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Can RV Antifreeze Kill You?

Can RV Antifreeze Kill You?

One of the saddest days of the year for any RVer is the day they have to winterize their RV. This day marks the end of camping season and the long wait for warmer temperatures for the next season to begin. Many people use RV antifreeze to prepare their RV for its winter nap. But can RV antifreeze cause harm or even kill you? Let’s take a look.

What Is RV Antifreeze?

RV antifreeze is a liquid you can use to protect your RV plumbing system from pipes bursting during the winter months. You can find RV antifreeze at most big-box retailers and RV supply stores.

While some RV antifreeze can cost a lot, it’s much cheaper than the massive repair bills you can expect from a busted, frozen RV pipe and any damage that might occur as a result.

➡ Pro Tip: Check out our 7 Tips to Keep Your RV Pipes From Freezing

The Best RV Winter Setup: How to RV in Winter and the Gear That Will Keep You Cozy Warm!

How Is RV Antifreeze Used? 

Many RVers need to winterize their RVs at the end of every camping season. One of the necessary steps to properly winterize your RV is to use antifreeze. Many RVs come with a system to help use the water pump to siphon RV antifreeze into your plumbing system.

However, if your RV is not set up for this, don’t worry! You can buy a winterizing kit to help you to get the job done. You can also use an air compressor to winterize your RV.

While you siphon the antifreeze, you’ll want to turn on every faucet in your RV. Make sure you get showers, toilets, and any outside water connections as well. Be sure to consult your RV’s documentation if you have any doubts about winterizing your rig correctly.

Pro Tip: Frozen pipes are inconvenient and expensive to repair. Antifreeze can prevent major damage. Here is How to Use RV Antifreeze When Winterizing Your Rig.

Mechanic pouring antifreeze into vehicle.
When pouring antifreeze into your RV, turn on all faucets inside your RV.

Can RV Antifreeze Kill You? 

No, RV antifreeze will not kill you. It’s a valid concern, especially if you drink the water out of your RV’s plumbing system. Even though you won’t die, you should still do your best to make sure to flush your system at the start of each season thoroughly. 

You’ll want to make sure to run plenty of freshwater through your water system to avoid any foul-tasting water.  While you may notice a slight difference in taste, it will not kill you if you don’t get all of the RV antifreeze out.

Hand graphic holding non-toxic sign
Antifreeze is non-toxic to humans but could leave a foul taste in your water .

Is RV Antifreeze Toxic? 

No, RV antifreeze is not a toxic substance to humans. You may want to hurry to kick off the camping season and end up not doing the best job de-winterizing your RV. You may have trace amounts of RV antifreeze left in your plumbing system, and you might notice your water tastes differently. 

This shouldn’t be cause for alarm and just means you need to flush out your system a bit more. Make sure you open every faucet, shower and flush all toilets thoroughly. This will help you avoid a surprise taste of your water at the start of your camping season.

Can You Dump RV Antifreeze on the Ground?

No, you should never dump RV antifreeze on the ground. While it’s not harmful to humans, it can be damaging to vegetation and animals. You don’t want to be responsible for destroying plants or being the cause for a pet or wild animal becoming ill.

Your RV antifreeze can go down the drain, but be sure to contact a local agency for properly disposing of any leftover RV antifreeze.

RV driving in snow.
As the snow melts and you de-winterize your RV, make sure to flush out your plumbing system to remove antifreeze.

How to De-Winterize Your RV Properly

The warming weather means camping season is just around the corner. You’ll want to make sure you build de-winterizing your RV into your schedule. Make sure you save plenty of time to do a thorough job and give your RV the TLC it deserves.

After you’ve checked your tires, inspected the interior, and reinstalled your batteries, you’ll be able to flush out your plumbing system. First, turn on the water pump and allow water to run through each faucet, toilet, and shower head for several minutes. You’ll notice the pink color begins to fade away as water passes through the system.

You can let the water run for a minute or two after the pink color goes away. Once you’ve completed flushing your system, you should dump your gray and black tanks at an approved dumpsite.

Pro Tip: Warmer weather is exciting, but make sure you take the time to de-winterize your RV properly. Read more to find out How to De-Winterize Your RV: Get Ready for Spring Camping Season!

Dewinterize your RV - How To RV: Camping World

What Happens If You Don’t Get All the Antifreeze Out of Your RV Plumbing?

If you do not get all of the antifreeze out of your RV plumbing, you may notice a slight pinkish hue in your water and a difference in taste. While we don’t suggest drinking any amount of RV antifreeze, it will not harm you.

Pets and plants are more affected by ingesting antifreeze and poisoning can occur. So, you should avoid watering your pets or animals with water from your RV until the antifreeze clears out of your plumbing system.

Little boy drinking out of the faucet.
Your water might taste different if you don’t remove all of the antifreeze from your RV when dewinterizing.

Can You Winterize Without Using RV Antifreeze? 

Yes, you can winterize your RV without antifreeze by using an air compressor. You can easily find a blow plug that will allow you to connect your air compressor to your RV’s plumbing system. 

Be sure to use a pressure regulator to avoid damaging your plumbing system. As you pump air into the plumbing system, open each water faucet, shower head, and flush each toilet until all the water in the line clears out.

➡ Learn the full process here: How To Winterize Your RV With An Air Compressor

Winterize Your RV Without AntiFreeze

Take Your Time

While winterizing your RV at the end of the season can be sad, it’s even more painful to discover broken pipes or leaking fittings from not winterizing correctly. Be sure to take your time and do a thorough job to avoid potential damage to your RV as it sits in storage during the winter.

Do you winterize your RV yourself or pay someone to do it? Drop a comment below.

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Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of The RVers, producers of “Go North” on Amazon Prime, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for Hwy.co and an Arizona travel guide.

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LY

Thursday 2nd of September 2021

RV antifreeze is pink, not blue. Your pictures that accompany your article are of windshield wiper antifreeze, which is not non-toxic and should never be used in your RV freshwater system. This could be dangerously misleading to new RVers.

Not So Free

Thursday 2nd of September 2021

That's probably what happens when you pull a "stock" photo from somewhere.

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