Do I Really Have To Use RV Antifreeze?

Do I Really Have To Use RV Antifreeze

Have you ever wondered if you really have to use RV antifreeze?

Look no more! We´ve got you covered.

When you are winterizing your RV, you may wonder what needs to be done to it.

One question that always seems to pop into people’s minds is:

Do I really have to use RV antifreeze? Yes, if you live in an area where the temperature could potentially drop below freezing during the winter months, then you absolutely should be using RV antifreeze. 

Do I really have to use RV antifreeze?

We know that there are a few people out there that will blow out their RV pipes with compressed air in order to ensure that it is completely free from water. However, in our opinion, this is going to take a lot more effort than just using RV antifreeze in the first place.

If you do not use RV antifreeze, then any water stuck inside of the pipes could potentially freeze and expand.

This will lead to burst pipes, and that is just going to be ruining your RV. It doesn’t matter how much water is left inside of the pipes, this is still a risk. 

Read also: Does RV Antifreeze Go Bad or Expire? Shelf Life of Antifreeze

Do I have to use proper RV Antifreeze?

There are two types of antifreeze that you can purchase:

  • Automotive antifreeze
  • RV antifreeze

You will need to use the option labeled as RV antifreeze. If you don’t, then you will be running the risk of poisoning yourself later on (seriously!).

The thing with RV antifreeze is that you are using it to replace the water in your pipes. These are pipes that, hopefully, when the weather gets a little bit better, you will be getting your drinking water through.

This means that if you put standard automotive antifreeze in them, you are pretty much going to be drinking something that you should not be drinking.

Obviously, you don’t want to be drinking a bottle of RV antifreeze. However, getting a small amount into your water supply shouldn’t pose that much of a problem.

Getting even a small amount of automotive antifreeze into your drinking water? Well, you are probably going to be running the risk of making yourself very, very sick.

You will know if antifreeze is designed for an RV. It will be pink. It should also say RV antifreeze somewhere on the bottle.

Read also: Can You Put RV Antifreeze in a Water Heater? (FACTS You Need to Know)

How Do You Use RV Antifreeze?

Before we go any further, we do want to point out that, unlike with normal automotive antifreeze, you should not be watering RV antifreeze down.

This is because it is already watered down. It is a water-based product. If you water it down, then you are just putting more water into the system and the chemicals in the antifreeze will not be able to prevent the water from freezing.

You will need to be purchasing at least 3-4 gallons of RV antifreeze. If you have a larger RV, then you are going to need even more of this.

The instructions that we give here are general instructions. You may have to tinker with them because how you use RV antifreeze will be dependent on the various connections that you have in your RV.

This is a job that should really take no longer than an hour or so, so it is pretty quick to do.

Read also: Can You Mix Bleach and RV Antifreeze? (Flushing Out Antifreeze)

1. Drain Any Water Holding Tanks

Before you can add any RV antifreeze into the system, you are going to need to start by draining any water holding tanks in the RV. 

You should also ensure that you clean down the tanks are the same time. This will stop any gunk from getting into the pipes. Since the tanks are now empty, it is probably the best opportunity that you will have to do this too.

Once this is done, flush the toilet. This will help to clean the water around there.

2. Turn on all the faucets

Turn on all of the faucets in the RV. This should let the last of the water drop out. Make sure that you turn off the faucets when you are done!

3. Open all drains

Now, go around and make sure that all of the drains are completely open. 

4. Blow out the air

This is not something that you need to do. However, some people will connect an air compressor up to the water inlet. Setting this to around 20psi could blow out any remaining air through one of the open faucets (you will need to open up the faucets again if you do this!)

If you are using RV antifreeze, which is what this whole page is about, then you will not need to blow out the air at all. The RV antifreeze should be doing a good enough job for you. 

5. Connect a hose to a bucket of RV antifreeze

How you do this will be dependent on the water inlet that you have.

Most RVs will have a winterization inlet. The hose will need to be connected up to this and the system set to draw through the inlet.

If there is no winterization inlet on your water tank, then you will need to connect up the hose to the fresh water inlet.

In both cases, the hose should end up in a big bucket of antifreeze. As we said before, this should be about 4-5-gallons. You will probably need to pour multiple bottles of antifreeze into the bucket.

6. Allow the system to fill up with antifreeze

You will now need to switch on that water pump. It will start to draw antifreeze from the bucket after a short amount of time. 

At this point, you will want to allow a small amount of antifreeze to fill up the freshwater tank. You only need a small amount in there and it should take no longer than a few seconds.

Your next job is to go through every single faucet or water outlet in the RV and switch them on. However, you will only need to be doing them one at a time.

Start at the faucet or water outlet that is furthest from the antifreeze. Leave the faucet on until antifreeze begins to flow out. You can then switch it off and move onto the next outlet. Don’t forget the toilet and the shower!

Once you have noticed that pink antifreeze has flown out of every single faucet or water outlet in your RV, you can consider everything to be properly winterized!

7. Removing the antifreeze

When you start to use the RV again, make sure that you flush out the antifreeze properly before you drink any water.

While drinking water isn’t going to be dangerous, it is not going to taste all that pleasant. Once the pink has disappeared from the faucets, you will know there is no antifreeze left in them. 

How To Winterize RV Travel Trailer Water System >> Check out the video below:


If you live in an area where there is a risk of pipes freezing, then you should use RV antifreeze.

Even if the risk is absurdly low, the cost of the RV antifreeze is going to be a whole lot cheaper than replacing some blown out pipes or damaged RV equipment.

Thankfully, using RV antifreeze isn’t really a difficult job, and it won’t be long before it becomes part of your RV’s winterizing regime. 


Mike Gilmour

Hi, I'm Mike, co-founder, and editor of RV and Playa. My passion is traveling (with my RV) and enjoying the day at the beach (Playa)! Well, I originally created this blog as a way to share what I've learned by experimenting with the RV lifestyle, and I want to help others develop in life through new skills and opportunities.

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