Sanitize Your RV Water Tank: Complete Steps, Questions and Answers

Sanitize Your RV Water Tank

So that you can always have clean water running through your RV’s system! It’s imperative that they get cleaned every so often so that there is no corrosion, bacteria, or other forms of filth traveling in the water and into your food or body.

Sanitizing your RV water tanks consist of several structured actions that keep your RV system’s water clean. There are different ways of cleaning and sanitizing your RV water tanks while using various forms of tools including hot or cold water, bleach or without bleach, as well as how often you should clean them.

In this article, we will be discussing direct and complete steps to sanitizing your RV water tanks, as well as when and how to clean them. And of course, we’ll provide you with related questions that will help the process of sanitizing your RV water tank quick and easy!

Complete Steps To Sanitize Your RV Water Tanks

Checks out these detailed steps to learn how to properly and effectively sanitize your RV water tanks.

Step 1: Turn Off Your Water Heater

You’ll want to avoid draining the freshwater system while the water heater is on so that you don’t get burned by the scalding hot water. Additionally, turning it off allows the tank to cool down before draining the water. So remember to turn off the water heater first!

Step 2: Drain Your Freshwater System

This is where you leave the water pump on so that it can force all of the old freshwater out before you sanitize the system. Once you have ensured that all of the freshwater is removed from the tank, it’s time for your solutions.

Step 3: Calculate and Add Bleach to Your Freshwater Tank

For every 16 gallons of water in your freshwater tank, you’ll want to add ¼ cup of bleach. If you have a 20 or 25 gallon freshwater tank, then adding 2.5 ounces of bleach will be your ratio for sanitizing your system.

Note: Do not add the bleach directly into the freshwater tank. Add the bleach to the water to mix and dilute it. Next, take your pre-mixed solution and add it to at least one gallon of water. Afterwards, pour the entire bleach-water solution into the freshwater tank; using a funnel may make this process cleaner and more efficient.

Step 4: Fill the Freshwater Tank With Potable Water and Pump It Through The System

Make sure to fill the freshwater tank all the way up to make sure that the tank and the rest of the system receives full sanitation. 

Additionally, turn on all the faucets to keep water flowing. This step ensures that the bleach solution stays within the system and makes its way to every part of your freshwater system. After the circulation is complete, turn the faucets off.

Step 5: Allow The Solution Water To Sit for 10 to 15 hours

To ensure complete sanitation after the pumping of the solution, let it sit in the tank for 10 to 15 hours, 12 being the average. Overnight is also a good time frame for letting the solution soak.

Step 6: Drain the Water Tank and Then Flush the System

Open all the faucets and flush the solution out of the freshwater tank until all of it is gone. A good indicator that it has been drained well is that the tank will no longer smell like bleach.

Multiple flushes may be necessary to accomplish this step and to make sure that all of the sanitizing chemicals are eliminated. After the flush, replace any water filters on your RV and switch your water heater back on.

Related Questions and Answers About Sanitizing RV Watertank

Can I Use Vinegar to Sanitize My Freshwater Tank?

Yes you can! Vinegar does a great job at killing bacteria and providing a clean scent to your holding tank without a problem. Simply prepare a solution with a 1 cup of vinegar to 1 cup of water ratio and continue with the directions provided above.

How Does Mold Build up in My Freshwater Tank?

Mold develops in the holding tank because it’s dirty. A dirty tank allows a film of packed bacteria, or mold, to build up both underwater and above it due to the contact of air.

Can Sanitizing My freshwater Tank Harm the System?

In most cases, no it won’t. Bleach and other solutions eliminate the bacteria that ends up clogging your system. To ensure further safety of your freshwater tank, follow the solution-to-water ratio that we provided for you earlier.

Will Sanitizing My Freshwater Tank Make My Water Taste Like Chemicals?

Your freshwater will only taste like the solution if some of it is left over in the tank after flushing it. If this happens, simply flush out the remaining water in the tank, and refill it with clean water.

How Often Should I Sanitize My RV Water Tank?

You should sanitize your RV water tank bi-annually, or every 6 months.

The point of the frequency is to create an environment inside of the tanks where viruses, bacteria, and other detrimental factors do not grow and contaminate your water.

Another reason as to why you should sanitize your RV water tanks every 6 months is to make sure that your plumbing system does not become clogged.

Different types of materials and debris from the RV or the environment can enter the tank; and by checking every 6 months, that will reduce the amount of debris that can potentially cause clogs and further damages to your RV.

You may also be thinking “I don’t go out in my RV much; do I still need to sanitize it every 6 months?” The answer is yes, you do. Without the frequent sanitation process, the old water will become tainted with various amounts of bacteria and mold from uncirculated air and dirty water.

So it is imperative that you check, clean and sanitize your RV water tanks bi-annually so that you have clean water circulating through the RV’s plumbing and drinking systems.

How Do I Sanitize My RV Water Tank Without Bleach?

To sanitize your RV’s water tank without bleach, you’ll have to find other solutions that are just as safe and strong as bleach. Some of the more common substances you can use to sanitize your RV freshwater tank includes bleach-free cleaning solutions, vinegar and baking soda.

Bleach-free cleaning solutions can be provided by the RV company, and can also be purchased online. Since it doesn’t have bleach in it, most of these solutions contain other ingredients, that can be either processed or natural, to clean and sanitize the RV’s holding tanks.

As mentioned earlier, vinegar is another popular solution to use for sanitizing your RV water tank. Why? Because it contains similar or even the same properties in it as bleach! Although the properties are not as strong, vinegar makes the cut because it shows proof that it can kill bacteria and eradicate dirt from liquids such as water.

Additionally, baking soda makes the list for the same reasons as vinegar; the main difference is the amount that you will have to use. Baking soda is an established alternative to bleach.

Should You Sanitize an RV Hot Water Heater?

Sanitizing your RV’s hot water heater is safe as long as precautions are taken. Too much solution could cause adverse effects towards the mechanisms of the water heater such as possible corrosion.

If you choose to not sanitize your hot water heater, your heater will most likely continue to run as normal, until too much debris occurs and causes an issue. If you choose to sanitize your RV’s hot water heater, here’s some advice. You can run a weak bleach solution with hot water through the system and allow it to sit overnight.

Luckily, it’s only necessary to do it once to twice per year because it contains hot water, which keeps bacteria low. You can flush the solution with baking soda for extra power as well.

How Long Can Water Sit in an RV Freshwater Tank?

Knowing how long you can keep water in your freshwater tank is important, and how long you can keep the water in the tank depends on several different conditions such as bacteria, type of solution used while cleaning, and how often you clean the tank.

As a rule of thumb, you can keep water in your RV’s freshwater tank for two weeks. You’ll want to refresh your water twice a month to keep it circulating, especially when it’s for cooking and drinking.

However, if you are using the water for something other than consumption, then you can allow it to sit for a month at the most.

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