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Tips for Keeping Your RV’s Black Tank and Toilet Clean and Fresh

Nothing ruins a great camping trip faster than problems with your RV’s black tank.
6-1A-DIY Tank Cleaner Hack
Image by Siggy Nowak from Pixabay

Nothing ruins a great camping trip faster than problems with your RV’s black tank. Unpleasant toilet odours and dreaded septic tank backups are awful, but when you stay on top of your tank and toilet cleaning, you are less likely to have to deal with a huge and disgusting mess.

Here are some tips to help you keep your plumbing fresh and functioning so you can forget about toilets and enjoy your holiday.

Keeping it all clean

Keeping your RV’s toilet clean is the first defence against bad odours. Make sure you use non-abrasive cleaners that are formulated specifically for RV tanks. Use a sponge brush or silicon scrub brush to keep the bowl clean and make sure to rinse well with clean water after each cleaning. Don’t forget to clean around the flapper while you’re cleaning the bowl.

The black tank (septic tank) also needs periodic cleaning outside of the regular dumping. There are products available like built-in backwash systems, macerators, tank rinsers or pressure wands that are designed to loosen the solids that can get stuck in the black tank.

6-2B-DIY Tank Cleaner HackImage by Markus Distelrath from Pixabay

Bad Smells

Sometimes unpleasant smells from the black tank can leach into the RV’s living space even after you have emptied the tank and cleaned the toilet. It can be tricky finding the problem, but there are few things you can try to help the situation:

  1. Turn off the bathroom fan when you flush the toilet. When you flush, the flapper to the black tank opens and can allow some of the odours to escape. When your fan is running, the odours can be sucked out and really stink up the RV.
  2. Use a tank treatment to reduce odours. There are many commercial tank treatments available that use enzymes to break down the contents of the black tank. Many RVers swear by using a few caps of liquid fabric softener to freshen up the tank and keep the solids moving when flushed. If you’re in a pinch, try adding a bag of ice cubes and some dish or laundry detergent in the black tank before you drive. The movement of the RV causes the ice cubes to scrub the tank while you drive and loosens dried up debris that is stuck to the sides of the tank. 
  3. Add some water back to the bowl after it is flushed to help keep the smell from leaching into the RV. Also add some clean water back into the black tank after dumping to make sure solids aren’t getting dried up and stuck.

Make sure the sewer valve is closed except when you are dumping. This does two things. First, it ensures that the solids are not drying onto the sides of the tank as the liquids flow through the open valve. Second, it makes sure the odours of the sewer are not coming up into your RV. It is recommended to wait until your black tank is 2/3 full before dumping and to never leave the sewer valve open.

Making sure the toilet and tank are cleaned periodically can help you to avoid a disgusting septic tank back up in the middle of your holiday. Don’t forget to use RV appropriate products, including dissolvable toilet paper, to make sure everything runs smoothly.

With a little attention to the septic system in your RV, you can enjoy your travels without having to deal with any unpleasant problems along the way.

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This story was made possible by our Community Partners Program. Thank you RV City for helping to expand local news coverage in Athabasca, Barrhead, Westlock and surrounding area. Learn more.





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