How to Keep Your RV Water System & Holding Tanks Fresh

Posted by RVCampersUSA on Oct 13th 2016

cleaning rv holding tanks

There's nothing that compares to the self-sustained freedom of living offered by an RV. With even compact RVs offering heating, cooling, electricity and running water, you can venture off the beaten path and explore the truly untouched areas of this beautiful country. But if there's one system that you don't want to fail in an RV, it's the water. If your water has an unusual taste and/or odor, it could be indicative of an underlying problem.

Don't Drain Grey Water Tank with Potable Water Hose

I know this probably sounds like common sense to most seasoned RV owners, but it's still worth mentioning that you should never drain the grey water tank using the potable water hose. Bacteria and other impurities will accumulate inside this hose, which can then seep into your RV's drinking water.

Don't Overfill the Tank

While it may seem harmless enough, overfilling your RV's water tank can stress the lines, causing them to loosen and even leak. Think about it: one pound of water weighs approximately 8.35 pounds. Assuming you have a 100-gallon unit, that's more than 800 pounds. Avoid overfilling your tank to minimize pressure and protect against damage to the lines.

Sanitize the Water Tank

Of course, you should also sanitize your RV's freshwater tank, especially if it's been sitting for a long time. Bleach works well for this task, but you should always dilute it first. Take one cup of bleach and mix it with four gallons of water. Next, add the solution to your tank and fill it up with fresh water. Now turn on all sinks and faucets in your RV, allowing them to run until your tank is empty. On the following day, drain the tank twice more, but using freshwater instead. Assuming you can no longer smell bleach, it's safe to use as intended.

Using bleach in your holding tanks is always a controversial recommendation because it is so harsh and ruins your seals. There is a completely safe and effective alternative to clean both your black and gray tanks. Happy Campers Extreme Cleaner is arguably the most powerful waste tank cleaner available and it’s easy to use.

When using Happy Campers Extreme Cleaner:

*Effectiveness requires some type of agitation (tank rinser sprayer, long curvy drive, etc.)

1. Dump & thoroughly rinse tank
2. Mix whole container into large bucket of hot water till fully dissolved
3. Pour into toilet (sink for gray tank)
4. Fill tank with clean water to ½ (completely fill if stationary)
5. Aggressively agitate (long curvy drive) (if stationary soak overnight minimum)
6. Dump & thoroughly rinse immediately upon completion agitation & rinsing is key

Cleaning the Sink

The sink is a common source of foul odors in RVs. This is due to the food particles that become stuck inside the drain lines, which create the perfect breeding grounds for bad germs. You can clean it, however, by pouring vinegar and hot water down it. The vinegar is a safe, all-natural cleaning solution that will literally eat bad germs. And while it smells bad at first, vinegar actually freshens the air once it dries. I actually use it with laundry too.

Add Baking Soda When Emptying Grey Water Tank

Another trick that's helpful to maintain a fresh water system is to add a spoonful of baking soda to your kitchen sink whenever you empty the grey water tank. Baking soda neutralized odor-causing germs, which are particularly problematic in this tank.