What To Do If You Get Diesel In Your Motorhome’s Water Tank?

A water tank is an essential part of every motorhome. This element is important if you wish to enjoy the experience of camping in a movable home. Without it, travelers would not have the privilege to enjoy freshwater in their taps and no bathroom to go to in their vehicle.

But how can it be possible for diesel to reach your water tank? If you own a motorhome, and you’re asking yourself this question, you would most likely want to know more details on how to take care of your water tanks when accidents like these happen.  

Can Diesel Get Into a Motorhome Water Tank?

Absolutely. Water tanks, just like any other type of container of liquids, risk suffering from a fuel leak. Many times it is the owner that commits the mistake of filling the tank with diesel.

There are times in which the lid itself gets contaminated, and as a result, it ends up corrupting the water inside the tank. Although rare, this does happen to people that own or rent motorhomes throughout the year. 

Depending on the type of material the tank is made of, or if the damage is too severe, it is ideal to replace the tank and call for a professional to fix the problem. 

If there is diesel in the water tank, it is good to know that oil-based liquids and water do not mix, but it does contaminate the tank itself. People in the motorhome might experience the smell of combustible in the tap water and the taste of diesel in their drinks, which can result in intoxication. 

How Can Diesel Get Into a Motorhome Water Tank? 

There are various ways in which diesel can get into the water holding tanks. Sometimes, while filling the water tank, one can mistakenly fill the motorhome water tank with diesel that can ultimately disperse in the tank, contaminating the water and the walls of the container. 

Diesel can also get into a motorhome water tank by using a contaminated hose. It is human error that can happen to anyone, from employees in charge of cleaning the water tanks to the owners. Still, diesel in your motorhome water tank can affect, as mentioned before, the health of your passengers and vehicle.

Diesel, just like most fuels, is a substance that doesn’t mix with water. It instead floats and stays on top while the water remains at the bottom. Unfortunately, this causes the fuel to also integrate into the walls of the tank, making it even more difficult to clean. 

Bacteria can grow on the water tank itself, causing it to rust or even creating physical damage if you have a tank made out of steel or aluminum. But these types of tanks are usually easier to clean off than fiberglass tanks due to their material. 

How to Prevent Diesel Getting Into a Motorhome Water Tank

Although it is unpredictable how often these types of occurrences happen, it is possible to prevent diesel from getting into your motorhome water tank. Here are some ways you can prevent this from happening:

  • Always check if the tanks themselves do not have any physical leaks. There are times in which diesel leaks and contaminates the water.
  • Before inserting the hoses into the water tank compartment, it is important to check if the hoses are clean. This will save you a lot of trouble in the future, and you won’t have to risk inserting corrupting agents into the water.
  • It is advisable to use labeling signs that will allow you to recognize the differences between the fuel and the water tank compartments. If this mistake happens to you, consider revisiting the procedures for refueling.
  • And always, ALWAYS sanitize the motorhome water tanks at least twice a year. However, if you travel regularly, it is better to sanitize your motorhome at least once a month for better results. 

By developing these preventive habits, you should significantly reduce the risks of suffering from a diesel leakage. 

What to Do If Diesel Gets Into Your Motorhome Water Tank? 

Now, if you contaminated your motorhome water tank, and you don’t know what to do, no worries, there are a series of methods you can use to clean the diesel from your water tank effectively without having to replace the whole water system in your motorhome. 

Depending on the material the tanks are made of, there are simple solutions that you can use to clean water tanks. Most of the tools that you will need for this might be already in the comfort of your home, making it affordable for those who don’t wish to spend money. 

For others who want a solution specifically designed for motorhome water tank cleaning, there are also tools that you can utilize to effectively clean water tanks. With good habits and a regular sanitation process, you will lower the risk of suffering from being indisposed during your journey. 

Below are some methods to use step by step on how to clean your motorhome water tank. 

Dishwashing Detergent and White Spirit

For this method, you want to follow a series of steps that can help you get rid of the diesel completely from the water tanks, just with simple cleaning products you might already have at your disposal. 

Dishwashing detergent and white spirit are all you need for this step. It is effective, and the results will leave you satisfied if you follow these guidelines on how to clean your motorhome water tank. 

Make Sure to Turn Off the Water Pump

Make sure any of the taps of the motorhome are completely turned off, with no water coming out of them. If this is not done, you can further damage the water tanks, and the tank cleansing will not be effective. 

This will ease the process of cleaning the water tank since it will not be activated once you start cleaning it. 

Drain-All of the Water From the Water Tank

This is to make sure there is no diesel or water left inside the container. If you fail to do this step properly, you might have to repeat the whole process again. 

Your water tank needs to be completely empty before cleaning. You want to get rid of the diesel as much as possible. 

Pour an Entire Bottle of Detergent Such as Fairy liquid, and Mix it with Some Water. 

Don’t overflow it otherwise; the water will overpower the detergent. If this happens, repeat the steps above to have a more effective cleansing experience. 

You want to make sure that the water has enough dishwasher cleaner to be able to have better results. 

Let the Soaped Water Slosh Around the Tank Until it Feels Completely Clean

If you need to take a drive to slosh the water around the tank, you may do so. Whatever technique might work for you, it is important to make sure the water is cleaning diesel residues on the walls of the water tank. 

After this, drain the tank completely. 

Check If There Are Any Residues of Diesel, if the Problem Persists, Repeat the Steps Above

There are times in which you might have to repeat these steps due to possible mistakes you might commit on the first try. 

To check if there are any residues of diesel touching the corners of the tank, make sure that it is not greasy and that there are no water ponds with a diesel smell on the water tanks. 

Dry and Wipe the Tank With Paper Towels

Similar to the previous step, you want to make sure that the tank is clean, and there are no residues of diesel on it. Using paper towels to dry is important to clean off the diesel from the container. 

If you are willing to spend a little more money, you can also use oil-absorbing products on the water tank.

Use White Spirit

After making sure that there are no residues of diesel in the tank, rinse the container with a bottle of White Spirit, and mop it with paper towels to vanish the grease off the tank. 

This will help clean the greasiness off the walls of the tank and delete the smell of diesel coming out of it. 

Use a Bottle of Cleaning Alcohol 

This step is simple. After cleaning it with white spirit, you want to pour a bottle of cleaning alcohol into the tank. 

After completing this task, resume the cleaning by scrubbing the water tank until you are sure that there is no diesel smell coming out of the container. 

Proceed to clean and dry with paper towels until it is completely dry. 

After Making Sure That Everything Is Clean, Fill up the Water Tank

Then, repeat and scrub again to make sure that everything is clean. This is to procure that there is no diesel residue inside the tank. If not done properly, you risk contaminating the water once again. 

Once you are sure it is cleaned properly, drain the tank to remove all of the waste (Dispose of the water correctly) and carefully fill it up again. After this, test the water to see if you got rid of the smell of diesel from the water taps. 

If you taste the dishwasher detergent in the water tap, you can get rid of it by cleaning the tanks by rubbing cleaning alcohol onto the container, or using baking soda if you cannot get rid of the smell. 

 Otherwise, you are good to go! 

Non-foaming Detergent Cleansers or Dishwasher Powder

This second method is similar to the first one, but it is not as specific with the products that can be used to clean the water tank.

For this one, all you need is any non-foaming detergent to clean the diesel from the water tank. The dishwasher powder can be from any brand, but they need to be non-foamers. They tend to be a bit more effective than heavy detergents with foaming ingredients. 

Here are a few steps on how to do it. 

Drain All Of The Water and Diesel Containers from the Motorhome

You want to make sure that the water tank is completely empty. This is to get rid of the contaminated water and to ease the process of cleaning the tank (Always dispose of the contaminated water correctly)

Also, turn off all of the pumps until your water system is completely inactive. The water tank needs to be emptied completely before proceeding with the next steps. If you fail to do this, you might be risking contaminating your vehicle more than before. 

Add a few gallons of warm or boiling water into the containers 

Warm water tends to work more effectively to clean your water tank, since warm and hot water have faster molecules than cold water, and faster molecules do a better job at cleaning and displacing dirt and contaminative agents.

The temperature of the water can be about 50 to 60℉. After that, pour the powder or the non-foaming agent into the water. 

Wait A Few Hours Before Draining 

For a most effective clean during these hours, taking your motorhome for a drive can help you slosh the water inside the tank. Try taking it to high places such as slopes, or curves for a better slosh. 

The tank must be empty and refilled again. Repeat the same steps by filling up the water tank, and adding the same amount of the Simple Green Cleaner to the water. If you wish to scrub to fasten the process, you may do so.

You want to wait a few hours in order for the Simple Green cleaner to naturally dissolve and absorb the diesel off the tank. You can also speed up the process by sloshing the water around the tank.  

Refill With Water and Drain Until Clean 

If there are still residues of diesel inside the tank, repeat all of the steps above to make sure the tank is completely clean. If the smell persists, you can try adding a bottle of wine spirit and cleaning alcohol to the tank. This should eliminate the smell of diesel from the tank. 

Simple Green Cleaner

If you wish to use a solution with products that are specifically aimed at cleaning motorhome water tanks, we have an effective product for you. 

Simple Green is an all-purpose cleaner that is made to clean delicate items, such as ovens, microwaves, refrigerators, and ALSO motorhome water tanks. This effective cleaner will help you not only with the cleaning of your motorhome water tank, but also other appliances as well. 

Here we will provide you a guide step by step on how to use simple green to get rid of diesel from your water tank: 

Flush Tank and Ensure It Is Empty

Depending on the system of your motorhome, you want to flush and drain all of the contaminated water from the water tanks. Make sure to dispose of it correctly. 

eIf you have to repeat this step multiple times, make sure to do so. It is essential to complete every step correctly before proceeding with the next steps.  

Make Sure To Pour 3 To 4 Liters Of The Simple Green Detergent On The Tank, And Fill The Tank With 4 To 46 Liters Of Warm Water. 

3 to 4 liters of simple green should be enough to clean the water tank. The simple green solution absorbs all of the contaminated and greasy agents off the container. 

After completing this step, leave it for a couple of hours before flushing the water out. 

Flush The Whole System Of The Motorhome With Water. If Needed, Repeat This Process Multiple Times.

Similar to the first step, Flush and drain the motorhome water tank to make sure that the contaminated water doesn’t remain inside the tank. 

If it does, it can furtherly contaminate the water tank and tubes, which is something you don’t want. 

Mix One To Two Liters Of Simple Green With The Content Inside The Tank To Clean Off The Waste, And Leave It For At Least 30 Minutes Before Flushing Out.

Mix approximately 2 liter of Simple Green with the water tank. It doesn’t have to be exactly 2 liters, you can fall a bit short of that if needed. 

Leave at least 30 minutes before flushing out. 

After Following The Previous Steps, Flush Out The Water From The Water Tank. 

If you feel any type of greasiness, scrub the inside of the water tank with alcohol until there is no greasiness left. 

If there are still residues of diesel inside the tank, repeat the previous steps again in order to have a more effective clean experience. Repeat by adding 1 to 2 liters of Simple Green to the tank, and proceed by repeating the process a couple of times until the tank is completely clean.

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