Sanitizing the RV’s fresh water system

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gary-736Dear Gary,
I saw an RV seminar on YouTube that suggested using hydrogen peroxide to sanitize the fresh water system since bleach can damage the rubber seals. Any comments? Thanks! —Ed C.

Dear Ed,
Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) certainly has the capability to disinfect and sanitize potable water supplies. I have a buddy in England who states it’s done there and in other European countries regularly. I don’t think I’d recommend it for RV use however.

When using common household bleach to sanitize the fresh water system in an RV we know exactly how much to use and how long to leave it in the system. No one can tell me how much H2O2 to use in regards to tank capacity. Nor can anyone determine how long the mixture must remain in the system to be effective. And to what degree?

The RVIA has adopted the standards as set forth by noted labs and I regularly promote the standards adopted or developed by RVIA during my teaching seminars. There are many “home brews” for many RV procedures found on the Internet, but the question remains, how effective are they?


Proponents of hydrogen peroxide often point to the advantage of it being tasteless when compared to bleach. That may simply equate to one more draining and flushing of the system when bleach is used, and I’d rather side with the known stats of using bleach versus the unknowns of hydrogen peroxide, at least for now.  

One of my seminar attendees, Scott P., sent me his comments regarding a third option for sanitizing the fresh water system. Here’s what he had to say:

“I work in the medical field as a respiratory therapist. We teach our patients to use distilled vinegar to clean their water system on their inhaled CPAP machines. This is considered a medium level disinfectant chemical and is not harmful to breathe or drink. An added plus is that it does not harm the rubber components of the CPAP system. Another added bonus is that it is not harmful if ingested, unlike bleach and hydrogen peroxide.” —Scott P.

Read more from Gary Bunzer at the RVdoctor.com. See Gary’s videos about RV repair and maintenance.

##RVT862

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Rick Adams
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Rick Adams

So I’d like to know more about using distilled vinegar, how much, how long, how much to flush afterward. Any info on that?

Tom C
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Tom C

I saw the article on sanitizing the potable water supply. Another suggestion with a question about why not…as a Home Beer Brewer we many times will use B-T-F an iodine solution. Yes it will stain but not ruin plastic…it is almost instantaneous, requires much less (wasting of fresh water) to rinse and rinsing is not even required, it is also a good choice to use a weak solution prior to an extended time when the system will not be used…
Your comments please…