Why Clean the RV Water Heater?
Hot water is one of the best parts about camping in an RV. You can get those dirty dishes cleaned, and even shower after a long day of exploring the outdoors.
Most RVs get hot water from a small water tank that’s heated using propane or electricity. Sometimes they can even heat water using both.
Related Product: Keep bugs out of your RV water heater with a Camco Water Heater Vent Screen (click to view on Amazon)
Like any water heater, sediment will start to collect in the bottom of the tank and limescale will slowly build up inside over the camping season.
It will happen even more if you live full time in your RV.
To remove sediment and limescale from inside your RV water heater tank, it’s recommended to give it a good rinse at the end of the camping season every year, or twice a year if you use your RV full time.
There are a few ways to clean an RV water heater tank, but the most effective way is to spray out the inside really well.
In this article, I’m going to review the best tool you can use for cleaning inside an RV water heater the right way.
Best RV Water Tank Rinser Review & Info
While there are a few RV water heater cleaning tools out there, this one by Vanpet has the most features and is made with quality materials.
The sprayer is at the end of a tube that’s about 11 inches long. Both the tube and the sprayer nozzle are made of durable stainless steel.
The handle, which is also around 11 inches long is made with rubber and heavy duty plastic.
It’s much more durable than some of the other RV water heater cleaning tools out there that are made completely out of plastic.
The nozzle is adjustable and has a few spray settings.
You can loosen it for a wide light spray for watering plants or tighten it for a strong narrow spray that’s perfect for cleaning inside RV water heater tanks.
If you remove the nozzle the tool sprays straight up and down (180°).
This setting is perfect for cleaning the top and bottom of the tank without having to turn the tool in uncomfortable positions.
The rubber handle is long and easy to grip and it has a spray button that can be locked into place.
The spray button is one of the best features of this RV water heater cleaning tool.
Other options have a valve you have to turn to open or close and they require two hands to use.
With the button option you can press it with the same hand you are holding the tool with, and you can easily lock it into place so your hand doesn’t get tired.
The sprayer has a standard 3/4 inch garden hose fitting on the end.
There is also a 1/2 inch quick connect adapter included if you use that type of garden hose connector.
Normal RV water heater sprayers are only good for one thing, cleaning water heater tanks.
But the Vanpet has a lot of other uses because of the adjustable nozzle.
You can use it to wash the outside of your RV, water plants in the garden, and clean other hard to reach areas inside or outside the RV.
I don’t recommend using this to clean the RV sewer outlet or toilet unless you only use it for that purpose.
You don’t want to contaminate your RV water heater since it’s technically part of the potable water system in your RV.
The Vanpet RV Water Heater Cleaning Tool is an incredibly useful RV gadget.
It will get to all of the hard to reach corners of the water heater tank and it can be used for cleaning other RV parts or in the garden.
The quality materials used and many features make this one of the best tools for cleaning the inside of the water heater tank in your RV.
Use Vinegar On Extra Dirty RV Water Heaters
If you’re flushing out the inside of your RV water heater for the first time you may need a little extra help to get things loosened up inside.
Vinegar is a common natural product use to remove calcium deposits and limescale in household products and plumbing. It’s safe to use in freshwater systems and easy on the pipes and connectors.
Many RVers will use vinegar to clean their entire freshwater system, but for cleaning the inside of the RV water heater, you don’t need to add vinegar to the entire system.
I recommend draining and flushing out the RV water heater first. Then use a small sprayer like this (click to view on Amazon) to thoroughly coat the inside of the tank with vinegar.
You can spray the inside multiple times every 5 minutes or so to make sure the vinegar has time to work on the top and sides of the tank.
Most of the vinegar will end up in the bottom but that’s where the most calcium build up usually is anyways.
Give the vinegar at least 30 minutes to do its work. Then spray out the water heater again using the strong stream setting on the spray tool.
If the RV water heater has a lot of build up inside you may need to repeat this process a few times.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cleaning RV Water Heaters
Can I use CLR cleaner to help clean inside the RV water heater tank?
For deep cleaning, CLR cleaner seems like a great choice for removing difficult calcium and limescale deposits.
But you should not use CLR inside your RV water heater.
Not only is CLR toxic, but it’s also very hard to rinse out.
There’s no guarantee it won’t get into the hot water pipes and you don’t want to be showering in the harsh chemicals that are in CLR.
Use non-toxic vinegar and an RV water heater cleaning tool instead of CLR if you want to deep clean the tank.
Can I use bleach to clean inside the RV water heater?
Many RVers will use bleach to sanitize the fresh water system in their RV. We even recommend it in this article here.
In our article, we recommend bypassing the RV water heater but don’t have to do that if you want to disinfect the RV water heater as well.
Just make sure you fully drain and spray out the tank afterward to make sure every bit of bleach is rinsed out.
If you don’t have a way to spray out the water heater tank or you are unable to drain it, don’t put bleach inside it.
Draining and spraying it out is the only way to make sure you get all of the bleach out.
How do I get rid of the rotten egg smell coming from the RV water heater?
One great thing about flushing out and descaling the RV water heater is it often deodorizes it as well.
If you are starting to notice an odor from the hot water in your RV, cleaning it with a sprayer tool and vinegar is a good idea.
If the rotten egg smell is coming from the water source, and you have a Suburban RV water heater that uses an anode rod. You can try using an Aluminum Zinc anode to neutralize the smell.
What kind of vinegar should I use to clean inside my RV water heater tank?
The most common types of vinegar used for cleaning are distilled white vinegar and apple cider vinegar.
Both will work equally well for removing limescale and calcium deposits inside an RV water heater tank.
I recommend using white vinegar since it’s the more budget friendly option and you are going to need to use quite a bit to fully soak the insides of the water heater.
Have any more questions about the RV water heater cleaning tools? Leave a comment below.