Tips for Keeping Your RV Fresh Water Holding Tank Clean as a Whistle

Updated May 5, 2022
fill water tank of motorhome recreational vehicle

Are you looking for recreational vehicle (RV) fresh water holding tank cleaning tips? If you own a recreational vehicle, it's essential that you take steps to keep the tanks clean so that the water remains safe for drinking, cooking, and bathing.

Importance of RV Fresh Water Holding Tank Cleaning

Because RV fresh water holding tanks are sealed and exposed to extremes in temperature, it's not realistic to expect them to stay clean without regular maintenance. As an RV owner, it's up to you to keep the tanks properly maintained so that you can count on them to provide tap water in your RV that is clean and safe to use for its intended purpose.

Proper holding tank maintenance includes periodic cleaning at least one time each year. It's a good idea to tackle the annual project of RV fresh water holding tank cleaning at the beginning of the camping season so that you can start out the season knowing that the water that passes through your camper's taps is as clean and safe as possible.

Tips for Cleaning an RV Fresh Water Holding Tank

While there are similarities among holding tank systems, they are not all exactly the same. Before undertaking the task of cleaning the fresh water holding tank on your RV, be sure to review the owner's manual that came with the camper. The document will provide you with information about the size of your holding tanks, details about where to access the tank, and other relevant instructions and information specific to the RV equipment installed in your unit.

Drain the Fresh Water System

The first step in fresh water holding tank cleaning is to completely drain the fresh water system. Take the following steps:

  • Begin by making sure that the water heater and water pump are turned off.
  • Pull the plugs or open the valves on the water heater and pump (depending on how your system is configured).
  • Allow the water to flow out onto the ground.
  • Open any valves or plugs on the camper's drainage lines, as well.
  • Once all of the water is drained out of the system, close the valves or replace the plugs to seal it again.

Place Bleach in the Holding Tank

To clean the holding tank, you will need to fill the drained tank with bleach and water in the proper proportion. In order to create the proper strength cleaner, you will need to know the capacity of your water tank. You will need to use one half of a cup of bleach for every 30 gallons that your fresh water tank holds. You can do this with the following process:

  • Pour the bleach into a small bucket or other container and fill it with water.
  • Funnel the bleach and water solution into the fresh water holding tank.
  • Add additional water to the tank until it is filled to capacity by connecting the filling nozzle to a water hose.
  • Allow the bleach and water mixture to sit in your RV's holding tank for 12 to 18 hours.

If you would rather not use bleach, you can replace the bleach with dawn dish soap. Some RV enthusiasts recommend not using bleach because it kills both the good and bad microbes in the system. Good microbes are responsible for assisting in the breakdown of matter.

Flush the Holding Tank

After the bleach has sat in the tank for a sufficient amount of time, turn on the water heater and water pump and close the valve. Turn on every water faucet in the recreational vehicle, including the shower, and allow each one to run until you catch the scent of the bleach in the flowing water.

Once you are certain that bleach or soap mixture has flowed through each part of your fresh water system, you can turn the faucets off. Then, you will need to turn off the water heater and water pump and completely drain the system again.

Refill the Tank with Clean Water

After you have completely drained your holding tank of the sanitizing solution, replace the plugs or close the valves and fill it up with plain, fresh water. Once the tank is full, turn the faucets back on one at a time and allow the water to run until you are sure that you do not smell bleach. This step will remove any residual bleach from the lines.

After you have finished doing this with each faucet, you may have used a significant amount of the fresh water that you added to the tank. You may want to add additional fresh water so that you can set out on your next camping trip with a completely full tank!

Preventive Maintenance for Fresh Water Holding Tanks

Once you have cleaned out your RV fresh water holding tank, consider adding a commercial holding tank treatment solution. This can help prevent algae and bacteria from building up in the tank, or at least slow down the process. You may also want to use a filter on your water lines, to keep sediment from finding its way into your fresh water holding tank and plumbing system. Both of these tips will help you enjoy fresh water that tastes and smells clean during your RV camping adventures.

Tips for Keeping Your RV Fresh Water Holding Tank Clean as a Whistle