Is RV Antifreeze Toxic?

Regular antifreeze is toxic. It’s only meant to be put in an engine’s cooling system. But in RVs, antifreeze gets used to winterize the freshwater plumbing system. Knowing this has many new RV owners wondering is RV antifreeze is toxic?

RV antifreeze is not toxic. Unlike automotive antifreeze, it is made from propylene glycol which is used in a variety of products included bottled beverages. However, it should be intentionally consumed and can be harmful to dogs and cats.

But that’s not all there is to know about RV antifreeze.

Can you actually drink it? If not, how do you get it out of the freshwater system after winterizing it? And how do you dispose of it.

You’ve got questions, and I have answers! Just keep reading!

rv antifreeze toxic lg

How does RV antifreeze work?

RV antifreeze works by decreasing the freezing point of water. It gets added to freshwater RV systems and tanks to prevent any water present from freezing. While it prevents ice from forming, but it does not defrost, thaw, or melt ice. 

Propylene glycol-based antifreeze is available at RV and boat shops (since it gets used in boats too) and sells for around $6.00 per jug. It’s non-toxic and safe for all RV plumbing.

It is not flammable and is not a risk to your plumbing system.

Furthermore, it actually lubricates your seals. This is good for you and for your seals. It’s important to winterize your RV if the temperature drops below 35 degrees during the day and below 30 degrees at night, especially if you won’t use it or have it powered on.

But is that all there is to winterizing an RV?

To read more about whether or not you should winterize your camper, check out this recent article. I get into all the steps for all different kinds of RVs including the 1 thing you should never do!

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Is RV antifreeze safe to dump on the ground?

RV antifreeze is non-toxic and many brands are also biodegradable. However, it is best drained to a sewer drain, septic tank, or RV dump station rather than just being dumped on the ground. In large quantities, it could be harmful to the environment, plants, and animals.

If you accidentally spill a small amount of RV antifreeze, it will be fine. But intentionally dumping large amounts of antifreeze on the ground can be poisonous to humans, plants, and animals.

It can also leach into the water source, particularly if you or your neighbors are on well water.

Read the bottle for instructions on proper disposal. You may also be able to take RV antifreeze to a service station, recycling station, or auto repair shop for proper disposal.

Now a motorhome has 1 set of issues regarding winterizing. But what about a towed camper like a fifth wheel?

To learn more about winterizing your RV for winter living, check out this recent article. While many of the procedures are the same as for other types of RVs, there’s 1 key difference with fifth wheels.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Is RV antifreeze toxic to animals?

Propylene glycol is non-toxic. However, while the FDA does “generally regard it as safe” and to be the least toxic glycol chemicals, it has been shown to cause abnormalities in the red blood cells of cats and is considered toxic to dogs if ingested in large quantities.

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Very small amounts of propylene glycol-based antifreeze may be okay for large dogs, but that’s it. Its sweet smell and taste are very attractive to animals, so the chances of them ingesting just a small amount are slim.

Cats are very sensitive to propylene glycol, and any amount could be fatal.

It’s safe to assume that other pets, especially those smaller than cats and dogs, are also susceptible to being poisoned by RV antifreeze.

If your pet consumes any amount of antifreeze, you should take them to your vet.

Initial signs and symptoms of toxicity include weakness, depression, disorientation, and twitching. Low blood pressure, cardiovascular issues, and seizures can also occur.

Typically, toxicity is not fatal in dogs and can be flushed out with fluids by your vet. However, if your cat ingests propylene glycol, it could be fatal and cause kidney failure.

If cats ingest even a small amount of antifreeze, it can cause Heinz body hemolytic anemia. This is a condition in which red blood cells are destroyed.

This can kill your cat.

Is it safe to drink RV antifreeze?

As a general rule, while RV antifreeze is non-toxic, it is not advisable to drink RV antifreeze. While it is safe to use to winterize an RV’s freshwater system, it should be flushed from the system before consuming the water in the lines.

You can safely ingest small amounts of RV antifreeze, especially if the bottle is labeled as safe, non-toxic, and/or non-hazardous.

Generally, propylene glycol-based antifreeze is non-toxic and safe to ingest in small amounts. Because it’s non-toxic and safe to ingest, you can run it through your freshwater system.

You can pour it directly into your tank and pump it throughout your system.

Ethanol-based antifreeze, and ethanol-propylene blends, should never be ingested. These are alcohol-based and typically flammable. You do not want to use ethanol-based or ethanol blends in your freshwater system.

When in doubt, read the label. If it is safe to use in your freshwater system, it will be non-toxic, non-hazardous, and safe to ingest.

Living in a motorhome, especially during the winter, will be different in different parts of the country.

And in most cases, you can live in your Class A motorhome all year round. Whether you can live in it during the winter will depend on geographical location, temperatures, the amount of snow and ice, and how well insulated your RV is.

To read more about whether you can live in a Class A motorhome in the winter, check out this recent article. Even the best or most expensive RV will have its challenges in winter, and Class A RVs are no exception. Luckily the steps to take before living in it in winter are pretty simple.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

What is the best RV antifreeze?

The best RV antifreeze is SPLASH RV/Marine antifreeze. This antifreeze provides protection up to -50 degrees Fahrenheit. 

CLICK HERE to see the current price on Amazon.

It’s biodegradable and non-toxic. It won’t damage your RV potable water pump or seals. It also doesn’t have to be diluted before use. This makes it convenient to use and the process more straightforward.

It has great ratings on Amazon and is manufactured in the U.S. Many foreign companies don’t have the same level of testing and can cut corners to produce a cheaper product.

SPLASH also gets great reviews when it comes to customer service.

If you are storing your RV, you can use pressurized air to blow the water out of your system. Then use a bit of this in your sink and tub drain traps to prevent the pipes from freezing.

Because it is non-toxic, it’s also safe to use in your potable water system. It’s great for winterizing your RV, but it can also be used to winterize your swimming pool and your boat.

CLICK HERE to see the current price on Amazon.


Did I answer everything you wanted to know about whether RV antifreeze is toxic?

RV antifreeze is a liquid solution used to prevent RV plumbing systems from freezing due to very cold temperatures.

While propylene glycol-based antifreeze is not toxic to humans, it can be toxic to pets. If any antifreeze is ingested by your pets, seek immediate veterinary attention.

Ethanol-based or ethanol mixes can dry out your seals and are very toxic to animals. But propylene glycol-based antifreeze is non-toxic and safe to use in your freshwater system.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell travels on and off with his 3 daughters in a Newmar Baystar Class A Motorhome. He writes extensively on both RVs, campgrounds, parenting on the road tips, remote learning & schooling, and much more!

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