Freshwater holding tanks need cleaning too. Here’s the easy method for doing this important maintenance item.

One of the main complaints we hear about an RVer’s holding tanks is that the gray ones stink a lot. Sure, we expect the black tanks to have an odor, but what’s happening in the gray one that is making everyone’s nose turn up?

Well, we talked about “durty” gray tanks in another article, but one thing that keeps showing up during our cleanings is mold. Where’s that coming from?

As we discussed, your holding tanks are an environment — especially in the summer — ripe for the growth of molds and other smell-producing bacteria. But it’s also a dirty fresh water holding tank that is contributing to the problem.

If you use your fresh water holding tank at all, you need to sanitize it. How often? At least twice a year, no matter how often you use your RV. We like to do one right after we’ve de-winterized the RV and another mid-way through our RVing year.

If you are a full-timer or use your RV and it’s fresh water holding tank pretty frequently, then plan on sanitizing that tank three to four times a year, as a minimum.

The process is pretty simple. It basically involves getting household bleach into your fresh water tank, pumping it into the water system, letting it sit for a while, then pumping it all out.

To sanitize the water system in your RV, use a quarter cup of household bleach for every fifteen gallons of water your fresh water tank holds. Some instructions will say to mix the bleach in a bucket or other container with fresh, potable water and then pour that into your fresh water holding tank. We think that makes a big mess that results in bleach on our clothes, hands, the side of the RV, and the ground. There’s a better way.

Using your potable water hose (NOT a garden hose! — we’re talking the special, white one here), pour the appropriate amount of bleach (1/4 cup for every 15 gallons of capacity in your fresh water holding tank) into the empty hose, connect the hose to your RV’s fresh water tank inlet, and then fill the fresh water holding tank with potable water (which will also now have bleach in it).

Once full, run every tap, shower, and even toilet flush briefly in your RV until you smell bleach. This ensures that the pipes and other fixtures have bleach in them; your entire fresh water system needs to be sanitized.

The guideline is to let your RV and fresh water tank (now nearly full of bleach-y water) for a minimum of four (4) hours. We like to leave it overnight.

Once that time period has passed, pump out the water from your RV’s fresh water tank through the system (each tap, shower head, toilet, etc.), into the holding tanks and then empty them.

Refill your RV’s fresh water tank with clean, potable water. No bleach this time. Let it sit for an hour. Then pump it all through the system again and empty those holding tanks one last time.

Your RV’s water system is now sanitized. Now, wasn’t that easy?!