How to Clean and Sanitize RV Freshwater Tank?

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. Thank You for your support.

If you have an RV and plan to camp at one of your favorite locations, you should check your RV thoroughly before hitting the road to make sure it is optimal, especially the freshwater system. Keeping your RV’s freshwater system in its functional condition becomes more critical when planning boondocking or dry camping.

Your recreational vehicle’s freshwater system is something that you cannot afford to overlook if you want to enjoy your camping to its fullest. You should make sure that it is not only in working condition but also clean.

If the freshwater system in your RV is not clean, then your camping means nothing but illness. When you’re willing to take your RV out after storing it for an extended period, you should pay attention to its freshwater system and how to clean and sanitize the RV freshwater tank.

Unlike cleaning your RV’s black or gray water tanks, which is an arduous task, cleaning your freshwater tank is pretty simple and easy. If you have never clean and sanitize the RV freshwater tank, you should read this post till the end.

How to Clean and Sanitize RV Freshwater Tank_

I’m going to list everything related to cleaning and sanitizing the RV freshwater tank. So, let’s get started!

Benefits and How Often You Clean and Sanitize RV Freshwater Tank?

Before you clean and sanitize the RV freshwater tank, you might be wondering is it necessary to sanitize the RV freshwater tank? If you also have this question in your mind, then the only logical answer that I have is you don’t need water, or you don’t drink water at all

Regardless of how much RV water you use and how often you use, the best practice is to clean and sanitize the RV fresh water at least three times a year.

If you figure out that the freshwater coming from your RV’s freshwater tank is smelly, or the water quality is low, it is an indication that you need to clean and sanitize the RV freshwater tank. Sanitizing the RV fresh water tank is the best possible way to make sure the water you drink tastes good and safe to consume.

Sanitize RV Fresh Water Tank

However, if you don’t sanitize your RV fresh water tank, be ready for consequences, such as bacteria growth, diarrhea, etc.

What Do You Need to Sanitize RV Freshwater Tank?

Before jumping to how to clean and sanitize the RV freshwater system, you should prepare and arm yourself with the supplies and tools that you are going to need. Below I have outlined everything that is going to be used to sanitize the RV freshwater tank.


Note: Before you begin to clean and sanitize a freshwater tank, you should know that it is a time-consuming process. So, it is suggested to make sure you have at least 12 hours.

Other tips that you should consider when considering to sanitize the RV fresh water tank include,

  • Make sure the water you are cleaning your RV fresh water tank is clean and safe for consumption. Never use that is not clean and that you cannot use or consume.
  • If your RV is equipped with a water heater, make sure to flush it out before starting the process.
  • Make sure to thoroughly clean the entire freshwater tank.

How to Clean and Sanitize RV Freshwater Tank

Cleaning and Sanitizing your RV fresh water tank means you will get crystal clear water that will be safe for consumption and use. This really a task that being an RVer, you should do by yourself instead of hiring a professional and paying them.

If you have read all the requirements and guidelines, and you think you are ready, follow the below steps,

1. Turn Off the Water Heater and Drain Freshwater System

The very first step and that you should always remember when you clean and sanitize the RV fresh water tank is to turn off the water heater before you drain the freshwater tank. Failing to do so means you will severely damage your water heater system. To make sure you get the last bits of water out of your RV freshwater system is to use a water pump.

2. Calculate the Amount of Bleach You Are Going to Use and Then Add it to the RV’s Freshwater Tank

Now, what you’ve to do is to calculate the bleach. You may want to add ¼ cups of bleach for every 16 gallons of water in the RV’s freshwater tank (Or one ounce for every 8 gallons). Keep the calculations based on the ratios.

For example, if your RV tank can hold 20 gallons of freshwater, you will need 2.5 ounces of bleach for sanitizing the freshwater tank.

Calculate Bleach

Avoid adding bleach directly to your RV fresh water tank as you have to dilute it first. Now, add the bleach amount using the calculations as mentioned above and add it in at least one gallon of water. Now, you have to use the funnel to pour that mixture into your RV’s freshwater tank.

3. Use the Portable Water to Fill the Freshwater Tank

Now, you may want to fill the RV’s freshwater tank by adding consumable portable water. Make sure you fill the RV fresh water tank to its fullest. This will help to sanitize the whole freshwater tank and other systems. Moreover, you may also want to make sure that the bleach water that you are using to sanitize the RV fresh water tank gets all the way through the freshwater system.

In this regard, you are required to switch on all the faucets to make way for the bleach water to reach every corner of the system. Once the water circulates through all the systems, you may now turn off the faucets.

4. Keep the Water Inside the Freshwater tank for at Least 12 Hours

As I have stated in the start that the process will take up to 12 hours, the bleach water will need some time to sanitize the RV fresh water tank thoroughly. It cannot be done by just running the water through the freshwater tank in no time and hoping all is good. You should let the water sit in for at least 12 hours. It will make sure that the freshwater tank is clean and deeply sanitized.

5. Drain the RV Freshwater Tank and Flush the System

After you have let the bleach water sit inside the freshwater system for 12 hours, now it’s time to drain all the water out. Once you have drained the bleach water, you are now required to fill the freshwater tank again and circulate the water throughout the freshwater system. In this regard, you can use the water pump.

Once the water circulation is completed, open all the faucets again and flush the system until there is no bleach smell remaining in the water. However, the process of flushing the system might take some, and you have to do it three to four times, but don’t panic. To get the best possible outcome, I highly recommend keeping flushing the system even after the bleach smell is gone.

Doing it will make sure that there is no bleach chemical water remaining in the system. Once you are done sanitizing your RV freshwater tank, you may also want to change the water filters. After replacing the water filter and switching the water heater system back on, you are now all set to take your rig out for your next adventure.

How to Keep your Freshwater Tank Clean?

Since the freshwater inside your RV’s freshwater tank comes from multiple sources, it is hard to tell how pure and clean it is. Although most of the campgrounds provide clean water from clean resources, some also use municipal sources. If the water that you are getting in your RV’s freshwater tank and storing it for an extended period, it may incubate a colony of bacteria.

So, how to eliminate RV water contamination?

You should take some preventive steps to make sure to eliminate the risk of bacteria you ingest. Below, I have listed some preventive habits that, as an RVer, you should add to your routine.

  • Make sure to check the water source that is supplying the water to your RV’s freshwater tank. If you are at a campsite, you can ask the campground manager if they are supplying municipal water or well water. If it is coming from a well, it should be tested regularly.
  • The second best preventive habit is installing water filters. You should install a water filter at the kitchen faucet, and another is at the source.
  • However, if you are unable to test the water quality or not sure if the water is clean, you should boil the water before consumption. Moreover, you can also keep bottled water with you.
  • Another essential step is you should never touch your RV’s freshwater hose without washing your hands. Also, make sure that you keep it off the ground.
  • You should also wash your hands each time you use the dump station or hook up the waste tank drain. Furthermore, you should never use the water from the dump station for filling your RV tank if it is not clean and not consumable.
  • Last but not least, you should make sure to sanitize your rig before you store it for extended periods of time.

Wrapping Up

Traveling in your recreational vehicle to your favorite campsite along with your family is as exciting as it sounds. However, you should make sure that your trip goes well, and you enjoy it to its fullest. One critical aspect that is most important for you is getting clean water because getting sick from contaminated water is something that you cannot overlook. To prevent this, you should consider preventive habits and include them in your routine. It includes cleaning and sanitizing your RV’s freshwater tank to make sure the clean water supply. Above I have outlined common preventive habits that although are common sense but often overlooked. Moreover, I have also outlined a step-by-step guide on cleaning and sanitizing the RV fresh water tank. If you have any other queries, do not hesitate to write a comment below.


What tools are required to clean and sanitize the RV freshwater tank?

Cleaning and sanitizing your RV’s freshwater tank is not an arduous task that you cannot do by yourself. It doesn’t require many tools. However, some basic supplies that you should keep ready with you while sanitizing the RV fresh water tank include Bleach, External and internal water filters, a funnel with the hose, measuring cups, and a container for mixing bleach and water.

How often should you clean and sanitize the RV freshwater tank?

The best time to clean and sanitize the RV fresh water tank is before hitting the road for your next adventure. You should also clean and sanitize the RV fresh water tank before storing it for extended periods. The process doesn’t take more than 12 hours, and you should sanitize the tank twice a year.

Should I put bleach directly into the freshwater tank?

No, you shouldn’t put the bleach directly into your freshwater tank. You have to measure the bleach and then mix it with water. After that, put it in the freshwater tank and let it stay there for at least 12 hours.

About Ted Mosby

My Name is Ted Mosby from Cleveland, Ohio. I am a freelance Architect. I live in New Jersey, USA right now and I take my RV every alternate weekend. As I am a Freelancer I can work anywhere so most of my work is done inside my camper remotely.