Maintaining your wastewater tank in your RVWastewater tanks are the easiest things to keep clean and smelling like roses. All you have to do is maintain them and they will never be a problem. I will give you a few ways to do this and not have to worry about the smell that creeps up in your RV from time to time. Let’s start with toilet, paper you can use single ply, the cheap stuff that does not clog your tank and then there is the RV toilet paper that cost much more and will do the same job. The next thing is dumping, dumping needs to be done when the tank is full and to perform this you connect the sewer hose to the dump station, then just pull the handle marked Wastewater tank or Black Tank, when the tank is empty, hook a hose to the sewer flush or run a hose into the RV and down the toilet, make sure you are not using your fresh water hose for drinking water, we do not want to contaminate the hose we get drinking water from. When the water coming from the tank is clear you’re done. Make sure to leave about three gallons of water in the tank to keep the enzymes swimming; now you want to add some more tank chemicals/enzymes that you can pick up from any RV dealership.

The tank chemicals/enzymes you add will help in breaking down the toilet paper and the solids. They also help by keeping the smell down and keep your tank clean as a whistle. There are a few other ways to keep your tank clean. One way is to flush your tank then add some Dawn or Joy soap, not that anti-bacterial stuff as that would kill the enzymes you have in the tank , if you did use something like bleach or anti-bacterial soap the enzymes would stop doing their job of breaking down the paper, solids and smell in the tank. Next you can add 2 bags of ice to the tank through the toilet and go for a drive. While you are driving the ice will scrub the tank and clean it of any foul things that have been sticking around in it. Next, proceed to the nearest dump station and Bingo you have a squeaky clean tank. You will hear many ways of dealing with your black water/ wastewater tank but it will be up to you. A few things you might want to get for yourself when you know you have to do the dirty deed are Latex gloves and some cheap eye glasses, they will keep you clean and no splatters will get in your eyes. Next make sure you clean the area up of any spills so that next guy who uses it does not kneel down in a puddle you left behind. Just be courteous, when at the dump station so everyone will be happy to follow after you.

This article was brought to you by Good Sam RV Emergency Road Service

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  1. CNA

    Yes! Finally someone writes about CNA.

  2. Dale

    Anyone ever use All Pro Water Flow tank de-odorizer?

  3. Chris Villarreal

    Try using the Hyrdoflush from Valterra, it’s about $20 or so from major RV parts websites. It is the best thing I have found for flushing the tank and seeing the results! It’s a clear attachment that connects to your sewer valve and then the hose is attached to it. Once connected, you open the black valve and the contents of the tank drain. You can see the condition of the water so you know if it is clear or not.

    The best part is that once the tank is empty, the Hyrdoflush has a water hose connections that lets you backflush the tank and high pressure. This can be repeated as many times as possible to ensure your tank is clean. I have found there is no more guessing about whether the tank is truly clean of not!

  4. DRB

    Ice in the tanks only makes one think they are doing something. Yes, when using the comode, use a lot more water, Count to 10 while the water is running. Also have the tank hydro-cleaned by to get the tank as clean as it was new. Then use water softner and pinesol to prevent the calcium from sticking to the sides and sensors.

    The odors can come from the gray tanks as well as the black tanks. Have both cleaned, then do your maintenance.

  5. TXBrad

    Like fine wine, everyone has their best choice!

    1. In “most RV’s” there is enough motion ( leave a cup of water on the table while traveling! ) to clean w/ ice.
    2. ” Most ” RV’s have tank level wires on the Outside Tank, same w/ heat strips.
    Check owners books or mfgdealer.

    If it works for you fine If not try something else.

  6. The best way to keep your black tank clean is to use plenty of water when you use the toilet. In addition most RV have a tank sprayer which is very effective at cleaning the side walls. You can plumb the inlet to an easy spot on the RV making it easier to use.
    As Chis says above keep your valves closed at all times (unless you are washing clothes), dump the black tank first, flush with the sprayer until you feel the tank is clean, close the black valve and dump the Grey tank. You should have a tank flusher on it as well because the scum that lies on the top of the water as the tank fills adherese to the sidewalls as the water exits the tank. Back filling should never be done because it will damage your valves over time and it works about as well as the ice. Not very well. This is simple and very effective so you should try to keep it simple.

  7. Chris Chisholm

    Ice in the Black Water tank? Just a little aggressive. How about overall clean out with a hose wand and toilet valve keeper made expressly for that purpose, available at most RV and camping supply stores. This snapply little device with it’s own valve, attaches to the end of a water supply hose and is dipped into a emptied waste water tank through the toilet using the valve keeper which holds the valve open. Water is turned on and the insides of the tank are washed cleanly with little movement and no abrasion.

    When hooked up to a park sewage system at your site, it’s best to keep the valves closed until necessary to empty. Prevents unwanted odours and gases.

  8. Charlene

    So, after reading the pros and cons of ice water in the black water tank – what is the true answer? Should we, or should we not?

    Any other suggestions for cleaning the walls of the BW tank?

  9. It always amuses me when someone recommends putting ice in holding tanks! Think about it, your RV was designed to ride smoothly so unless you turn your RV violently from side to side or jam on the brakes and then accelerate quickly the ice will not do anythjing but stay suspended in the water as it melts.
    Lots of gimmicks out there but common sense should be your guide.

  10. JoAnne Hofman

    Well, I just returned from a Good Sam Rally in Harrison Michigan, and at a seminar there, we were told…NEVER NEVER NEVER add ice to your holding tank. The ice will damage the sensor wire.

  11. Dick Sternberg

    Thanks for the tips….

    One of the mistakes I see people make all the time is, just after they arrive, attaching the hose and then opening the valves. After 2 or three days you can really have a mess on your hands. On the day we are leaving I always top off the tank with fresh water by standing on the toilet supply valve while shaving Etc. Our new fifth wheel has a connection on the outside for attaching the fresh water hose which sends water into the tank while you are flushing the tank.

  12. Rick

    Will the ice Damage the sensors in the tank?

  13. Curt

    WOW! Good stuff and thanks!
    What can be done if you are parked for long periods of time, 6 months or more, and still using the “tank”

  14. Jerry Shea

    ICE IN THE BLACK WATER TANK – What a great idea. Sure, that will “knock” all that “stuck stuff” off the sides. Thanks,
    Jerry Shea