How to Sanitize a 55-Gallon Water Storage Container to Store Water Long-term

How to Sanitize a 55-Gallon Water Storage Container to Store Water Long-term

Water storage is a critical aspect of emergency preparedness. Whether planning for a natural disaster, an extended camping trip, or simply ensuring a reliable water supply, sanitizing your water storage containers before use is essential. Proper sanitation prevents contamination and ensures that the water remains safe for consumption. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you sanitize a 55-gallon water storage container.

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies Before you start, gather all necessary supplies:

Household bleach (unscented, 5.25-8.25% sodium hypochlorite)
Measuring cup
Clean water (tap water is fine)
Rubber gloves
A clean cloth or sponge
A hose with a spray nozzle
A funnel (optional)
Dry Element Biofilm Defender

    Step 2: Choose a Clean Work Area
    Select a clean, well-ventilated area to perform the sanitization process. Ensure there is enough space to move around the container easily.

    Step 3: Rinse the Container
    Remove any dust or debris from the container. Use a hose with a spray nozzle to rinse the inside of the container thoroughly. This helps to remove any loose dirt and prepares the container for sanitization.

    Step 4: Prepare the Bleach Solution
    Mix a sanitizing solution using unscented household bleach. The recommended solution is a ratio of 1 teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water. For a 55-gallon container, you’ll need about 1 cup (16 tablespoons) of bleach mixed with 10 gallons of clean water.

    Step 5: Add the Bleach Solution to the Container
    Carefully pour the bleach solution into the container. If you have a funnel, use it to avoid spills and ensure the solution gets inside the container without contaminating the outside.

    Step 6: Agitate the Container
    Seal the container with its lid or cap and lay it on its side. Roll the container back and forth to ensure the bleach solution touches all interior surfaces. This includes the sides, bottom, and the inside of the lid. You should do this for a few minutes to ensure complete coverage.

    Step 7: Let the Solution Sit
    Allow the bleach solution to sit in the container for at least 30 minutes. This contact time is crucial for the bleach to sanitize the container effectively.

    Step 8: Drain the Solution
    After the contact time has elapsed, carefully drain the bleach solution from the container. Be mindful of the environment when disposing of the bleach solution, as it can harm plants and animals.

    Step 9: Rinse the Container
    Rinse the container thoroughly with clean water. Removing all traces of bleach is important to prevent contamination of the stored water. Use the hose with a spray nozzle to rinse multiple times, ensuring all bleach residue is gone.

    Step 10: Dry the Container
    Allow the container to air dry completely. If you’re in a hurry, use a clean cloth or sponge to dry the interior. Ensure that no moisture remains, as this can promote bacterial growth.

    Step 11: Inspect and Close
    Before filling the container with clean water, inspect it one last time to ensure it is completely dry, and there are no remnants of the bleach solution. Once satisfied, close the container tightly with its lid or cap.

    Step 12: Fill with Clean Water
    Your container is now ready to be filled with clean, potable water. Use a hose or any other clean water source to fill the container, ensuring you do not introduce contaminants during the filling process. Clean municipal water is recommended.

    Step 13: Add Biofilm Defender
    To keep your water fresh and prevent biofilm growth, consider using Biofilm Defender. This natural solution, made of copper and silver minerals, helps maintain the quality of your stored water. Biofilm Defender is available in a 2 oz bottle, perfect for treating large water storage containers like a 55-gallon drum.

    How to Use Biofilm Defender:

    • 1. Measure: Add the recommended amount of Biofilm Defender to your filled water storage container. Refer to the product instructions for precise dosing.
    • 2. Instructions: For the Biofilm Defender, state that 4 drops treat 1 Gallon of water, so 220 drops treat 55 Gallons. The nice part is that they include a Vial inside the box pre-measured for treating 55 Gallons, so the full Vial represents 220 drops.
    • 3. Mix: After adding Biofilm Defender, seal the container and gently agitate to ensure the solution is evenly distributed throughout the water.

    Using Biofilm Defender not only keeps your water fresh but also extends the storage life by preventing the growth of harmful biofilms. The water will stay clean for up to 5 Years and does not require water rotation, which is a huge benefit for those who store water! For more information about Biofilm Defender, visit the Dry Element website.


    Sanitizing your 55-gallon water storage container is a straightforward but essential task to ensure the safety and longevity of your stored water. Regular maintenance and periodic re-sanitization are recommended to keep your water supply safe and ready for use. Following these steps and incorporating Biofilm Defender, you can be confident that your water storage is clean and safe, providing peace of mind without regular maintenance and constant re-sanitization.