Time for RV Potty Talk!
Unless you have a camper van or maybe a small RV, you probably have a toilet in your camper. If so, you know it’s a pain to clean. Well, it is for me. I find it difficult to really get a good, sanitized clean on my RV toilet without using products that might be harmful to my pipes and tank.
Plus, when you are out enjoying life, who really wants to clean a toilet? What’s an RVer to do? Let’s talk about this unpleasant subject.
What kinds of RV toilets are there?
Although most RV toilets are cleaned the same ways, there are different types of toilets. Let’s review those first.
- The most common RV toilet is connected to your water supply, has a foot peddle for flushing, and empties into your black tank. Those toilets can be porcelain for a little more money, or plastic, which are a little cheaper.
- Smaller RVs such as pop-up campers or truck campers may have cassette toilets. These have a built-in reservoir for fresh water and a small attached “cassette” for waste. The cassette is dumped into a sewer drain. There is no need for a plumbing system.
- Another RV option is a composting toilet. These also do not need a plumbing system or water to work. The waste is deposited into a lower holding tank where liquids evaporate, and solids turn into fertilizer.
Here are some of the tips and tricks I found that work to make your potty a bit more sanitary in your small space. Now, get cleaning!
How I Keep My RV Toilet Clean
1. Keep the bowl half full.
This will help keep streaking to a minimum.
2. Use a non-abrasive brush or sponge.
Make sure you clean every other day or so.
3. Use the attached sprayer.
Many RV toilets come with an attached sprayer to use when the flush isn’t powerful enough. If you don’t have one, keep a small plastic cup handy and pour it around your toilet bowl as you flush. A small plastic water gun or spray bottle will also work well.
4. Coat the toilet inside with fiberglass RV wax.
This will make the surface smoother and more stain resistant. This usually needs to be repeated about once a month.
5. Turn the bathroom vent off when flushing.
Your first instinct is to turn your bathroom fan on to keep your RV from smelling. There is nothing wrong with this and will help dissipate odor, but know that if you run the fan while you flush, your fan basically sucks the foul odors and fumes out of your holding tank and into your bathroom. Run the fan, just not when you flush.
6. Clean your black tank regularly.
This will help with smells coming up through the toilet when you flush. How often should you empty your tank? Your gauges should tell you how full the tank is, but sometimes sensors become coated and aren’t necessarily reliable.
Depending on how many people you have in your rig, you should probably empty it no less than once a week. Flushing your tank each time you dump will also help keep your tank and sensors cleaner.
7. Use dissolvable toilet paper.
This doesn’t have to be the expensive kind you buy at an RV store. We use Great Value Everyday Soft from Walmart. Check out YouTube videos comparing store brand dissolvability with more expensive RV specific brands.
8. Use drop-in packets, liquid, or dissolvable treatment every time you empty your black tank.
These chemicals contain enzymes that help break down waste and tissue. We recommend these ultra-concentrated RV toilet treatment drop-ins from Camco.
9. Best cleaning solutions
Cleaning solutions must be specific to your RV so as not to harm your equipment. Concentrated cleaners, scouring powders, or other harsh chemicals should not be used as they could ruin the toilet, damage the toilet seal, and even void any warranty you might have left on your toilet.
So, using cleaners that you used in your sticks and bricks is probably not an option. The first line of defense is a vinegar and baking soda solution. Add a third cup of vinegar into the bowl and then sprinkle in a little baking soda. It will bubble, then scrub your toilet. You can also put the vinegar solution in a plastic bottle and then spray the toilet. Add baking soda to the toilet brush and scrub.
Here are a few cleaning solutions made particularly for RVs:
- Thetford Aqua-Foam Toilet Cleaner
- Dometic 3 ‘N 1 Drop In Bowl Cleaner and Tank Treatment
- Unique Camping & Marine RV Toilet Cleaner
- Star Brite Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Keeping your toilet shiny, sanitary, and smell-free doesn’t have to be difficult. Follow some of these basic tips and be sure to include your own tips in the comments below.
Make sure you keep track of all your RV maintenance and repairs with an online tool such as RV LIFE Maintenance. Not only can you keep all of your documents in one place, but you’ll also receive timely reminders when maintenance is due to help you avoid costly repairs and potentially serious accidents.
More RV Toilet Tips and Tricks
Terri and her husband, Todd, are full time RVers and work campers. They have been living full time in their RV for nearly three years with their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Newton, and their Mini Aussie puppy Remi. They are currently wintering in Arizona with plans to continue their travels next summer. Writing is Terri’s passion but she also loves hiking, kayaking and anything she can do outside.
Tim Cooper says
Not all tank treaments are effective. Check out this video I made testing 8 different treatments. One is clearly more effective than the rest.
Deb Rotert says
Thanks for your video! We are going full time in 2 years and we took notes in your experiment!
Diane Kaminski says
Happy Camper cleans too besides treating your tanks. Directions tell you to fill up your toilet bowl, put a scoopfull in and scrub your toilet bowl while it dissolves. Been cleaning mine this way over 10+ years. I have even used Happy Camper in cassette toilets too.
Samantha Nichols says
We purchased toilet cleaner along with Unique RV Digest Pods and couldn’t be happier. Toilet cleaner seems to use more natural ingredients and keeps things fresh. After reading the caravan manual I was afraid to clean the toilet with anything that could be damaged. So far I haven’t noticed any discoloration or damage. Just a fresh clean caravan toilet if someone is actually going to clean it!
Samantha Nichols says
Your article is really worth and I love this. Thanks so much for sharing!
We just purchased a Coachman, she needs lot of work. But I think she will be worth it. The toilet is in bad shape. Has not been cleaned for sometime. What should I use on it first? Thanks for any and all help.
Sorry but I believe the enzyme treatments are totally ineffective and a waste of money. I tried and found absolutely no difference. There is simply not enough time for any significant decomposition of waste in the holding tank.
The main helpers of keeping the tank clean are 1) Never start out with tank completely empty. 2) Make sure to use an adequate amount of water to flush waste. 3) Empty tank promptly – never let it sit for days without use when it contains waste. 4) Always always always fill at least once and preferably twice with flush water after dumping.
JD Henley says
Our Dometic 320 is easy to keep totally clean. We use Happy Camper in the Black Tank with no problems or smells. But no one addresses the pipe immediately below the toilet flush gate. I tried keeping it clean with a toilet brush but that moves the toilet gasket at the gate opening. It is visible anytime you flush and embarressing if we have company. How can I clean this pipe?
Bruno John says
We are on a septic system, so we had to find something safe and biodegradable to clean our toilets. While searching online I found this article. Thanks for sharing your view. I was hoping it was as good as the reviews had stated.