How to Sanitize RV Water System + How Often to Perform the Full Cleaning Process

OCTOBER 19, 2020

We are all familiar with those important tasks that we dread and dread until we finally do it and realize — that was pretty easy! Well, sanitizing your RV water system is one of those tasks. It’s probably one you put off for too long, but not anymore if you want to stay happy and healthy while on your RV trips!

While you can definitely hire a professional to sanitize RV water system, there’s really no need; it doesn’t require any special tools and you can easily do it yourself. 

What You Need to Sanitize RV Water System

Here is everything you need to perform your own sanitization process for your RV water tank: 

  • One external water filter ($10)
  • One internal water filter ($20)
  • Bleach ($2 a gallon)
  • A funnel with a flexible hose and stopper ($3)
  • A water filter wrench for your internal filter ($5)
  • A container for mixing bleach and water
  • Measuring cup
  • Rags for wiping up spills

You may already have most of these items; making it even more unnecessary to hire someone that will cost more than all of these items combined!

How to Sanitize RV Water System in 6 Easy Steps

1. Turn off the water heater and drain the freshwater system.

Never drain your freshwater system while the water heater is on. It will damage the water heater and cost more to repair than you would like. Make sure to turn it off and let it fully cold down before you drain the water.

We also recommend that you have the water pump on to ensure that you get all of the water out before sanitizing. 

2. Calculate the amount of bleach you need.

For every 16 gallons of fresh water in your RV water tank, you’ll need ¼ cup of bleach. This also equates to one ounce of bleach per eight gallons of water. Based on these ratios, make your calculations. For example, if you have a 20-gallon RV water tank, you’ll need 2.5 ounces of bleach. 

Don’t know how big your tank is? Here is an average break down: 

  • Class A RVs hold 75-100 gallons
  • Class B RVs hold 20-40 gallons
  • Class C RVs 35-60 gallons
  • Fifth wheel trailers hold 60-80 gallons
  • Small trailers hold 40-60 gallons

We recommend you just use this to give you an idea how much bleach you’ll need but check your specific RV water tank parameters before proceeding with the sanitization process. 

3. Add bleach to your RV water tank.

Rather than adding the bleach to your tank directly, dilute it first with water. 

As you likely know, bleach is an extremely strong and harmful chemical with corrosive qualities. Due to this fact, it’s always safer for your RV water system to not use it as a straight substance. 

To dilute your designated amount of bleach for your RV water tank, mix it with at least a gallon of water. Then, with the help of your funnel, slowly pour the mixture into your tank. 

4. Fill your RV water tank with potable water and pump it through the system.

To properly sanitize RV water system and allow the bleach to reach all parts of your system, fill the tank with potable water. Potable water is another term for drinking water. 

Make sure to fill the tank all the way and then pump it through. We also recommend that you turn on all the faucets in your RV to make sure the bleach makes it all the way through your system. This will ensure that every route and point of access for fresh water in your RV is fully sanitized by the bleach. 

Once the faucets have run for a few minutes, you can turn them off. 

5. Let the bleach-water sit overnight.

If you want the bleach to do its job properly, it’s important to give it some time in your RV water tank. We recommend letting it sit for at least 12 hours. 

If you run the bleach through your system and then dump it out a few minutes later, you won’t have the sanitized system you’re looking for.

6. Drain the tank and flush the system.

After you’ve left it alone for 12 hours, you can drain out all of the bleach-water mixture from your tank. 

Once you’ve gone through the draining, it’s time to refill your tank with freshwater. Once it’s filled, immediately start circulating it through your system with your water pump. As well, open all the faucets and flush until you can no longer smell the bleach. 

It’s normal for it to take a few rounds to completely eliminate the bleach smell. We even recommend that you continue to flush the system a few more times even after the bleach smell is gone. This will ensure that there are no harmful bleach chemicals left sitting in the corners of the system. 

Is It Necessary to Sanitize RV Water System?

You might be wondering if sanitizing regularly is a necessity — especially if you don’t drink the water. 

Think of it this way, you may not consume the water from the sink directly, but you do use it to cook with, wash your hands, wipe down counters, take a shower, and so on. On top of that, your kids may not know better and fill a cup of water from the tap. 

Any source of water in your RV should be clean of bacteria and other potentially harmful substances. As well, if you don’t sanitize RV water system it can lead to the growth of more than just natural occurring bacteria. 

Not only is this scary for your health but also your wallet! 

How Often to Sanitize RV Water System

It doesn’t matter how often or how you even use your RV water system, you should perform a full sanitization process on the tank every six months to be safe and protected against bacteria. 

Additional RV Upkeep Resources

Looking for more quick, easy resources on upkeep the condition of your RV as well as roadtrip travel tips? Visit our blog!