichic has three wattage options, 20W, 30W, and 40W. Set in on the table or hang it right on the wall of your RV, then turn it on and leave it to work its magic. This product is easy to use and small enough for easy storage. It also has a long service life of about 8000 hours.

Germicide UVC Sterilization Lamp

Price: $126.99

Size: 200 x 140 x 32 mm

At a 38W capacity, the UVC sterilization lamp from Healthy Livin’ Solutions can rapidly sterilize your space in as little as 15 minutes. Like the others, it is portable and storable. With a lifespan of up to 10,000 hours and free shipping, what could go wrong?

Is Ultraviolet Disinfection Right for Your Rig?

UV disinfection does what normal liquid disinfectants can’t, ridding not only surfaces, but the air of germs, bacteria, and viruses. UV-C sterilization is the most powerful way you can keep your RV ready for safe and sanitized travel.

Lizzie Dragon, Outdoorsy Author

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