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The question of whether drinking water from the taps in a motorhome or RV is safe has been around for a long time, and I will try to clarify it for you.
Drinking water from your water tank is safe if you regularly clean and sanitize your water tank, hoses, and filters. Then, fill your tank with fresh drinking water that you use or refill within two weeks. Without these precautions, drinking water from a motorhome water tank is not safe.
Some people install an extra water filter right before the water tap to be sure they can drink the water safely; others store drinking water in bottles or canisters inside their motorhome or use a drinking bottle with a built-in filter.
Most motorhomes have some water filters installed by the manufacturer, which are generally close to the water pump or integrated with the water pump. Filters can differ from model to model, but those do also need some love for your water system to stay fresh. Follow your water hoses from the water tank and around to your taps to figure out where and what filters you have and look up the lifespan of each filter; they could need replacing every six months. Most filters you can clean yourself to prolong their lifespan a bit as well.
If you just bought a brand new motorhome, you can start by drinking the water directly from the taps; it is a bit more tricky if you have an old motorhome that you are unsure how well maintained and cleaned the water system has been. But with a thorough clean and sanitation of your water system, you can even start drinking the water safely from the taps in an old motorhome.
In both situations, a new motorhome or an old deep, cleaned motorhome water system, you still need to maintain your water tanks the same way to keep the water safe to drink! Just because you have a brand new motorhome doesn’t mean you can skip your fresh water system maintenance, at least if you want it to stay safe to drink and use.
How to Keep my Fresh Water System Clean and Safe?
To keep your water system safe, you should clean and sanitize your fresh water tank, hoses, and filters at least twice per year, only refill the tank with potable water, and use the water in the tanks within two weeks if you are not going to use your motorhome or RV within two weeks you need to empty the water tank.
If you start with a clean water system and follow these recommendations, you can drink the water from the taps inside the motorhome or RV. However, be careful if the water smells or tastes bad, maybe you didn’t get potable water to refill your tank with, or it has been hot, and you kept the water inside the tank a bit too long, then you will need to clean the system again.
Always use a designated hose that is food grade to refill your fresh water tank!
Every time you empty your water tank, take a look inside the tank to see if it looks clean or if it is starting to grow algae inside the tank. If it looks good and you want to drink the water directly from the tank, you are good; it can serve as a good reminder that that’s the water you are drinking from the taps. Regularly checking inside the water tank is an excellent way to ensure the water is still good and safe to drink.
“Use your sight, smell and taste to continuously check your water.”-Motorhome King
How To Clean a Motorhome (RV) Water Tank?
I rarely recommend buying specialized products for motorhome upkeep and maintenance, but when it comes to cleaning the fresh water tank, I do. Go to your local motorhome or camping shop or look online for any fresh water tank cleaner and follow the instructions.
To clean a motorhome (RV) fresh water tank, buy a specialized product made for this purpose and follow the instructions. You usually need to fill up the water tank and add the product, turn on the taps to get the product in the whole system, wait for 12-24 hours and rinse the tank.
“I spend about 15 USD per year for specialized products to keep my water and water tank clean i think it is just worth it.”-Motorhome king
There are ways to clean your water tank with bleach or vinegar, but the amount of vinegar you need is ridiculous and will cost about the same as the specialized products. Also, when it comes to cleaning the water tank with bleach, I’m just not a big fan of bleach in my drinking water, and I also understand it isn’t suitable for your water heater, so I have never tried it; hence I can’t recommend it, but I know a lot of people are using it.
However you choose to clean your water tank, I recommend first scrubbing the inside of the tank with a new dish brush or sponge, rinsing it, and draining it through the bottom plug to remove any algae or dirt that may have gathered before you start the proper cleaning with the products.
If you are unsure or want to learn more about the different ways of emptying the fresh water tank the best way I have made another article about that subject that I encourage you to read as well as this video below!
Other Options For Clean Water
If you still dont feel safe drinking the water directly from the tap in your motorhome, you can do as many others and keep designated water cans in your motorhome or RV. This solution increases your water capacity, which can be very much needed when you don’t have any hookups. For example, I am increasing my water capacity by 20% by keeping two 10 Liter (2.2 gallons) water jugs in my motorhome, which is great since I am wild camping/boondocking and going to new locations all the time.
Another standard solution is using one of those water jars with a filter inside to filter the water from your taps before drinking it. If you are hiking typically, maybe you already have some water filtration system that you can use, such as a life straw or something similar.
Many also install a proper filtration system underneath the sink with a separate tap for filtered water. Unfortunately, this solution is more expensive and requires work, so most people don’t get around to doing it.
Either way, if you dont drink the water from the tap, you still need to keep your water system clean if you intend to use it. For example, you will still get sick if you brush your teeth with disgusting bacteria-infested water. So just because you are not drinking the water, you are not off the hook for cleaning it.