Best RV Toilet Treatments (& How Camper Toilets Work)


All RV owners will probably agree that along with the fun of using an RV to travel and see the world, there are some not so enjoyable chores that need to be done to enjoy the ride and keep the vehicle travel clean.

Among these, one of the more crucial ones is not only keeping the lavatory clean from the outside but clearing its guts too. Treating the septic system with the care it deserves will reduce long-term maintenance issues for your vehicle.

To enjoy your RV to the fullest, please continue reading and make sure to apply what you have learned from this article. The task of keeping the RV toilet clean and cleaning its guts is not sexy, but absolutely essential.

In this informative piece, we will discuss the details of the best RV toilet treatments.

To better understand how to maintain the RV toilet, we will briefly explain its working. Your RV toilet must not only provide for your needs but be steady enough to withstand all the jolting and bumping along the road.

Types of RV toilets

There are a few types of toilets found in RV?s

  1. The smaller ones usually have Porta Potties. These have two sections. The bowl and where the waste is collected. The waste collection area is at the bottom. This tank will require manual emptying. Depending on how many people use it, it is a good practice to make sure that you empty it on a regular basis.
  2. The larger RVs will have a bath along with a fixed toilet. The toilet is something that would resemble a standing shower toilet in the house. It will, obviously, offer more privacy. The waste will collect in a separate tank – also known as black water tank – and is emptied from outside the trailer. As you continue reading, you will gain a better understanding of how this kind of toilet works, and how to keep it in healthy.

RV toilet tanks

RVs are usually fitted with three water tanks

  1. White water tank. This is the tank which is filled with fresh water to use in the kitchen and bathroom. The most important thing to remember is to keep this tank clean. You will not only shower with this water, but will be drinking it too. Before you fill it, check the quality of the water. If it is necessary, invest in an RV water filter system.
  2. Grey water tank. This is where the drain water from the kitchen and bathroom is collected. Although you will empty the tank regularly, it is necessary to clean and sanitize it at least once a year to keep it from creating a foul smell.
  3. Black water tank. This is where the waste from the toilet goes. Keeping an eye on this tank is necessary. The techniques to emptying it, cleaning it, and maintaining it is what we are extensively talking about.

Unlike your flush tank at home, the RV toilet is fitted with a pedal. When you press it water rushes into the bowl, the flap of the toilet opens, and all the muck goes into the black water tank. If you notice that it is not cleaning while flushing, keep a handy cup with fresh water and pour it into the bowl when you flush. Once this event is over, the flap will seal off the backsplash and smells from the tank. In the case that the dirty smells or water is not going away, you will have to check the seal. More on it later.

Related:?RV portable waste tanks

There are several chemicals which when put into the black water tank, will aid in breaking up the waste and eliminating odors.

Check them out on Amazon

Check the Toilet Seal

You will notice that the toilet in your RV is more like an airplane toilet then like the one at home. There is a valve which opens to let the water and other stuff into the septic tank (aka black water tank) when used. It will shut seal immediately after the flush.

There is a rubber seal on the valve which can harden in time. If this happens, the valve may not close completely. You will know that this has happened when you start getting the not so pleasant odors in your RV. To resolve this issue, you can use Plumber’s Grease?and apply it. Remember to wear rubber gloves when doing this task. This will lubricate the seal and prevent the water from backing up.

Always keep the Toilet Bowl Clean

New RVs are fitted with attached sprayers to use on the toilet bowl, especially when the flush is not powerful enough. If your model is an older one or does not have the sprayer, you can keep a small sized plastic cup near the toilet. Fill it with water and pour it around the bowl while flushing. Some fun-loving RVers keep a plastic water gun for solving this problem.

Use Septic Tank Friendly Toilet Paper

The type of toilet paper you flush into the septic tank is a determining factor of the condition of the tank. It is best to use single ply. Clogging the septic tank with the wrong kind of toilet tissue will not only give false readings on the tank sensor but can lead to significant septic issues as the tank fils.

Keep the Holding Tank Sensor Clean

RVers will share their stories of getting a false reading on their holding tank sensors immediately after they have emptied them out. That frequently happens when there is any kind of residue stuck on the sensor. The grey water tank sensor will normally give a correct reading, while the black water sensor will give false reading. The chances of this sensor being blocked are much higher due to the kind of waste collected around it.

A practical suggestion to fix this issue is to drop a few trays of ice into the RV toilet. The ice cubes will move around and remove any muck stuck inside the tank. Within a few hours, the ice will melt, hopefully cleaning the sensors of any residue.

Emptying the Tank

Most of the campgrounds have sanitation stations. Sometimes they are also called dump stations.

Both the grey and black water tanks have valves which are located under the trailer. They are fitted with a connection point for a hose to reach from the vehicle to the dump station. These hoses are usually three to four inches wide and ten to twenty feet long.

Once the hose is fitted, and the valve is opened, it will drain the black water tank. It is a good practice to drain the grey water tank last as it will flush the residue from the hose.

The best practice is to wear gloves when handling any kind of waste. Surgical ones work the best and are inexpensive.

Once you are done with emptying the tank, leave the valves open. Run fresh water into the toilet to clean off any remaining waste. Shut the valves, disconnect and rinse the hoses.

Remember to flush the toilet to build a little fresh water in the black water tank. Once done, you can add the additives to keep it in optimum condition.

Here is cool video on the emptying out your tanks.

This video will walk you through the steps to empty out the grey and black water tanks.

This video will help you understand how to rinse your black water tank once it is empty.

Give your RV Tank a Treat

A part of RV bathroom maintenance is giving the tank a treat. The treatments help to breakdown the waste and toilet paper residue, which will assist in flushing out all the gunk from the septic tank while you are pumping it. To lengthen the life of the RV toilet system, it is best to use a good quality RV septic tank treatment. These come in liquid and drop-in types, making it easy to maintain the tank.

In deciding what chemicals to use for the tank treatment, make sure that it does not contain any formaldehyde, it breaks down the waste and toilet tissue, and of course, it is safe for the septic tank. Click here to buy.


By this time, you have become an expert in understanding the guts of your RV. It cannot be stressed enough that keeping the private parts of your RV in optimum condition is a major part of enjoying your ride.

If you are new to RVs, you may not only find it a challenge, but also a bit yucky to clean the toilets. But be assured when you have done it a few times, it becomes second nature.

Following these simple best practices will make sure that you enjoy your RV and keep it maintenance free for a long time. If you find that you cannot handle these tasks, it is best to get professional advice. A clean tank will keep the smells away!


1 thought on “Best RV Toilet Treatments (& How Camper Toilets Work)”

  1. I am looking at using a camper toilet for a cabin that I will be using on weekends in the winter. I want a toilet that I don?t have to de-water or anti-freeze the trap. I am setting up the rest of the traps with waterless traps and will just bleed down the water before turning off heat.

    What type of flange does the RV toilets use, similar to residential and are they 3 inch or other. Thanks in advance.


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