two water tanks installed under campervan

How to Clean your Caravan’s Water Tank in 6 Easy Steps

Do you ever wonder how to clean the water tank in your caravan? Keeping the water clean is super important, especially when you’re traveling and using your caravan a lot. In this blog, we’re going to show you a really easy way to clean your caravan’s water tank.

We’ve been living in our camper van for more than two years now, and we always clean our water tank every three months. It’s a good habit that keeps our water fresh and safe. We’ve got some cool tips to share with you. So, if you use your caravan for fun weekends or live in it like us, come along and we’ll teach you six simple steps to make your water tank super clean!”

Why Should You Clean Your Caravan’s Water System?

Caravan tanks and pipes are an important part of your caravan. They help bring fresh water into your home on wheels and take dirty water away. If they are not properly maintained, they can become a breeding ground for bacteria and other harmful organisms.

It is important to clean your caravan’s water system regularly. You do not want to get sick from drinking contaminated water, and you also do not want to damage your caravan’s pipes.

How Often Should You Clean Your Caravan’s Water System?

It’s a great idea to clean your water system before using it for the first time if it has been in storage. This will ensure no build-up of residue or bacteria, which could potentially make someone sick!

I would recommend doing this every time you put your caravan into storage, or at least once or twice a year when in use. This will help to keep your system in good working order and stop any problems from developing.

I would also recommend giving your system a clean if you notice any changes in the water quality, such as a strange taste or odour. This could be a sign that there are bacteria present, and it’s best to nip the problem in the bum before it gets too bad.

Keeping your water system clean is essential for your health and the longevity of your caravan.

How To Clean Your Caravan’s Water Tanks

Water Hose in a mess

Cleaning your caravan’s fresh water tanks regularly is important to ensure that they remain in good condition and continue to work correctly. There are a few different cleaning solutions that you can use, depending on what you have available.

You will need:

  • A food grade hose
  • Cleaning solution
  • Freshwater to refill the tank

1. Empty the caravan water tank

The first step is to empty your RV water tanks. This can be done by using a hose to siphon the water out or opening the drain valve and emptying the water onto the ground.

2. Clean the inside of the tank with a hose

Once the tank is empty, it’s time to start cleaning it. You can do this by using a hose to spray down inside of the tank. This will help to remove any dirt or debris that has built up over time.

If you’re having difficulty reaching all of the nooks and crannies and you have the option, you can use a brush to scrub the inside of the tank. This will help to loosen any stubborn dirt or grime.

3. Add a cleaning product to the tank and fill it with fresh water

Once the tank has been flashed with fresh water, it’s time to add the caravan water tank cleaner. You have a few options; regular household bleach is what we recommended, by adding 125ml per 1,000 litres of water is what we found works best.

Bleach is a powerful and effective way to kill harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi or other microbes that may be present in your water tank.

Government authorities commonly endorse the use of bleach for sanitising water tanks. The Health Department of Victoria advises adding 12.5 millilitres of liquid bleach containing 4% available chlorine to every 100 litres of tank capacity for effective disinfection. Recognised for its affordability and efficiency, bleach effectively eliminates various bacteria, including salmonella, staphylococcus, streptococcus, and E. coli.

Available in supermarkets and hardware stores, it’s important to select a bleach product that contains a minimum of 4% available chlorine and is free from any additives like fragrances or detergents.

Another great option would be baking soda and white vinegar.

Bleach coming out of a bottle

4. Let the cleaning product work for a few hours

After adding the cleaning solution to the tank, it’s important to let it work for a few hours. This will give it time to kill any bacteria or other harmful organisms that may be present in the water.

If you’re using bleach, you should let the solution sit for at least 2 hrs. If you’re using baking soda and white vinegar, you should let it sit for 4 hours. Leaving it for 24 hours would be ideal.

A great idea could be to fill your caravan water tanks with fresh water and your bleach solution on your way home from a trip. It will allow the cleaning solution to work and slush about while driving.

5. Drain the tank and refill it with fresh water

Once the cleaning solution has had time to work, it’s time to drain the tank and refill it with fresh water. This will help remove any residual bleach or other cleaning products that may be present in the water.

It’s important to make sure that you rinse the tank out well before refilling it with fresh water. You don’t want any of the cleaning solutions to remain in the water as it could potentially make someone sick.

Once the tank has been rinsed out and refilled with fresh water, you can close the drain valve and turn the water back on. Your caravan’s water system is now clean and ready to use!


Using an inline water filter when filling your fresh water tank is a great way to help keep them clean and free of debris.

caravan Freshwater sink

6. Test the water quality

Once you’ve finished cleaning your caravan’s water system, it’s a good idea to test the water quality. This can be done by using a water testing kit or sending a water sample off to a lab for analysis.

You should test the water for things like bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other contaminants. If any of these are present in the water, it’s important to take steps to remove them before using the water for drinking or cooking.

Cleaning your caravan’s water tank is important for maintaining the system and keeping it functioning correctly. By following these simple steps, you can easily keep your caravan’s water clean and safe to use.

Addressing Common Concerns and Myths About Cleaning Caravan Water Tanks

Myth 1: “Any Household Cleaner Will Do” Many believe that any household cleaner is suitable for cleaning caravan water tanks. However, this is a misconception. It’s crucial to use a cleaner that is safe for consumption and effective against bacteria. Bleach, specifically recommended by health authorities, is preferred due to its effectiveness in eliminating harmful bacteria without leaving harmful residues.

Myth 2: “A Quick Rinse is Enough” Some caravan owners think a quick rinse with water is sufficient. However, this does not effectively remove bacteria and biofilm that can accumulate over time. A thorough cleaning process, involving specific concentrations of approved cleaners and proper flushing, is necessary to ensure the tank is safe for use.

Myth 3: “Natural Cleaners are Always Safer” While natural cleaners like vinegar and baking soda are popular, they may not always be the most effective option for sanitizing water tanks. These substances can clean to some extent but may not eliminate all harmful bacteria. It’s essential to use cleaning agents that are both safe and proven to be effective in sterilization.

Myth 4: “Frequent Use Means Less Cleaning” Regular use of the caravan does not negate the need for periodic cleaning of the water tank. Even with frequent use, bacteria and sediment can build up, necessitating regular cleaning to maintain water quality.

Concern: “Will Bleach Leave a Residue or Taste?” A common concern is whether bleach, used in the cleaning process, will leave a residue or taste in the water. When used in the correct proportions and thoroughly flushed out, bleach leaves no harmful residue or lingering taste. It’s important to follow the recommended dilution and flushing guidelines to ensure the tank is both clean and safe for use.

Final Thoughts

Caravans come with a water tank that needs to be cleaned regularly. This can help prevent problems such as bad smells, mould and bacteria growth which could make you sick if not dealt with properly! The steps mentioned above should take care of any dirt or residue left behind, so your motorhome stays in perfect condition no matter how often it’s used.

Just like your home, the caravan needs to be taken care of in order for it to function correctly.

People in front of Bridge

Wade & Dani

Hi! We’re Wade and Dani, We’re currently travelling around Australia in our 2017 Mercedes Sprinter Camper van and sharing our best experiences, stories, reviews and adventures as we go along. Make sure you follow long on our Instagram