There are lots of fun things awaiting you when you head off on a camping adventure in your RV. One of the not so enjoyable aspects of any trip, however, is dealing with the holding tank attached to your RV toilet, and even dealing with that essential fixture in general. It’s not even a topic most people want to think too hard about. However, a malfunctioning RV toilet can ruin your trip fast. So what is the best way to keep everything in great shape? What is the best RV toilet treatment?
Whichever RV toilet treatment you eventually choose – and there are lots out there – it must be able to keep the system as clog free as possible while also helping to break down waste and keep things smelling as fresh as possible.
Just as importantly, an RV toilet treatment should be suitable for use in your RV’s particular holding tank and easy enough to use that it won’t take up too much of your precious vacation time to make use of it.
More complicated than you expected? It can be, which is why here we are going to take a closer look at just what the best RV toilet treatment for you might be and how, in general, you can help ensure that your RV toilet remains functional and fresh for the duration of your trip.
So let’s get answering.
Why You Should Use RV Toilet Chemicals (And What Happens if You Don't!)
RV toilet chemicals help break down waste once it enters the ‘black tank’ to prevent nasty odors and blockages that can be very nasty to deal with when it is time to empty said tank. Most contain enzymes that are capable of doing all of this, and can be purchased in liquid, powder or tablet forms.
If you don’t make use of RV toilet chemicals, or don’t do so correctly, you could quickly end up with a very smelly RV bathroom, and, as it is a small, enclosed space, your camper is likely to stink up quickly too, but that’s not all.
If solid waste is not broken down correctly, it is likely to begin to build up on the bottom and sides of your black tank. Even a rinse down when emptying the tank may not solve the problem, and eventually lead to clogs and even damage to the sensors that would usually tell you how full or empty all of your water tanks are at any given time.
The last thing any RV fan needs is to head off boondocking and find their fresh water tank is unexpectedly empty because the sensor that monitors such things isn’t working properly!
How Are RV Toilet Chemicals Used?
Whichever product type you choose, it is likely that RV toilet chemicals will need to be added directly to the black tank. The good news here is that does not mean you need to have unwanted contact with it, as almost all RV toilet chemicals are added simply by flushing them down the toilet itself.
Start off by adding between 2-3 gallons of water to the black tank. Press down on the flushing valve for your toilet and add the treatment (liquid, powder or tablets)
Types of RV Toilet Chemicals
RV toilet treatments are sold in three basic types:
Liquid RV Toilet Chemicals
These bottled RV toilet treatments are simple to use because they may be poured directly into your RV toilet bowl. They pass through your RV’s septic system and into the holding tank with ease. The only big disadvantage of liquid solutions is that they can be messy; they readily spill and splash, and containers can leak if not handled carefully. Some of them also have a strong smell that’s rather overpowering in itself.
A good all-purpose product that will suit most RV holding tanks is Thetford’s Aqua-Kem RV holding tank treatment. It’s a three in one formula that breaks down waste, cleans as it does so, and even has a nice, pleasant scent that lingers for a while after use.
Dissolving Powder RV Toilet Treatment
Dissolving powder chemicals contain very similar chemicals to their liquid counterparts and are added to your toilet in the same way. They do need time to dissolve, so are not as ‘fast acting’ as a liquid formula, but once they do, they usually work just as well. Some people do avoid them, however, as they can create irritating dust as you pour.
One of our favorite powder formulas is the Unique RV Digest-It Holding Tank Treatment which can be used in both the black and grey tanks and is great at dissolving paper and solids. This low dust powder cleans and deodorizes, and one container will last for multiple trips.
Dissolving RV Toilet Treatment Pods
If you are a big fan of using detergent pods at home in your washing machine, or have got used to using them in your dishwasher, chances are you know how convenient they are. The good news for you is that you can buy RV toilet treatment pods too.
These are more expensive, but the ROI on that larger investment is the ease and convenience of being able to simply keep them in a bathroom cabinet and drop one or two into the RV toilet on an as needed basis, with the minimum of mess or fuss.
There are an increasing number of these pod solutions to choose from, but one we love is Walex Bio-Pak RV Black Holding Tank Deodorizer and Digester as they are eco-friendly, work quickly and smell great while also being one of the more affordable choices you can make.
Other Ways to Keep Your RV Toilet Fresh and Clean
Making sure that you use the right RV toilet chemicals, and that you use them properly, will help a lot when it comes to maintaining a clean, easy and pleasant to use RV bathroom. But there are some other things you should consider doing to help ensure that as well.
Make Sure the RV Toilet Flap Closes Every Time
If the toilet flap, which opens and shuts as you flush, is not firmly closed, odors from the holding tank underneath can become an issue. These flaps may occasionally quit closing correctly as they age, in which case they will need to be replaced. This could also happen if you don’t flush the toilet properly, so make it a practice to double-check that the toilet flap is closed after each usage.
Maintain a Clean Toilet
No one likes cleaning toilets, but in an RV, it’s absolutely crucial to do so frequently. Keep a plastic container filled with a mixture of water and a few drops of a pleasantly scented cleaner beside the toilet and spritz it into the bowl before flushing to reduce the number of times you’ll need to undertake a deep clean. You can now buy perfumed drop-in and even foamy toilet cleansers designed specifically for use in RV toilets.
Make Use of RV Toilet Paper
If you’re new to RVing and buying supplies for your trip, you may have noticed RV toilet paper and questioned if you really need it, especially since it’s usually more expensive than regular toilet paper. The sensible answer is yes.
Although you may come across an experienced RVer who claims to be able to use regular toilet paper without issue, you should take this with a grain of salt.
Toilet paper made for RVs degrades at a far higher rate than toilet paper made for homes. Even if you’re using the appropriate RV toilet chemicals, regular toilet paper can amass in the depths of your black tank, absorbing odors and attracting flies and other insects. That’s bad, because it’s a pest problem that may ultimately need expensive professional help to fix.
Finally, there’s a ton of information out there on how to keep your RV tanks clean and keeping the sensors clean to give you accurate readings. If the smells and cleaning associated with dumping have been a concern to you or your’re new to RVing, check out this super helpful video from Mountain Modern Life with some great tips.