How to Clean Your RV Fresh Water Tank

By Kyle & Olivia Brady | Founders of Drivin' & Vibin' | We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases.

How to Clean Your RV Fresh Water Tank

The RV freshwater tank is an essential part of your RV. You need water to survive. Not just for drinking but for bathing, cleaning dishes, brushing your teeth, cooking, and flushing the toilet.

However, the idea of drinking from your RV freshwater tank may give you the creeps…especially if you’re in a used or vintage unit. Bacteria can grow if the water sits too long. The tank can even give it a bad taste.

Fear not!

It’s perfectly safe to drink from your freshwater tank if you properly sanitize it.

Today we’re sharing step-by-step instructions to help you have cleaner, better-tasting water straight from your RV freshwater tank.

Why You Should Sanitize Your RV Fresh Water Tank

The biggest reason you should sanitize your RV fresh water tank is for your health.

It can go stale and be a breeding ground for bacteria. This can make you sick. Another reason you want to clean your RV fresh water tank is mineral build-up.

The buildup can clog your water lines. It’s important to properly manage this.

How Often Should You Clean Your RV Fresh Water System?

There are a couple times you should sanitize your RV fresh water tank.

The first one is every six months. This is the recommended amount of time for any full-time RVers.

The second is when you take it out of storage. If the RV has been sitting around, the old leftover water will get stale in the tank. It’s important to clean it out.

Another is if you fill the tank at a campground that the water isn’t healthy to drink. That means your water is now contaminated. You should also always clean the tank out when you buy a new RV, whether it’s new or used.

Another sign it’s time to clean the tank is if the water starts smelling weird.

How to Sanitize Your RV Fresh Water Tank Step By Step

The process of sanitizing your RV fresh water tank is fairly easy, it just takes up to 12-hours to properly sanitize. Our step-by-step instructions are for generic RVs and trailers. Make sure you reference your owners manual for specific steps related to your make & model.

Step 1: The first step is to drain the water system. There is a drain valve under your RV that empties the fresh water tank and water lines. You also want to make sure to empty your water heater tank.

Step 2: Create the water sanitizing solution. The best and most recommended solution is bleach. But you can also buy an RV solution at any store that carries RV supplies. Also, if you are concerned about the health risks that come with bleach you can use distilled vinegar. Vinegar isn’t as effective but much safer to consume.

To make the solution, mix ¼ cup bleach for every 16 gallons in your freshwater tank. Measure how much you need for your tank, dilute it in water then pour it in. (Make sure you closed the valves and plugged the water heater tank.)

Step 3: After you pour the solution into the tank, fill the remainder up with water. You want the solution to be in all the fresh water lines as well. Once the water coming out smells like the solution, turn them off.

Step 4: Now that the water lines have the solution in them and the tank is full, take your RV for a spin. Driving (or towing) your RV will help slosh around the cleaner inside the tank. After that, let the water sit for 12 hours. This will give the solution time to kill anything that might be living in the tank and water lines.

Step 5: Once the solution has sat for 12-hours it’s time to flush the system. Open up the water valves and let the water drain from the fresh water tank, water lines, and water heater tank. Run the water through the whole system until there is no longer the smell of solution coming from the water system.

Tips for Keeping Your Fresh Water Tank Clean

There are a few things you can do to keep your RV fresh water tank clean.

The first is always to put potable water in your tank. Never put water that is non-potable or you will need to clean it because it’s now contaminated.

Make sure to regularly sanitize your tank every six months.

Lastly, use a water filter when filling your water tank. 

Now you Know!

When it comes to your RV fresh water tank you want to make sure it stays fresh. It might seem like a pain to always be cleaning it but it will save you from getting sick.

It will also help maintain your water system longer. The more mineral build-up that occurs in your lines the sooner they will break and cause water damage.

If you’re in a handy-man mood – take a look a this list of issues an RV mechanic says will be the first to break!

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