Today, many people that enjoy RVing are seeking ways to reduce their travelling costs.    Changing driving habits, destinations and stay durations are becoming common practices to that end.  But, there is only so much that you can do to reduce fuel consumption.  Buying and trying “Snake oil” fuel reduction remedies just don’t work, and end up increasing your costs instead of saving.  So, we must look elsewhere for help.  After all, if you could save spending $10 every few weeks, that could be put towards your fuel expense.

If you currently buy and use a black tank deodorant, what you are about to read may save you some money.  But first, you may have a small capital purchase.  If your motor home or trailer is equipped with a black tank flush, you are all set.  If not, you will need to get some kind of tank flushing accessory kit.  These are available in various forms including a simple “Y” coupling type that fits between the tank flush port and the hose adaptor fitting.  The “Y” is similar to the hose adaptor except it has a garden hose sized port branching out forming the “Y”.  This smaller port has an on/off valve and is connected to a water supply.  Once the tank has been drained, the water is turned on and forced up into the empty tank.  This high speed water action clears out much of the tank build up that can form.  Repeat this several times and your tank is relatively clean.

So, how is all this saving me money?  So far it’s cost me the purchase of a flush kit.  Well, that money, and more, may come back to you over time by the total elimination of using any tank deodorants.  This not only may save you money, but you will also be contributing to a greener environment by avoiding the use of chemicals.

Now, you probably noticed I used the word “May”.  This will work perfectly on most black tank systems.  There are, however, poorly ventilated systems that, due to design, may not operate odor free.  On these there may be additional challenges.

Let’s face it.  Most of us put these chemicals in the toilet because that’s what we were told to do when we bought our first RV.  Dealers and manufacturers even gave us free starter kits that contained head deodorant.  Well, you probably don’t need it. 

So, does it actually work?   My wife has a great sense of smell.  If our toilet had even a hint of odor she would detect it.   We have not used any chemicals for nearly five years and two coaches.  Both of these coaches were, and are, equipped with built in tank flush systems.  But there is no reason to believe that an aftermarket tank flushing system could not produce similar results.

Now, the idea of flushing the tank is that you start each time with it relatively clean and free from solids building up on the walls.  If you add a flushing device to your unit you’re going to need to clean out any solids built up in the tank from past use.  To do this, fill your black tank between a third and half with water.  Buy two or three bags of ice cubes and dump them into the tank through the toilet.  Now go for a brisk drive with lots of turns, stops and accelerations.  Then dump your system.  You can now use your flushing system just for good measure.  This method should clean off most, if not all, the solids that have been bonding to the walls and floor of the tank.   

Well, ” good food for thought” doesn’t seem to go to well with this topic, but why not give it a try.  If you are already not using these head chemicals, let’s hear from you.  If you are, give it a try and be sure to let us know your results.  If you are new to this type of toilet, maybe you will never have to put this deodorant into your system.

Various flushing devices can be purchased from recreational vehicle supply stores, like Camping World, most RV dealers or can be found on-line. 

Seasons Greetings    –    Lug_Nut      –       Peter Mercer



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  2. Wayne Dunham, Good point about possible failure of seals after some years. Perhaps after several years a seal tune-up may be in order. I’m glad you enjoyed the article and the reader’s comments. Thank you for participating in the topic and your input.

  3. L. Wayne Dunham

    I have been camping in a RV sence 1968 but I am sure I do not have all the answers, however I have found that one source of oder from eather tank can be from the one way check falve that are installed on many pluming systems. If the RV is 3 years or older there is a good chance the rubber seal does leak and allows tank oder to inter the RV especially while on the road. I have installed one of those vacuum fitng on top of the RV and found that it did help but changing the check valve did totally eliminate the order in my situation. You can get a new check valve from and hardware store or an RV dealer that has them in stock.

    I like all the info that you have on holding tank problems and I am sure I will try some of the ideas to improve my system. Keep up the good work.

    Wayne Dunham

  4. John, Sounds like your method has worked well, at least for four years. Yes, the level sensors have been an issue with some and certainly good reason to keep the tank clean. Thank you for your input.

  5. John Chehaske

    We have a Carri-Lite 5th wheel that has a built-in black tank flusher. The flusher does a pretty good job, but to get all of the solids out of the bottom of the tank we found that filling the toilet completely full of water and then flushing it several times while the dump valve is open gets the last of the solids out of the tank. We have a clear elbow in the drain line so we can see when no more solids are flushed out.
    We have been using an enzyme product (Odorlos), and out level indicators still work after almost 4 years of use, so we am a little hesitant to change our routine. However, we may give no chemicals a try when we deplete our current supply of Odorlos.

  6. Weldom, Perhaps some of the build up was already there prior to adding the Waste King. Once completely clean, may be it will flush out easier. Thanks for sharing that and for your input.

  7. Weldom Martin

    After using our TT for about one year with tank chemicals and with always wrong level indications I bought a Waste King and proceeded to back flush. What came out of the tank was shocking. After five back flushes the water ran clear until at the end when more nasty would come out. Three more flushes did not improve anything so I went with the wand down the toilet. My wife, who was watching, said many hunks and globs came out. I will use the Flush King but keep the wand handy just in case. I have continued to use chemicals but I am going to try your way without but I will keep some of the chemical handy until I am sure.

  8. Randy, Your formula seem very reasonable and makes sense. The clear elbow is a great help to monitor how clean the tank is. Thank you for sharing your experience and ideas with us, and for your valued input.

  9. Randy R.

    I have been using the “bio method” with some good success. My bride and I are living in our coach while I am still doing the “W” (work) word. The new coach has a relatively wide and flat black water tank without a lot of head (pressure) to assist in the flushing.
    I have a clear elbow that I connect between the waste valve and the sewer hose to have a visual indication of condition of what comes out. After a good working over with the flushing system (waste runnig clear) installed by the Manufacturer I add a couple of cap fulls of Calgon Water softener liquid (Wally World in laundry area) and a capfull of Liquid Tide Laundry soap to adout 3-4 gallons of fresh water. This program is designed to wet the inside surface of the black tank and keep solids from sticking to the plastic tank.
    In some cases solids tend to be too “stuck together” with paper to make it through the waste valve. In that case I have a short sewer hose that I can connect to the outlet, after closing the waste valve, fill it with water, re-open the waste valve (backflushing the waste valve and breaking up the clog), close the waste valve and then reconnnect the normal sewer hose and open the waste valve to clear the clog. This will complete the draining process.
    The program allows a draining every 4-5 days and zero odor. The entire program is signifcantly less expensive than using the tank deodorant. Just my 2 cents worth.

  10. Dale, Great info. It’s nice to hear from an expert like you. Thank you for your contribution to this topic and your input.

  11. I had a company called All Pro Water Flow ( the black and gray tanks of the “left overs” from the previous owner My major odors were comming from the gray tank, so now I use no chemicals, and have no orders. They recomend hydro-jeting the tanks at least once a year. I do mine in the spring, as I live in it 9 months of the year.

  12. Roxie, Mixing the Rid X with the deoderizer would probably work very well. Thank you for sharing this with us and your participation.

  13. Bob Rivkin, It is great to learn what oother are using, and it certainly seems there are many mixtures. Thank you for your input.

  14. Roxie Barnhart

    I mix rid x with powered tank deorderizer, use half the amount and with my Montana 5th wheel tank cleaner I have no problems as a full timer.

  15. Bob Rivkin

    I use water softner salt, 1 cup dissolved, and a few gallons of water before leaving to go on a trip. Also use one packet of powder in warm weather. That combination worked well for the past three years. The tank always gets filled and flushed before we leave to come home. When it sits for several weeks I used a liquid septic tank additive and filled it up. No problems.

  16. frank

    For Louella..please explain indetail just HOW you use the yeast in your tank. Thanks, Frank

  17. Louella, I believe the yeast will work as far as an agent to help break down the sewage, but probably not much to mask any odor that may be present. Perhaps other readers can add more on this. Thank you for your input.

  18. Louella Giddings

    Doesn’t just an envelope of yeast work just as well? I was told that was all Rid-X is and regular yeast is cheaper.

  19. John, I think I know the resort you are talking about, or at least a similar situation. I don’t remember the name or exact location, but it was on the Canadian east coast. Great you are going to be getting a new coach. Thanks for your great input.

  20. John

    I was at an RV resort last summer that had a mandatory requirement to use bio-degradable deodorizing chemical. One area of the resort had a treatment facility that used the sun’s ultra violet rays to treat sewage.

    I am on a septic system at home and have been using an enzyme called Septonic that I buy at my local Canadian Tire store that helps in the breakdown of solids. It costs about $5 a box containing 12 paper pouches (one a month), good for about a year at home, I also use it after I dump the black tank.
    Once a year I use the ice cubes in the tank and also add a few ounces of bleach to clean before parking it for a lengthy period. Won’t be upgrading the system as we are getting a new A class in ’09.
    Will definitely get Turbo-Flush and a Sani-vac on the new coach.


  21. Thomas, That sounds like a good system. Yes, the clear fittings work well to monitor how clean the flushing is. Thanks for the great comment and your valued input.

  22. Thomas Becher

    I have used rid-ex septic tank treatment for the last 5 years and had excellent results. The enzemes eat the waste and the grease and leaves the tank nice and clean. I usually put the powder in and FILL the tank and leaave it set for a week before dumping. You should see the stuff that comes out(thru the clear plastic adapter) This whole tank cleaning may not work for you if you need to dump all the time (full timers) but it sure does work if you can leave it set or a week or more.

  23. Douglas, The “Y” hose adaptor can work well, but accidents can, and do, happen. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

  24. codgerbill, The natural materials that go into the black tank works pretty well for its purpose. The real decomposition happens after you dump in a holding tank or process plant. Thanks for your comment.

  25. Douglas Loomer

    I put in Y hose adaptor on my hose to make it easier to plush my
    black water. It worked well for months, One time though my Y valve
    to the black tank must have got jared open just a little bit so, as
    luck would have it I hooked up to water as I normaly do and never
    noticed the slow trickle of water to my black tank. It took a couple of
    hours but sure enough my black tank overfowed( not good).
    The Y was convienent but after that episode I got rid of it,

  26. codgerbill

    I thought one of the purposes of the holding tank chemicals was for the enzymes to digest the solids. Are the enzymes present in a natural state?

  27. John Ahrens, There must be something wrong with the set up of your flushing system. As your coach would be in warranty, it might be worth having Monaco’s service people check it out. Thank you for your participation in this blog.

  28. My 2008 HR Admiral came with a built-in flush system. I’ve used it a few times, but when I do, and then look down the toilet, there’s still stuff down there, so I’ve pretty much given up and gone to using the wand. More hassle, but works.

  29. John Christman, When you say “a tablespoon” it sounds like the cost is very low. If it works well, it’s probably worth staying with. Thank you for your input.

  30. I have an 02 Foretravel Class A with built in flush for the black tank. All I use is 1/3 cup of Dawn Dishwashing Liquid to keep the sensors working properly and a Tablespoon full of a product called Sea-Zyme which has no chemicals. It’s claim to fame is that it eliminates all odors and more importantly (for me) that it helps to break down the waste in the tank.

    True it costs money, but I generally go two or more weeks without needing to dump my 54 gallon tank. Anyway works for me and I haven’t used any chemicals in the last three coaches (7 years).

  31. Bob Smith, Seems like many have discovered that chemicals may not be necessary. Thank you for your participation.

  32. Rick, Great input. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

  33. Jim Overton, Great info and certainly another approach. Thank you for your valued input.

  34. Bob, Thanks for the catch on that one. Your idea is probably the best. Thanks for your input.

  35. John Candler, There are far too many comonents that would need to be upgraded, including possibly the frame, to make it an option. Bob’s point is on the money. Thanks for your comment.

  36. Bob Smith

    I purchased the Y flush systemand use it all the time I did buy chemicals and ran out after a few days I realised there was no oder coming from the tolet so I have not purchased any for over two years. I do use a package in the summer mo when we are at home base but I plan on purchasing a vent cover and see if thatg helps. My wife has super sensitive smelling ability and I have to air out the trailor in the summer when we are not using it. I also drag my play tools in a 8 ft cargo berhind my trailor becuse I cant find a fith wheel toy haller that we like.

  37. Rick Case

    I have a ’06 Monaco Camelot that came with a built in Turbo-Flush and a Sani-vac.
    It came with a sample of some black water cehmicals, but the wife did not like the chemical smell, so we have never used any chemicals in the last 3+ years and have no odors.

    I dump my tanks and use the turbo-flush about every three days and it works well. I keep a coiled water hose permanently connected to the turbo-flush, so its easy to connect to a faucet.

    I love the Sani-vac and highly recommend it. No sewer hoses to lug, drip, or store. When I park, I pull out the needed amout of flex hose, stick in the drain and open the grey water valve. When I’m ready to leave, turbo-flush and drain the black tank, cap the drain hose, push it back into its litle compartment and go.

    Rick Case

  38. Jim Overton

    We also installed one of caps on top of the black water vent to pull the gasses out of the tank. With that and the black water tank back flush we have not used any chemicals for the last 4 years and out side of the dog have no foul odors in the motor home.

  39. bob

    You don’t have to “take it with you”, but, instead, “drag it behind” (on a dolly), and it will not add to the GVW.

  40. John Candler


    I have a Gulfstream Endura (Super C) I recently purchased a Harley Heritage and would like to take it with me when camping.

    I checked out the Net Carrying Capacity and discovered it has about 2700 lbs – which when you sub water – LP – Gas – stuff in outside compartments – inside stuff and people doesn’t leave me enough available weight to add the Harley.

    Do you know of anything I can do to increase the net carrying capacity of my motor home, as we really like this one and want to try and upgrade it so it can carry the Harley.

    Any advice will be welcomed.

    Thank You

    John Candler