Did you read my story last Sunday about the “pyramid of poo” in my RV’s black tank? You know this is a hot topic of conversation among RVers. No sh*t! Read it here before continuing on.
I received some good responses from readers who don’t agree with everything Kleen Tank literature says. Several swear by Dawn or Happy Camper. No one mentioned the products you find in an RV store aisle. Not all agree you need to spend $250 every year on a professional service but all agree that the No. 1 thing you can do to keep your tanks flowing is water, water, and more water.
That’s going to be tough for me because even though I have a 28-foot motorhome, my fresh water tank is only 27 gallons, my gray water tank is only 23 gallons and my black tank is a decent 35 gallons. Wow, too small if you’re not an avid RV park fan, and I am not! I have a backwash system but I am not convinced how great that is.
Readers speak out: What works and what doesn’t work on their RV black and gray tanks?
Reader Randall S. recommended the Camco RV holding tank rinsing wand for cleaning tanks periodically. So did someone named OM, who added, “I don’t see anyone mention using ‘The Wand’ in black tanks. For me, it’s part of routine maintenance, once a month or so when we are in the rig for the winter. Usually, the sensors will work again for a while.”
Rod just uses a plain old rubber water hose. But then he has a window in his bathroom—I don’t. He writes, “I use a lot of water. Put a rubber water hose from outside through the window into the toilet. Turn on the water and let it run. Load the tank with water, load the toilet with water, flush, load until the water is clear coming from the black tank.”
For gray tanks, my pal Diane N. says: “I paper towel wipe dishes before washing them and avoid letting much organic food waste down my sink.” Great idea! She added: “And now I’ve added Pine Sol and Calgon to my shopping list…”
Robert says the Kleen Tank recipe didn’t work for him. “After attending a manufacturer-based rally at Elkhart, we tried the Kleen Tank recipe and double flushing for several months. Sensor function got worse. Tried Boraxo and Dawn. Boraxo stops ants but has no effect on sensor function. Tried lots of water. Less expensive but odors returned. Now re-evaluating Happy Camper. What works for us: Double flush. Add about 5 gallons of water per tank after dumping. Happy Camper reduces/eliminates grey tank odor. Add enough water, etc., to tanks to about 2/3 then dump when leaving a campground. 100 miles of sloshing loosens a lot. Dump again on arrival if black tank flush is convenient.”
I like the idea of sloshing!
Gregory is also a Happy Camper fan. “It just works; no smell and it breaks down solids to liquid. There are some incorrect statements in your article, as well. Possibly, Kleen Tank is drumming up business like the quick lube companies, who say to change oil every 3,000 miles; I won’t go there. Just follow the manufacturer’s recommendation.
“After over 40 years of RV boondocking, I’ve never had solids stack up. A process that works:
- Fill the bowl with some water, about 2 inches
- Place a piece of RV toilet paper on top of the water
- Do your duty and flush. The paper will clean the bowl as it descends.”
Gary G. has a video suggestion: “Check out the ‘Wandering Wagners’ YouTube video ‘I’m Shaking’. They suggest using a product called Commando Tank Cleaner for messed up tanks.”
IM swears by “Happy Camper, Dawn, Borax has worked for years without issue. We use I’m Septic Safe TP, same that we use in our Stix & Brix system.”
Why does everyone recommend Dawn and not, say, Palmolive? Well, for one thing, it is rated the No. 1 dish soap by the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab. “Dish soap is one of the only products gentle enough to be used in a variety of capacities without damaging different materials or surfaces. That said, it is still definitely strong enough to get the grease-busting job done.” It’s also been tested on birds covered in oil and removed 67 percent of the oil as opposed to 55% or 33% by other brands. (www.csef.usc.edu)
Valerie O. recommends a product I haven’t heard about: “I also inherited this problem with the used RV I bought (suspect poor habits and leaving it dry while it sat before sold). After trying many other things, I paid $250 to the RV Proctologist and accomplished nothing. Finally added ‘TankTechsRx for Plugged Black Tanks’ and plenty of water. Drove home, let it sit over the summer, and drove cross-country before I emptied it. Finally, no more problems and I have so much more capacity now.”
I think we all know not to flush facial tissue down the toilet. That is, everyone but Bob P’s friend. Here is a cautionary tale. “My friend had a recent surgery with an open draining wound he had to clean several times daily. He casually dropped Kleenex down the toilet after using it to clean the wound. Several days later he attempted to dump the black tank, it was plugged with undissolved tissues. He finally got the plug broke loose and drained the tank by drilling a small hole in the clear plastic elbow and putting a stiff wire through the hole and breaking loose the ‘dam.’ Then plugged the little hole with epoxy.” Wow, I think this gentleman learned his lesson.
FYI, I am “sticking” to the recipe of Calgon bath beads and Pine Sol recommended by Kleen Tank. After all, I bought it and I am gonna use it!
OK, our lesson on gray and black tanks is now concluded. Unless you have something to add?
Oh, one parting shot: What did one toilet bowl say to another toilet bowl? “You’re looking flushed.”