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How Often Do You Need to Sanitize an RV Water Tank?

Your water tank is one of the most important parts of your vehicle. Whether you are staying on the road or going off the beaten track, the safety of your water really matters. Being able to shower, cook, and clean with clean water is important in general.

Keeping your RV’s water tank clean and sanitized is pretty important. Foul smelling water is a nasty surprise. Water that causes indigestion or other problems without you being able to detect it is not pleasant either.

You should sanitize your RV water tank at least every six months. The frequently really depends on how much you use your RV and water conditions. Read below to learn more about frequency and reasons.

When to sanitize your RV water tank

A couple of the most important factors in sanitizing the tank are nasty buildups. Mold, mildew, and bacteria are not your friends. The thought of having water issues resulting in bowel problems sounds unpleasant while on a trip.

There are a couple of rules when it comes to when to sanitize your RV water tank. First, do it at least every six months regardless of your use. Second, if you haven’t used your RV in a couple months, sanitize it anyway just to be sure. 

One of the issues related to poor quality water is stale. Especially if you leave the water at a lower level, you are at risk. The surfaces of the tank can receive condensation evaporation and start forming mold and other nasty elements.


One of the most obvious signs you should clean out your water tank ASAP is smell. Does the water coming out smell like mildew? You could also open the safety cap on the RV water tank and sniff from there. 


Water flowing in and out of your RV water tank is not your biggest problem. The biggest problem is letting water sit and become stale in your tank. If you feel like you should replace the water in your tank and sanitize, go ahead and do it.

Is your RV fresh water tank potable water?

One important question here: Do you plan to use your RV water tank for drinking water?

If so, it’s important to sanitize the tank more often than every 3 months. This is especially true if you plan to be away for a while and not near RV parks.

RV parks often have a source of fresh water, directly from the local water supply. This generally means that you could choose between using your fresh water tank or not. 

If you want to be able to use your water to fill up a glass of tap water, definitely clean it every 3 months or more. This ensures you have healthy, clean drinking water going into your body.

So to reiterate:

  • Sanitize your fresh water tank at least every six months if you use the water frequently and basically live on your RV at least half the year
  • Sanitize at least every three months if you plan to go off road and won’t be around fresh water that often.
  • At least every three months if you plan to use your fresh water tank as drinkable water. This assumes you aren’t at an RV park with fresh water connections.
  • If you plan on going on an RV trip after leaving the fresh water tank with water inside for more than a few weeks.


Sanitizing your clean water tank is essential to having safe drinking and cooking water. Read the above guidelines for a clear indicator about when to sanitize your water. If in doubt, take the time to clean the inside of the tank.

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