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WaterRower Tank Cleaning Guide [All Water Rowing Machines]

WaterRower Tank CleaningSo you’ve been using your water rower for a while and you’re wondering how to clean the WaterRower tank!?

One of the best things about a water rower is that utilizing water provides a more natural feel and the relaxing sound of swishing water.

Of course, this is also its downside. If you don’t clean or change the water regularly, it’s going to start forming algae or mold inside the tank.

It’s getting to that time when I need to clean my water rower, so I figured I’d share some tips and tricks that have made the task so much easier.

First, I’ll show you how I clean my water rower tank. Including a step-by-step guide to the process. Then I’ll answer a few of the most commonly asked questions about water rower tank cleaning.

At the end, I’ll share with you some of the products I use to make the job a lot easier!

By the time you finish this article, you’ll know exactly how to clean the WaterRower tank and how often to clean it. You’ll keep the water in your tank beautifully clear—and, thanks to the regular maintenance, extend the lifespan of your water rower significantly.

How to Clean a WaterRower Tank the Right Way

Let’s start off with the absolute basics: how to clean a water rowing machine tank.

Water Purification Tablets

According to the WaterRower website, there is no need to clean the tank regularly. Instead, you’re supposed to add one of the provided water purification tablets every 6 months to keep the water clean. (Or, if the tank is sitting in direct sunlight, every 3-4 months.)

The WaterRower purification tablets contain Sodium Dichloroisocyanurate, which, when added to the water, creates chlorine on a very microscopic scale—just 2.6 parts per million. As the product page states, “When dissolved in 2 quarts of water the easy-to-use tablets disinfect the water for safe drinking in as little as 30 minutes.”

WaterRower Purification Tablets

These tablets are able to purify river or stream water, turning even dirty water into clean drinking water. However, the dirtier the water, the more tablets are required. The same is true for your tank. The more water in your rowing machine, the more tablets you’ll need to use.

So, my first piece of advice is: If your tank is full, consider adding a second tablet.

Though the manufacturer only says to use one tablet (and you should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions), it’s possible that a full tank will need two tablets to purify the water thoroughly. With just one tablet, you might only kill off some of the pathogens (algae, bacteria, etc.) in the water.

Thankfully, you’re not going to drink the water in the water rower tank. You just want it to be clean and clear, which means the purification tablets just need to kill off the algae and bacteria.

Now, I get asked a lot, “What happens if I’ve been regularly using the purification tablets but the water is still turning dark and nasty?”

The answer: the tablets haven’t been able to stop the pathogens from multiplying, so the algae has spread and formed on the inside of your tank/in your tank’s water.

What Type of Water to Use?

On the WaterRower website, they state, “Make sure the water you have in your tank is not hard water.”

This brings us to my second piece of advice: Consider using bottled or purified water to fill up your tank.

Let’s be clear: WaterRower says to use MUNICIPAL TAP WATER to fill the tank because the tap water contains treatments to eliminate bacteria and algae.

The problem is that sometimes microscopic algae or bacteria particles survive the water treatment process. They’ll do you no harm if you drink them straight out of the tap, but if they’re allowed to sit in water that spends 20+ hours a day totally stagnant, they’ll multiply in your tank water.

Water Rowing Machine Tank Water

Using bottled or purified water will diminish this problem. You’ll still have to purify the water as recommended (using one tablet every 6 months), but there will be far less likelihood of algae or bacteria being present in the water.

Cleaning the Tank

“Okay, so I did all that,” you might be saying, “but the water is still cloudy/dark. What now?”

Well, if you used bottled/purified water to fill the tank and tried purifying the discolored water with the tablets to no effect, that’s when it’s time to clean the water rower tank.

By this point, the algae have firmly settled in, and the purification tablets won’t be enough to clear up the problem. Now is when you need to empty the tank, clean and rinse it, and re-fill it with clean, freshwater.

How to Clean WaterRower Tank

This is where my step-by-step water rowing tank cleaning guide comes in handy!

Step 1: Siphon the water out of the tank. The WaterRower siphon pump makes it easy to remove the water. However, you can use pretty much any siphon—like this popular Siphon Pump Kit—to do the job. Just keep siphoning out the water until the tank is as empty as possible.

Handy tip: For best results, once you finish the first siphon, let the tank sit for a few minutes to allow all the remaining water to pool in the bottom. Then give it one last pump to remove as much of the water residue as possible—that’s where all the algae are!

Step 2: Flush it with clean water. The cleaner the better! Consider using purified or bottled water. Or, if you know your municipal tap water is clean enough, use that.

Step 3: Drain and repeat. I like to flush and drain the tank 2-3 times, depending on how cloudy the water was when I emptied it the first time. Usually, three flushes will be enough to get rid of all the algae or bacteria built up on the inside of the tank.

Step 4: Re-fill and purify. Fill the water tank again with clean water, and drop in a purification tablet as recommended.

It’s a pretty simple process, all things considered. Having a few handy tools (as you’ll see below) can make the cleaning a whole lot easier, not to mention more thorough.

Can I Use Bleach for Cleaning WaterRower Tank?

We get asked this question a lot and for good reason. Bleach is one of the most effective cleaning agents to kill off the sort of bacteria and algae that inhabit places like water tanks.

Unfortunately, using bleach to clean out your water rower tank is a no-no. Bleach may actually weaken the polycarbonate tank and make it prone to cracks, leaks, and breakage.

Can I Use Pool Chlorine or Chlorine Tablets for Rowing Machine Tank Cleaning?

Pool chlorine liquid and chlorine tablets for water rowing machine tank cleaning should be highly effective, right? After all, if they can keep pools clean, surely they can do the same for a water rower tank.

Again, the manufacturer states in no uncertain terms: “NEVER USE POOL CHLORINE OR CHLORINE BLEACH in the tank”. The potency of pool chlorine—in both tablet and liquid form—could seriously damage the tank.

Interestingly enough, chlorine is already present in most municipal tap water. The water purification tablets are intended to prevent the breakdown of chlorine (caused by exposure to light) and protect the water in the tank. There’s just a small enough dose (2.6 parts per million) that it won’t damage the polycarbonate plastic.

Can I Use Baking Soda for WaterRower Tank Cleaning?

Nowhere in the manufacturers’ instructions does it warn against using baking soda, which leads me to believe it’s safe for use when cleaning the tank.

You see, the mixture of baking soda and water is actually proven to polish the plastic, clearing away any stains. Of course, it’s also highly effective at killing off algae.

To use baking soda to clean your WaterRower tank:

  • Step 1: Empty the tank using the siphon.
  • Step 2: Measure 2-3 tablespoons of baking soda. Mix with 1 gallon of water.
  • Step 3: Pour the mixture into the tank. Then pull the handle a few times to swirl it around.
  • Step 4: Let the baking soda mixture sit for about 10-15 minutes.
  • Step 5: Flush with more clean water, siphon out, and repeat until the tank is clean.

Baking soda won’t damage the polycarbonate or weaken the tank’s structure. It just does a good job of cleaning it out and killing off algae and bacteria.

You don’t even have to do a thorough job of rinsing out the baking soda from the tank. A bit of baking soda residue will actually help the purification tablets work better and keep the water clean for longer.

Can I Use Rubbing Alcohol for Cleaning WaterRower Tank?

Rubbing alcohol is a highly effective germ and pathogen-killer, but is it safe to use in your polycarbonate WaterRower tank?

To know the answer to this question, we’ve got to do a little bit of scientific research into the effects of isopropyl alcohol on the chemical structure of polycarbonate. I won’t bore you with the complex answer, but I’ll share what I found in one post:

“Chemicals such as Isopropyl Alcohol and Ethanol have very little effect on the surface of the Polycarbonate.”

There you have it! The rubbing alcohol won’t damage the polycarbonate of the tank but will kill off the bacteria inside. You can feel free to use it to get rid of the algae and bacteria dirtying up your tank water.

To use rubbing alcohol to cleanse your tank:

  • Step 1: Empty the tank using the siphon.
  • Step 2: Measure 250 ml of rubbing alcohol. Mix with 1 gallon of water.
  • Step 3: Pour the mixture into the tank. Then pull the handle a few times to swirl it around.
  • Step 4: Let the mixture sit for about 5-10 minutes.
  • Step 5: Flush with more clean water, siphon out, and repeat until the tank is clean.

Can I Use Ammonia for Rowing Machine Tank Cleaning?

Ammonia is another potent chemical often used to clean things around your home. Everything from electric ovens to bathroom tiles to carpets to glass.

But, as I was researching the effects of rubbing alcohol on polycarbonate plastic, the same post I linked above led me to this:

“Some chemicals very aggressively attack Polycarbonate. These chemicals include Toluene, Benzene, Acetone, and Ammonia to name a few. One interesting experiment to see the effect of these chemicals is to dip a small piece of Polycarbonate into some Acetone. Nothing visually appears to happen, but the surface does become plasticized. If the Polycarbonate is then washed in water, the water provides nucleating sites causing the surface to “crystallize”. The result is that the entire surface instantly turns white.”

It’s pretty clear to see that using ammonia in your polycarbonate water rowing machine tank is NOT AT ALL a good idea. It won’t just cause microscopic damage to the structure of the plastic tank, but it could actually ruin the tank completely.

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Tips to Keep Your Water Rowing Tank Cleaner

Below are some of my top tips for keeping your water rowing tank clean:

  • Set a reminder on your calendar or smartphone to check your water tank every 3 months. Even though you see the tank every time you row, you’ll often fail to pay attention to the cleanliness of the water. A reminder will help you keep an eye on things to make sure the water isn’t getting cloudy or discolored.
  • Set a reminder on your calendar or smartphone to add in a purification tablet every 6 months. If the tank is exposed to direct sunlight, every 3-4 months. You need to stay on top of the maintenance in order to keep it clean.
  • Cover your water tank to shield it from both sunlight and artificial light. Light is what causes the chlorine in the water to break down faster. When you’re not rowing, consider throwing a blanket over at least the tank to protect the water inside.
  • Consider using an algae cleaner (see below) to kill off algae and keep your water cleaner for longer.
  • When adding water, consider adding bottled or purified water rather than tap water.
  • When removing water, make sure to disinfect and wipe down the tip of the siphon with a bit of bleach. The last thing you want is the algae from old dirty water to flourish in your tank once more.

Check out this video to help you understand the process of cleaning your WaterRower tank:

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Products to Make WaterRower Tank Cleaning a Breeze

I’ve found a couple of tools that help make the tank cleaning a whole lot easier.

1) Buyplus Magic High Pressure Wand – I attach this to the end of a hose and use it to give the interior of the tank a quick rinse using high-pressurized water. It’s a great tool for getting rid of the slimy coating formed by algae on the inside of the tank.

2) Ontel Turbo Pump Automatic Liquid Transfer Pump – This battery-powered siphon pump makes it so much easier to fill the tank. [PLEASE NOTE – check the diameter of your tank hole and make sure this pump will fit for siphoning water out. The pump diameter is 1.69″]. It’s great for those occasions when I want to do a more thorough cleaning with multiple flushes/rinses. The built-in motor does all the work, so I don’t have to expend energy pumping as I have with the WaterRower siphon pump.

3) API Pond AlgaeFix  I like having this on hand to help me keep the algae from multiplying out of control. I can add a few drops in every few months to double down on the effectiveness of the purification tablets.

Water Rower Purification Tablets Alternative Options:

WaterRower uses the PuriTabs-brand water purification tablets. Even though ordering through their website is easy, the delivery time can be anywhere from 7-10 weeks! Far too late if your water is looking cloudy and in need of a cleaning TODAY.

Thankfully, Amazon has a few WaterRower purification tablets alternative choices that you can order if you’re in need of a quick solution:

P&G Purifier of Water – This is a liquid-based water purifier that’s typically used by hikers or trekkers to purify river/stream water to make it potable. One packet is enough to treat 2.5 gallons—definitely enough to clean out the water in your tank.

Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets With PA Plus – These water purification tablets are “trusted by military and emergency organizations”. They can turn very contaminated water into drinking-safe water within just 35 minutes. And at under $8 for a bottle of 50 tablets, it’s definitely a budget-friendly choice.

Aquatabs – Aquatabs claim to be the “world’s best water purification tablets”. Even if they don’t live up to that hype, I’ve used them for my water rower and have seen that they do an excellent job of clearing up cloudy water and restoring my tank to sanitary conditions. $15 for a pack of 100 is definitely a reasonable price.

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Final Thoughts

I hope you’ve enjoyed this WaterRower tank cleaning guide and found some useful tips when maintaining your water rower machine.

Really, it takes just a few minutes every few months to perform some basic maintenance on your water rower tank, but it will extend the machine’s lifespan significantly. It’s so worth taking that time out of your busy week or weekend to add in a purification tablet or, if needed, flush and clean out your tank.

If you’re reading this article, then I’m sure you own one of the water rowing machine models we’ve compared and reviewed here. You might find some of our other articles to be worth a read:

If you have any feedback on my tips or tricks that have worked for you in the past, please comment below.

Happy cleaning!

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Article Name
WaterRower Tank Cleaning Guide [All Water Rowing Machines]
Learn the ins and outs of how to clean a WaterRower tank. Plus, some of the best equipment to use.

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