Cleaning A Recreational Vehicle Water Tank

I know, it’s not the funniest task in the world, but cleaning is necessary…

Your RV’s tank needs to be cleaned, so let’s learn how to do that!

Cleaning gloves

Cleaning an RV Water tank is an important task. Recreational vehicles have three water tanks:

1.) the fresh water tank;

2.) the gray water tank (for water from your shower and sink); and

3.) the black water tank (for waste materials and water from the toilet of your recreational vehicle).

These water tanks need to be cleaned regularly for the benefit of recreational vehicle users.

Another reason for keeping your recreational vehicle’s water tank clean, especially the fresh water tank, is, this is where you get water which you bathe, drink, and use for cooking during your trip or adventure on the road.

This is the reason why you need to clean your recreational vehicle’s water tanks regularly.

If you notice something on the smell of your water or a little something on the taste, that is a sign that you need to clean your water tank.

Cleaning Your Recreational Vehicle’s Water Tanks

Cleaning your recreational vehicle’s water tank is very important.

Here are some tips so you can get ideas on how to clean your recreational vehicle’s holding tanks, to maintain cleanliness and make your water tanks last longer.

1.)The Fresh Water Tank

  • Draining

Cleaning your recreational vehicle’s fresh water tank is easy.  The first thing you should do is to dump the contents of your freshwater tank.

You can drain its contents anywhere in the camp provided it does not bother or cause inconvenience to other recreational vehicle campers.

When cleaning your RV’s water tank, make sure that nobody will be using water on your recreational vehicle for at least several hours.

Then turn off the pump when you clean your water tank.  Turning on the water pump when the tank has no water in it will cause overheating and damage your water pump.

Open the water lines under your recreational vehicle. Drain the water in your water tank.

Make sure you have removed all attachments (like water filters, and others) on the water line.  Close all the drains. You can now begin cleaning your fresh water tank.

  • Cleaning Your RV’s Fresh Water Tank

This is how you clean your recreational vehicle’s water tank.  Then pour bleach (chlorine) and clean water inside the tank.

Start running the pump to clean and sterilize the water lines. For tanks with stubborn dirt, there are other cleaning chemicals available in stores for cleaning it.

Splash the water and chlorine solution inside your water tank.

Take a route with a bumpy road so the chlorine solution can thoroughly clean your water tank. Leave it inside the tank for at least four hours, then drain. Refill the tank with fresh water.

2.) The Gray Water Tank

  • Dumping

The gray water tank in your recreational vehicle is where water from your sink, food particles, and soapy water from washing and bathing are collected.

The gray water tank’s contents cannot be dumped just anywhere, like the fresh water tank.

When you dump a full gray tank, there will be enough pressure to flush out and remove dirt particles. Use clean water after dumping.

Water is collected in the gray water tank and is temporarily stored in your recreational vehicle.

This should later be dumped in a treatment plant or in a local or municipal sewer.

As recommended, recreational vehicle owners should clean their gray water tanks regularly to prevent unwanted odor and the spreading of bacteria.

  • Cleaning Your Recreational Vehicle’s Gray Water Tank

The gray water tank of a recreational vehicle holds soapy water, food particles, and food wastes.

These things contribute to dirt build-up inside the water tank.  Because of this, cleaning a recreational vehicle’s gray water tank needs the use of chemicals.

In cleaning, baking soda, water softener, and an anti-foaming solution may be used to remove whatever dirt and residue are inside the gray water tank.

When using chemicals, you should take into consideration where you dump the water. There are chemicals which can harm the environment.

Stirring the water and chemical solution inside a gray water tank will help loosen and remove dirt and particles which have become stuck inside the tank.

You can then drain it and flush out with clean water.

It is very important that you clean your gray water tank properly and thoroughly. This is where soap and foodstuffs are collected.

Not cleaning your gray water tank well will emit unpleasant odors that these food particles and soapy water might produce.

3.) The Black Water Tank

  • Dumping

A recreational vehicle’s black water tank is known as the sewer tank. Its contents cannot be dumped anywhere like the fresh water tank.

Black water tank contents can only be dumped in designated areas like a sewer outlet.

There are designated sewer outlets in a campsite or dumping stations.

The contents of the black water tank is toxic. This is why the person doing the dumping must be protected.

The wearing of rubber gloves and other protective gear for your body and clothing is advised.

After dumping, make sure you have soap and paper towels ready so you can wash off before going back to your recreational vehicle.

  • Cleaning Your Recreational Vehicle’s Black Water Tank

It is a misconception if you believe that emptying your sewer tank regularly is a way of keeping it clean. It is also important that you deep clean it after dumping its contents.

Ensuring the cleanliness of your recreational vehicle’s black water tank or sewer tank can assure you of clean living and hygiene.

To clean your black water tank properly, make sure that it is completely drained. Then fill it with fresh water and bleaching solution.

Using bleach does not only clean your black water tank, but it also sanitizes it. Leave the mixture inside the sewer tank for not more than 10 minutes.

Drain then fill again with water. Repeat the process of filling it with water and draining until the water drained from it comes out clean of any debris or particles.

Chemicals Needed In Cleaning The Water Tanks Of Recreational Vehicles

When we talk about cleaning your recreational vehicle’s water tanks, it will help if you use these chemicals to ensure its cleanliness.

Clorox – put Clorox in the tank filled with water. Flush the mixture several times until no odor can be detected by your sense of smell.

Waste Digester and Deodorizer – these two products are responsible for breaking down and dissolving waste materials and particles.

They prevent your recreational vehicle’s water tanks from emitting unpleasant odors.

Pine Based Disinfectants – why pine based? Because pine leaves a naturally sweet scent.

This product will not only clean and disinfect your water tanks but also keep it smelling sweet.

Clog Removers – this chemical comes in handy if you have clogs in the sewer system and water lines of your recreational vehicle.

Cleaning Tools Used When Cleaning A Recreational Vehicle’s Water Tanks

With cleaning comes not only chemicals to be used but also tools and equipment needed to aid you in the cleaning of your recreational vehicle’ water tanks. Among the basic tools needed for this task are :

Swiveling sewer connector

This is easier to use compared to one that you can just hook up.

The probability of a leakage is less when you use this type of sewer connector.

Cleaning Wand

The tank cleaning wand is used when your recreational vehicle does not have a backflush system.

Most recreational vehicles come with a built-in backflush system. But in case one is not available, a tank cleaning wand is one to be included in your “must have” list.

Sewer Hose

Naturally, you will need a sewer hose. And do not forget to have extra sewer hoses handy.

The purpose of having extra sewer hoses is in case your recreational vehicle is parked away from the designated dumping area of a campsite.

Sewer hose connector

This sewer hose connector must be transparent or clear.

This is an inexpensive but useful attachment because it allows you to see what comes out of your tank while you are doing the cleaning.


This refers to the sewer hose seal. This is used when hooking up in a campsite.

This is responsible for preventing leakage in your sewer hoses from spreading onto the ground.

Sewer hose seals are very useful when cleaning your recreational vehicle’s water tanks.

These are one of those inexpensive but helpful tools to have handy in your recreational vehicle.


A sewer hose adapter is needed and used if your recreational vehicle’s sewer hose does not fit into that of an available sewer opening.

A sewer hose adapter makes it possible for you to clean your water tank even if your sewer hose and the sewer opening of a designated dumping station is not compatible.

In conclusion, remember that it is imperative that your recreational vehicle’s water tanks are regularly emptied and cleaned properly and thoroughly.

This is assurance that your recreational vehicle will be clean and that you will have a comfortable and healthy experience while using it.

Cleaning and maintaining your RV water tanks is not only beneficial to you but to other people as well, especially your fellow RVers.

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