caravan water tanks expert maintenance tips

Clean, sufficient and potable water is life especially if you’re in the great outdoors and on a camping trip! Caravan water tanks offer the best solution for water storage and transport and allow you to conserve and utilise water wisely. This ensures you’ll have ample supply for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene purposes. Read on and get to know more about caravan water tank types, proper maintenance and care as well as sanitation techniques.

Common Types of Caravan Water Tanks 

These are the common types of caravan water tanks:

Freshwater Tanks

Freshwater tanks store and transport clean, potable water for drinking, cooking, and washing. They are made of food-grade plastic, such as polyethylene or polypropylene, which is safe, durable, and easy to clean. 

Freshwater tank capacity according to caravan size:

  • Small Caravan: 20 to 30 litres
  • Medium Caravan: 50 to 80 litres
  • Large Caravan: Over 100 litres, sometimes up to 300-400 litres

Greywater Tanks

Greywater tanks collect and store wastewater from the kitchen sink, bathroom sink, shower, and washing machine. They are made of the same materials as freshwater tanks but may have different fittings and vents to prevent odour and contamination.  

Greywater tank capacity according to caravan size:

  • Small Caravan: 20 to 30 litres
  • Medium Caravan: 50 to 80 litres
  • Large Caravan: Usually around 60-80% of the freshwater tank capacity, ranging from 60 to 320 litres

Blackwater Tanks

These tanks are designed to hold human waste from toilets. They are larger and more intricate than freshwater and greywater tanks, necessitating specific chemicals and treatments to break down waste and manage odours. The waste from these tanks should be disposed of properly at designated dump stations to prevent environmental hazards.

Blackwater tank capacity according to caravan size:

  • Small Caravan: 10 to 20 litres
  • Medium Caravan: 20 to 40 litres
  • Large Caravan: Smaller than the freshwater tank, ranging from 20 to 50 litres

How To Care and Maintain Caravan Water Tanks Properly

Here are some tips on how to care for and maintain caravan water tanks properly:

  1. Clean the water tanks regularly: It prevents the buildup of dirt, bacteria, and other contaminants. Be sure to drain the caravan water tanks completely, flush with clean water and add a water tank cleaner solution to eliminate stains and odours.
  2. Use a water filter: It removes impurities such as sediments, rust, and chlorine and prolongs the life of your water tanks.
  3. Use a water treatment system: This system combines various filtration technologies like sediment filters, activated carbon filters, and reverse osmosis membranes to provide comprehensive purification. It helps remove contaminants such as chlorine, heavy metals, sediment, chemicals, bacteria and viruses to ensure clean and safe water throughout your trips.
  4. Use food-grade water hoses: These hoses ensure that the water supply is not contaminated. Avoid using non-food-grade hoses which contain harmful chemicals that can leach into the water.
  5. Freshwater usage is essential: See to it that you are using freshwater to maintain the cleanliness of your tanks and to sustain water quality. Municipal water supplies or designated potable water stations are tested and treated to meet safety standards.  Using freshwater means you will always have a clean and safe supply for cooking, drinking and other uses during your trips. 
  6. Always monitor the water quality:  This is essential to ensure that the water remains safe and suitable for use. Make sure to perform regular water tests to assess the water quality in your caravan tanks. Test kits that are designed for RV or caravan use measure parameters such as pH levels, chlorine levels, and the presence of bacteria or other contaminants. 
  7. Regularly check for leaks and address issues promptly: This ensures that there’s no water wastage and prevents water damage to your caravan. Be on the lookout for plumbing issues in your water system. Aside from leaks, damaged pipes and faulty connections can introduce contaminants into the water tanks. Regular inspection is important to maintain the water quality of your tanks. 
  8. Drain the water tanks when not in use: This prevents the growth of bacteria and mould.
  9. Park the caravan in a cool and dry place: This prevents the tanks from being contaminated and avoids the growth of bacteria and mould. 

Steps on How to Clean Caravan Water Tanks Properly 

Step 1.  Empty the tank before cleaning it - This ensures a thorough and effective process.

Step 2.  Prepare the cleaning solution - Use products that are safe for potable water systems and approved for caravan water tank usage.

Step 3.  Clean the interior - Scrub the interior thoroughly to remove dirt, sediment or residue.

Step 4.  Rinse the tank - Use a water hose to ensure that all debris and cleaning solutions are washed away.

Step 5.  Disinfect the tank - This will kill any remaining bacteria or germs.  Be sure to follow the makers’ instructions.

Step 6.  Refill the tank- Fill the tank with freshwater, connect the hose to a safe water source and monitor the water level of the tank. 

Always perform regular maintenance to avoid the buildup of contaminants and for a steady clean water supply. 

Importance Of Cleaning Your Caravan Water Tanks Regularly 

Here are several reasons why regular cleaning of caravan water tanks is beneficial:

  • For health and safety 

Regular cleaning significantly reduces the risk of waterborne illnesses caused by harmful bacteria like E.coli or Legionella. 

  • For water quality 

Regular cleaning removes impurities, ensuring that water remains clean, fresh, and safe for consumption and daily use.

  • To prolong the tank’s lifespan 

Caravan water tanks, often made of plastic, can be susceptible to damage or corrosion. Sediment buildup can lead to deterioration and leaks.  Cleaning the tanks regularly prevents the accumulation of damaging substances, prolonging the tank's life.

  • It is cost-effective.

Regular cleaning and maintenance ensure the longevity of your water system, reduces the need for additional treatments or repairs, and provides you with safe and clean water throughout your travels.

  • For a better caravan experience

Maintaining clean water tanks in your caravan is not just a matter of practicality; it directly contributes to a better overall experience. Clean water tanks enhance every aspect of your caravan adventure.

Recommended Cleaning Products for Caravan Water Tanks

Here are some recommended cleaning products that are suitable for caravan water tanks:

White vinegar

It is a natural and mild cleaning agent that can be used to remove scale or mineral deposits in caravan water tanks. To use, mix a solution of equal parts vinegar and water, and use it to scrub the interior of the tank. Vinegar is particularly effective in removing calcium or lime buildup. Rinse the tanks thoroughly after using it to remove any vinegar smell or taste.


Bleach is used for disinfecting caravan water tanks but make sure it is the unscented variety and doesn't contain any additional additives. Follow the recommended concentration and contact time provided on the bleach bottle to effectively kill bacteria and disinfect the tanks. Rinse the tanks thoroughly after the disinfection process to remove any residual bleach.

Baking soda

Baking soda is an eco-friendly and natural cleaning agent that is effective in removing odours, stains, and residue. It is non-toxic and safe for use in potable water systems. Be sure to rinse the tank thoroughly to remove all traces of baking soda before using the water. 

Commercial tank cleaners

These cleaners are specifically designed for cleaning caravan water tanks, effectively removing contaminants and maintaining cleanliness. Always read and follow the manufacturer's instructions when using commercial tank cleaners.

Oxygen-based cleaners

These cleaners are another effective option for cleaning caravan water tanks. They use the power of oxygen to break down stains, residue, and organic matter, leaving your tank clean and fresh. Oxygen-based cleaners are generally safe to use and environmentally friendly. Be sure to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer and use the recommended dosage to ensure proper cleaning.

Techniques For Sanitising Caravan Water Tanks

Here are some effective techniques to sanitise your caravan water tanks:


  • Widely used for disinfecting caravan water tanks, chlorination eliminates harmful bacteria, viruses, and microorganisms, ensuring the water remains safe for use.

Ultraviolet (UV) light 

  • Utilises a specific wavelength, typically 254 nanometers, to disrupt the DNA of microorganisms in water. This neutralises harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasites, rendering them inactive and unable to reproduce.

Ozone treatment

  • Ozone, a powerful oxidising agent, is generated by an ozone generator, converting oxygen molecules into ozone. Introduced into water tanks, ozone eliminates bacteria, viruses, and contaminants.

Hydrogen peroxide

  • A versatile and common method for cleaning caravan water tanks. It is important to follow the manufacturer's instructions and recommended safety precautions when using hydrogen peroxide.


Camping trips are meant to be a fun and learning experience. However, it could turn into a horrific event if there’s a water shortage. Be sure to invest in good-quality caravan water tanks for sufficient, clean and safe water and keep in mind the useful tips and other vital information mentioned above for a totally worry-free and enjoyable caravan adventure.