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Old 05-08-2009, 08:08 AM   #1
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Got bleach?

The wife wants to know if she can use bleach cleaners that will drain into the gray tank. She wondered if it would hurt the seals or inside of the gray tank in any way. I said "beats me"...

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Old 05-08-2009, 10:23 AM   #2
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I don't know about hurting the tank - but it sure can pay havoc on any clothes that your are wearing.

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Old 05-08-2009, 11:18 AM   #3
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Bleach in sufficient quantities can dry out the seals in the dump valves, and interfere with the tank treatment used in the tanks.
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Old 05-08-2009, 12:28 PM   #4
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Bleach,will also make the tank very brittle. Dave
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Old 05-08-2009, 05:53 PM   #5
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Thanks for thr replys we will use it sparingly.
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Old 05-08-2009, 06:56 PM   #6
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You also need to consider where you are dumping your grey tank -- some older/smaller RV parks use septic systems that rely on bacterial breakdown of the waste. Bleach is pretty deadly to the happy little bacteria in these systems.

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Old 05-08-2009, 06:57 PM   #7
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Another thing to remember - is that your gray tank is 20 to 45 gallons PERIOD. A small amount of bleach is a capful. That is usually plenty for most cleaning tasks in the small area such as your coach! Chlorine bleach fumes can also be pretty toxic in a small area, so turn on the fantastic fan or open the door or a window after you clean with it. The fumes can come back up the drain too - traps aren't perfect especially when you're on the move.

Last warning - READ LABELS and know what ingredients are in your household cleaners. Bleach and ammonia combined produce mustard gas - lethal.

Good old white vinegar is a great cleaner - especially on hard water stains and the smell does not persist.

Happy trails all.

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Old 05-09-2009, 07:50 AM   #8
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In case you ever wondered about what chemicals do when they get together, there are a few helpful websites:

BBC - h2g2 - The Dangers of Mixing Bleach and Ammonia - A795611 and ...I use the latter website, when I'm teaching my students about the lethality of biological and chemical warfare.

While the Germans did use Mustard Gas and Chlorine Gas (the result of mixing bleach and ammonia), the two gasses are unrelated.

Sorry, didn't mean for this to turn into an historical chemistry class, but this stuff is dangerous, and quite a few people get seriously hurt and/or die because they didn't read the labels on their household cleaners.
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Old 05-10-2009, 02:30 AM   #9
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Try using the 'new' bleach wipes that are on the market if you are set on using any cleach at all. It will do the disinfecting and not put bleach in your gray tank or the dump station.
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Old 05-10-2009, 09:09 AM   #10
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Yes, but ...

remember that Airstream specifically recommends use of bleach for fresh water tank sanitizing, as do others ... the following is thanks to CanoeStream, out of his Argosy owner's manual. Your Airstream owner's manual almost certainly says something similar:


Potable water systems require periodic maintenance to deliver a consistent flow of fresh water. Depending on use and the environnment the system is subject to, sanitizing is recommended prior to storing and before using the water system after a period of storage. Systems with new components, or ones that have been subjected to contamination, should also be disinfected as follows:

1. Use one of the following methods to determine the amount of common household bleach needed to sanitize the tank.
  • A. Multiple "gallons of tank capacity" by 0.13; the result is the ounces of bleach needed to sanitize the tank.
  • B. Multiply "liters of tank capacity" by 1.0; the result is the milliliters of bleach needed to sanitize the tank.
2. Mix into solution the proper amount of bleach within a container of water.

3. Pour the solution (water/bleach) into the tank and fill the tank with potable water.

4. Open all faucets (hot and cold) allowing the water to run until the distinct odor of chlorine is detected.

5. The standard solution must have four (4) hours of contact time to disinfect completely. If you double the solution, this concentration allows for contact time of one (1) hour.

6. When the contact time is completed, drain the tank. Refill with potable water and purge the plumbing of all sanitizing solution.

NOTE: The sanitizing procedure outlined above is in conformance with the approved procedures of RVIA ANSI AI19.2 and the U.S. Public Health Service."

Also, around where I live, SOP (as prescribed by the health department) for folks with wells and septic systems is to pour a gallon of bleach - undiluted - down a new well (or one with high bacterial counts) let it sit for several hours, then run the pump long enough to have bleach solution coming out of all possible home water outlets, let that sit for eight hours, then run pump long enough to flush all of the bleach solution into septic system. This is REQUIRED to get an occupancy permit.

So, I wouldn't get too concerned, unless you're using extra strong and undiluted stuff and in a confined space ... what goes into your tank(s) is going to be diluted enough to cause little harm to anybody's septic system.
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Old 05-10-2009, 10:26 AM   #11
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great guidt!

check your bottle. many types now on the market ARE concentrated formulas.
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Old 11-23-2012, 07:02 PM   #12
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Mouse urine and bleach error.

Just an update and cautionary tale. Bleach and water has been suggested for cleaning up an old airstream prior to heavy duty restoration. I discovered, the hard way as usual, that old airstreams that have been neglected often contain copius quantities of mouse urine. Mouse urine contains a lot of ammonia and the other active ingredient to produce a chlorine gas is bleach. Bleach water plus mouse urine in a poorly ventilated area produced a trip to the emergency room with a nearly unstoppable nose bleed. After my Thanksgiving trip to the emergency room, in discussion with my grown up daughter, she pointed out the ammonia component in mouse urine. And all I was trying to do was avoid exposure to hanta virus by cleaning up the Tradewind before any more tear down. This is the second experience I have had with this problem, the first was obviously dumb the second was this experience and I would call a lack of enlightenmet on the subject of mouse pee.
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Old 11-24-2012, 05:56 AM   #13
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Yikes! Good thing to know.

May be that the thing to do would be to scrub thoroughly with soap and water, first, then use a diluted bleach solution (with good ventilation) to remove stains/disinfect.

If there were copious amounts of mouse urine, disinfecting would seem to be important, IMO.

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Old 11-24-2012, 07:33 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by n2916s View Post
some older/smaller RV parks use septic systems that rely on bacterial breakdown of the waste.
Or in areas where central sewage treatment is just not available.

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