The Best Antifreeze for Your RV

The Best Antifreeze for Your RV

It’s never too soon to prepare for winterizing your RV, and having a quality antifreeze on hand when the time comes will make the task much quicker.

When you store your motorhome or travel trailer for winter, you won’t have to worry about damage caused by freezing if you correctly add RV antifreeze to your plumbing lines and other fixtures.

Inside this guide, we share with you the best RV antifreeze products on the market, discuss why you need RV non toxic anti freeze, and detail how to fill and flush antifreeze from RV components to maintain your camper in peak condition.

Why You Need RV Antifreeze

The biggest mistake newbie RVers make when winterizing their recreational vehicle is choosing an automotive antifreeze, not a product made specifically for RVs.

The difference between the two is that RV antifreeze is non-toxic, unlike automotive antifreeze, which protects the engine cooling system and is very toxic to humans and animals. If you own a motorhome, you’ll use this stuff in the engine and for plumbing system winterization.

RV nontoxic antifreeze is safe to use in your freshwater tanks, plumbing lines, and other fixtures or components without worry any residual fluid will harm guests or pets who may come in contact with it.

A parked RV in a parking lot

What Does RV Antifreeze Do?

Antifreeze prevents water from freezing and expanding when the temperature drops below 32°F. The chemical in the solution lowers the freezing point of water to around -50°F.

Many RV antifreeze brands also include lubricants that will condition seals or gaskets inside toilets, faucets, and other fittings, so they don’t dry out during storage.

Most RVers need enough RV antifreeze to protect these components:

  • All freshwater lines
  • Toilet
  • Sink and shower traps
  • Water heater
  • Wastewater holding tanks

Winter Camping Antifreeze Needs

RVers who winter camp also add RV antifreeze in their black and grey water holding tanks after each dump to ensure the fluid inside never freezes.

Another way winter camping guests use antifreeze in their camper / motorhomes is to pour a bit into the toilet bowl after each flush.

Some RVers add antifreeze to their freshwater tank, turn on the pump, and only use that water to flush the toilet. Then they bring gallons of clean water to wash up or brush their teeth if a campground shower house isn’t available.

Even a highly insulated RV can have pipes freeze solid if the weather remains frigid for days, so having all plumbing lines full of antifreeze gives winter camping enthusiasts peace of mind.

Types of RV Antifreeze

Before you purchase one, check out the differences between these types available:

Ethanol-based Antifreeze

Ethanol or alcohol-based antifreeze is made of grain alcohol and will effectively lower the freezing point of water to protect your RV plumbing fixtures from damage.

When it comes to this type, it is the least expensive, but it also leaves behind the most pungent smell and taste after flushing it from the system after winter.

The alcohol in the formulation can dry out gaskets and rubber seals over time, so you may end up with leaks even if you don’t incur damage from burst lines.

Propylene Glycol-based Antifreeze

Propylene glycol-based RV antifreeze is made of synthetic alcohol to keep water from freezing and expanding within your camper’s plumbing system.

Most RV experts prefer this type of antifreeze because it has no odor or taste, is non-toxic, and lubricates gaskets and seals during the long months of storage.

Ethanol/propylene Blend Antifreeze

An ethanol/propylene-based RV antifreeze is another effective way to protect your plumbing system from deep freezes. Unfortunately, the alcohol in the formulation can still cause damage to any rubber seals, increasing the chance of leaks and replacement in the future.

A lot of people ask “What type is best for my motorhome, fifth wheel, or travel trailer?“.

Of the three choices above, the propylene glycol-based RV antifreeze is the best option, even if it costs a bit more.

However, all antifreeze types will keep your RV plumbing system safe during winter, so if you’re on a budget, don’t feel bad if you choose the most affordable option.

What Happens When You Winterize The Camper Without Antifreeze

Winterizing RV without antifreeze is possible in two ways.

You can opt to blow out the lines using air so no water remains to freeze. The second option is to move your RV to a warm climate for winter, so you never have to worry the temperature will get cold enough to freeze the water in your plumbing lines.

However, the second option is risky, as no one can predict the weather. The random ice storm or cold snap, even in the far south, can blow RV plumbing lines apart and cause expensive damage to your flooring, furniture, and fixtures while your camper is in storage.

There are some benefits to skipping winterization using RV antifreeze, which include:

  • No need to wash out the antifreeze when camping season resumes
  • No need to dump gallons of antifreeze into the sewer system
  • No lingering odor or taste of antifreeze when running the shower or sink
  • Don’t have to spend money on yearly antifreeze purchases

How Much Antifreeze Do I Need?

Most RVers purchase two to four gallons of non toxic anti freeze to winterize their camper, depending on the size.

Some RVers like to fill their water heater tank, which will require extra gallons to complete the task, as most are 6-10 gallons in size. Most people bypass the water heater when winterizing their RV by turning the valve in the water lines. If your camper doesn’t have an RV water heater bypass kit, you can purchase and install one to make the winterization task easier.

Do note that most camper / motorhome / water heater manufacturers do not recommend putting antifreeze inside the tank, and it could void the warranty if you do so. Antifreeze chemicals are corrosive to the anode rod, so the longer it stays in contact with the fluid, the more damage it does. Always check and replace bad anode rods after flushing your water heater with antifreeze to extend the life of your RV hot water system.

Some antifreeze formulations are concentrated and have a longer shelf life than those already diluted with water. RV antifreeze concentrates take up less space in your RV storage compartment and tend to cost less.

A parked RV on a beautiful day

The 5 Best Antifreeze for RV Brands

These top sellers bring freeze and component protection to RV water systems:

1. Camco Arctic Ban -50 Degree RV/Marine

Formulation: Ethyl alcohol and glycol blend
Color: Red
Burst Rating: -50 degrees Fahrenheit
Price: $6.29 a gallon

Camco’s Arctic Ban RV Antifreeze is a safe and non-staining formula that doesn’t require any mixing or diluting when winterizing your RV’s freshwater system.

The blend inhibits the growth of algae and the corrosion of rubber or metal fittings. In addition, the Camco Arctic Ban lubricates valves and pump components to keep your RV systems functioning correctly.

2. PEAK RV and Marine

Formulation: Propylene glycol
Color: Pink
Burst Rating: -50 degrees Fahrenheit
Price: $4.48 a gallon

Peak RV Antifreeze has been around for over four decades and uses the latest chemicals to ensure FDA-safe use for your RV potable water system and the environment.

With no odor or taste, this formula is proven safe for copper, brass, metal, and all plastic pipes except for acetate. This antifreeze is full-strength straight from the bottle and requires no mixing.

3. RecPro Antifreeze (4 pack)

Formulation: Propylene glycol
Color: Orange
Burst Rating: -50 degrees Fahrenheit
Price: $16.25 a gallon

The RecPro RV Antifreeze bulk pack is ideal for larger motorhomes or fifth wheels and is ready to use without mixing.

The formula is pricey but worth it for the excellent protection for seals and gaskets, for keeping drinking water from retaining smells or odd tastes, and for preventing brass, steel, plastic, or copper plumbing corrosion. In addition, the fluid is fully biodegradable and safe for aquatic life and sewer systems.

an rv / camper parked and being used

4. ChemWorld RV and Marine Concentrate (Makes 4 Gallons)

Formulation: Glycerine based
Color: Red
Burst Rating: -40 degrees Fahrenheit
Price: $25.00 a gallon (but often on sale for much less)

ChemWorld Antifreeze Concentrate only needs to be topped off with water to make an entire gallon of fluid for winterizing your recreational vehicle.

The formula offers slush protection to 15°F as well as against corrosion of metal fittings. In addition, there is no alcohol in the formulation, which means plumbing seals will remain flexible and not dry out.

5. Star Brite Antifreeze

Formulation: Virgin propylene glycol
Color: Pink
Burst Rating: -50 degrees Fahrenheit
Price: $23.99 a gallon

Star Brite RV Antifreeze is non-toxic and is rated to protect copper pipes and aluminum components.

Star Brite includes inhibitors that prevent corrosion and condition seals and gaskets so internal water system components remain in good working order. A nice feature is that with no ethylene glycol in the fluid, the product doesn’t need the addition of a bittering agent.

How to Winterize Your RV with it

Follow these easy steps to add antifreeze to your RV water system:

  • Step 1. Remove any inline water filters from anywhere in your RV
  • Step 2. Drain the fresh water tank
  • Step 3. Drain and clean/flush the black and grey waste tanks
  • Step 4. Drain the RV water heater
  • Step 5. Bypass the water heater (optional)
  • Step 6. Open all cold and hot faucets, including shower/tub (interior and exterior), and toilet valve
  • Step 7. Install RV water pump bypass kit (if not already in place) – you will use the pump to draw antifreeze through your pipes directly from the intake port and not from the freshwater tank
  • Step 8. Place pump bypass intake hose into your container of RV antifreeze and turn on the pump (it’s helpful to have a partner to monitor the pump control and antifreeze flow)
  • Step 9. Once the antifreeze comes out of a faucet or tap, close it. Do this for all hot and cold taps and shower/tub heads
  • Step 10. Pour a half-gallon or so of antifreeze into the grey waste tank through the shower/tub drain
  • Step 11. Step on the toilet flush valve until you see antifreeze flowing from the rinse holes near the rim, and allow about a half-gallon to flow into the black tank before shutting the valve
  • Step 12. Dump a pint of antifreeze into the toilet and down every drain with a p-trap (if you plan to overwinter your RV for many months, add extra antifreeze to the toilet so the liquid won’t evaporate before you remove the RV from storage)

EXPERT TIP: It’s helpful to pour several gallons of antifreeze into a single larger container before you begin. This method eliminates the need to quickly move the intake hose to a fresh gallon of antifreeze when the first one runs out, allowing air to enter the system.

NOTE FOR NEWBIES: Keep track of how much antifreeze you require to winterize your RV, so you’ll know exactly how much you’ll need for next year’s winterization.

De-Winterizing the Stuff from Your RV

Luckily, we can assure you that clearing your RV of antifreeze is very simple.

You can connect your RV fresh water hose to a city water spigot or fill your freshwater holding tank and switch on the water pump. Next, open up all hot and cold faucets, shower heads, etc., until you see the antifreeze dissipate and the water runs clear.

Allow the fresh water to run for several minutes after clearing the antifreeze to ensure all traces wash out. Close all the taps, and you’re done. You may need to dump your waste tanks if full.

RV Antifreeze Wrap Up

Winterizing your RV with antifreeze isn’t as expensive or difficult as you think. When you use the best antifreeze for your RV, you’ll help stop the damage freezing water can cause to your plumbing system and waste water tanks.

We hope this guide explains the importance of RV antifreeze and teaches you the right way to add it before storing your camper for winter and how to flush it safely away before your warm-weather getaways begin!

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