Can you drink from a motorhome water tank?


can you drink from a motorhome water tank

Having spent years travelling and living in a motorhome, I’ve encountered a variety of questions from fellow nomads and curious friends. However, one question appears quite frequently: “Can you drink from a motorhome water tank?”

I’ve always viewed my motorhome as a mini home on wheels. It has everything you need to live comfortably – a bed, a kitchen, and yes, a water tank. In fact, water is an essential part of any motorhome adventure, not just for cleanliness and cooking but for hydration too.

So, can you drink from a motorhome water tank? Speaking from personal experience, the answer is a resounding ‘Yes’. But before you rush off to quench your thirst directly from your motorhome’s tank, there are a few critical caveats and precautions that you should keep in mind.

Not every water tank is created equal, and the quality of the water can depend on several factors, which we will delve into as we move along this journey. So grab your reusable water bottle and read on, as we dive deep into the world of motorhome water tanks!

Understanding the Different Types of Water Tanks in a Motorhome

To answer this, it’s critical to understand the different types of water tanks found in a motorhome.

Fresh Water Tank

The freshwater tank is designed to store clean water, typically used for cooking, cleaning, and potentially drinking. We have a 100L water tank onboard, and depending on you personally and the way you travel, we find that having a large tank is vital for us, as we drink, shower, clean and wash up with this water.

Grey Water Tank

This tank holds water used for washing either dishes or bodies. We have an 80L tank onboard for our dirty grey water. This tank holds everything that goes down the drain. We are able to empty our grey waste tank electronically from our motorhome control panel which ensures we can dispose of it properly and not dump it onto the ground.

Black Water Tank

Lastly, the black water tank is responsible for holding waste water from the toilet.

water tank

Factors Affecting the Safety of Drinking Water in Motorhomes

Source of Water

The safety of the water dramatically depends on the source. If you’re filling your tank with potable water from a reliable source, it’s likely safe to drink. 99% off all water in the UK and Europe is safe to drink and if it isn’t, there should be a sign displayed stating that it is not drinking water.

Water Tank Material

Some water tanks are made from materials that can leach harmful substances into the water over time, affecting its safety for drinking, so if you have an older campervan or motorhome, it may be worth looking into the material of the fresh water tank and maybe even look into getting it replaced.

Tank Maintenance

Poorly maintained tanks can lead to bacterial growth or sediment build-up, making the water unsafe for consumption. As we live full time in our motorhome and our fresh water tank is our only source of water, we ensure our tank is cleaned every 6 months. We made a video that you can watch below explaining how we do this.

Bacterial Contamination

Even clean water can become contaminated with bacteria if not stored correctly, especially in warm temperatures. Ensuring water is not left in the tank is vital, especially when its hot and bacteria can grow very very quickly!

If you have water in your tank, and you know you’re not going to be using it for a while, you are better off completely emptying your tank and then refilling it when you need to use it.

Importance of Water Treatment in Motorhomes

Given these factors, it’s clear that water treatment is crucial when using a motorhome’s fresh water tank for drinking.

Common Water Treatment Methods

There are several other methods than the one we have shown above in our YouTube video for treating water in a motorhome to ensure it’s safe for drinking. These range from filtration systems to boiling.

How to Treat Your Motorhome Water for Drinking

Filtration Systems

Filtration systems can be installed to remove harmful bacteria and other contaminants from your water. There are many different types available, from simple pitcher filters to more complex under-the-sink systems.

Our motorhome is fairly new, so we have a filtration system on our water tank. These should be changed each year and it is really important to keep on top of this, as this can remove a lot of harmful bacteria in the fresh water tank making it safe for drinking.


Boiling water is a sure-fire way to kill most bacteria and parasites. This is an effective method if you have the means to boil water in your motorhome.

This is a process to be careful with, as boiling water could harm your water tank, pipe and connections, so before doing this make sure to check that this is suitable for the system that you have.

Maintaining Motorhome Water Tanks for Safe Drinking Water

Ensuring your motorhome’s fresh water tank is safe for drinking also requires regular maintenance.

Regular Cleaning

Clean your tank regularly to prevent bacterial growth and remove any sediment or build-up.

If you’d like to know how to keep your fresh water tank clean and sanitised, you can check out our blog post which will tell you everything you need to know here – 5 Ways To Keep Your Motorhome Water Tank Clean

Routine Inspection

Regularly inspect your tank and its connections for any signs of damage or contamination.

Appropriate Storage

Store your motorhome in a way that prevents the water tank from being exposed to direct sunlight, as this can encourage bacterial growth.

Quick Draining

Ensure your tank can be drained completely and quickly to prevent stagnation and bacterial growth.

Best Practices for Storing Water in Motorhomes

Preventing Contamination

Always use a clean hose to fill your tank and avoid cross-contamination from non-potable water sources.

Appropriate Temperature

Store your water tank in a place where the temperature remains relatively stable. Extreme temperature fluctuations can affect water quality.

Airtight Storage

Ensure your tank is airtight to prevent the introduction of airborne bacteria or pollutants.


So, can you drink from a motorhome water tank? Yes, you can, but it’s essential to take the necessary steps to ensure the water is safe. Treat and regularly maintain your water tank, and be mindful of the water sources you use. By adhering to these practices, you can ensure that the water from your motorhome’s fresh water tank is safe for consumption.


Can I drink directly from my motorhome’s fresh water tank?

While it’s possible, it’s recommended to treat and filter the water first to ensure it’s safe to drink.

How often should I clean my motorhome’s fresh water tank?

Cleaning frequency can depend on usage, but as a general rule, it’s good to clean it every few months or anytime you notice a change in taste or odour.

What type of water treatment is best for motorhomes?

This can vary based on your needs and setup. Some may find filtration systems sufficient, while others might prefer UV light purifiers. It’s best to use a method you’re comfortable with and which fits your motorhome.

Is boiled water from my motorhome safe for my pets?

Boiling should kill most bacteria and parasites, making it safe for pets. However, it’s always best to consult with a vet if you have concerns.

What are the risks of drinking untreated water from my motorhome tank?

Drinking untreated water can lead to gastrointestinal illness or other waterborne diseases. It’s always safest to treat the water before consumption.

Keep up with our full-time van life travels over on our YouTube channel! If you enjoy our videos, please give us a thumbs up and subscribe to our channel 🙂 – Three As A Bird – Vanlife Travel – YouTube

You can take a look at some of our other van life posts which include lots and lots of hints and tips on all things van life here – Van Life – Travel Information, Hints, Tips and Advice

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