For many new to the RV lifestyle, the RV toilet is a mysterious dweller in a tiny closet. But if you plan on spending any time with your RV, you’ll soon need to get intimately acquainted. Here are important tips to get along with what can be a good friend on the road.
1. Yes, you can poop in it
Some really wonder if it’s safe to do “Number Two” in their RV toilet, fearing something awful might happen. Fear not. If you treat your toilet with respect and follow these tips, nothing terrible will happen.
2. But DON’T put the wrong things in it
Human waste, toilet paper, water, and the correct holding tank treatments are the ONLY things that should go “down the hatch.” The tank that holds your “black water” waste is very sensitive and, if mistreated, can clog up with disastrous results. Don’t try putting facial tissue, wipes, paper towels, or feminine supplies in your toilet. Ditto that for food (other than what you’ve already digested).
3. Before YOU deposit, add water
Keeping a small amount of water in the toilet bowl will help seal off smells from coming back up from the holding tank. Normally, each time you flush the toilet the process will leave a small amount of water in the bowl. But water can evaporate, and if there’s a slight leak in the toilet bowl seal, it will disappear.
How do you put water in? MOST RV toilets have a foot pedal to flush. If you don’t see one, then look at the back of the toilet. You may spot a slide lever—it does the same job as the foot pedal. Push the foot pedal PART WAY to the floor—or the slide lever part way to the opposite side—and water will flow into the bowl. Push the foot pedal ALL THE WAY DOWN—or the lever all the way opposite of its starting point—and the bowl valve will open, flushing all the contents into the holding tank.
Need to use the toilet? Some RVers will add a couple of inches of water to the bowl if they’ll be pooping. This helps keep the bowl from getting Klingons. More on this in Tip 6.
4. Limit the amount of toilet paper
The more you put down your RV toilet drain, the faster your tank will fill up. Too much toilet paper can also contribute to clogging. Be conservative with ripping off the roll. Some RVers don’t even put toilet paper down the drain. Instead, after use, they stash it in a plastic bag, or a sealed tight trash can with a lid. The used TP is eventually disposed of in a proper dump.
By the way, you don’t need to buy expensive “RV toilet paper.” Most TP will dissolve in your tank, provided you don’t dump too much in the tank and you flush with plenty of water. That comes up in the next TP tip!
5. Use the right amount of water to flush
This depends on your camping circumstances. If you’re hooked up to a “city water” supply, meaning you’re not depending on water from your fresh water holding tank, more is better. The more water you put down the toilet, the less likely it is you’ll deal with tank clogs, or tank smells. The rule of thumb here: After you’ve used the toilet, add water to the count of 10, then empty the bowl with a full-to-the-floor pedal drop.
If you’re “boondocking” and need to conserve water (and black water tank space), then less is better. After you’ve used the toilet, simply step on the pedal to the floor and empty the tank. Quickly get your foot back up off the pedal to stop excess water from flowing into the holding tank.
DO YOU USE special (high priced) RV toilet paper in your RV or less expensive brands available at supermarkets? Find out in this recent RVtravel.com survey.
6. Keep it clean
Nobody likes a dirty RV toilet. There are a couple of ways to deal with the problem. Your RV toilet may be equipped with a hose and nozzle that looks like something you’d find on the back of a kitchen sink. That’s a toilet bowl rinser. Use it to deal with those nasty Klingons. Don’t have a bowl rinser? Then invest in the humble toilet bowl brush. A quick zip around the bowl can leave it nice for the next person.
Some RVers subscribe to the “sign of the cross” method. You don’t need to subscribe to any particular religious faith for this one. Before you use the toilet, pull off two lengths of toilet paper about 8” or so. Lay the first down in the toilet bowl one direction, and the second on top of it, cross-ways. The sacrificed TP helps by carrying solid wastes down into the tank when you flush. Again, you might want to keep in mind just how much total toilet paper you’re “depositing” in your tank.
7. Be careful with holding tank treatments
It’s a deep subject, and one we’ll deal with in detail in a future edition. Briefly, holding tank treatments are supposed to help break down the wastes in your black water tank, and help prevent odors. Many treatments can be harmful to waste water treatment systems and even the environment.
For that reason, many RVers only use bacterial/enzyme treatments. NEVER use “home brew” treatments like bleach, which can damage holding tank valves and kill off beneficial holding tank bacteria.