How To Sanitize An RV Freshwater System Without Bleach

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It is the spring season, and you are ready to hit the road with your favorite RV. However, before you get yourself all excited about your travel plans, there are a couple of things that you should take care of first. Check the condition of your RV in all aspects.  You should always take safety precautions in your mind whenever you are using your RV.

In this article, our main focus will be on the freshwater tank sanitation. How to sanitize the freshwater tank system without using the Bleach?

As you may all know, most RV owners end up using bleach in order to clear their water system. 

This method might be considered as effective but it is dangerous and it can damage your water system. Nevertheless, this is not the only alternative one can use. There is another way where you can effectively sanitize your water system without the need to use bleach.

How? We will discover them together throughout this article.

Water sanitation system

But before, we jump right into it, let’s have a look at the ins and outs of water system sanitation.

Without sanitary precautions taken into consideration, water that has been staying in the tank for a long period of time can be very harmful to both your water system and your health. 

Bacteria and other dangerous substances can build up over time in the tank if it is not sanitized properly and thoroughly time to time. The appropriate care and maintenance are essential to ensure clean and fresh drinking water.

Therefore, if you RV have been staying in your garage for a long time not used and forgotten, you should start thinking of taking the next steps o clean our tank before you use it.

In fact, there are numerous situations where you should consider sanitizing your water tank, some of them we can mention:

  • When you find yourself smelling weird odor whenever you use the water from the freshwater sanitation. This is a sign that you should clean your tank and get some sanitation done.
  • When your RV water system has not been used for a long time now or simply when you RV have been staying in your garage for more than 2 months. It’s time to clean your whole water system to ensure clean and safe water.
  • When you notice some kind of bacteria or fungus in your tank. This is the last thing you want to observe especially when it comes to water which is something you use on a daily basis. These bacteria can cause great damage to your health and the health o your tank.

How do RV owners usually sanitize Your RV Water System?

the common and the most popular method when it comes to sanitizing our RV water system is by treating the water with a solution of chlorine or bleach and running all over your RV freshwater system. This is usually the most suggested method for sanitizing water system especially those that are found in RVs.

The first thing an RV owner has to do when it comes to sanitizing the RV freshwater system is to remove the water from the tank. This is so far easy to thing to and a simple task. The first you have to do is to empty the water heater from a fluid. 

Look for the location of the water heater; it is usually placed in the exterior compartment. Get the plug removed and unlock the pressure relief valve place above the water heater for an easy draining process.

One thing you should note, in this first step is that the water heater should never be drained when it is hot or when it is under the pressure.  This will cause great damage to the water heater. Right after that, you have to find the lowest water line drains of the water system in the RV. 

They are usually two, one is hot and the other one is cold. Unlock them and the water will drain out after some minutes. You can always open the water pump to check if there is any water that is left in the tank. Just make sure that you don’t leave the water open once you have checked that there is no remaining water. Now you can plug all the drains.

How To Sanitize An RV Freshwater System With Bleach

Now we can talk about the different methods of sanitation: we will start by the bleach and then we will discuss how we can sanitize the water fresh system without the bleach.

The commonly used method as we have said before is by using the beach moderately. Usually, people, to sanitize their water system, use 1/4 cup of bleach per 15 gallons of the freshwater tank contains. The next thing to do is the mix this bleach with the water in order to create a bleach solution that can be poured in the container later on. 

Once you pour the freshwater tank with this soluble solution ass potable water until the whole tank is full. Once you do that operate the water pump, run the drains lines, the cold drain lines and the hot one, until you are able to detect the bleach smell coming out of each of these faucets. 

Once you smell the bleach coming out, lock the faucets. Let this solution sit in your tank for around 10 hours or a little more. After that, you can drain the whole RV freshwater system all over and fill it again with clean water. 

Open the faucets again, so that the clean water will run through them. Repeat this process until you no longer smell any bleach coming from the tank or from the faucets. Repeating this process is actually essential in order to make sure that there is no bleach left in the tank.

Now, you have to note that bleach is actually not bad as a sanitation method, however, only when it is used in moderation. Using low concentrated bleach is quite effective to clean your freshwater system without having to consume risky and affected water. 

To this extent, the bleach has to be plain in taste and odor-free. You also have to realize that an unexpected overdose of bleach can lead to deadly results.

How To Sanitize an RV Freshwater System Without Bleach

Now we have reached the heart of our article, where we are going to discuss the other possible and potential methods an RV owner can use to sanitize the RV fresh water system without using the bleach.

There are possible ways to do so, Vinegar and Baking Soda.

As we have said before, there exist less extreme methods for sanitizing an RV freshwater system besides the bleach. Two of these main notable approaches for sanitizing without using the bleach are simply by using Vinegar or baking soda. 

While you might think if this actually going to work or not, especially if you have no prior knowledge of how these two substances can help cleaning a tank, you will be surprised at how effective they are. For further details, we will go through each one of them in this section, keep on reading.


How, by using vinegar, an RV owner can sanitize his RV freshwater system?

Vinegar also is known as acetic acid can be used as an efficient and adequate option to the bleach to sanitize and purify RV freshwater systems. Thanks to this high acidic substance, it became easy to fumigate and flush away any bacteria that can be found in the tank. 

However, despite its high acidic formula, it remains almost harmless when it comes to water consumption. Not only that but vinegar has always been known to have no harming effects to the human body, so there is nothing to worry about when you use vinegar. 

The only concern about using vinegar to clean and sanitize your RV freshwater system is the fact that vinegar has a strong odor and aftertaste. These can continue being preserved in the water if the tank is not cleaned the proper way.

With that being said, in order to make sure that you use the vinegar in a simple and safe way, you should follow these instructions. In order to safely and easily sanitize your RV’s freshwater system with vinegar, make sure to follow this process. 

The first thing you have to do if you chose vinegar as your alternative option than the bleach is to make a diluted solution that consists of an even amount of water and vinegar, no more no less than that. Overdosing the vinegar in the solution will only end up with a persisting strong flavor and odor in your tank and believe or not you don’t want that to happen. 

This solution is what will be used to clean away all the unwanted and undesired things in the tank. After you prepare, this solution, pour it in the tank and drive around with your RV for a couple of miles around your area just to make sure that it all got blended in your water tank. 

After that, open all the faucets and taps and operate your water pump in order for the prepared solution to run through the entire water system of your RV. the moment you can tell by the vinegar smell coming out from the faucets, shut off the water pump and maintain the solution in the tank for a couple of hours and let sit for a thorough cleaning and flushing. 

After a couple of hours, now it’s time to clean the tank with potable water. Repeat the cleaning process until the smell of the vinegar is gone.

Baking Soda

Now we more t the baking soda, how we can clean The RV Water System Using Baking Soda?

Just like vinegar, the baking soda can be used as an alternative to the bleach when it comes to cleaning an RV water system. 

The best thing about the baking soda is its ability to diminish the build-up of bacteria and fungus that take place inside the tank and the entire water system. While it may not be that efficient and adequate when it is used alone to get rid and flash away all the limes and other dirt, it can be used hands in hands with vinegar for an effective result. 

Or simply, try to use it on a regular basis to disinfect your water system, and you won’t be disappointed with the outcome. For effective and visible results, make sure to follow this procedure. 

The first thing you are going to do is to make a solution that is composed of 200g of baking soda which is dissolved in 2.9L of potable water. Just like the vinegar process, fill in the tank with the solution you have prepared and then operate the pump water for it to run through the entire water system. After that let it sits in the tank for some time and cleans it with clean water later on, as simple as that.

Following these two methods will not only ensure that you will get some clean water but it will also guarantee odor-free, flavor-free drinkable water. These methods can be really effective in cleaning your water line. You should only make sure that you do it properly and with consistency.

Nevertheless, it is important that you always be careful when using whatever substance to clean your water system. Take some protective measures to ensure your safety and protection.

Can You Clean An RV Freshwater System with Hydrogen peroxide?

You can easily find the Hydrogen Peroxide in any nearby store. However, is it effective? That’s the question. There are some gossips around this substance when it comes to water system sanitation. 

The thing about this solution is the fact that it is not strong enough to clean your entire RV water system which makes it ineffective to this whole process. Reviews from people who have used this solution indicate that a 3% hydrogen bottle is simply not for our RV freshwater tank or neither for your water lines. 

It simply doesn’t do the job and doesn’t show the desired outcome you are looking for. If you can get yourself a higher concentrated bottle of this solution than maybe you can see some visible results. But, the higher concentrated solution can be usually found in B2B business and only can be sold to authorized and licensing beneficiaries. 


The reason is you should not use the concentrated bottle simply because you are going to have to follow some particular process to counterbalance the level of this substance in your tank after sanitizing it.

Here are some tips that you should keep in mind when it comes to maintain a clear RV water system.

  • Empty your water system when you are not using it: This is one of the common mistakes that RV owners usually do. They keep water in their tank sitting there for a long period of time without emptying it. 

It is really necessary that you rinse and clean your entire water system after your camping adventure. Don’t let the water sit there until your next trip. Bacteria can easily build up and grow in such a moisture environment and you are literally creating the perfect condition for it to grow. 

While it may also grow in a dry environment as ending up as spores, that doesn’t necessarily, mean that your tank will remain clean after you drained. However, it remains way better than having water in your RV system.

  • Constantly remain aware and careful when it comes to sanitation in general: you never know what kind of damage and harm contaminated water system can do to your health. Always be cautious when it comes to safety precautions. 
  • Check out your water system regularly and make sure that it is cleaned effectively. That is the only way to know that your water is actually harmless to drink.
  • Make sure to always do research on whatever substance you want to use to try in the sanitation of your water system. Remember thoughtful research can help you avoid the damaging outcome.


Traveling around in your RV is probably the best thing that could even happen to you, but putting your life at risk simply because you can’t remember the last time you have checked on your RV freshwater system is simply unacceptable. The last thing you want to do while enjoying your trip with your beloved ones to get water contaminated. That’s sucks, right?

You can avoid this by all means if you can ensure a healthy and freshwater system. How? All you have to do is to adopt some good cleaning practices and a calendar that has your RV fresh water sanitation plan. 

By keeping track of when was the last time you have cleaned your tank and the entire water system, you will ensure not only your safety but also your family safety. While these sanitation practices might be often overlooked, make sure to include them in your routine. You won’t regret it.