How To Sanitize an RV Fresh Water Tank

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RVs have holding tanks that allow campers to travel with fresh water. However, to ensure you have safe water to drink, wash dishes and bathe, your RV fresh water tank needs to be cleaned regularly. Below is a step by step guide on how to sanitize an RV fresh water tank.

If you are wondering, how often should you sanitize an RV fresh water tank, it depends on how you use your RV. Always clean your RV fresh tank at the following times:

  • On new RVs before first use
  • Before long periods of storage 
  • After not being used for a period of time
  • After contamination (i.e. Being filled with water in Mexico)

Sanitizing an RV fresh water tank is a pretty simple process, but there are a few supplies you will need to have on hand. Have a 5 gallon bucket, a garden hose and household bleach.

Step One: Empty Tank

First, turn off your RV’s water heater as it should never be on with an empty tank. Then, empty the fresh water tank. You can empty the fresh water tank

Step 2: Mix Cleaning Solution

The cleaning solution is made by mixing bleach and potable water.  Mix ¼ cup of bleach and 1 gallon of water for every 15 gallons of tank capacity. If your fresh water tank holds 45 gallons of water, your solution will be ¾ cups bleach and 3 gallons water. The bleach is what will kill germs and sanitize the fresh water tank.

Step 3: Put Cleaning Solution into the Tank

If your RV has a control board like the one pictured below, turn knobs to the sanitize setting. Hook up a garden hose to the fresh water inlet and place other end of hose in the bucket of cleaning solution. Turn on the water pump and your solution should be suctioned from the bucket into the tank.

RV water panel

If your RV does not have an automatic sanitize setting, you can use a funnel to pour the cleaning solution directly into the garden hose before hooking the hose up to your water source.

Step 4: Fill Fresh Water Tank

Completely fill the rest of your fresh water tank with potable water.  After filling the tank with water, turn on all faucets in the kitchen and bathroom and run water until you smell bleach.  This will ensure that all fresh water lines are sanitized.

Step 5: Wait

Let the cleaning solution sit in the tank a minimum of four hours. Letting the solution sit for eight hours overnight is ideal.

Step 6: Drain and Flush the Tank

Completely drain the fresh water tank. Then, completely refill and drain again.  Repeat this process until you no longer smell bleach. It will usually take three to four rounds of flushing.

Draining RV Fresh Water Lines

Your RV tank is now clean! To learn about properly maintaining your tanks, see our complete guide to RV holding tanks.

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