We have been told lots of different methods for eliminating black tank odors from our motorhome. However, we have found these 3 practices key to keeping away the smell.
Never Leave Your Tank Valves Open
Though many RVers leave their gray tank (holds shower and sink water) valves open, leaving your black tank (holds human elimination and toilet water) valves open is a no-no.
- First, your neighbors will thank you;
- Second, you need water to break down the toilet paper and solid waste; and
- Third, you don’t want toilet paper and gunk that is stuck to the sides of the tank to dry and become a permanent part of your holding tank.
We wait until the tank is full or nearly full before we dump, even when we are staying at a campsite with a sewer hookup. Because we like to clean the sewer hose after dumping the black tank, we also keep the gray tank closed. That provides us plenty of water and soap suds to run through hose after dumping the black tank.
OLGA also has a tank sanitizing system. We use the tank sanitizing system after dumping, and always before we store OLGA. If you RV is not equipped with a sanitizing system, many RVers advise using ice. Empty a tray or two of ice cubes into your black tank before you leave a campsite. As you drive down the road, they will bump the sides of the holding tank and loosen gunk that is clinging to the sides.
Water is Your Friend
Water is your friend and is key to eliminating black tank odors. First, after flushing, you must be certain that there is a minimum of 1″-2″ of water covering the toilet to tank opening. Any odors that escape the tank, will be trapped below the surface of the water.
We have also found that flushing more than once, i.e. providing plenty of water is helpful. Water is essential to breaking down solid wastes and toilet paper. Of course, you must use RV-safe toilet paper. While many RVers buy this at a RV supply store, however this is not necessary. Many less expensive store-bought brands designed for septic systems are RV-safe. To test to see if the paper you prefer is RV-safe, watch the video at the end of this post.
The GEO System
You can purchase commercial deodorizers to eliminate black tank odors, but beware. You want to do more than eliminate the smell. It is important to break down the solids so that your black tank remains functional. Many long-time RVers swear by the GEO system, which works well, breaks down solids, and is cost-effective. Mix 2 cups of Calgon (water softener), a cup of dish detergent and a capful or two of bleach to 1 gallon of water. After flushing the tanks, sanitizing and closing the valve, add this to the toilet and flush a few times. The same mixture can be used in the gray tank, though the dish detergent is not required.
Eliminating Black Tank Odors
While we all value the facilities in our RV, none of us wants to smell them. Keeping the valves shut, using plenty of water, and using the GEO system will help you eliminate black tank odors on your next camping trip.