Sanitizing your RV water system sits at the top of must-do chores for a safe and healthy camping season. This process will kill harmful bacteria and viruses that breed in your water tank over the winter. If you don’t have the time or confidence to sanitize your RV water system yourself, make sure to bring your RV to your local service centre to get it done.
When is the Best Time to Sanitize Your RV Water Tank?
You will need to sanitize the water system after you have de-winterized the water lines by flushing out the antifreeze.
You only need to sanitize your RV water system once in the Spring. Just running the water through the system until the lines run clear is not enough to kill any bacteria that has grown in your water tank over the winter. The sanitizing process ensures that your family will have safe and clean water for the entire camping season.
What You’ll Need:
You likely have all the tools needed to sanitize your RV water system in your home or RV.
- Liquid bleach
- Measuring Cup
- Fresh water supply hose
- A safe place to empty your water tank
Since you are adding chlorine to your water tank, you will not want to empty out the treated water onto your grass or ground. Bleach kills living things, including good bacteria that help to support a healthy ecosystem. Always empty sanitized water at a dump station or when connected to the sewer system.
8 Easy Steps to Sanitize Your RV Water System
De-winterize the Water System
First, you need to get rid of the antifreeze you added to your water lines in the Fall. Our RV Spring maintenance blog will help you get that job done before you begin to sanitize the water system
Empty All Lines and Tanks
Turn off the water heater and empty all your tanks. You can empty the freshwater tank using the plug at the bottom of the tank. If you are connected to the sewer, you can run the water through the lines and have it drain down the sewer.
Measure and Mix Bleach and Water in a Bucket
Regular unscented chlorine bleach is the least expensive option, and it is effective. You can also pick up a bottle of biodegradable water cleaner at the RV centre if you want a more eco-friendly option.
For bleach, use 1/4 cup for every 10 gallons of fresh water. If you have a 40-gallon tank, use one cup. A 50-gallon tank needs 1 1/4 cup, etc. Mix the proper amount of bleach in a bucket and fill the rest of the way with water.
You don’t want to pour the bleach straight into the tank as 100% bleach may harm rubber gaskets.
Add Bleach Mixture to Your Fresh Water Holding Tank
Place a funnel in the freshwater inlet on the side of the RV and pour in the bleach mixture. You can also run the mixture through your freshwater supply hose.
Fill the Water Tank
Check that all the taps are closed in the RV. Turn off the water pump. Turn off the water heater. Close all the connections to the sewer drain.
Fill up the freshwater tank with potable water from a safe water supply.
Run the Water through All Your Water Lines
Next, you want the sanitizer to get into all your water lines. Turn on the water pump. Go through the RV and turn on each tap until you get a little water to run out of it. Let the kitchen tap run for a few minutes to get some sanitizer solution into your grey tank. Killing bacteria in the grey tank can help to eliminate lingering smells.
Let It Sit to Properly Sanitize
It takes a little time for the bleach to completely kill any bacteria or viruses lingering in your water tank and lines. RV manufacturers recommend letting the tank sit for 12 hours or overnight.
Empty Out the Tank and Lines and Flush to Eliminate the Bleach Odour
Finally, you want to completely empty out the freshwater tank. Whether you run the water through to fill up your grey and black tank, or simply empty the white tank at a dump station is up to you. You will need to fill and flush the tank one or more times to get rid of the chlorine smell. The tank is safe to use after the first rinse, but nobody wants to brush their teeth with what smells like pool water.