A stinking toilet is the worst kind of nemesis that an RV adventure on open roads can have. Trust me, I’ve learned it the hard way. Life seems complete when you’re soaking in the beautiful sunset outside or having fun driving on the highway.
Until you have to go to the toilet. It’s not fun to talk about, really.
The holding tanks are essentially moving sewers and can become unpleasantly stinky. That’s why a lot of RVers I know don’t use their RV toilets at all – they make calculated and timely stops at places that have bathrooms.
But let’s face it, it’s not the best way out for a variety of reasons. For once, there might be no facilities for miles on end. Also, bigger parties tend to use the toilet more often, which makes having to find a place when someone has to go a nightmare.
The good news is that once you learn about how the black tank works, you’ll be on your way to having a traveling toilet, which is the best companion on any journey!
In this piece, I’m going to outline some crucial advice and tips that will help you stop that smell in your RV toilet.
It’s a multi-step process but can be learned easily.
- Understand the mechanics of your holding tank.
- Eradicate unpleasant odors before they take hold.
- Refill water frequently and smartly.
- Do proper tank cleaning and maintenance.
- Open the window and let some fresh air in.
- Air fresheners and plug-in diffusers are ideal for RV bathrooms.
- And a few other tricks.
But it all begins with understanding the cause. Let’s dive right into it.
We hope you find the links in this post useful. If you choose to purchase something through any of these links, we may receive a commission and we greatly appreciate your support, so thank you.
Why Does my RV Bathroom Smell Like a Sewer?
If your RV bathroom is always smelling or smelling like a sewer then it’s because of buildup in the base of the black tank or along the walls. This happens naturally over time.
It’s simple maths. Too many solids and too little water make your RV toilet smell like a sewer. This is the same case as bathroom clogging and you need to clean your black tank more often and fill it with more water. Unfortunately, you’ll only get the hang of the right frequency and water amount with some time.
There’s no cookie-cutter solution that will work magically for all types of RVs and all types of holding tanks.
Here are some additional pointers to keep in mind:
- The seal between the toilet and the drain might be leaking. This means no matter how much you clean your toilet and your tank, you will get the smell every time you’re in the bathroom. Look at signs of leakage and treat them before it widens.
- Too much bacteria in the water can render a lot of cleaning products useless, making your RV bathroom smell like a running sewer. Bacteria come from your body so there’s nothing you can do there, but you can use RV toilet chemicals that get rid of such bacteria without having an odor of their own. These can be found in more powerful cleaning products.
- The p-trap can also be the culprit here, so check for damage or signs of leakage in and around.
If your toilet is stinking up the place, there are a few things you can do to fix it. First, check out your RV’s manual and see if there are any suggestions on how to clean the unit. It’s also worth reading up on how to properly maintain your RV, especially if it’s been sitting for a while.
If those solutions don’t work, then you’ll want to call in a professional. You may not want to spend the money on an expensive repair or replacement of your toilet, but it could be worth it if it means keeping odors away from guests who stay with you.
My RV Toilet Smells When Flushed
Much like the toilet in your home, your RV bathroom has a sewer line. That’s right – when you flush, the water goes through the drain pipe to the septic tank and then onto the sewer line.
The problem is that your RV toilet is also connected to this same line. It doesn’t matter how well you clean out the septic tank or how many times you flush it down, there will always be some residue left behind in your toilet bowl.
If this residue builds up over time then it can cause a strong smell in your RV bathroom. It’s important to keep an eye on this because if left unchecked, it can get really bad really fast!
Here are some tips for keeping that sewer smell away:
- Flush your toilet less often
- Clean out the septic tank regularly
- Use antiseptic cleaners regularly
Many RVs come equipped with the same type of toilet that you would find in your house.
This is fine, but it can often lead to problems if you don’t take care of your RV’s toilet. The following tips will help you keep your RV toilet smelling fresh and clean.
Make sure to flush the toilet twice every time. This ensures that everything gets flushed down into a waste tank or holding tank, which then gets flushed out when you empty it later on.
Change out the absorbent flushes regularly, especially if they are made from paper towels or other disposable materials. These types of flushes can catch bacteria and other dirt that may have accumulated in your RV bathroom, which could subsequently cause a strong odor problem.
If possible, add a permanent odor neutralizer (view on Amazon) to the holding tank when changing out all of the absorbent flushes each time.
These products are usually very affordable and work well at neutralizing odors in tanks or holding tanks without having to replace them constantly.
How Do You Get Urine Smell Out of a Camper Toilet?
The best way to get rid of the odor of urine in your RV toilet is to replace the seal of the toilet tank. The seal should be replaced every 3 years, or whenever you notice that it is getting weak and fraying.
If you have a camper with a pop-up type toilet, you may need to replace the entire toilet tank.
If you’re struggling mainly with the smell of urine then it’s recommended to keep a toilet bowl cleaner. Be generous with its use. RV toilets that often smell of urine have perfectly working holding tanks – it’s just the holding tanks of the people onboard that are smaller.
This is often a comparatively small problem.
- Rinse the toilet bowl after use, always
- Use septic-safe toilet paper (view on Amazon)
- You might want to use a septic tank treatment
- Some chemicals also claim to keep your toilet free of urine smell, but they generally don’t last very long. They are good for occasional trips, however.
Use a deodorizer with special enzymes that break down the urea and ammonia in human urine. You can buy these at most camping stores. They usually come in a small spray bottle, but you may be able to find them online as well.
Some people like to use one of those lemon/orange scented air fresheners as another way to mask the smell, but I don’t recommend it because it will also mask other odors like cooking smells or smoke from a fire.
How to Keep an RV Toilet from Smelling?
Camper toilet odors can be a real problem. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to eliminate the odor, as well as prevent it from getting worse.
Clean the bowl often
Cleaning the bowl will help reduce any bacteria that might be present and prevent any odor-causing bacteria from reproducing. You can use warm water and soap or a mild bleach solution to clean out your RV toilet bowl every day or two, depending on how dirty it gets.
Use an air freshener/deodorizer in your bathroom area
Using a deodorizer is also a good way to get your RV toilet smelling fresh. You’ll find many deodorizers on the market including some that not just fight odors but also offer efficient waste dissolving when you flush.
Baking soda is one of the most effective odor absorbers around and works well in bathrooms where you may have pets or children using the facilities regularly — especially if you have pets who like to mark their territory by spraying urine all over everything!
Just sprinkle some baking soda into a spray bottle and spray around the toilet area for about twenty minutes before vacuuming up any residue left behind on the floor.
Identify the problem area
If the smell is coming from the toilet, then you may have a clogged drain. This can be fixed by removing the tank and digging around in the waste line to find any food or debris that has become stuck. You’ll need to soak it in a bucket of water for an hour or so, then give it another rinse. If this doesn’t work, then you may have to have your RV cleaned out professionally.
If it’s coming from somewhere else in the camper you can use some vinegar to cleanse the air around where you think it’s coming from. It’s safe for most materials and is usually safe for pets too.
Just dilute it with water according to the directions on the bottle and spray directly at least twice a day for about 30 minutes at a time until you feel like things are improving or you’re done cleaning up whatever problem there was.
What Can I Put in my RV Toilet to Make it Smell Better?
You’ve got a lot of options when it comes to RV toilets. Here’s what you should know about them, and how they work. When you’re camping or RVing, the last thing you want to sit down on is a toilet that smells bad. There are some things you can do to make your RV toilet smell better.
- Put a small amount of bleach in the tank after each use. Use half a cup per gallon of water.
- Use an RV-friendly toilet cleaner, such as Aqua Fresh or Nature’s Miracle. These products are designed to keep your RV smelling fresh and clean throughout its lifetime!
- Change the paper every few days. If it starts to get full of waste and urine, throw it out and change the paper. This will keep the bacteria at bay and keep odors from developing in the tank and bowl.
- Keep your toilet clean. Wash it out with hot water after each use and don’t let it sit for long periods before washing it out properly (if possible). You don’t want any sediment building up in there that could cause problems for years down the road if not taken care of immediately.
The most important thing to know about RV toilets is that they are not made to last. They are not meant to be used year after year, and they won’t be if you don’t make sure they are clean.
When you first get your RV toilet, it may smell a little damp. This is normal and should go away in a few days. But if it doesn’t, then there are a few things you can do to help make it smell better:
Use a little vinegar in the tank (not in the bowl). Vinegar is one of the best remedies for stinky toilets in general. You can buy it at any grocery store or drug store. Just pour some into the tank and let it sit for about an hour. Then pour some more vinegar into the tank and let it sit for another hour or two. Repeat this process until your toilet no longer smells like something died in it!
If this doesn’t work try adding baking soda to the water instead of vinegar, but only add 1/4 cup per gallon of water or less (if you use too much baking soda then your toilet will smell like someone peed in it).
What is the Least Smelly RV Toilet?
The least smelly RV toilet is the one that has been properly maintained and cared for. Most RV owners are very good at cleaning out their toilets and keeping them clean. You may want to check out the RV toilet tips below, but if you don’t have time to do this, just make sure that you clean out your toilet regularly, especially when it starts smelling bad.
The most common problem with toilets is that they aren’t cleaned well enough. The best way to avoid an unpleasant odor in your RV is to use a product that has natural enzymes that break down waste matter before it can become foul-smelling.
These products can be purchased at many camping supply stores or online.