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Is Your RV Fresh Tank Clean? (Probably Not)

There are multiple uses for water in an RVs fresh tank. The water you put into your fresh tank may be clean, but it doesn’t matter if the tank is dirty. Keeping your RV fresh tank clean takes some effort on your part. So is your RV fresh tank clean? Probably not, but it can be.

It’s not as hard as you might think!

Today, we’re sharing the importance of keeping your fresh tank clean and how to do it. Let’s get started!

What Is An RV Fresh Water Tank?

An RV fresh water tank is the holding tank for the water system on an RV. Depending on the type and size of an RV, these tanks often range in size, from the smallest being five gallons to 100+ gallons for the most expansive.

The water in these tanks lets users flush toilets, run faucets, and take showers when not connected to a water source. This can be extremely helpful during off-grid camping or in locations where water isn’t available at the campsite. Depending on the size of the fresh water tank, some travelers can manage their water usage for extended trips to remote locations.

Is Your RV Fresh Tank Clean? (Probably Not)

While you may be pumping clean, potable water into your RV’s fresh tank, the water can quickly become unsafe to drink. If you asked many RV owners when they last cleaned their RV fresh tank, you might get too many glazed-over looks. Many owners are unaware that they need to clean these tanks, even if they rarely use them.

If RV owners could peek inside their RV’s fresh tank, they’d probably clean it more often. Bacteria and other harmful organisms can grow inside your tank, especially between uses.

We strongly recommend that you avoid consuming or using water in your RV if you don’t clean your tank regularly.

Woman drinking water in front of camper van
You need to stay hydrated while on the road, so keeping your fresh water tank clean is crucial!

Can You Get Sick From RV Water Tank?

Water sitting in your RV water tank can go stale, and bacteria quickly grow. This bacteria can not only cause your water to taste gross, but it can make you sick. Legionella can soon form in the water, and if you consume it, it can make you very ill. Those with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to Legionnaires’ disease than others.

This disease can cause fevers and other flu-like symptoms. In the most extreme situations, the disease can be fatal. However, regularly cleaning your RV’s entire water system can help you avoid consuming contaminated water.

How Do I Get Rid of the Smell in My RV Fresh Water Tank?

If you notice water from your fresh water tank smelling, you’ll need to clean your entire fresh water system. This involves filling your fresh water tank with a cleaning solution and running it through your rig’s water lines and fixtures. The solution will need to sit for several hours to clean the system thoroughly. Once you drain and flush out your system, any smells or tastes from bacteria should disappear.

If you are dealing with a relatively old RV fresh water tank, you may need to replace it. This is especially true if you have tried cleaning and sanitizing it. An RV fresh water tank unused for extended periods can be challenging to clean.

Pro Tip: Drain your fresh water tank with ease with our tips on How to Drain an RV Fresh Water Tank.

Person pouring water into fresh water tank
Before you start to sanitize your fresh water tank, drain the entire water system first.

Do I Need to Sanitize My RV Fresh Water Tank?

When sanitizing your fresh water tank, drain the entire water system completely. Pull the drain valve under your RV and ensure you empty the water heater. Once your tanks are empty, you can create a cleaning solution.

Please avoid using a cleaning solution that is too strong to avoid damaging your water system. Ensure you bypass your RV’s water heater, as bleach can cause internal corrosion. Usually, .25 cups of bleach for every 16 gallons will get the job done. Calculate the solution necessary for the size of your water tank and mix it in as you’re filling the fresh water tank.

Once you fill the fresh water tank, you need to flush each toilet and turn on each water faucet one at a time. Once you smell the bleach solution coming through, you can turn off the water. Don’t forget outside showers and taps in outdoor kitchens! Let the water sit in the system for 8 to 12 hours before flushing the entire system.

When flushing the system, you’ll need to pump the cleaning solution out of the fresh tank and refill the tank with fresh water. You’ll likely need easy access to a sewer dump station, so it’s ideal to have a full hook-up campsite for this task.

Interior of RV kitchen
Sanitize your fresh water tank at least once every six months to keep your water clean and safe to consume.

How Do You Sanitize a Freshwater Tank Without Bleach? 

If you’re not comfortable using bleach to clean your fresh water tank, you can use a cleaning solution like Aqua Water Tank & System Flush. Empty the water system by using the water pump and checking each faucet. You can then fill the water tank halfway before adding the correct amount of cleaning solution. A gallon of Aqua Water Tank & System Flush is enough for 100 gallons, so adjust your usage based on the size of your fresh water tank.

 Once you’ve filled your fresh tank, you can take your rig for a spin. Many RVers do this before heading to a campsite with full hook-ups and dump their tanks when they arrive. Once you arrive at your site, you should run each water fixture for at least three minutes to let the cleaning solution clean out each water fixture. Then let the solution sit for another 30 minutes before draining the entire system. Fill it up with clean water and drain the system a second time.

This is a quicker and less demanding way of cleaning your fresh water tank. You’ll now have successfully cleaned your entire water system without using an ounce of bleach.

Pro Tip: Once your tank is clean, fill it up at one of these 7 Places to Fill Your RV Fresh Water Tank.

How Often Should You Sanitize An RV Fresh Water Tank?

Having a clean fresh water tank is essential when RVing. You never know when you’ll need to consume the water in your fresh water tank, and if it isn’t clean, you could risk your health. It would be best to sanitize your RV fresh water tank at least every six months. Many RV owners will typically do this at the start and end of each camping season.

When was the last time you sanitized your RV fresh water tank? Tell us in the comments!

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