When you have your RV parked up in one spot for long periods of time, clean water is likely not a concern. You probably trust the water source, can vouch for the hose you’re using, and know your tanks are clean. But, what happens when you’re traveling full-time and may or may not have put some questionable water in your tanks? What happens when you’re in Mexico?
Today, I woke up to a nasty review on Boondocker’s Welcome from a man who believed I had wasted his water by filling my tank for an overnight stay. Not that it was his business as a host, but I filled my tanks to clean them after potentially using questionable water the day before. I then used that water to do laundry, wash my hair, etc. Now, that I’m on my way to Mexico, water cleanliness is once again on my mind.
I can’t tell you how to avoid nosy men who think they know everything and fail to ask questions. But, I can advise you on how to keep your tanks clean to reduce the risk of skin conditions and gastrointestinal upset. Please note that I am not a sanitation expert. I’m just sharing what has worked for me over the past year.
1. Start With the Right Hose
Gen Xers and older generations often laugh about the fact that they drank water directly from the garden hose and haven’t died from lead poisoning. However, if you’ve ever used a regular garden hose to fill your RV tanks, you might have noticed a difference in water quality — lead or no. It smells like hose and tastes like hose. No one wants hose-flavored coffee or hose-flavored tomato soup, so always use an appropriate hose rated for potable water.
TIP: Please do not use this hose to flush your waste tanks or sewer hoses. I see this all the time at dump stations and it’s absolutely disgusting. It’s also a good practice to screw both ends of your freshwater hose into each other to prevent anything from getting inside. I once saw a nest of earwigs come out of a hose that someone had left open and unattended. That’s the hose another Boondocker’s Welcome host used to put water into my tanks and why I needed to clean it ….
2. Install an In-Line Water Filter
The company in the video above gave me their essential water filter system to test for free. My marketing obligations to them have long been fulfilled, so I’m mentioning them purely by choice. I still have the essential system* and recently bought the virus hero add-on. With the virus hero added, the system filters down to .2 microns. This eliminates:
- Poor taste
- Chemicals (such as bleach)
- Cysts (such as giardia)
TIP: I notice that a lot of RVers put their water filtration systems on the end of the hose that goes into the RV or inside, under the sink. The best place to put a filtration system is directly at the water source, so it keeps your hose and tanks clean.
3. Bleach Your Freshwater Tank
When water sits inside any tank untreated for a period of time, bacteria and other unsavory additions begin to flourish. If you use water from questionable sources, the gastro-cocktail begins to worsen in your tank. When you do finally fill the tank and use it, this, in turn, contaminates the rest of your water line in the RV. One way to cleanse your tank and your water line is to fill the tank and bleach it.
TIP: The CDC has provided a helpful infographic. It gives detailed instructions on how to use bleach to purify water in any situation. To summarize, the bleach-to-water ratio is a quarter teaspoon for every 1 gallon of water. It should then sit for at least 30 minutes. I let mine sit overnight to even several days, whenever possible. When your tank is almost empty, pull the plug on the outside to flush it. You’d be surprised at some of the gunk that comes outta there!
4. Use an Indoor Water Filter
If you’re worried about the smell and taste of bleach in your water, this is where indoor water filters come in handy. The good news is they are easy to install. I have used two, so far, and highly recommend them. Up until this summer, I had the Pur water filter installed on my faucet. It’s as easy as screwing it on and it provides multiple fixtures — one of them has to work! The second is my Berkey water filter. I initially bought this for camping but ended up keeping it permanently installed on the counter.
TIP: Remember to change the filters regularly. Read the instructions to determine when you’ll need to switch the filters out and always ensure you have one clean filter waiting. If you have high water consumption or you live in an area with hard water, your filters might clog quickly and may need more frequent changing.
5. Add RV Cleaners to Waste Tanks (NO BLEACH!)
When it comes to sanitation, people don’t spend as much time focused on their black and grey tanks. After all, they hold waste. How can you keep them clean? While you shouldn’t attempt the unrealistic goal of keeping them sanitized and you do need the bacteria inside, your RV tanks work more efficiently when they have a little extra help. There are additives you can purchase for this specific purpose. Also, adding plenty of water to your black tank during use will keep it functioning optimally. Failing to keep them clean can cause them to clog, which can create a nasty mess inside your RV.
TIP: Do not add bleach to your waste tanks. It will kill the natural bacteria inside that helps to break down waste. As far as I can tell, adding bleach to your freshwater tank in the correct amounts is not enough to disturb the natural ecosystem in your waste tanks. If you notice your black tank is smelly, consider washing it out with the appropriate device, adding more water between uses, and using the appropriate RV chemicals.
If you know how to get rid of nosy and disrespectful men who make questionable assumptions about young ladies traveling alone, do let me know. In the meantime, all suggestions for keeping a clean water tank on the road — especially in Mexico! — are greatly appreciated.
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