Disinfecting Fresh Water Tank

CyclonicCyclonic Member Posts: 1,232
This discussion was created from comments split from: Air bubble in water line.........

States the [email protected] has camped, so far ;)
Nathan & Becky... 2013 Ford F150 FX4 TAB HLR... 2012 LG [email protected] [email protected]
Sterling, VA

Comments

  • ScottGScottG Administrator Posts: 4,802
    And what's that about apple cider???
  • T@Balong[email protected] Member Posts: 301
    That was supposed to read apple cider vinegar, sorry about that!   I just tried your remedy and it has to be the easiest remedy for any minor problem I've encountered so far.  Thanks!
    2015 [email protected] 320 S, 2019 Jeep Cherokee
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  • ScottGScottG Administrator Posts: 4,802
    Glad it worked...but what's that about apple cider vinegar??? Does it help to wash out/neutralize the bleach solution?
  • T@Balong[email protected] Member Posts: 301
    Yes, I'm not sure where I read it, but I added one quart of apple cider vinegar to the 11 gallon fresh water tank, let it set a couple of hours, then ran the kitchen water faucets for several minutes before draining the remainder of the tank out the bottom.
    2015 [email protected] 320 S, 2019 Jeep Cherokee
    States Visited Map
  • ScottGScottG Administrator Posts: 4,802
    Sounds reasonable. I might have thought to go with Bourbon, but cider vinegar is admittedly much cheaper!
  • RatkityRatkity Member Posts: 3,769
    I have to admit, it was very hard to get a 1% diluted bleach solution completely out of the system, despite it being in there temporarily (an hour at the most). Took many flushings. 10% bleach is what is used in the medical/lab communities to kill off microbes. Alcohol can work too (95% grain), but you don't want to ruin any rubber grommets especially if using wood alcohol (methanol) or rubbing alcohol (propanol) because these types alcohol and will dry out any rubber or flexible plastic over time.

    Instead of apple cider vinegar (reminds me of coloring Easter eggs), one could always use distilled white vinegar.
    2017 820R Retro Toy Hauler from 2015 Tabitha [email protected] from 2009 Reverse LG Teardrop (but a [email protected] at heart)
  • ScottGScottG Administrator Posts: 4,802
    edited May 2016
    On a related note, how much bleach are you all using to disinfect? The manual says "tank capacity x 0.13"  for a four-hour soak (twice that for a one-hour soak) but that equates to around a gallon of bleach for an 11-gallon tank (or a ~10% solution). Ugh.

    I dialed it back a little and used the "disinfecting" instructions on the bleach bottle itself--that translated into about five cups going into the tank, which I left for 3-4 hours. The bleach odor was still noticeable at this concentration. Ratkity, you mentioned using a 1% solution; is that sufficient?

    ST-Bob, thanks for the tip about keeping the bleach out of the Alde tank. I got some bleach in there last year, and that took a long time to completely flush out. This year I employed the bypass system to keep the tank empty.

  • RatkityRatkity Member Posts: 3,769
    As a microbiologist, no, 1% isn't enough to kill microbes that make you sick or potential algae issues in plastic lines. I was just trying to see how long it would take to get rid of a light bleach solution from the system.

    It's probably unnecessary to disinfect the fresh water tank with a 10% bleach solution every season (please do bypass the Alde!). That said, I don't brush my teeth, drink or consume water from the tap. I use bottled water (or hand filtering backpack pump). A full disinfecting cycle with 10% bleach may be necessary if you notice an odor from the fresh water tank output and you use a filter on your water hose when you fill it up. YMMV. If you feel the need to do a full 10% disinfect on a regular basis, just remember to bypass Alde and rinse the snot out of the lines. For the folks that have hair and are not already blonde, we'd rather not spontaneously change hair color after a shower.

    There are other disinfecting solutions that are not as harsh as bleach out there. I'm sure they are more expensive, but made for RVs, boats and other places where bleach isn't recommended. Follow instructions, make sure whatever you find is compatible with the equipment you have and then have peace of mind so you can focus on camping and having fun!
    2017 820R Retro Toy Hauler from 2015 Tabitha [email protected] from 2009 Reverse LG Teardrop (but a [email protected] at heart)
  • VernaVerna Member Posts: 6,893
    I'm allergic to bleach. I guess I'll have to buy some heavy long rubber gloves and wear my face shield.  Sure I could be careful, but the more you try to be careful, the more you're apt to goof. 
    Verna, Columbus, IN
    2021 [email protected] 320S  Boondock “The [email protected]
    Towed by a white 2019 Ford F-150 4x4 Supercab, 3.5L V6 Ecoboost “The Truck”
  • RatkityRatkity Member Posts: 3,769
    Verna, there's other alternatives to bleach. Please don't make yourself sick or even inhale fumes to cause a reaction. You are important!!
    2017 820R Retro Toy Hauler from 2015 Tabitha [email protected] from 2009 Reverse LG Teardrop (but a [email protected] at heart)
  • VernaVerna Member Posts: 6,893
    Ratkity said:
    I have to admit, it was very hard to get a 1% diluted bleach solution completely out of the system, despite it being in there temporarily (an hour at the most). Took many flushings. 10% bleach is what is used in the medical/lab communities to kill off microbes. Alcohol can work too (95% grain), but you don't want to ruin any rubber grommets especially if using wood alcohol (methanol) or rubbing alcohol (propanol) because these types alcohol and will dry out any rubber or flexible plastic over time.

    Instead of apple cider vinegar (reminds me of coloring Easter eggs), one could always use distilled white vinegar.
    So, how much distilled white vinegar for an 11 gallon tank, please? I can handle that. 

    (You have no idea how much I miss swimming!)
    Verna, Columbus, IN
    2021 [email protected] 320S  Boondock “The [email protected]
    Towed by a white 2019 Ford F-150 4x4 Supercab, 3.5L V6 Ecoboost “The Truck”
  • AustinRoamersAustinRoamers Member Posts: 45
    We live in a moderate clime and don't winterize so wondering how often the freshwater tank should be sanitized? 
    Kat & Sam      Austin, TX        2018 [email protected] 400           "Oh, the Places You'll Go!"
  • VernaVerna Member Posts: 6,893
    I do it once a year or more if there's a funky odor. 
    Verna, Columbus, IN
    2021 [email protected] 320S  Boondock “The [email protected]
    Towed by a white 2019 Ford F-150 4x4 Supercab, 3.5L V6 Ecoboost “The Truck”
  • MouseketabMouseketab Member Posts: 1,121
    Vodka is great for cleaning out the tank after winterization :) Then what is leftover is great for dewinterizing me :)
    Carol
    [email protected]
    #2741
    2007 Dutchmen [email protected] Clamshell, 2021 F-150 502A Lariat SuperCrew, 3.5 EcoBoost 4x2
    Harvest, AL
  • NomadNomad Member Posts: 7,211
    How big a tank you got? Whatever it is, that's a lot of martinis.
  • MouseketabMouseketab Member Posts: 1,121
    PXLated said:
    How big a tank you got? Whatever it is, that's a lot of martinis.
    I've just got a 5 gallon removable jug. about a cup of vodka and lots of fresh water
    Carol
    [email protected]
    #2741
    2007 Dutchmen [email protected] Clamshell, 2021 F-150 502A Lariat SuperCrew, 3.5 EcoBoost 4x2
    Harvest, AL
  • VernaVerna Member Posts: 6,893
    Verna said:
    Ratkity said:
    I have to admit, it was very hard to get a 1% diluted bleach solution completely out of the system, despite it being in there temporarily (an hour at the most). Took many flushings. 10% bleach is what is used in the medical/lab communities to kill off microbes. Alcohol can work too (95% grain), but you don't want to ruin any rubber grommets especially if using wood alcohol (methanol) or rubbing alcohol (propanol) because these types alcohol and will dry out any rubber or flexible plastic over time.

    Instead of apple cider vinegar (reminds me of coloring Easter eggs), one could always use distilled white vinegar.
    So, how much distilled white vinegar for an 11 gallon tank, please? I can handle that. 

    (You have no idea how much I miss swimming!)
    @Ratkity, I think you missed my question. Do you know how much distilled white vinegar to use in the 11 gallon fresh water tank, please?
    Verna, Columbus, IN
    2021 [email protected] 320S  Boondock “The [email protected]
    Towed by a white 2019 Ford F-150 4x4 Supercab, 3.5L V6 Ecoboost “The Truck”
  • RatkityRatkity Member Posts: 3,769
    edited May 2016
    Oh - sorry Verna. I did miss the question.  

    I never used distilled vinegar as a disinfectant in the lab. The only time I've used distilled vinegar and water is to clean windows (with newspaper). Lab disinfection is pretty specific - 95%  ethyl alcohol - not methanol or isopropanol - and let it evaporate (surfaces only - no rubber items) or 10% bleach. Most everything "plastic" is either disposable or autoclavable (sterilizer - think pressure cooker). We worked with pathogens and human fluids, so there was no compromises. 

    Hospitals use different sterilizing fluids due to bleach reactions - one never wants to use bleach in a pulmonary ward - and no alcohol due to fire hazards (no distilled alcohol, sparks and oxygen together). Except the alternative chemicals hospitals use are not for fresh water tanks. Some of the stuff they use can fix your corneas if used incorrectly.

    I found http://www.campingworld.com/shopping/item/thetford-fresh-water-tank-sanitizer/33229 on Camping World which appears to be a bleach alternative. The MSDS sheets are below (Material Safety Data Sheets). They should list all ingredients to make sure you aren't allergic to anything.

    Edited to add: Sorry the MSDS sheets were removed by the company.

    No matter what the RV sites say, I wouldn't over-sanitize our small tanks unless there's an odor. Mousie's idea for the removable 5 gal tank is perfect. Get toasted and sanitize all at the same time! :)

    2017 820R Retro Toy Hauler from 2015 Tabitha [email protected] from 2009 Reverse LG Teardrop (but a [email protected] at heart)
  • Sharon_is_SAMSharon_is_SAM Administrator Posts: 7,920
    Ratkity, what about using a hydrogen peroxide mixture?  I work in an operating room and the latest cleaning products are peroxide based.  They found out it disinfects everything!

    Sharon
    Sharon / 2017 [email protected] CSS / 2015 Toyota Sienna Minivan / Westlake, Ohio
  • PhotomomPhotomom Member Posts: 2,216
    @Ratkity do you know what the active ingredients in the Thetford products are? The MSDS links don't work and I can't read the labels in the pic. 
    John and Henrietta, Late 2016 [email protected] S Max in Western New York
  • RatkityRatkity Member Posts: 3,769
    @Photomom no, but I'll take a look.....

    [Later]  I couldn't find the MSDS sheets, but it appears they are quaternary ammonium compounds. These are used in the healthcare profession (http://www.cdc.gov/hicpac/Disinfection_Sterilization/9_0PceticAcidHydroPoxide.html#a2)

    From what I can see from the label it's some sort of diethyl benzyl ammonium chloride and diethyl ethylbenzyl ammonium chloride (it's a little blurry, don't quote me as the definitive source). There's an RV parts place up the road that may sell these products and I'll see if I can't get a picture of the label when I drop by next week.

    SAM, The hydrogen peroxide concentration is 3% that you buy in the drug store. Enough to bleach your hair, but not the 30% we used in the lab. HIghly concentrated peroxide is very reactive and can be dangerous to use. Oxiclean is peroxide-based too, so here are many derivatives of peroxide-based cleansers. I'm not sure what is safe for a fresh water tank. I don't know at which concentration to use in a freshwater tank or if it can be sold in greater than 3% in a retail setting. 

    Hope this helps! 
    2017 820R Retro Toy Hauler from 2015 Tabitha [email protected] from 2009 Reverse LG Teardrop (but a [email protected] at heart)
  • VernaVerna Member Posts: 6,893
    Yes, @Ratkity, it helps. With the "chloride" in those products, I'll stick with the distilled white vinegar and use about a cup for the first rinse. Maybe up to two cups for the second, depending on the after smell ;). But not yet. These storms are actually producing snow in Montana and the mountains of Colorado. I've no trips planned, so she can stay winterized for a couple of more weeks. 
    Verna, Columbus, IN
    2021 [email protected] 320S  Boondock “The [email protected]
    Towed by a white 2019 Ford F-150 4x4 Supercab, 3.5L V6 Ecoboost “The Truck”
  • ScottGScottG Administrator Posts: 4,802
    This has got me thinkin'...

    Homebrewers, vintners, and cheese makers routinely use an acid-based sanitizer called Star-San. A little goes a long way, it requires minimal contact time, and it's no rinse. It is not (nor does it claim to be) a sterilizer, but I wonder if it might be an easy-to-use, better-than-nothing alternative for those who have issues with the more powerful chemicals. Any thoughts? 
  • VernaVerna Member Posts: 6,893
    @ScottG, I would want to watch the amount of acid-based ingredients, which includes the vinegar. You have to be careful to keep all of those products out of the Alde, making sure the bypass valve is included in your model of [email protected] I'd have to look at past notes to see what others have done in the past with what years. (I need to get some other stuff done right now.)

    My problem with chlorine and bromine is with skin contact at this point, but I'm sure others are allergic to other things. 
    Verna, Columbus, IN
    2021 [email protected] 320S  Boondock “The [email protected]
    Towed by a white 2019 Ford F-150 4x4 Supercab, 3.5L V6 Ecoboost “The Truck”
  • RatkityRatkity Member Posts: 3,769
    Vineger is 3% acetic acid. Diluted, it's no more acidic than lemon juice, citrus or coke. If there's an odor in my tank and I'm allergic to bromides or chlorides, then by all means, I'd use vinegar to rid the odor. I'd recommend to first wash with soap and water plus rinse. You don't have to use soap that "foams" aka liquid dish soap. The foaming action is a marketing ploy to make people think it's working. Your laundry detergent washing clothes just fine without foaming. Using a small amount of LIQUID non-scented laundry soap (no pods) and dilute 10 gals, rinse the heck out of the fresh water tank, and then add your salad dress.. er, vinegar and then rinse again. Remember, babies suck on clothes, soft blankies, plush washable toys so laundry detergent safe to wash clothes for our little people (just not as an edible pod!!!). It's safe for the fresh water tank too. Want to get more mild? Get Woolite brand for delicates. Don't use laundry softener ;)

    No, white vinegar doesn't sanitize for all microbes, but it can get things out that grow in water with no other obvious "food" source (unlike a gray tank that can have toothpaste or micro-food particles from dish washing) and it's great for getting out odors in many things (such as pet accidents on fabric). Apple cider vinegar technically has a "food" source and a sugar in it from the apples. It's just fermented with acetic-acid yeast (as opposed to "hard" cider where it's fermented with ethanol-producing yeast). Use distilled or white vinegar as a rule of thumb.

    BTW, my sister's BF is allergic to vinegar, so he can't use the "salad dressing" method for cleansing. Use what is best for your tank and health.
    2017 820R Retro Toy Hauler from 2015 Tabitha [email protected] from 2009 Reverse LG Teardrop (but a [email protected] at heart)
  • PhotomomPhotomom Member Posts: 2,216
    All the instructions I've seen call for a quarter cup (2 oz) of bleach for 15 gallons of water, then soak for 12 hours. That would be 1.4 oz for a 11 gallon [email protected] tank. By my calculations that is a .01% bleach solution. Not much at all!
    John and Henrietta, Late 2016 [email protected] S Max in Western New York
  • VernaVerna Member Posts: 6,893
    Thank you, @Ratkity!
    Verna, Columbus, IN
    2021 [email protected] 320S  Boondock “The [email protected]
    Towed by a white 2019 Ford F-150 4x4 Supercab, 3.5L V6 Ecoboost “The Truck”
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