How to sanitize your RV fresh water tank? 13 Simple Steps

Are you own an RV and looking for ways how to sanitize your RV fresh water tank? If you have no idea about it, this article can help you a lot.

Sometimes, the basic cleaning of the freshwater tank in an RV is not enough. It is necessary to sanitize it properly at least once every 6 months. Even if, your RV’s fresh water tank is cleaned thoroughly, the necessary steps must be taken to sanitize it.

A thoroughly cleaned RV water tank is important for a reliable supply of hygienic drinking water that is free from harmful bacteria, odor, and contaminants that accumulates over time.

In this article, we will explain how to clean it yourself and why it is necessary to sanitize the tank at regular intervals.

The time limit that freshwater can be kept in the RV freshwater tank.

According to experts, keeping freshwater stored for up to two weeks is safe. After that period, the water can become unhygienic, unhealthy, and stale odor and taste can develop from it sitting for such long periods. Stagnant water and the insides of the storage container are breeding grounds for mold, germs, bacteria, and fungal spores.

Even if a filter is used for the RV fresh water tank, the harmful contaminants can still enter the plastic tanks and proliferate in the stagnant water.


Can sanitizing remove the bad water smell?

Yes, sanitizing the freshwater tank can get rid of the foul taste and smell that is the result of contaminants in the water. It begins with the bacteria growth, sulfur-containing chemical components/compounds, or any kind of decaying organics.

One can use a good quality RV water filtration system to make the water safe to drink after choosing a safe water source that is presumably free from contaminants.

Generally, a one-micron water filter can very effectively remove even the tiniest particulates in the water. Various brands of filters are available that use the 1-micron or lesser-micron membranes in multiple-stage water filtering systems for RV.


How can one keep their RV freshwater tank clean?

The freshwater tank should be regularly checked and cleaned. The 6-month interval gap for sanitizing the tank will ensure that there are no accumulated particles over time. Avoiding unknown water sources is the best bet. Always choose the sources which can be high at water purity levels. 

People who go on trips often or live the RV lifestyle should consider cleaning it every 3 months to stay on the safer side. The intervals that you choose before the next sanitization round will determine the kind of buildup accumulated and the prevention of health issues or even plumbing problems.

Regular sessions will improve drinking water quality and keep you and your family safe. The amount of cleaning needed is dependent on your usage of the system.


The duration of the sanitization process?

The time depends on the method used for sanitizing the freshwater tank. It can be a few hours or can take the whole night/day, depending on the size and complexity.

Each individual may use a different cleaning or treatment option for their RV and these options have different soaking and flushing times.

It does not matter which sanitizing option is being used, the process remains the same for each RV system:

  • The first step is to turn the water heater into “OFF” mode.
  • Then the water pump should be turned off, and then drain RV freshwater tank. 
  • Start with pouring the right prescribed amount of the sanitizer into a container or one-gallon milk jug filled with water. The amount varies by brand, so always refer to the instruction on the bottle.
  • The RV freshwater tank is then filled with water entirely.
  • The sinks, faucets, showers, and hot/cold water taps must be opened till the sanitizer is seen or smelled. 
  • After that turn the water off.
  • The RV can be rocked or taken for a short drive around so that the sanitizer reaches every corner of the tank and mixes itself throughout the tank.
  • The waiting time should be followed as it is mentioned in the instructions. 
  • After the prescribed time is over, drain the water through a quick release Valve ” or by the faucets.
  • Then the RV freshwater tank is to be filled with clean water entirely. 
  • Repeat the process of draining this water too till there is no smell of sanitizer in the water. 
  • If you still think any trace of sanitizer is present, fill and empty again a couple of times till you are satisfied.
  • Fill the tank halfway again for usage.

Do the taste test by drinking a sip or two from the freshwater tank and if the water tastes odd or smells like sanitizer, repeat the filling and draining once more to clean it fully. You can also use test strips/devices available in the market to check your water quality.


Can chlorine be used for sanitizing the RV freshwater tank?

It is important to dilute the chlorine properly for using it as a sanitizing agent in the freshwater tank. The pool chlorine is very strong and can cause damage to the plumbing and tank.

Diluting it the right way is the key to getting a perfectly balanced DIY chlorine sanitizer. The less potent versions of the sodium hypochlorite can also be used to avoid unnecessary harm to the inside system of the RV.

  • For 15-16 gallons, one must dilute 1/4th cup for each gallon of water.
  • The waiting time is 8 to 12 hours and the drainage must be done thoroughly and checked multiple times before drinking.

Other methods

1. Vinegar

Other than chlorine, vinegar can also be used to sanitize the RV freshwater tank. White vinegar is used for this purpose that will be required to be heated at 130°F (55°C)

Running the vinegar through a coffee machine is also a safe way to heat it as needed. One may need to pass it twice as the first one might contain the machine’s leftover particles.

  • The measurements are 2 quarts/gallon of water for every 15 gallons.
  • The waiting time is around 10 to 12 hours.

2. Hydrogen peroxide 

This method is not practical at all as the ones available medically and at drug stores are too dilute with a concentration of only 3 to 5 % which is not near to what is needed for sanitizing the freshwater tank

The concentrated amount needed is very risky and toxic for use in drinking water tanks. It can cause health issues and requires a permit from the authorities for commercial purposes. It is better to avoid such hassle and use the standard methods of cleaning and sanitizing the tank.


Sanitizing the fresh water hose

It is essential to clean the hose for your RV freshwater tank.

Fill up a wider container with sanitizing liquid mix and dip the hose for a required amount of time. After a few hours, rinse it with clean water obtained from a proper clean source. 

  • Connect the water filter system properly.
  • The freshwater hose bin should be dry before packing.
  • Pack away after it is dry and clean. Coil it and screw the ends together. 

There is particularly no need to sanitize the gray or black tank, but there are procedures to thoroughly clean and drain the tank as per your needs and requirements.

Using the sanitizing techniques mentioned above, you can surely clean your RV’s fresh water system easily and efficiently with no hassle of buying any extra products or hiring expensive cleaning services. You can surely choose your cleaning products and doing the whole process by yourself will ensure that your RV’s freshwater supply is safe to drink.


FAQs About How to sanitize your RV fresh water tank

Rv owners have so many questions about how to sanitize fresh water tanks some of the commonly asked questions are answered below.

How often sanitize RV fresh water tank?

A six-month span
We advise that a good rule of thumb is to sanitize your RV’s fresh water tank every six months. This is crucial if you have any doubts about the quality of the water source you have connected to. You might want to do it more frequently if you travel frequently and utilize your tanks frequently.

How do I get rid of the smell in my RV’s fresh water tank?

Pour a cup of vinegar into the fresh water tank, fill it to the top, let it sit for a few hours, run the taps for about a minute each, drain the tank to the ground, then replace it with fresh water to help get rid of the remaining chlorine smell.

How much baking soda do I put in my RV fresh water tank?

Deodorizing RV water tanks require flushing a mixture of one cup of baking soda and one gallon of warm water.

What is the most used disinfectant for tanks?

Chlorine
Chlorination is the most typical method of sanitizing a water tank. High-strength calcium hypochlorite (HSCH), which, when mixed with water, liberates 60 to 80% of its volume as chlorine, is the most popular method of chlorine delivery.

Should I add bleach to my RV fresh water tank?

For every 50 gallons of water tank capacity, the majority of RVers advise using one full cup of bleach. Use two cups of bleach if your water tank can contain 100 gallons of water. Use 1/2 cup for a tank that holds 25 gallons.


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Rahul Siddharth is a Fiery Trippers contributor who is a travel professional and has experience of 9 years in travel and fashion. He loves historic plaques, wandering new streets, and walking on beaches. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

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