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How Do I Sanitize My RV Water Tank?

Sanitizing your RV water tank is an essential task to ensure the safety and cleanliness of the water you use while traveling.

Without proper sanitization, harmful bacteria, algae, and other contaminants can thrive in the tank, posing health risks.

In this article, we will guide you through the process of sanitizing your RV water tank effectively.

Why is Sanitizing the RV Water Tank Important?

Before we delve into the steps of sanitizing your RV water tank, let’s understand why it is crucial.

The water tank in your RV is responsible for storing and supplying water for various purposes, such as drinking, cooking, and showering.

If the tank is not properly sanitized, it can become a breeding ground for bacteria, leading to potential health hazards.

How Often Should I Sanitize My RV Water Tank?

Regularly sanitizing your RV water tank is vital to maintain the quality of the water you consume.

The frequency of sanitization depends on how frequently you use your RV and the quality of the water you fill the tank with.

As a general guideline, it is recommended to sanitize the water tank at least once every six months or before an extended period of inactivity.

How Do I Sanitize My RV Water Tank?

Now, let’s dive into the step-by-step process of sanitizing your RV water tank:

1. Gather the Necessary Supplies

Before you begin, ensure that you have the following supplies ready:

  • Bleach or RV-specific water tank sanitizer
  • Measuring cup
  • Rubber gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Clean cloth or sponge
  • Access to a water source

2. Drain the Water Tank

Start by emptying the RV water tank completely.

Locate the water drain valve, usually found at the bottom of the tank, and open it to release all the water.

Make sure the tank is fully drained before proceeding to the next step.

3. Prepare the Sanitizing Solution

To create the sanitizing solution, you can either use household bleach or an RV-specific water tank sanitizer.

Follow these instructions:

  • Using Bleach: Mix ¼ cup of bleach with 15 gallons of water. Be cautious while handling bleach and ensure proper ventilation.
  • Using RV-specific Sanitizer: Follow the instructions provided on the sanitizer packaging to prepare the solution accordingly.

4. Fill the Water Tank

Once the sanitizing solution is ready, fill the RV water tank with it.

Use a measuring cup or any suitable container to pour the solution into the tank.

Fill it up to around ¾ of its capacity.

5. Circulate the Solution

Turn on the water pump and open all the faucets (both hot and cold) in your RV.

Let the water run until you can smell the bleach or sanitizer from each faucet.

This ensures that the solution reaches all the pipes and fixtures within the RV’s water system.

6. Let the Solution Sit

After circulating the solution, close all the faucets and let the sanitizing solution sit in the tank for at least 12 to 24 hours.

This extended period allows the solution to effectively eliminate any bacteria or contaminants present in the tank.

7. Flush the System

Once the waiting time is over, drain the sanitizing solution by opening the water drain valve.

Flush the entire water system by running clean water through all the faucets until the bleach odor is no longer noticeable.

This step is crucial to remove any traces of the sanitizing solution.

8. Rinse and Refill

After flushing the system, rinse the water tank by filling it with clean water and draining it again.

Repeat this process until the water draining out is clear and free from any residue.

9. Test the Water Quality

To ensure the tank is properly sanitized, test the water quality using an RV water testing kit or strips.

These kits are readily available and provide accurate results to confirm that the water is safe for use.

10. Regular Maintenance

To maintain the cleanliness of your RV water tank, consider adopting the following practices:

  • Use a water filter to prevent debris and sediments from entering the tank.
  • Keep the tank closed and sealed when not in use to avoid contamination.
  • Regularly clean and inspect the tank for any signs of damage or wear.


How long does it take to sanitize an RV water tank?

The process of sanitizing an RV water tank typically takes around 12 to 24 hours. This includes the time for the sanitizing solution to sit in the tank and effectively eliminate bacteria and contaminants.

Can I use vinegar instead of bleach to sanitize my RV water tank?

While vinegar is known for its cleaning properties, it is not recommended as a substitute for bleach or an RV-specific sanitizer when sanitizing your RV water tank. Bleach or sanitizers are more effective in eliminating harmful bacteria and ensuring water safety.

Can I drink the water from my RV water tank after sanitizing it?

Yes, you can drink the water from your RV water tank after properly sanitizing and rinsing it. The sanitizing process eliminates harmful bacteria and ensures the water’s safety for consumption.

Is it necessary to sanitize the RV water tank if I use it regularly?

Yes, it is essential to sanitize the RV water tank regularly, even if you use it frequently. Regular sanitization helps maintain the water quality, prevent bacterial growth, and ensure the health and well-being of everyone using the RV.

Can I use dish soap to sanitize my RV water tank?

Dish soap is not suitable for sanitizing an RV water tank. While it may clean the tank, it is not effective in eliminating bacteria and other contaminants. It is crucial to use appropriate sanitizing agents like bleach or RV-specific sanitizers.

How can I remove bad odors from my RV water tank?

To remove bad odors from your RV water tank, you can try the following steps:

  1. Drain the tank completely.
  2. Fill the tank with a mixture of water and baking soda.
  3. Let the solution sit in the tank for a few hours.
  4. Drain the tank and flush it thoroughly with clean water.
  5. Repeat the process if necessary.


Sanitizing your RV water tank is a vital step in maintaining clean and safe water while traveling.

By following the steps outlined in this article, you can ensure that your RV’s water system remains free from harmful bacteria and contaminants.

Remember to sanitize your RV water tank regularly and adopt proper maintenance practices to enjoy worry-free adventures on the road.