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Is It Dangerous to Drink from Your RV Fresh Water Tank?

Is It Dangerous to Drink from Your RV Fresh Water Tank?

Most RVs have built-in freshwater tanks with kitchen faucets, bathroom sinks, and showers. You might be wondering: Is it safe to drink from your RV fresh water tank? 

The answer is yes, but there are a few things to keep in mind to keep your RV water fresh, safe, and clean for drinking. Let’s take a deeper look at keeping your fresh water tank clean, sanitized, and full of safe drinking and cooking water. Let’s dive in. 

Is It Safe to Drink from Your RV Fresh Water Tank? 

Yes, it’s safe to drink water from your RV fresh water tank as long as you regularly maintain and sanitize the tank and water system. 

Your RV fresh water tank holds fresh water for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and more. You can fill your tank using potable water spigots at home, campgrounds, or other places with clean drinking water. 

➡New to RV water systems? Find out how your RV is plumbed before reading further.

RV Faucets and Filters That Will Effortlessly Save & Purify Water - RV Touch Faucet

Is It Safe to Cook with Water from Your Fresh Water Tank? 

It’s safe to cook with RV fresh water tank water, too! Just make sure, again, your tank and fresh water system are clean and sanitized. 

It’s also best to ensure the water is fresh. It’s usually not wise to drink or cook with water that’s been sitting in your tank for several months. If in doubt, bring your water to a boil for at least one minute before cooking with it to kill bacteria and any other pathogens.

Woman cooking a meal in her RV
Only cook with and drink water that is fresh and filtered.

Should You Use Water Filters for Your RV? 

You should always use water filters on your RV, no matter how often you sanitize your tank. Water filters help prevent sediment from entering your RV water system and accumulating in your water tank. They also make your water taste better and filter out any unwanted additives from different water sources! 

There are two main water filter types for your RV: exterior and interior. Let’s take a closer look at both types. 

Close up product image of a water filter
You can purchase either exterior or interior water filtration devices.

Exterior Water Filtration

Exterior water filters strain the water before it enters your RV. Some use a multi-step filtration process. If you want multi-step exterior inline water filtration, check out this RV water filter system from the RV Water Filter Store.

A more common option is an inline filter that installs directly between your potable water hose and the spigot. They’re economical and easy to use, like this water filter by Camco, which is one of the most popular water filters on the market. 

Camco TastePURE RV Inline Water Filter | Reduces...
  • Safe Water Matters: GAC (Granular Activated Carbon) filtration...
  • Multiple Uses: Can be attached to any standard gardening or water...
  • 20-Micron Sediment Filter: Removes particles greater than 20...

Interior Water Filtration

There are many interior RV water filtration options, depending on how extensive you want your system to be. 

Interior water filters install under your RV sink for clean drinking water. Many times, the interior water filters provide clean drinking water to a separate faucet for drinking only. All other water sources in your RV will be unfiltered water unless you’re also using an exterior inline filter. 

Interior RV water filters clarify water for drinking using a multi-step process that may include carbon filtration, UV light, or other methods. They use finer filters to remove even more particulates in the water.

We recommend using an inline filter or screen, even if you use an interior water filter. Some campground water systems contain minerals and sediment that can clog your plumbing, water filter, or accumulate in your tank. An inline filter or screen will catch sediment before it can do any damage. 

Pro Tip: Unsure if an exterior or interior water filter is right for you? Read more to find out How to Choose the Best RV Water Filter System.

Little girl washing dishes in RV sink.
Continuously clean and sanitize your RV tank to ensure your water is safe to drink.

How Long Can Water Sit in Your RV Fresh Water Tank?

As long as your RV tank is regularly cleaned and sanitized, the consensus about how long potable water stays fresh is around two weeks. 

If fresh water in your RV tank has been sitting unused for longer than two weeks, you should empty and refill it with clean water. Water that sits in an RV fresh water tank for long periods can go bad. It might taste stale or develop a plastic taste, and it can also attract bacteria. 

How to Keep Water Fresh in RV Tank

The best way to keep water fresh in an RV tank is to use it and replace it regularly. In addition to always using and adding new water, maintain a regular cleaning and sanitizing schedule for your RV water system. 

Sometimes water from specific campgrounds will taste or smell funny. If that happens, drain your fresh water system and replace it with new water as soon as you get the opportunity!

How Often Should You Clean and Sanitize Your Fresh Water Tank?

As a general rule, you should clean and sanitize your fresh water tank every six months with full-time use. 

If using your RV part-time, you should sanitize your water system when you pull it out of storage, or about every 3 months. Also, part-timers should drain the fresh water system after each use to help prevent bacteria growth in your tank and water lines. 

How To Sanitize an RV Water System

Learn how to clean and sanitize your fresh water tank here: 7 Easy Steps to Sanitize Your RV Water Tank

Can You Fill Your Fresh Water Tank with Any Water? 

Only fill your RV water tank with potable water. “Potable” means water that is safe for drinking, and generally, spigots at campsites are potable water unless otherwise marked. But you can’t trust that every spigot has potable water–it’s always wise to check first. 

Also, we don’t recommend you fill your RV fresh water tank with the spigot at an RV dump station. Many times, this water is non-potable because it doesn’t come from a source of drinking-safe water. It’s likely non-potable because that spigot is explicitly used for cleaning up sewage and wastewater, and you don’t want to hook up your drinking water hose to it. 

Pro Tip: Water filtration, heating, disposal oh my! Your RV water system can be confusing, so we uncovered How Does an RV Water System Work?

Simple Trick for Filling your Freshwater tank when Boondocking - Tips from Tom

Keeping Your RV Fresh Water System Safe for Drinking

Water is life! Most RVs are self-contained, meaning they contain everything you need to camp for a few days, including drinking water. 

Using a built-in or inline water filtration system helps filter out sediment and minerals while making your fresh water taste better. 

Regular refilling, cleaning, and sanitizing ensures you have fresh and safe drinking and cooking water no matter where your RV takes you!

What is your go-to water filter? 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 and an Arizona travel guide.

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Art & Jackie

Saturday 19th of March 2022

Aqua pure filters for us. AP 110 filter in a AP11T filtration unit. Same one we use at home. Stops scale, rust and "stuff". Not inexpensive, but things that are worth it tend to be like that.

Mortons on the Move

Friday 1st of April 2022

Thanks for the recommendation!


Saturday 18th of September 2021

Thanks for the good instructions and advice. Sanitization of the fresh water tank is referenced several times. A discussion would be helpful. The link to a YouTube video looks interesting.


Friday 17th of September 2021

Thanks for the good instructions and advice. Sanitization of the fresh water tank is referenced several times, but there are no instructions for how to sanitize the tank. A discussion or a link to instructions would be helpful.

Mortons on the Move

Friday 1st of October 2021

Thanks for bringing this up. We are working on another article all about tank sanitization specifically. It will be coming out soon, so stay tuned! :)