If you’ve thought about pouring bleach into your RV drain, you should know a few things first.
Dumping bleach down the drain has its benefits. However, this potent cleaning product also has its limits.
Today, we’ll examine how you can use bleach to clean and sanitize your tanks. And we’ll look at things to avoid when using bleach in your tanks.
Ready? Let’s dive in!
Will Bleach Eliminate Odors in My RV Drain?
There are several reasons you may have foul odors in your RV. It’s always best to determine the cause of the smell before using a caustic chemical like bleach.
The majority of sewage odors come from the black and grey holding tanks. However, your kitchen and bathroom sink drains can also cause strange smells.
In the kitchen, food buildup can cause odors. Clean the strainer and the drain monthly using a bottle brush or pipe cleaner. Use hot, soapy water, and scrub down inside each drain hole.
All of your sinks will have a p-trap. However, the bathroom sink can get dirty or dry out and start to smell since it’s not used as much.
A faulty siphon vent and full or dirty grey tanks can also cause odors. So determining the cause is the first step in troubleshooting odors.
Bleach will eliminate odors in your RV’s sink drains, but adding the bleach directly isn’t the way to do it.
Can Bleach Get Rid of Flies in My RV?
Bleach can get rid of certain flies. But first, you’ll need to determine if they’re coming from the black tanks, p-traps, or plumbing lines. Once you destroy the breeding site, the adult flies will have no place to lay eggs, and their lifecycle will cease.
Drain flies typically enter your RV through open dump hose valves connected to the sewer hookup. Flies and gnats can make their way inside if you leave the gray or black tank valves open. Once inside, it doesn’t take long for them to multiply.
You can prevent infestations with proper sanitation practices and by keeping your hose dump valves closed when hooked up. Additionally, you can use enzyme cleaners in your black tank. These enzymes attack the layer of film of organic materials where sewer flies lay eggs.
By removing this layer, you take away the flies’ food source.
Pro Tip: We took a closer look to find out if you can safely use Drano in your RV.
Can I Use Bleach to Clean My RV Toilet?
While the RV toilet bowl may be porcelain, it’s still not a good idea to use bleach to clean the toilet.
This might seem like a good idea to some people. But research has shown that bleach can be dangerous for cleaning your RV toilet. Bleach has chlorine in it. Chlorine is corrosive to many materials, including plastic holding tanks, rubber gaskets, and toilet valve seals. Bleach can eventually prevent them from functioning correctly.
Using bleach to clean your toilet can also cause problems in septic systems. So it’s always best to err on the side of caution where your RV toilet and black water holding tank are concerned.
Keep reading to see how to use bleach safely to sanitize your waste tanks.
Using Bleach to Sanitize Your RV Freshwater Tank
Although it’s a no-no to use bleach in your toilet, you can use it to sanitize the freshwater tank and plumbing. Many RVers swear by using a 1/4 cup of bleach for every 15 gallons of fresh water their tank holds.
Sanitizing your freshwater tank every six months is the best way to ensure you have potable water on every trip. If you notice foul odors or the water has a bad taste, take these steps to sanitize it.
Draining the water tank is the first step to sanitizing your drains. As we’ll discuss later, this is where the bleach-water mixture will come from.
Calculate ¼ cup of bleach for every 15 gallons of fresh water. Dilute this amount of bleach in a five-gallon bucket of water. Then use the sanitize function in your water panel to siphon this mixture into the freshwater tank.
If your RV doesn’t have the sanitize feature, you can pour your bleach-water solution into your hose before filling the tank.
Let this sit for 12 hours before using it to sanitize your drains.
How to Sanitize RV Drains With Bleach
Follow this process to make sure all waterlines and drains are sanitized.
Start with the process of sanitizing your freshwater tank above. After the 12-hour soak, shut off your water heater and let it cool. Also, open each faucet, one at a time, and let the water run for about a minute or until you can smell the chlorine.
Now let the solution sit in the lines for at least three hours. Then, turn on all faucets until the tank is empty. Continue to fill and drain it through the spigots until the chlorine smell is gone.
Instead of bleach, you can use Chlorinating Concentrate. One pound of this compound holds as much chlorine as eight gallons of bleach. Also, it’s safe to drink as only 1/2 teaspoon per 100 gallons is the same chlorine content as chlorinated city drinking water.
Alternatives to Using Bleach to Clean RV Tanks
Fortunately, manufacturers of RV products are aware of the concerns regarding bleach and the need to provide safe water in your RV.
There are several options you can try. RV supply stores and online retailers sell various cleaners. However, there are others you can make yourself.
The geo-cleaning method is a popular and effective way to keep your RV’s tank clean without using expensive chemicals. You should be able to find most of the ingredients for the geo-cleaning process in your laundry cupboard.
The two formulas for this method will remove odors and the grime that can keep your RV tank sensors from working correctly.
Both solutions combine cleaning ingredients and hot water added to your empty tank. Ingredients for the first formula are two cups of water softener, one cup of your chosen laundry detergent, and one gallon of lukewarm water.
The only difference in the second formula is that it uses Borax instead of your favorite detergent. Do not use more than ¼ cup of Borax for each application.
Additionally, you can add bleach or a similar liquid cleaning agent to help reduce odors and keep your tanks smelling clean.
Baking Soda and Vinegar
Try this if you’d rather clean any of your RV’s tanks with a completely natural solution. Vinegar works wonders with baking soda, and it’s safe to put into an RV toilet. When you pour the treatment into your toilet, it’ll drain into your blackwater tank. Due to their opposite pH scale, both products work well as cleaning agents.
For drains, first, clean the drain with an appropriate cleaning tool. Next, pour half a cup of baking soda and one cup of white vinegar down the drain. Leave the solution for 15-30 minutes. Then pour a gallon of boiling water down the drain to thoroughly flush out any remaining bacteria or waste. This will also help clean out your gray waste tank.
For your freshwater tank, simply pour a 1:1 ratio directly into your full tank. Let it sit for at least a few hours, then flush it through the system using the faucets.
Pro Tip: Frozen pipes can ruin an RV trip quick! Find out Will Pouring Hot Water Down the Drain Unfreeze RV Pipes?
Keep Yourself and Your Passengers Safe
Some RV owners don’t understand the necessity of cleansing and sanitizing all three tanks and drains and instead just dump or fill them when required. However, frequent sanitizations are essential for the health and comfort of all travelers, to say nothing of mechanical issues.
Now that you know how to maintain your RV drains and tanks, with or without bleach, you can easily choose what works best for you.
One final note. If you’re staying home for a while, take time to clean and sanitize your entire system before storing your RV. You’ll be glad you did!
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