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What RV Toilet Chemicals Should You Use?

No one likes dealing with a clogged toilet or black tank that won’t empty correctly. Additionally, a malfunctioning black tank can cause severe odors that can quickly take over. 

RV toilet chemicals help keep your black tank odorless and clean. They neutralize and break down waste, giving you a more pleasant dump station experience. But do you really need to use them and are certain ones better than others? Lets take a look.

RV Toilet Chemical Packets
RV toilet chemicals are available in convenient, mess-free packets.

RV dump stations are not a free-for-all. Learn how to correctly and cleanly empty your holding tanks: How to Properly Use an RV Dump Station (And Avoid A Mess!)

What Are the Different Types of RV Chemicals?

The most common chemicals used in RV tank cleaners often include a variety of compounds designed to break down waste, control odor, and clean the tank. Some of these chemicals are:

  1. Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde Releasers: These chemicals are often used for their strong antibacterial properties. They help in breaking down waste and controlling odors. However, due to environmental concerns, their use has been declining.
  2. Enzymes and Bacteria: These are biological agents that break down waste naturally. Enzymes accelerate the decomposition of organic matter, while bacteria consume waste. This method is more environmentally friendly.
  3. Detergents and Surfactants: These are used for cleaning and breaking down grease and other organic materials. They help in keeping the tank walls clean.
  4. Fragrances and Odor Neutralizers: These are added to mask or neutralize the odors coming from the waste in the tank.
  5. Bronopol: A preservative that also functions as a bactericide and fungicide. It’s used in some formulations to prevent the growth of unwanted bacteria and fungi in the tank.
  6. Citric Acid: Often used in ‘greener’ or more environmentally friendly formulations, citric acid can help in breaking down organic waste and controlling odors.

Do You Need To Use RV Toilet Chemicals?

Overall toilet chemicals mainly enhance comfort by reducing odors. RV toilets directly connect to a holding tank where waste is stored until it can be properly disposed of. Toilet chemicals help control and reduce unpleasant odors that can emerge from these tanks. Some toilet types like cassette toilets tend to have very strong odors and its most comfortable to use them with every dump.

However, there is another more important function. Toilet chemicals often contain enzymes and bacteria that help in breaking down solid waste and toilet paper. This process is crucial as it prevents clogs and makes the waste easier to dispose of when you empty the tank.

So no you don’t have to use toilet chemicals, but it can help the holding tank work its best and prevent problems. We have known people who never use chemicals and have not had problems and we only use them occasionally to help break down waste. Overall its a good idea to use them at least occasionally.

Holding Tank Monitor
Without RV toilet chemicals, the waste build-up can damage your tank sensors, giving you inaccurate readouts on your monitor panel.

Toilet clogs happen to everyone, even RVers! Solve the problem and prevent it from happening again with these simple solutions: RV Nightmare: How to Unclog RV Toilet

How Do You Apply RV Toilet Chemicals

Thankfully, you can easily apply RV toilet chemicals. The process will vary slightly depending on the brand. Generally, you place the chemical in a toilet full of water and simply flush it down. Usually you use them after you have emptied the tank.

The directions will tell you if you need to use a specific amount based on your tank size. Be sure to follow up with a few extra flushes of clean water. 

Now to be most effective use the cleaners before driving. The extra sloshing of the mixture as you drive will help to effectively break up solids and clean the tank.

What RV Toilet Chemicals Should You Use?

In the end, finding the right RV toilet chemicals will be a process of trial and error. You’ll want to try different options to see what you like best. 

Results can vary due to frequency of usage, flushing habits, and toilet paper use. What chemical works well for you might not work well for another camper or rig. 

Favorite RV Waste Tank Treatments from Love Your RV!

Pro Tip: Always use RV toilet paper in a camper bathroom. It dissolves quickly in water, ensuring your black tank and sewer hoses won’t clog with clumps of toilet paper.

Best RV Holding Tank Chemicals to Use

To help you get started with holding tank treatments, we’ve gathered a few of the top RV toilet chemicals. Let’s see what these chemicals can do.

Happy Campers

Happy Campers has quite the following, and you can easily see why. RV owners love the product due to its odor-eliminating properties. In fact, we’ve been using Happy Campers for our truck camper toilet, and have been very satisfied with the results.

Happy Campers RV Toilet Treatment 18 - Extra...
  • Powerful Odor Control: Say goodbye to unpleasant odors with our...
  • Effective Waste Digestion: Happy Campers breaks down waste and...
  • Long-Lasting Performance: Our concentrated formula means a little...

Happy Campers liquefies solid waste, RV toilet paper, and most household tissue. It continues to work even in extreme temperatures, ensuring odor-free tanks. The product comes in a loose powder form, and you can use one scoop for a 40-gallon tank. 

Camco RV Toilet Treatment

The Camco RV Toilet Treatment comes in individual packets filled with potent odor-fighting powder. The powder has a citrus scent to help give you a fresh-smelling RV bathroom. One packet will treat a 40-gallon tank. 

Camco TST MAX Camper / RV Toilet Treatment...
  • POWERFUL RV BLACK TANK TREATMENT: Eliminate clogs & odors in your...

The packet dissolves quickly once submerged. Simply drop it into the toilet and flush it down, and it gets to work immediately. It breaks down waste and toilet paper. It contains no toxic ingredients giving you peace of mind that you are using only the best products for your family and the environment. 

Walex Porta-Pak RV Holding Tank Treatment

Another excellent RV toilet chemical product is the Walex Porta-Pak RV Holding Tank Treatment. Similar to the Camco treatment, it comes in individual packets that can treat a 40-gallon tank. 

Walex Porta-Pak RV Marine Black Holding Tank...
  • WASTE BREAKDOWN - Porta-Pak RV Marine Holding Tank Deodorizer...
  • HOLDING TANK DEODORIZER - Porta-Pak marine and RV holding tank...
  • VERSATILE FOR ALL TANKS - Our marine and RV tank deodorizer for...

These pre-portioned packets contain no formaldehyde. They won’t stain your toilet, and they work to break down waste and toilet paper. The strong formula gets to work, eliminating odor and build-up immediately. 

FAQ: Can You Put Bleach in Your RV Toilet?

NEVER PUT BLEACH IN A TANK FULL OF SEWAGE! Mixing bleach with urine creates chloramine gas which is very dangerous. While it would hopefully vent outside, its not worth the risk. However, when your tank is emptied and flushed out, you can sanitize it with diluted bleach.

Bleach works great to kill bacteria, but it can also kill good bacteria that help break down waste. It’s harsh, and when used regularly, it can damage the seals and other rubber components. If you do use bleach, be sure to dilute it to reduce the harsh effects.

While bleach and toilet bowl cleaner are commonly used to clean residential toilets, you should avoid using them on your RV toilet.

FAQ: Can You Use Regular Toilet Bowl Cleaner in Your RV Toilet?

You may get away with using regular toilet bowl cleaner; however, it can cause significant damage. RVs have many plastic components. Even if you have a porcelain RV toilet, you’ll likely have plastic tubing and holding tanks, and rubber seals. Regular toilet bowl cleaner can degrade these parts, causing costly damage and leaks. 

While most RVs come standard with either a gravity-fed toilet or cassette toilet, you do have other options. Take a look: A Practical Guide to the 6 RV Toilet Types

Avoiding Problems with the Right Chemicals

RVing means exploring fun new places and seeing amazing sights as you create memories with loved ones. It also means learning how your RV works and troubleshooting problems as they occur.

Nasty smells can put a damper on your trip. Using the right environmentally friendly and biodegradable chemicals can help you avoid toilet problems and odors.

RV Toilet
Keep your RV bathroom odor-free and in good working order with the best RV toilet chemicals.

Understanding how your black tank works and how to maintain it is an essential part of RV life. Click to learn More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Your RV Black Water Tank.

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About Tom Morton

Tom, a Pacific Northwest native, is our technical genius. Born in Washington and raised in Alaska before settling in Michigan. He's the man who keeps our operation running, both figuratively and literally.

With a background in Electrical Engineering, Tom specializes in RV solar systems and lithium batteries. He made history as the first documented individual to use a Tesla battery module as an RV battery. Tom has personally assisted countless RVers with system installations and has educated thousands more through his videos and articles.

Cinematography is another of Tom's passions, showcased in his work on the Go North series. You can see his camera skills on display in The RVers TV show on Discovery Channel and PBS where he also stars as a co-host.

Tom's mechanical expertise extends beyond RVs to boats, planes, and all things mechanical. He's renowned for taking on maintenance and repair projects single-handedly and is often spotted underneath RVs, making him the technical backbone of our endeavors.

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Friday 2nd of February 2024

Timely article Tom. I just bumped into an RVer who never uses chemicals, and I was quite surprised. I have been faithfully using them for 24 years!

I thought the other important use of chemicals is to prevent odors from emanating from the black tank vent stack. A bit of a breeze and a downwind could bring that "raw" odor right into your neighbor's site.

I never smell anything inside my RV. But I'll always use chemicals to keep my neighbors happy!

Warren G

Tuesday 30th of January 2024

I don’t think expensive RV toilet paper is necessary. Usually any septic safe paper is fine. I do a test with a sheet or two in a water container for 15-30 seconds and then shake it. If it breaks up easily it will do fine.

Tom and Caitlin Morton

Thursday 14th of March 2024

I agree, that is a great test!


Tuesday 30th of January 2024

Hey, I'm a big fan of your videos and your blog. I was wondering why you recommend powdered RV toilet treatments. Yes, they are more economical if you're on the road a lot-but they are harder to use and the blue colored ones can stain fabric. Is there any reason you'd advise against using liquid treatments, other than cost?

Tom and Caitlin Morton

Friday 1st of March 2024

Thanks! Just cost mainly, the powdered form do pretty much the same thing and we have had success with both types. I have had the liquids spill however or leak due to pressure changes in elevation so we stick to powder.

Dalton Bourne

Saturday 30th of October 2021

Thanks for sharing. I used this Star Brite RV Toilet Bowl Cleaner for my Rv and it's very well. The RV's toilet had stains and hard water streaks. Applied and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Came in with soft brush after application and it made toilet look brand new.

Dalton Bourne

Saturday 30th of October 2021

It ensures the cleaning product will break down naturally and won’t hurt the soil when spilled. It’s just another way to ensure our planet’s soil doesn’t come in contact with harmful chemicals.