Tips for Better RV Waste Management


Whether sitting still for extended periods of time or traveling down the road, a properly maintained RV holding tank does not have to smell. All types of RVs are equipped with a relatively simple waste management system that is easily maintained. To successfully manage odors and keep the system operating properly, the owner must first understand how the system works. Even though the system itself is simple, it does require routine disposal and cleaning to keep it in top-notch working condition.

Tank Vents
All tank vents should remain open to help in odor control. The holding tank vents should be vented to the RV roof. The plumbing system includes P-traps that must be maintained to avoid waste residue from building up inside them. It is important to keep them clean at all times to prevent waste build-up, which leads to odors.

Holding Tank Treatments
Even if an RV park provides the option of hooking up to a sewer system, most people still make use of holding tanks. This means that they must use holding tank treatments. There are two kinds of treatments that can be employed. The most environmentally friendly treatment is one that enhances the bacterial action in the tank, perfumes the waste, and does not harm the environment. It is best to avoid a treatment that kills the bacteria. Those that kill bacteria usually contain harmful chemicals and only control unpleasant odors. The most efficient and least harmful holding tank treatments are enzyme-based additives.

Toilet Paper Debate
Toilet paper is considered a non-organic solid that some feel should never be put into a toilet in an RV. Even though some toilet paper disintegrates rapidly when placed in water, some of the thicker brands can cause problems with draining and flushing. Unless it is extremely thin, cheap, two-ply tissue, it dissolves too slowly and tends to stick to the sides and bottom of a holding tank. This leads to problems with the tank completely emptying. Many experienced RVers prefer to eliminate this issue by never putting toilet paper in the holding tank. It is wise to designate a wastebasket just for this purpose and keep it close to the toilet at all times. This helps prevent any problems before they start.

Proper Flushing and Cleaning
Draining the holding tanks usually eliminates any residue or leftover waste products, but there may be some stubborn particles that are difficult to remove. Flushing with water helps to dislodge most foreign particles, but it may require an extra step. A simple thing to try is to dump some crushed ice in the tank before taking a drive. It is an excellent way to remove anything that remains after flushing.

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