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How Much RV Antifreeze Do I Need to Winterize My RV?

| Updated Jan 15, 2024

It's that time of year again! Time to winterize your RV and make sure its water pipes don't freeze! So here's the answer to how much RV antifreeze you need…

Can you believe that winter is right around the corner? It feels like we were just enjoying the summer sun and the lazy days that go along with the sunshine. 

But winter is coming, so it is time to start thinking about winterizing your rig. Especially for those of us who live in the northern states! 

The following covers everything you need to know about RV antifreeze, including how much you need and what to do with your leftover antifreeze. (Hint: you can store it for next year or keep it on hand to use during unexpected cold temperatures!)

If you buy something through our links, we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. It helps keep our lights on so we can continue to provide helpful resources for RVers. Read our full affiliate disclosure here.

What Is RV Antifreeze? 

RV antifreeze, also known as recreational vehicle antifreeze or winterizing antifreeze, is a specialized type used to protect the plumbing system of RVs and other water systems from freezing during cold weather. 

It differs from the typical automotive antifreeze (ethylene glycol) used in car engines.

RV antifreeze is typically made from propylene glycol, less toxic than ethylene glycol and safer for potable water systems. This type of antifreeze is designed to be non-toxic and safe for human and animal contact.

Of course, we recommend keeping it out of the reach of any children or pets to be as safe as possible. 

The “Pink Stuff”

RV Antifreeze is typically pink or light pink, making it easily distinguishable from automotive antifreeze's green or orange color. We know that distinction comes in handy for us!

RV antifreeze is available in various formulations and can be purchased at most auto supply stores or marine supply shops. Winterizing an RV or boat is essential to prevent costly damage from freezing temperatures. When the weather warms up, the antifreeze is flushed from the system before it is safe for drinking or other potable water needs.

Preview Product Price
Antifreeze Antifreeze
Preview Product Price
Non-Toxic Antifreeze Non-Toxic Antifreeze $37.69

How Do You Use Antifreeze? 

The primary purpose of RV antifreeze is to prevent water in the plumbing system from freezing and causing damage. 

Before winterizing an RV, you must drain all water from the system, including water heaters, pipes, and tanks. After the system is drained, RV antifreeze is added to the plumbing system to displace any remaining water. 

This ensures that even if the temperature drops below freezing, the antifreeze will protect the system from bursting or cracking due to ice expansion.

How Much Antifreeze Do I Need? 

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The first thing to note is that every RV is different. The amount of antifreeze you need will vary based on the size of your RV, appliances, and the winterization methods you use. 

While the following guidelines work for most RVs, our advice on using antifreeze should never replace what your specific manufacturer’s manual says about your particular rig. Always check your owners' manuals first!

In one of our RV Lifestyle podcasts (see above video), RV Master Tech Todd Henson walks you through exactly what you need to do to flush the right amount of antifreeze through your RV system. 

The following are other considerations to determine how much antifreeze you need. 

Amount Depends on RV Size

Unsurprisingly, how much RV antifreeze you need depends on your RV size. If you have a small travel trailer or motorhome, 2 gallons should completely winterize your RV. If you have a larger fifth wheel or Class A, you will need more 4-5 gallons. For midsize motorhomes, 3 gallons.

  • Small RV: 2 gallons
  • Mid-size RV: 3 gallons
  • Large RV: 4-5 gallons

Those are the base amounts, but you may need additional gallons based on the following….

Are You Bypassing Your Water Heater System? 

Another thing to consider when determining how much antifreeze you need is if you plan to bypass your water heater during the winterization process. 

If you do not bypass your water heater, you will need more antifreeze than folks who completely drain their tank and put a water heater bypass system into place. 

Does Your RV Have a Dishwasher or Washing Machine?

If you have an RV dishwasher, you'll need an extra 1 gallon. The same goes for a washing machine– add another gallon. 

Those extra gallons will make sure your appliance water lines won't freeze and crack or burst either.

What Do I Do With Leftover Antifreeze? 

Once you are done winterizing your RV, you may have leftover antifreeze. A question we always get is, can I store my extra antifreeze? 

The answer is yes! In fact, not only can you store it, but keeping an extra jug of antifreeze on hand is a good idea. It will come in handy if you unexpectedly run into cold temperatures while camping or while it's stored.

When you store leftover antifreeze, seal the lid tightly to avoid spillage and leakage. It should be good to use anywhere from 1-4 years if kept in a tightly sealed bottle. Just be sure to check the expiration date on the bottle to know precisely when it is good. 

Some folks say that you can use antifreeze past the expiration date. While that may be true in some cases, antifreeze is relatively inexpensive to replace when needed. 

RV Antifreeze vs. Blowing Out RV Water Lines: Which Is Better?

Winterizing Your RV: Antifreeze vs Blowing Out Water Lines with Compressed Air

Using RV antifreeze is only one of two main methods RVers use to winterize their RV water lines. In another article, we discuss both methods and include helpful videos to help you decide which method is best for you.

If you'd like to learn more about RV antifreeze vs. using compressed air, click here…

How Much RV Antifreeze Do I Need to Winterize My RV? 3

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We Are Huge Fans of Winter Camping!

How Much RV Antifreeze Do I Need to Winterize My RV? 4

Now we say that knowing many people are not. Indeed, you need to actually enjoy snow and cold. But we know there are thousands of RVers out there who just need a little coaxing and some tips to get out there and have fun in their RVs year-round.

So that’s why we wrote The Winter RV Camping Guide.

In this 36-page ebook – (NOT a Print book) we’ll walk you through what you need to do before you leave home to get your rig winter-ready, and we’ll cover what to do when setting up camp.

Last update on 2024-05-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Mike Wendland

Published on 2023-10-22

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

4 Responses to “How Much RV Antifreeze Do I Need to Winterize My RV?”

January 23, 2024at1:56 pm, Dan Mitchell said:

I made the mistake the first year of putting antifreeze in my fresh tank and took a lot of foamy showers the next session. Lesson learned!

Reply

January 24, 2024at5:44 pm, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Oh no! That would be a lesson for sure! Team RV Lifestyle

Reply

October 26, 2023at1:55 pm, Diane Oswalt said:

I always had my lines blown out with a compressor this year I can’t seem anybody to do it cuz I just make sure all the wayer runs out by itself

Reply

October 23, 2023at4:49 pm, Cathy Ethington said:

If you never have any water in any pipes, tanks , water heater. Should you still put in anti freeze !

Reply

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