Thursday, September 21, 2023


Have you ever gotten sick from handling your sewage hose?

Recently we posed a poll question sent to us by a reader (and it was a great question, Sandy!) and this week we’re doing the same. Reader Larry L. wrote, “How about a survey of how many people have gotten sick handling their sewage hose? I’ve camped for 70+ years. Never got sick.”

At first, we thought this question might not generate a lot of interest, but the more we thought about it the more we wondered… have many RVers gotten sick from their RV’s sewage hose? If so, YIKES!

So, have you, in your years of RVing, ever gotten sick from handling it?

Please vote and then leave a comment. You know we want to hear those stories!

(Psst: If you ever have a good question for a poll that you’d like us to ask, email us at editor (at) Thanks!)


  1. As I’ve said before, there is nothing in the wastewater tank that hasn’t already been on or in your body. Even if you are travelling with someone recently arrived from a third world country, you have been previously exposed to whatever they may have. Given reasonable precautions – no open wounds, don’t lick you fingers, wash your hands afterwards – using the sewer hose is no more dangerous than changing a baby’s diaper. Disinfecting the water spigot is a more sensible practice, but even that is a little overkill. Ingesting a few “germs” is not likely to cause disease, except in a severely immune compromised individual.

  2. From a Plumber- The guy I did my apprenticeship with in the 60’s would with his bare hand clear the clog in a sewer line. Said he had done it for 30 years and no problems. Well, todays “material” is of a much more serious and dangerous nature I always wear gloves when touching the slinky.

  3. I typically dont use gloves, I have a sanitizing soap container for afterwards. Also I keep my hoses clean. Never been sick either.

    Here is one for you, I was in line watching a guy using gloves do his stuff. Something distracted him and he went to his truck cab and got his phone and was using it with the gloves on. I didn’t notice later if he cleaned the phone before using it again. That is something I would never do, I always wash those hands before doing anything else. 🙂

  4. As a 1st responder I get nitrile gloves from local ambulance service. Anytime I mess with nasty stuff I use gloves. Also use a mask to help with odors/fowl smells.

  5. I use the blue nitrile gloves sold at Harbor Freight, try to catch them on sale. We use 5mil for general household cleaning, the 7mil for doody duty, and the 9mil when I am doing mechanical work. The 5’s are too thin, and the 9’s are over kill for dumping the tanks in my opinion.

  6. Gloves or not gloves? Reusable gloves or throw away gloves? Our first 10 years of RVing I did not use gloves, simply washed my hands after dumping – no sickness. Then, reading all the possibilities of infection and contamination – I decided to use throw away gloves. They mostly were thrown away before I could use them as the tore on my ring or just pulling them on – so no gloves. I have mixed emotions on this subject. I have never been ill, never been overly cautious; and if no one is behind me waiting for me to dump. I will put on the gloves – if there is someone, I will move along as quickly as I can. Either way, I wash my hands as you can’t get the gloves off without touching the possible contaminated “other” glove!

  7. This question in itself would require pure conjecture. You may have gotten sick after handling your sewer hose but there is no way you can knowing say that it was caused by handling the sewer hose. On another note, I always wear gloves when handling mine but that’s so I don’t smell like ____.

  8. Absent something exotic, one must pretty much ingest contaminated feces (yeah, that felt stupid to type) to acquire a stomach illness from dump hose handling.

    Infections can arise if open wounds are exposed to pathogens but that’s for a different poll.

    Not contaminating your poop by with norovirus, rotavirus and Cryptosporidium in the first place is a good start as is working without your mouth open.

    But what if the guy before you “poisoned the well”?

    Wearing gloves eases the mind but visualize yourself when you put them on and take them off.

    When you grab them, it transfers what’s on them to your hand. When you shove your hand in, you put what’s on your hand inside the glove to feed, breed, and procreate. This process is repeated until glove disposal.

    Even if you use tongs to install and remove them, the storage space and whatever contacts them will get contaminated. And yes, that contamination will eventually get inside your gloves. Yeah, it’s safe to say everyone who’s handled the hose has probably ingested micro particles of feces. I know, yuck!

    The only way I know to be 99.8% sure is to store my gloves in a lidded Folgers jug full of bleach solution. Yeah, they’re dripping wet inside and out but they kill just about everything on contact.

    Example coffee jug size:

  9. A good supply of disposable gloves, run some gray water first to check for leaks, soap and water nearby and a bottle of hand sanitizer for extra measure. Also a bottle of Clorox cleanup to spray everything down before the next dumping and a separate pair of old slip on shoes to wear when at public dump stations, I keep them in a plastic shoe box in an outside bin. It makes me want to vomit when I see people dumping without gloves and then touch everything.

  10. Emptying the tanks is more distasteful than dangerous. (Unless you have someone recently arrived from a third-world country using your toilet.)

    Your immune system is already used to small amounts of your family’s fecal material getting thrown into the air when a toilet is flushed. Some probably lands on tooth brushes. (Especially the new ones at home that use less water.)

    Men, after using the toilet, do you touch your zipper and belt buckle before washing your hands.

    • Gagging is not the same as getting “sick”. You can gag just watching someone else gagging!
      And, how would you know if dumping caused sickness?

  11. Nope – and that includes a memorable episode of macerator failure that resulted in my receiving the proverbial “sh*t shower” during one dumping procedure. If you’re careful handling your dumping gear and always wash up afterward, you’re not going to have any problems with this.

  12. Unless a person was tested they may never know what caused that stomach or bowel “discomfort” they had so would never know if sewer hose contact was the root cause. So I suspect that only “serious” cases that involve a visit to the doctor with a positive confirmation of cause might be reported in a poll.

    Personally, I’m in the “disposable gloves” group. I know a lot of others are not. Ain’t freedom great!!! 🙂

    P.S. After observing a lady stand there watching her large dog lift its leg and urinate all over the water spigot of the campsite next to us, I always spray with bleach before hookup! Have seen sewer hoses laid on picnic tables too! Yuk!!!

  13. In 11 years of full time RVing, I always dump with disposable gloves. They get thrown away when done and I also carry a spray bottle of clorox/water to spray down the faucet at these campgrounds. I have seen people place their sewer hose up under the faucet and that is not good. Be prepared when it comes to anything concerning sewer and the average consumer!

  14. I keep a large bottle of hand sanitizer in the compartment to sanitize my hands before and after. Also, I go in and wash my hands immediately after dumping the tanks. I have been doing this for years and never had a problem.

  15. Do not have a stinky slinky in normal use. Only for emergency situations. We do carry one.
    Have macerator for most situations. Also, have backup macerator plus extra hose.
    Just what we do. Your mileage may very.

    • umm, does something different (other than size) go through your macerator hose than your slinky hose? I also have both – I use the mascerator at our house and only travel with it when I know that’s my only dump option. Regardless how I empty the waste tanks, the same ‘stuff’ appears at the RV’s waste gate.

      The only time I don’t wear gloves is if I am already connected and only handling the sanitized wastegate handle.


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