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The Best Tools and Chemicals for Cleaning RV Sewer Tanks

I am an RV enthusiast with more than 50 years of experience owning, driving, traveling and living in recreational vehicles.

Learn what items you need to use to keep your RV sewer tank clean and functioning properly.

Learn what items you need to use to keep your RV sewer tank clean and functioning properly.

There are many RV sewer tank care tools and chemicals on the market these days, but if you're going to spend money on them, you want to make sure that what you get actually works.

This article shows you the best products and tools to use to do a good job.

A summary of the best equipment and materials to use for RV black water tank upkeep.

A summary of the best equipment and materials to use for RV black water tank upkeep.

Chemicals and Tools for Standard Cleaning and Maintenance

For regular cleanings of your toilet as well as your black water tank, use the following items as directed:


When your unit is stored, your tank should be empty save for a small amount of water in the toilet and the tank. You might also want to put some Pine-Sol into the tank to keep it sweet smelling.

When you need to clean your toilet, use Pine-Sol (or a similar pine-based product), to disinfect and clean both the inside and outside of the entire unit.


If the inside of the bowl is stained,

  1. pour in some Clorox,
  2. add a quart of water,
  3. let the mixture sit for a few minutes and
  4. then flush.

Fill the tank with fresh water and flush the Clorox through your system several times, empty it, and keep doing this until there is no more odor from it. Never let the Clorox stand too long because it can damage pipes and fittings.

Normally you would use this method during deep cleaning, but when staining is bad, it causes odors. Thus, sometimes you simply have to take this extra step in between the heavy duty cleans.

Waste Digester and Deodorizer

When your unit is in use (and your tank has already been cleaned as per my other article directions), you either add some liquid Camco Blue Enzyme treatment or one packet of holding tank waste digester and deodorizer.

The purpose of these two products is to break down waste and keep the tank from smelling. The packets are much easier to use because they are pre measured, lightweight and store easily, but they cost a bit more than the liquid, which is bulkier, heavier and takes up more space. Also, the packets cannot spill.

The Most Essential Tank Cleaning Tools to Have

If you are using your RV toilet regularly, you need to do a deep cleaning once every week or so. You will find directions about how to do this in the articles I link to below. The reason for this, especially in older coaches, is that to not do this is to invite a hardened build-up of waste matter on the tank walls that can block the sensors and even break off and cause valve clogs. You will use the products mentioned above for part of this job, but you will also need a back flush system and a tank cleaning wand and a clear sewer hose connector.

Clear Sewer Hose Connector

A clear sewer hose connector is an attachment that is inexpensive but highly useful because it allows you to actually see what is coming out of your tank during the cleaning process. You attach it prior to cleaning and once the water runs clear, you know you are finished.

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We have used this item for years and never travel without it because if you can't see what's coming out of the sewer tank, there really is no way to tell if it is truly empty.

Tank Cleaning Wand

It is vital when doing this job that you have a back flush system. If your coach does not come with a built-in one, you will need to buy a tank cleaning wand. These are inexpensive items that you need to keep on your "must have" list.

Back flushing works the same as pressure cleaning. You do it after you have completely emptied your tank to make sure that no residue has been left behind. Your owner’s manual will tell you how to use your built-in system, but if you do not have one, check my articles for cleaning wand directions. You back wash after emptying and sanitizing. When finished, you add an enzyme treatment and some water.

Although our current coach has its own back wash system, we have used tank cleaning wands in the past and have found them to be extremely effective. They are awkward to use because you have to run a hose through a window from the outside water spigot to your toilet to get the water to them, but other than that, they are really the only way you can do a good job of pressure-washing the tank.

Additional Equipment You Might Want to Have on Hand

Here are some additional items you should have on hand to make the job easier and more effective:

Extra Sewer Hoses

One thing I failed to mention when I wrote those articles was that you will need two sewer hoses. The reason is that sometimes you find yourself parked on a site whose sewer is located too far from where you are forced to locate your unit. Other times a long hose would be awkward to use.

Sewer Hose Adapter

There are times when your hose connection will not fit into the available sewer opening. When this happens, cleaning your tank is impossible. However, if you carry a sewer hose adapter you won't have to worry.

Sewer Hose Seal

If you want to be able to clean your tanks the most sanitary way, you should always use a sewer hose seal when hooking up at a campground. This item is often referred to as a "doughnut". It's job is to prevent leakage of any kind from spilling out of your sewer hose and onto the ground.

These are especially useful when cleaning your tanks because you will be using a great deal of water, which means it will come rushing out of your lines at various times and putting more pressure on the connections.

Donuts cost very little, take up minimal space and are extremely useful to have, not only for cleaning, but also for guaranteeing that a park will not ask you to leave because they fear spillage from your tank.

A Sewer Connector That Swivels

A connector that swivels when you are connecting your hose to the camp's sewer, it will be much easier and much more sanitary to hook up.

When you have problems at this point, it can lead to leakage so that what should be dumping into the sewer winds up dumping on the ground beside your coach.

A clean, well-maintained sewer tank makes traveling in an RV a pleasure.

A clean, well-maintained sewer tank makes traveling in an RV a pleasure.

The Best Clog Removal Product

There is nothing worse than a clog, because it is not always possible to clear them. However, if you want to try, I have an article that deals with that problem called, How to Clear an RV Clog.

The product I recommend for cleaning the hard deposits off of tanks is called “Extreme Cleaner." It is the very best product to use for getting rid of RV toilet clogs. The name is appropriate because it takes a lot of effort to make it work, and you have to follow the directions carefully, or it won't! I have used it successfully, and apparently it has worked for others, also, as the reviews on Amazon are stellar. Be sure to read them before you buy.

Be aware that clogs come from other things in addition to hard deposits such as putting foreign objects into a tank or using the wrong type or too much of any type of toilet paper. Only a pro will be able to take care of that type of issue, so don't think you can do it yourself.

All I do know is that the products I have used for years and discuss in this article really work. Proof of this is that we own a 1999 gas engine motorhome with a black water tank that has had plenty of use.

  1. When we empty our sewer tanks, only liquid comes out.
  2. There has only been one clog, which was the result of stupidity.
  3. Our coach never has a sewer odor.

Companies make all sorts of claims for their products, but if what you are using gets the job done, why change?

How Do I Clean My RV's Tank and Get Rid of That Smell?

How to Dump, Clean and Maintain Your RV’s Black Water Holding Tank and Get Rid of RV Toilet Smell in Three Easy Steps will answer all your questions and show you how to clean and maintain your sewer tank properly.

Keep It Simple

Some people would have you think that you must spend a fortune and use complicated tools and chemicals in order to care for your RV’s sewer tank.

As you can see, the great majority of items can be purchased in any grocery store and the other items can be purchased easily and inexpensively on Amazon.

No matter what you do, remember that he secret of keeping a clean, functioning and sweet smelling RV black water tank is to use the appropriate tools and chemicals for the job, and to do it on a regular basis.

Good luck.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: When I store my camper for three weeks, is it ok to add one packet of cleaner and a gallon of water to the toilet?

Answer: Absolutely. You should do this every time you put your RV in storage for any length of time.

© 2015 Sondra Rochelle

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