How To Clean a Plastic Water Storage Tank | GoToTanks (2023)

November 21, 2019

Cleaning a water water tank doesn’t have to be a major project. The best way to ensure that a routine cleaning is only a routine cleaning—and not some sanitary emergency—is to keep an eye out for any sediment, algae, or other nasty microbial growths. White or translucent tanks are especially vulnerable to contamination because they receive more direct sunlight when placed outside. In such cases they become a spawning ground for bacteria and algae, which can cause bitter tastes and odors, and if left unchecked they may even cause sickness or health problems.

(Video) How to clean Water Tank at home | DIY water cleaner Clean water tank in 5 minutes

The good news is that you probably don’t need to hire anyone to perform an inspection or basic cleaning. Most people can clean their water tanks themselves. You just want to make sure you can access the tank and reach every part of the interior for scrubbing and rinsing. When finished, it should look brand new!

In this article we will cover how often you need to clean your water storage tank, as well as what equipment you’ll need to clean it, and what steps are involved in making sure your tank is sanitary enough to drink from.

When Do I Need to Clean a Water Storage Tank?

How often you need to clean your plastic water tank depends on how much algae, silt, or slime has accumulated inside of it. In most cases it will be about once a year, but some tanks may require more frequent cleaning.

(Video) How To Clean & Restore Coolant Tank - PERMANENTLY

You can determine whether or not a tank needs cleaning by routinely inspecting the interior, keeping an eye out for any sediment or microbial growth that would indicate contamination. This is especially important if the tank is exposed to direct sunlight, which can hasten microbial growth. In those cases it’s best to clean the tank two or even three times a year.

Fortunately, cleaning a water tank is not super complicated and most people can do it themselves. In addition to routine inspections, you should clean your water tank whenever the following has occurred:

  • A new water supply line has been installed
  • An existing water supply line has been repaired
  • Water from the tank system has tested positive for coliform bacteria
  • The system has not been used or drained for several months

What Do I Need to Clean a Water Storage Tank?

Most of the cleaning supplies needed to clean a plastic water storage tank can be found around your house. Deeper, more thorough cleans may require less common tools, and if you can’t reach every corner of the tank by hand you’ll likely need some kind of extender or mop. Cleaning a water storage tank will require the following:

(Video) Make Your RV FRESHWATER TANK CLEAN And SAFE With This EASY HACK! You Might Think The Water is...

  • Floor mop with a sponge head and adjustable or angled rod
  • Bucket
  • Unscented liquid bleach (non-fiber guard)
  • At least two gallons of water
  • Disposable gloves
  • Eye protection
  • Optional: Sump pump, shop vac, wet/dry vacuum, or dry towel
  • Optional: pressure washer
  • Optional: chlorine strips

It’s a good idea to make the bleach solution before you begin cleaning. Use one tablespoon of bleach for every gallon of water. Two gallons of solution should be enough, but three or four gallons will ensure you never run out.

How Do I Clean a Water Storage Tank?

Cleaning a water storage tank is a bit like cleaning a giant bath tub, only with more care towards disinfecting the interior. Here’s a brief rundown of the steps involved:

  1. Drain the water tank – If you have a large water tank, make sure to flush the water to a location where it will not inundate the surroundings. The dryer the tank the more effective the end result will be, so make sure to use a pump or wet vac to remove any water left behind from the draining process. Alternatively, use a towel to wipe away any leftover moisture.
  2. Scrub the interior – This is probably the most important part of the cleaning process. You want to remove any dirt, silt, or slime that has accumulated on the walls of the tank. Power washers are a great tool for the job, as some tanks don’t allow enough room for your to easily reach in and scrub the interior yourself. If you don’t have a power washer, use hard-bristled brushes, a mop with an adjustable handle, or any cleaning tool that can be applied at an angle. The idea is to be able to reach every corner of the tank, and to deliver enough force to remove all the scum and silt that has formed since the last cleaning. When you’re finished, the tank should look more or less like it did the day it arrived: pristine.
  3. Rinse out the tank – Use cold water to rinse out the dirty water that has accumulated throughout the scrubbing process. You don’t have to be as thorough this time around, as you’ll be another round of rinsing later on in the cleaning process.
  4. Bleach the interior – Use your bleach solution (1 tablespoon of bleach for every gallon of water) to scrub the interior of the tank. You should be wearing disposable gloves and eye protection during this phase. Again, you can just use your hands for this process, but you need to make sure you can reach every surface of the tank. A pressure washer is the ideal tool for the job, but you can also use a floor mop with an adjustable handle—whatever works for you.
  5. Let the solution sit – To sufficiently disinfect the tank you’ll want to let the bleach solution sit for at least two hours. This will kill off any stubborn bacteria or microbial contaminants.
  6. Optional: Clean the water supply lines – Your home’s water pipes may also be dirty. By running your taps with the bleach solution, you’ll be able to sanitize more than just your water storage tank. You can use a pump to run the solution from the tank to the water inlet and the rest of the lines in your home.
  7. Rinse out the tank – After the bleach has done its job, it’s time to rinse it out. You want to be as thorough as possible because bleach is toxic and a big no-no when it comes to drinking water. So be certain no bleach is left behind. If you ran some of the solution through your water pipes, make sure to run your taps with hot water. You want to continue rinsing or running the taps until all the soap or bleach bubbles are gone.
  8. Optional: Partially refill the tank – Now that the tank is clean, sanitized, and rinsed of the bleach solution, fill it par-way with potable drinking water.
  9. Optional: Measure chlorine levels – To be absolutely sure that there’s no more bleach in the system, use chlorine test strips to test the water supply lines. If the levels are nominal you can proceed to the final step. If the chlorine levels are too high you must return to step No. 7 and rinse the interior until the levels decrease.
  10. Refill the tank – Now that the tank is clean, sanitized, and rinsed clean of the bleach solution, you can fill it all the way to the top with potable drinking water.

And you’re done!

(Video) How to store backup water in your garage in 55 gallon barrels

How To Clean a Plastic Water Storage Tank | GoToTanks (1)

For more specific cleaning instructions based on the size and type of storage tank you own, follow the guidelines set forth by the World Health Organization.

Want to Avoid the Trouble?

A dark colored plastic water tank can help inhibit algae growth by blocking sunlight. Go To Tanks is the No. 1 storage tank supplier in the nation for water storage needs, and we have a wide selection of dark colored tanks for you to choose from. Our water storage tanks range in size from just 20 gallons all the way up to 1550 gallons. The standard color is white, but our tanks can be ordered in green, gray, black, blue, or a custom color of your choosing.

(Video) Cleaning Your Water Tanks - MDC Masterclass #39

Call 1-877-468-2657 and we’ll help you find a tank that will reduce the need for cleaning and provide your home or property with a steady, reliable supply of drinking water.

FAQs

How do you clean a plastic water storage tank? ›

Use baking soda to clean the dirt from the walls. Add Chlorine bleach to disinfect the water tank completely. Leave the mixture in the tank for some time and make sure no one comes in contact with this solution as it is harmful. Fill the tank with water and make it run to clean the water pipes.

What chemicals are used to clean water tank? ›

Chlorine is most commonly used to eliminate bacteria and algae by destroying it as well as chemically destroying other materials such as dirt and chloramines.

What is the process of water tank cleaning? ›

How should domestic water tank cleaning be carried out?
  1. Step 1: Preparation. Before you start the cleaning process, follow the steps below. ...
  2. Step 2: Emptying the tank. ...
  3. Step 3: Cleaning the tank. ...
  4. Step 4: Refilling the tank. ...
  5. Step 5: Disinfection and chlorination. ...
  6. Step 6: System recommissioning. ...
  7. Step 7: Documenting the process.

How do I clean my water tank without emptying it? ›

Simply mix hot water with laundry detergent powder or liquid to make a cleaning solution. Scrub the inside of the tank. Use a bristle brush or abrasive sponge to scrub the inside of the tank, with or without your cleaning solution.

How do you maintain a water storage tank? ›

Regular inspection and maintenance of water storage tanks can help prevent water quality issues. The AWWA suggests, for example, that metal storage tanks be drained, cleaned, inspected and disinfected every three years. If sediment is a problem, the tank should be washed out annually.

How do you clean sediment out of a water storage tank? ›

Use a wet/dry vacuum to remove any water or sediment remaining on the bottom of the tank. 8. Fill the tank 3/4 full with a potable water source and proceed to Disinfecting Storage Tanks. contact with the chlorinated water!

How do you clean large plastic water containers? ›

Sanitize the container with a solution made by mixing 1 teaspoon of unscented liquid household chlorine bleach in 1 quart of water. Use bleach that contains 5%–9% sodium hypochlorite. Cover the container tightly and shake it well. Make sure the sanitizing bleach solution touches all inside surfaces of the container.

How often should water storage tanks be cleaned? ›

This is especially important if the tank is exposed to direct sunlight, which can hasten microbial growth. In those cases it's best to clean the tank two or even three times a year. Fortunately, cleaning a water tank is not super complicated and most people can do it themselves.

Can I put bleach in my water tank? ›

To clean out a water tank, first thoroughly flush the tank using a bleach solution of 1 part Clorox® Regular Bleach2 per 150 parts water (a 500ppm bleach solution).

Why water tank cleaning is important? ›

Unclean water can carry many harmful germs.

If the water tank is not cleaned on a regular basis, it can lead to impurities in the water which may consist of many harmful germs. Water can thus get infected with various kinds of diseases including dysentery, cholera, gasto and several others.

Do water tanks need cleaning? ›

Regular maintenance and cleaning will ensure problems are dealt with quickly. An annual water tank clean will help prevent most of the big problems found with using water tanks for storing potable water. But remember a tank clean needs more than just removal of sludge and debris.

How do you clean dirty water? ›

4 Methods to Purify Your Water
  1. 1 – Boiling. Boiling water is the cheapest and safest method of water purification. ...
  2. 2 – Filtration. Filtration is one of the effective ways of purifying water and when using the right multimedia filters it's effective in ridding water of the compounds. ...
  3. 3 – Distillation. ...
  4. 4 – Chlorination.

How do you clean large plastic water containers? ›

Sanitize the container with a solution made by mixing 1 teaspoon of unscented liquid household chlorine bleach in 1 quart of water. Use bleach that contains 5%–9% sodium hypochlorite. Cover the container tightly and shake it well. Make sure the sanitizing bleach solution touches all inside surfaces of the container.

How often should water storage tanks be cleaned? ›

Water storage tanks should be cleaned and disinfected at least twice a year to help prevent and remove contamination that can cause illness. This article describes the “how to” using household chlorine bleach. Eight-five percent of Americans get their daily drinking water from a community water system.

Do water tanks need cleaning? ›

Regular maintenance and cleaning will ensure problems are dealt with quickly. An annual water tank clean will help prevent most of the big problems found with using water tanks for storing potable water. But remember a tank clean needs more than just removal of sludge and debris.

How do you clean a 5 gallon water jug? ›

Distilled Vinegar
  1. Add 1 tablespoon straight white distilled vinegar per 1 gallon of water.
  2. Swish the solution around so it contacts all surfaces, then fill the container with tap water and seal with the cap.
  3. Let it stand for about 10 minutes. Rinse and air dry.

Videos

1. How To Clean Water Storage Containers - Reliance Desert Patrol- Most Important Prepping Item
(AlaskaGranny)
2. How to clean WATER TANK WITHOUT entering inside ???
(MR RAMVISHAL)
3. How to Disinfect Water Storage Containers (English)
(Navajo Safe Water)
4. How To Clean Plastic Water Storage Tank
(priti das)
5. How to clean, restore, whiten your coolant overflow tank
(driving 4 answers)
6. How We Clean Our Water Holding Tank - On The Homestead
(WorknDirt)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Gregorio Kreiger

Last Updated: 12/28/2022

Views: 6462

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (57 voted)

Reviews: 80% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Gregorio Kreiger

Birthday: 1994-12-18

Address: 89212 Tracey Ramp, Sunside, MT 08453-0951

Phone: +9014805370218

Job: Customer Designer

Hobby: Mountain biking, Orienteering, Hiking, Sewing, Backpacking, Mushroom hunting, Backpacking

Introduction: My name is Gregorio Kreiger, I am a tender, brainy, enthusiastic, combative, agreeable, gentle, gentle person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.