Don’t Drink The Water In Your RV Until You Do This (How To Sanitize Your RV Water Tank)

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Close-up portrait of his he nice serious disinfectant workman wearing, gas mask showing palm stop sign quarantine over green pastel color background

When it comes to owning an RV it’s really important to regularly maintain your rig.

The best way to do this is by keeping a regular maintenance schedule and tracking the completion. Things like regularly checking the tires, the water pipes and drains for leaks, and checking the batteries in your alarms.

Having a regular schedule will help you catch things early and prevent any major issues. A big one that needs to happen regularly is sanitizing your RV water tank. 

Benefits of Sanitizing Your Tank

Whether you full time or take your RV out intermittently it’s important to sanitize your RV water tank.

We drink this water and if it becomes contaminated in any way it could have an effect on our bodies.

When we regularly sanitize the RV fresh water tank and water lines it keeps us healthy. 

How Often Should You Sanitize?

When it comes to sanitizing your RV water tank you should do it at least every six months.

If you full-time a six-month schedule is just fine.

If you are intermittent when using your RV for camping trips, you might want to consider a more regular RV maintenance schedule like every 3 months.

What happens in the tank is mold, mildew, and bacteria can build up and water that sits in the tank for long periods becomes stale.

As you use the water in the tank the water level lowers and the areas not in the water build up moisture making it a perfect breeding ground.

When you empty and fill it up over and over the water quality eventually can become less drinkable or have a bad taste even if you are using a water filter.

Calendar to keep track of how often you should sanitize your RV fresh water tank

How Much Time Does It Take to Sanitize your Tank

Sanitizing your RV water tank is a little bit of a longer process. Allow about 12 hours to sanitize everything properly.

You have to let the solution sit in the tank long enough to actually kill any bacteria and clean it out. This process can be done in about five to eight hours if you are in a hurry but for best results you need 12 hours. 


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How to Sanitize RV Water Tank

Time needed: 12 hours and 30 minutes

Follow the steps below to sanitize your RV water tank.

  1. Drain the RV’s Fresh Water System

    The first step is to drain the fresh water system. This can be done by opening the water valves for the tank and the water lines. If you don’t know where any of these are, refer to your owner’s manual.

  2. Drain the RV Water Heater Tank (Optional)

    If you want to sanitize your hot water lines then proceed with draining the water heater tank as well. There is typically a plug that you just unscrew and let the water drain once it has sufficiently cooled off. Rescrew the plug when finished draining.

  3. Create the Sanitizing Solution

    While the water is draining you can create the sanitizing solution. The most effective solution is using plain liquid household bleach. The solution consists of ¼ cup of bleach for every 16 gallons in your freshwater tank. Measure how much you need for your tank in a measuring cup. Dilute it by mixing bleach and water in a large pitcher. There are alternatives if you are concerned with using bleach. There are solutions you can purchase at any RV supply store or you can also use vinegar. Vinegar is not as effective as bleach but it can be used as an alternative. regular household bleach sitting on the grass

  4. Bypass the Water Heater

    Ensure that the hot water tank bypass is switched to not allow bleach into the tank. If you don’t know how to do this please refer to your owner’s manual.RV water heater bypass valve in the closed position

  5. Add Sanitizing Solution to the Water Supply

    You can either pour the bleach solution into your fresh water inlet or use a small drill pump to add it to your tank through the city water connection. Make sure to remove any water filters before pumping though.Fresh water tank inlet on side of RV

  6. Turn on Water Pump

    Turn on your water pump to distribute the bleach mixture through your RV’s water system.

  7. Open Up Each Faucet Until You Smell Bleach

    Turn on all your cold water faucets one by one until you can smell bleach. If you are sanitizing your hot water heater, do the same with your hot water lines. Don’t forget your ice maker, outside shower, and washing machine lines.

  8. Top Off the RV Water Tank

    Make sure to top the fresh water tank off with water so the solution can reach every part of your tank and sanitize your whole RV water tank. You will know when it is full when water is coming out of the overflow valve.

  9. Let Sit in Entire RV Water System for 12 Hours

    Let the bleach solution sit for 12 hours. This will give the solution time to kill anything that might be living in the tank and water lines.

  10. Drain And Flush The Bleach Solution From RV Fresh Water System

    You can now drain the tank systems again by opening up all the valves along with unplugging the water heater tank. Once draining is done you will want to flush the system out to make sure to get rid of all the bleach. You will know it’s out when you can no longer smell the diluted bleach. 

Last update on 2024-06-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

  1. We’re using the city water straight through (not using the holding tank) in our Travel trailer we are getting a fowl smell coming from only the bathroom sink water. Will a water freshener help this if it’s a bacterial problem?

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