The most overlooked summer maintenance task

Have your trailer lights been working intermittently, or stopped working all together?

Has the power cord nearly burned your hand after unplugging it – especially after you've been running the AC?

Does your power cord or 7-way plug have green, yellow, brown, or blackish coloring on the metal connectors – like this one?


If you said yes to any of the above, it's time to clean the connections on your 7-way plug and power cord, and any electrical adapters you use.

If you don't, the power cord plug – and any adapters you've been connecting to it – is at risk of overheating or melting, like you see in the photos below. It can even catch fire.  

You are not alone

Forgetting to clean the electrical connections is an easy thing to do. Even experienced Airstreamers can overlook it – until something melts. (Ask us how we know.)

But as you travel hundreds or thousands of miles and run the air conditioner a lot during summer, the connections in your power cord and 7-way plug take a beating, causing them to corrode and turn strange colors. Not if but when they become too "dirty," the plug and adapters will start to overheat. And once that happens, you are in big trouble.

Yes, this is true even if you have a SmartPlug. 

Over the last few years, Airstream and other premium RV brands have started putting SmartPlugs on their products. These plugs are a big improvement over twist-lock plugs. But although SmartPlug has more robust connectors and is less likely to melt down, it doesn't mean it won't – especially in hot and humid conditions when the AC is running full tilt for hours on end. 

In fact, the above photo of the orange plug with the burned receptacle is a SmartPlug.

5 easy steps to cleaning the electrical connections

We've been preaching the importance of cleaning the electrical connections for years. Since this is the time of year it's critically important, we cleaned ours last week and decided to take some photos and document the steps.

1. Inspect the connections on the power cord, 7-way plug, and electrical adapters

If you see green, black or other weird colors on any of the metal parts, the connections need cleaning.

Last week, ours had greenish colored stuff on all the connections inside all 7 receptacles, which told us it was time for a cleaning.

If you haven't cleaned your connections for a while (or maybe ever), your connections may have turned yellow, brown, or black. If there is any sign of weird colors or connections that don't look like brass anymore, clean the connections immediately. 

2. Get the products and tools you need

These are:

  • DeOxit
  • A brandishing file
  • Dialectric grease

We include all of these in our Maintenance Essentials Kit. Or, you can find them at a local automotive or hardware store.

3. Squirt a small amount of DeOxit on the brandishing file

You don't need very much. A little goes a long way with this product.

4. Clean off the discoloration on all of the connections

Stick the file in each hole, and work the DeOxit in there, wiping it on all sides of the metal connections until they return to a brass color. Depending on how dirty the connections, it can take up to a minute or more in each hole to get things cleaned. Work the file in and out and scrape it on the sides to remove the discoloration.

If needed, add more DeOxit, a small drop at a time. 

Once you've finished cleaning the 7-way plug, clean the power cord and all of your electrical adapters.

5. Squirt a little dielectric grease on each connection receptacle to protect it

After you've cleaned off all the corrosion from the 7-way plug, power cord, and adapters, apply dielectric grease to all of their connections to slow the emergence of corrosion, now that the connections are clean. 

Be liberal with the application, then plug the connector in a couple of times to spread the grease on the metal connections so that everything is coated. 

If you prefer a video that explains all this...

We collaborated with our friends Sam and Lauren from A Little Bit Unhitched to make things fun and show you how it's done. 

How often should you do this?

We recommend checking your connections typically every month or two – but even more often in hot and humid weather and when you're running the air conditioning a lot.



ElectricalPower cord


Brian Powers

Brian Powers

Thanks and I agree. A few years back I was pulling our 25’ Flying Cloud with our 2018 F150 and all of a sudden the truck display said “Trailer Disconnect” not sure exactly that was going on I ended up visiting your site and purchased the cleaning kit, and all has been good ever since. I now am very careful to keeping both the connector to the TV and the plug / receptacle from the pedestal to the Airstream clean. I also inspect the pedestal before plugging in. Thanks for all of your notes, videos and product solutions, as these have been extremely helpful.

Bob Uribe

Bob Uribe

Great tip on keeping this connection clean and functioning safely. Thx!

Chris Haefner

Chris Haefner

Great points and thank you for sharing these great tips.

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