Get Rid of Pesky RV Holding Tank Odor

It’s a common nuisance – especially in hot weather. It’s not a pretty subject, but one that can be informative for RV users. One reason people love RVs is because it’s like a tiny home on wheels, where you don’t have to rely on rest stops, gas stations, or wait until arriving at your destination to use the bathroom.

That said, many RV drivers do exactly this so they don’t have to worry about utilizing the RV toilet and black water tank. But really, with a little education and know-how, it doesn’t have to be a complete chore; the reality of emptying and cleaning the holding tank. If you don’t do this on a regular basis, unpleasant odors can set in, and you don’t want that!

If your camper smells like sewage, you need to take action. Here’s what to do to avoid this completely.

Refill the Water – Keep Things Flowing

Even if you empty your black water tank regularly, you still need to add water back in. Makes sense, right? Waste needs to be mixed with fluid so the tank doesn’t dry out. This greatly reduces any odors that may arise and also keep your tank working properly. A good rule of thumb is to add enough water so that the bottom is completely covered – usually about 7-8 toilet bowls of water.

Add Water Every Day Along with Black Water Tank Chemicals

Be sure to add water each day you use the RV toilet – ideally every time you flush. Then every so often, add specialized holding tank chemicals by dumping some into the toilet. It is an environmentally safe liquid that helps to break down waste and toilet paper, and also controls odors. Always follow the instructions that come with the chemical you use so you don’t dump in too little or too much. Your RV manual should also have information on what black water tank chemical to use.

Cleaning and Preventing Clogs

The main cause of a black water tank blockage is toilet paper. Most RV tanks were not designed for regular toilet paper, so instead use biodegradable, RV-grade toilet paper. If a clog does happen, it’s usually obvious. When you go to empty your tank and nothing comes out, it’s a sure sign of a clog. When this happens, you can hire a professional to unclog it, or the cheaper route is to do it yourself.

Clean and Scour Your Tank

Every few times a year you should have your tank thoroughly cleaned. Yes, it’s not pretty (and you can hire a professional to do it) but it’s all part of keeping your tank running the way it should and keeping it odor-free. Think of it as an oil change on a car.

Clean the Toilet and the Flapper

Just like your toilet at home, your RV toilet should be scrubbed every so often to keep it looking nice and fresh smelling. Not doing this could be another reason why you are smelling a foul odor, even when you have finished cleaning your tank. Clean both the flapper and toilet thoroughly.

Repair Work Needed

If having done all of the above and you still smell an odor, it could signal a more serious issue with your toilet or black water tanks. There may be a leak or damage somewhere, so it’s best to hire a professional to pinpoint the problem.