Saturday, April 1, 2023


Can I use bleach to clean my RV? Here are some tips…

By Kate Doherty
Your RV has been in storage or dormant for a few months. You caught a stale mildew smell upon entering. You’re surprised and follow your nose noting odor in and around the kitchen and bath area. That forgotten dish towel or sink sponge, soiled clothes or moist towels left behind, and the shower or toilet area. Not uncommon, especially if your RV has been in a humid climate, regardless of temperature. Musty, mildewy odor can develop quickly. What comes to mind? A deep clean with chlorine bleach.  

Chlorine bleach products run the gambit from industrial strength used for pool and outdoor furniture, to off-the-shelf low-strength floral and citrus fragrant. Most everyone recognizes that sanitary smell of bleach and even more so now in the pandemic. It’s readily available as the popular go-to remedy for deep cleaning and disinfecting against germs, bacteria, mold, mildew, etc. And, of course, for keeping your “tidy whities” super white.

It’s easy to overdo the use of bleach to clean, and that’s not something you want to do in your RV. Here are the dos and don’ts of using bleach to clean your RV…

  • DO! Always dilute bleach with water. Dilute low strength bleach at least 3 to 4 parts water to 1 part bleach. Dilute industrial strength with a percentage of 11 or higher, at least 10 parts water to 1 part bleach. 
  • DON’T! Do not mix with ammonia. That creates chloramine, a toxic gas that most certainly will irritate eyes, nose, throat and lungs. It can cause breathing problems and seriously aggravate anyone with upper respiratory issues.
  • DO! Be cognizant of inhaling the off-gassing spray in confined areas when using bleach to clean your RV (behind the toilet, in the shower, etc.). Make sure doors and windows are open!
  • DON’T mix with hydrogen peroxide or any acidic substance for cleaning tile grout. These chemicals go together like oil and water… they don’t!
  • DO! Wear eye protection and rubber gloves to protect your eyes and skin. Remember tie-dye fashion was only popular in the ’70s, so wear old clothes. 
  • DON’T use on metal surfaces – there are other cleaners for that! And, don’t pour the excess down your sink or in the toilet!

If you are unsure about the hazards of a cleaning solution or its ingredients, request the product’s material safety data sheet. And always remember to wash your hands after using bleach. 

Bleach cleaning products on Amazon
Alternatives to using bleach: These two inexpensive cleaning agents work great!



0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe to comments
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 years ago

I wish there was a product that could be placed in the RV in the fall that would prevent or control mold and mildew without damaging carpet, cloth, metal, etc. I run an electric dehumidifier and it is amazing how much water it removes. (located in Pacific Northwest)

Gene Bjerke
2 years ago

If mildew is your main problem, you can make an effective mildew killer by mixing 1Tbs vinegar and 1Tbs household ammonia in a gallon of water. Works like a charm.

2 years ago

Bleach has absolutely no cleaning power. It contains no surfactants or detergents However it is an excellent disinfectant, mold killer etc

2 years ago

Also don’t mix bleach with cleanser (like Comet). Mixture creates chlorine gas.

2 years ago

Misinformation re: “tie-dye fashion was only popular in the ’70s”

Amazon shows: 20,000 results for “tie dye”

2 years ago

I disagree with your last tip about not pouring used bleach solution down the sink to dispose of it. Diluted bleach has been promoted for years as a cleansing solution for fresh water tanks & will do the same for grey tanks. I can understand not pouring it down the toilet, as that would kill the beneficial bacteria that you want to maintain in the black tank to break up the solids.

Ron T.
2 years ago
Reply to  Fred

Bleach used in our home laundry does go into our septic system but evidently not enough to disrupt the bacteria there. In the RV though, it’s a holding tank system not a septic system and I don’t plan on anything staying in the tanks long enough for bacterial activity to even be a factor.

2 years ago
Reply to  Ron T.

If you use a biological treatment pack to break down waste in your black tank, then Fred is correct, bleach will disrupt that.

Terry l rule
2 years ago
Reply to  Ron T.

i guess you could pour it in grey tank then drain tank immediately and rinse grey tank and it would be all gone

Sign up for the

RVtravel Newsletter

Sign up and receive 3 FREE RV Checklists: Set-Up, Take-Down and Packing List.