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Old 01-13-2014, 11:23 AM   #1
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Fresh water sanitation - bleach or vinegar

Everything I have read about sanitizing a fresh water tank and lines references using bleach. The wife is adamant about not using bleach and tells me vinegar will clean things out just fine.
Two questions: Will vinegar do a good enough job on a relatively clean tank and system? What ration of water/vinegar is best to use?

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Old 01-13-2014, 11:53 AM   #2
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Personally I avoid using vinegar, I absolutely hate the smell, but that is off topic. I use plan bleach myself, it is also what the manufacture recommends. It is really simple to use. The key is to flush the system very well afterwards to get the taste out of the system. If you add extra bleach you need to flush longer.

I did a little web searching on sanitizing with vinegar. I did not ready anything in particular to sanitizing a water distribution system. Most of what I read states to use white distilled vinegar and to use it full strength for germ removal. The closest thing I found was for cleaning the mineral deposits in a coffee maker and it says to run the vinegar through the system a few times then run plain water through the coffee maker twice.

If your DW insists on using white distilled vinegar, buy one gallon and install it in the water lines the same way you winterize the pipes. I would let it sit over night. I would also add a gallon?? depending on your freshwater tank size and fill it tap water and also let if sit over night. The big question I would have, will the vinegar affect the water heater? Most of them are made of aluminum and some have an anode rod. Just a couple more things to think about, as I am not sure how the vinegar would affect those systems.

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Old 01-13-2014, 11:57 AM   #3
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The issue with vinegar is that it will not kill all the germs that may be in the system so I always use bleach. For bleach there are different ratio's on the web, but I have always used about 1 cup for my 60 gal. fresh tank. I fill up the tank with the bleach/water mixture and then top off the tank with regular water. I then run through the system until I smell the bleach. Let sit at least overnight, drain and flush multiple times. I have never had the bleach smell or atst after I flush the system a couple of times.
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Old 01-13-2014, 12:08 PM   #4
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Actually, I use concentrated lemon juice in mine. Kills most everything and does not taste bad either! If you go this route, it needs to be a bit stronger than the bleach ration. I use 2 cups for 40 Gal. Flush once, then refill and go.

Just my .02

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Old 01-13-2014, 03:02 PM   #5
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Coming from a pharmaceutical background I can tell you that a bleach solution of the right concentration will kill pretty much all microorganisms that may be present in your typical RV system. Vinegar will not. That's why the pharma industry doesn't use vinegar
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Old 01-13-2014, 07:30 PM   #6
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I would not use vinegar or lime juice, they will not kill all the bacteria. I found some bleach tablets last year and dropped one in fresh water tank filled it with water let it sit and then pumped it through the system. Worked great.
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Old 01-14-2014, 06:41 AM   #7
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We use it on all of our potable water systems in Afghanistan as per technical orders from DoD Medical

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Old 01-14-2014, 07:46 AM   #8
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Bleach the system.. then after you have flushed the bleach out vinegar it to make the wife happy... When the wife is happy everyone in the camper is happy.
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Old 01-14-2014, 09:22 AM   #9
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Bleach in the system, let it sit for several hours or overnight and then flush well. This has worked well for me for more than 30 years.

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Old 01-14-2014, 10:20 AM   #10
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I'd like to see where this discussion goes. I need to sanitize mine pretty soon.

My question is whether it is necessary to fill the fresh water tank completely with the bleach/water solution. And the reason I ask is that my fresh water tanks total 84 gallons. With the initial fill with bleach solution, then two subsequent flushes, that's 252 gallons of water just dumped, and that's assuming two flushes is adequate... That's A LOT of water to just be flushing out a system...



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