ABC Post 14: Quakehold Museum Putty—The Unsung Hero Behind RV Decor

I started writing this post as a list of interesting or unexpected essentials for RV living. It turns out I had a lot to say about museum putty, so that’s what this is about.


I saw museum putty listed as an RV-ing essential so early in our RV experience that I bought it at the dealership the same day we bought our Airstream. Apparently, I then forgot why it was essential (or maybe that wasn’t explained in the list I read.) For whatever reason, we didn’t end up using it other than to stick a couple items to our non-magnetic fridge. Side note: if you are aware of a practical reason why RV refrigerators do not have magnetic fronts, I would like to know. My current hypothesis is that magnetic = heavier than non-magnetic.

Almost 2 years into RV life, the putty I thought was so essential had spent most of its life in our “adhesives bin.” (We keep items we don’t use every day, but want to have on hand, in storage bins in the back of our truck. We have names for some of the most frequently used bins. The adhesives bin has stuff like tape, glue, and command strips, but also things that should probably be called fasteners, like rubber bands, twine, clothesline and clothespins.) Anyway, sometimes I would run across the putty and wonder why I had bought it.

In our first year of Airstream living, we took a trip around the US, moving every 1-3 days for most of the trip. It was exhausting, partially because of the extensive battening-down process we went through every day before driving. We would clear all flat surfaces, stow things in cabinets, check that cabinets were latched, etc. It doesn’t sound like that should take very long, but I guess we had a lot of stuff out.

Internet lore says that when a trailer is being towed, it is as if the contents are experiencing an earthquake. Different sources state different earthquake magnitude comparisons. I’m not experienced enough with earthquakes to estimate a magnitude, but for the most part, anything left unsecured on a flat surface will be on the floor after driving even relatively short distances. The shifting worsens at high speeds and when driving on a curvy road.

This was a problem for us, especially because I wanted to have house plants. On our long trip, every time we drove we would put the plants in a bin and set them on the floor. They would slide around a tiny bit sometimes, but usually that prevented major casualties. Occasionally, we would forget, and leave a bin of plants on the bathroom counter, for instance, and end up with dirt spilled all over the floor, and a sad plant. Not to mention, we didn’t often end up putting the plants anywhere besides the bins since we’d just end up corralling them again later. Basically the plant bins were just something to step over for the whole trip.

Collapsible plastic/silicone bin on floor
A bin that sometimes holds plants, dishes, or laundry. It is supposed to be easily stowable, since it collapses, but it can most often be found in this spot on my kitchen floor.

Earlier this year, we were planning our trip to Texas. I had also recently downloaded Tik-Tok and was lamenting the unacheiveability of all the adorable RV decor I was seeing in the videos. “They have so many plants!” I told Matt. “And they’re just sitting there on their table! There’s no way they drive around with that setup. It would be a disaster.”

“But where do they put it all when they’re driving?” I wondered about the mountains of throw pillows on a particularly nice looking couch setup. ”They must spend forever re-setting all their decor every time they stop.”

I’m still not sure what other people do. I should probably ask. But what FINALLY occurred to us was that maybe it would be possible to use museum putty to adhere our plants to flat surfaces.

Aloe Vera and Orchid plant sitting on a table

And it is! They stay. No more plants on the floor.

Once we realized the plants were staying on the table, Matt immediately put quake putty to use in stabilizing his office-organizer. It has stayed quite well.

Then he moved on to puttying down a mug to hold silverware, a toothbrush holder, and a soap dish.

We have also used quake putty to hold our Berkey water filter in place. We have the bottom portion puttied to our kitchen counter. When we’re going to drive, we remove the top section and dump any water left in that part (if we’re boondocking, we dump it into a jug.) This is a bit less helpful than with the plants, because we haven’t been brave enough to drive with it completely intact, given the price of the filter elements. (Also, the water would slosh too much.) But it is still useful not to stow the entire thing.

There is still a battening-down process when we get ready to tow our house to a new location, but it has been somewhat reduced by having these items stuck in place.

For those who do not/will not ever use an RV, quake putty can still be part of your life. I have seen it recommended for use to hold down items you don’t wish kids or pets to knock over. The drawback is, having things stuck down on surfaces makes them more difficult to clean, but if you’re a feather-duster user, it might actually help.


Check out Emily’s list of books she’s been reading, and a fascinating ”Ask Aunt Dorcas” about the pressure to use particular products.

2 Comments

  1. I’m glad you figured out how to keep a plant in an rv. My friend is a full-time rv traveler since she retired. She sets all her plants in the sink to travel. She has quite a few tho. She has a table top thing that attaches to the steering wheel to set the large plant on when they park for like the winter.

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