Disinfecting Wipes and Your RV or Home Sewage System

Updated on March 23, 2020
Don Bobbitt profile image

Don has been an avid traveler and motorhome owner for most of his life and he shares his experiences along with valuable tips for RV owners.

It's a Toilet and not a Trash Can

Do not place Trash in Toilet
Do not place Trash in Toilet

Disinfecting Wipes Must Be Disposed of Properly

With the Coronavirus situation and even with other more common viruses, one of the more common cleaning tools used by the public are disposable disinfecting wipes.

These wipes are a great aid for removing and even killing bacteria and viruses.

The common way of disposing of these used wipes is to just toss them into the nearest trash receptacle, which is considered OK, but many of us just toss them into our toilets, which is not OK.

Understand What's in Those Disinfecting Wipes

If you are using these disinfecting wipes yourself, you need to be aware of the chemicals they use for controlling and killing these viruses.

Every container you purchase will list all of the active ingredients in their disinfecting product, and it will also list the major safety steps every user should follow to reduce the chance of being harmed.

Each manufacturer of these wipes will use their own formula of what they consider to be safe disinfecting chemicals so it is a good idea to read what your specific product includes and how they recommend you use and dispose of their products.

Wash Your Hands

Some manufacturers and health officials who recommend that once you finish cleaning with these disinfecting wipes, you should then wash their hands with simple soap and water, just to be safe.

Harming Your Septic Systems

Major municipalities have large and efficient sewage processing systems, and when forewarned by their monitoring systems, they can adjust their process to offset the effects of there being too many of these wipes being used by the public.

But the septic handling and processing systems that many of us use will have trouble disposing of larger than normal numbers of these chemical-saturated wipes.

Home Septic Systems

Normally, a single family's house sewage system, or septic tank, will handle instances when just a few of these disinfecting wipes are being tossed into the toilet rather than a trash receptacle.

You see, your home septic tank functions by having the natural active bacteria in the sewage actually breaking down the sewage in the tank. And, it is not uncommon that a typical septic tank can go for years before it needs have the remaining solid sludge pumped out of the tank.

But if too many of these wipes are being used and tossed into the toilet over a long period of time, the chemicals from these wipes can kill the active bacteria in your septic tank, and this can, in turn, affect how efficiently your septic tank functions.

In fact, you could be forced to have your septic tank pumped out to get rid of the chemicals on these used wipes.

RV Septic Systems

The septic system in your RV operates somewhat differently from a home septic System.

Your RV has a holding tank which holds your black water (or sewage) until it is convenient for you to dump it into a sewage system for processing.

Typically, the RV owner will add a special commercially available chemical to the black water holding tank to speed up the breakdown of the sewage while it is in the holding tank and reduce potential unpleasant odors.

And, once the holding tank becomes full the RV owner will dump it into the campground sewage system.

Your RV and Disinfecting Wipes

Do not use disinfecting wipes and dispose of them in your RV toilet.

All RV owners should heed this warning immediately, and they will avoid two different potential problems for themselves and their fellow campers.

1. Wipes Kill Holding Tank Chemicals

The first problem that will occur in your RV, if you dispose of these disinfecting wipes in your RV toilet is that the chemicals on the wipes will start to kill those special chemicals that every camper uses in their Black Water holding tank.

This means that you will not get that sewage in the tank to start breaking down as quickly, or possibly not at all; and when you do dump the tank, you could clog up your drainage hose, or even start getting a buildup of solids on the bottom of your holding tank.

2. Wipes Compromise Campground Sewage Systems

Every camper knows that not every campground has the most efficient sewage system, and it is not uncommon during peak camping seasons to see sewage trucks driving through the campground regularly to haul the excess sewage from the campground sewage system and delivering this excess to local sewage processing companies.

So, it doesn't take much of an imagination to realize the effects on the campground's sewage system when hundreds of RVs are dumping their sewage, loaded with these bacteria-killing disinfecting wipes, into their toilets.

That's right, the campground sewage system quickly becomes overloaded with unprocessed sewage, which they then must haul to the local commercial or city-owned sewage system.

In Summary, Dispose of Those Wipes Properly

The best way to get rid of your used disinfecting wipes is to place them into your trash cans and let two things happen:

  1. Let the gases from the chemicals on the wipes release slowly into the air over time, to levels the manufacturer considers safe.
  2. Let the local garbage processing systems handle them like they do all of the other garbage and chemicals that everyone disposes of.


Cleaning Your RV Black Water Tank

Cleaning Your Black Water Tank of Residue

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

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      • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

        Don Bobbitt 

        10 days ago from Ruskin Florida

        Ed - It's great to hear that you are "getting along" as they say. I envy you still traveling as my wife and I have kept our Rv in storage for several months now and I was just looking at all of the things I need to check before we put it back on the road for the Spring.

        Have a Great Day, and thanks for taking the time to read my article.

        DON

      • Edward J. Palumbo profile image

        Ed Palumbo 

        10 days ago from Tualatin, OR

        Thank you for this information. We're delighted with our R-Pod but relatively new at this and trying to learn what we can from those who've "been there, done that". We usually rely on State Park lavatories to avaoid putting anything (including human waste) into the black water tank, but Oregon has recently closed its State Parks due to the Corona virus. We look forward to returning to normal soon and getting back on the road ow that the weather has noticeably improved.

      • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

        Don Bobbitt 

        12 days ago from Ruskin Florida

        Liz - I see that myself in the news and i felt there was a need for someone to explain what the problem was and how to help manage it.

        Have a great day,

        DON

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        12 days ago from UK

        Since the run on toilet paper in the shops, there have been reports of blockages due to the use of wipes and kitchen towel in the UK.

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