Sanitize RV Water Tank – Don’t Drink The Water In Your RV Until You Do It

When it comes to owning an RV it’s really important to regularly maintain your rig. The best way to do this is by keeping a regular maintenance schedule and tracking the completion. Things like regularly checking the tires, the water pipes and drains for leaks, and checking the batteries in your alarms. Having a regular schedule will help you catch things early and prevent any major issues. A big one that needs to happen regularly is sanitizing your RV water tank. 

Benefits of Sanitizing Your Tank

Whether you full time or take your RV out intermittently it’s important to sanitize your RV water tank. We drink this water and if it becomes contaminated in any way it could have an effect on our bodies. When we regularly sanitize the tank and water lines it keeps us well-beingy. 

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How Often You Should Sanitize

Sanitize RV Water Tank - Don't Drink The Water In Your RV Until You Do It

When it comes to sanitizing your RV water tank you should do it at least every six months. If you fulltime a six-month schedule is just fine. If you are intermittent when by means of your RV, you might want to consider a more regular schedule like every 3 months.

What happens in the tank is mold, mildew, and bacteria can build up and water that sits in the tank for a while becomes stale. As you use the water in the tank the water level lowers and the areas not in the water build-up moisture making it a perfect breeding ground.

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When you empty and fill it up over and over the water eventually can become less drinkable.

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How Much Time Does It Take to Sanitize your Tank

Sanitizing your RV water tank is a little bit of a longer process. Allow about 12-hours to sanitize everything properly.

You have to let the solution sit in the tank long enough to actually kill any bacteria and clean it out. This process can be done in about 5-hours but for best results you need 12-hours. 

How to Sanitize RV Water Tank

  • Step 1: The first step is to drain the water system. This can be done by opening the water valves for the tank and the water lines. This includes draining the water heater tank as well. There is typically a plug that you just unscrew and let the water drain. If you don’t know where any of these are, refer to your owner’s manual.
  • Step 2: While the water is draining you can compose the sanitizing solution. The most effective solution is using bleach. There are alternatives if you are concerned with using bleach. There are solutions you can purchase at any RV supply store or you can also use vinegar. Vinegar is not as effective as bleach but it can be used as an alternative.
    • The solution consists of 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 or use a drill pump and hose to pump it in. (Make sure you closed the valves and plugged the water heater tank.)
  • Step 3: Fill your water tank until it’s full. Once full turn on all your faucets, hot and cold, until you smell bleach coming from the water. Then turn them off.
  • Step 4: Make sure to top the fresh water tank off with water so the solution can reach every part of your tank.
  • Step 5: Let sit for 12 hours. This will give the solution time to kill anything that might be living in the tank and water lines.
  • Step 6: After the 12 hours you can now drain the tank systems again by opening up all the valves along with unplugging the water heater tank. Once draining is done you will want to flush the system out to make sure to get rid of all the bleach. You will know it’s out when it doesn’t smell anymore. 
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We’re Jason and Rae Miller the founders of Getaway Couple! We provide daily content covering all aspects of camping from the smallest tent stake to the vastst luxury RV. We’ve been camping for over 30 years and love to share our knowledge with you on this blog on our YouTube channel. We also write for,,, and are correspondents for the RV Show USA radio show. If you’re looking for a little more structured learning on RVing, you can also find us as course instructors on If you are looking for a winter snowbirding destination you may enjoy our book Snowbird Travel Guide: Arizona

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