How do RV Toilets Work – Decide Outside – Making Adventure Happen

How do RV Toilets Work

Many RVs are equipped with everything you need including showers, kitchens, and toilets. Having a toilet in your RV allows you to have your own space and keep from using public restrooms. A toilet in your RV is a simple addition that will make your trip easy and carefree. So, how do RV toilets work?

RV toilets are a little different than the regular toilets you find in homes as they are made to withstand you driving down the road as well as being hooked up to a sewer hookup. RV toilets are more lightweight than normal toilets and work by depositing waste into a holding tank that is then emptied using a sewer hookup. RV toilets use water hookups or water from your freshwater tank to run successfully and are dumped by the use of a sewer hose.

What Types of RV Toilets Are There

Depending on the size of your trailer, fifth wheel, or RV you will have different styles of toilets inside.

Many smaller trailers have toilets that dump into a separated tank which have a bottom section that must be dumped.

Many larger RVs have toilets that have waste deposits in a tank where you will empty it by dumping it at a sewer hookup. You will empty these by hooking them up to a sewer hookup at a campsite or a dump station. Many campgrounds will allow you to use their dump station for a very small fee.Camco (41541) Portable Travel Toilet-Designed for Camping, RV, Boating and Other Recreational Activities-5.3 Gallon

Many smaller campers, such as popups have portable toilets. These are different from standard toilets because they are similar to porta potties and will need to be dumped after your camping adventure. Portable toilets can be used in smaller campers and after your trip the contents must be taken out and dumped in a toilet.

There are many RVers who have also turned to composting toilets within their RV. Composting toilets take your waste and form it into a usable compost that you can use in your garden. Many people wonder if having a composting toilet will smell; and surprisingly it will not have the typical sewer smell you think of. Composting toilets separate the solid and liquid waste into two different areas. The seperation keeps them from mixing and smelling. A positive of a composting toilet is the reuse of materials, whereas a negative is how often you have to empty the liquid portion.

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How to Properly Use an RV Toilet

RV toilets look similar to a household toilet, but there are certain things that you will need to do differently with an RV toilet.

In order to use an RV toilet, you must be either hooked up to a water hookup or have water in your freshwater tank. Once hooked up, you want to make sure there is always a little bit of water in the toilet bowl to combat smells and help your toilet flush well.

Always make sure to refill your bowl with a small amount of water by using the foot pedal, and you will be good to go!

How do You Hook Up an RV Toilet

Hooking up an RV toilet is an easy process when you are setting up your new campsite or dumping at a dump station. You will need to purchase a sewer hose from your local RV shop in order to hook up your trailer.

The sewer hose looks like a large slinky that will attach directly to your camper, or fifth wheel. Most RVs will have the grey and black tank labeled and just below the labels will have a 3-4 inch hole that you will attach the sewer hose to. You will then find the same size hole at the campground or dump station and hook up the other side.

Camco RhinoFLEX 15ft RV Sewer Hose Kit, Includes Swivel Fitting and Translucent Elbow with 4-In-1 Dump Station Fitting, Storage Caps Included, Frustration-Free Packaging (39770)

How do You Flush an RV Toilet

One major difference between a residential toilet and an RV toilet is where you flush it. Typically, on an RV toilet you flush your toilet by using a valve at your foot level instead of on the side of the toilet. By pressing down the foot pedal, you will have water come into your toilet as well as allow you to flush successfully.

How do RV Toilets Work

How to Do I Dump an RV Toilet

There are multiple tanks within an RV, the grey tank, black tank, as well as the fresh water tank.

The black tank in every trailer or RV holds the waste material and is dumped accordingly. The grey tank includes the waste water from any sink or shower within your RV. The freshwater tank is used to hold water when you are not near a water hookup, allowing you to have freshwater whenever you may need it.

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When it comes to dumping your tanks, you will need to purchase a sewer hookup from your local RV store or online. A sewer hookup will allow you to dump your tanks easily and efficiently at any campground or dump station.

Sewer hookup connections will connect to a valve under your RV on one end and to the campground hookup at the other end.

Once connected, many RV dealerships say to wait until your tanks are full to dump the tank because it allows there to be built up pressure and easily flushed out. When you are ready to dump, simply pull the tank valve under your RV and your tanks will begin to drain into the campground hookup.

It is best practice to drain your black tanks first and then your grey tanks, allowing the grey water to clean any leftover black tank water. After you dump, it is also wise to use an old hose or the hose at the dump station to rinse out your sewer hookup tube and store it for use later.

Many RVs are set up so you can store your sewer hookup hose in the bumper of your RV. It is also wise to have gloves in your underneath storage for easy access during this entire process.

How Do You Keep an RV Toilet Clean

There are multiple factors to keep an RV toilet clean and functioning correctly. Just like you have to use certain products for a regular toilet, there are specific products just for RV toilets.

A few products that help keep your tank clean are tank tablets that break apart when dropped in your toilet and help to break down and treat your black water tank. You can also buy black tank treatment that is in liquid form to pour down your toilet. Many people pour ice cubes down their toilet before they take a long trip to help break off any debris that sticks to the inside of your black tank.

Camco TST Ultra-Concentrated Orange Citrus Scent RV Toilet Treatment Drop-Ins, Formaldehyde Free, Breaks Down Waste And Tissue, Septic Tank Safe, 30-Pack (41183)

Something else to be aware of is the type of toilet paper you use in your RV toilet. There are multiple options for RV toilet paper in the automotive section of your local stores such as Walmart.

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The main difference between RV toilet paper and regular toilet paper is that RV toilet paper breaks down very quickly and will not clog your tank up. The main reason you are not supposed to use regular toilet paper is because it can clog up your tank as well as cover your sensors.

What Are The Pros and Cons of an RV Toilet

RV toilets are similar to residential toilets, but also have their own unique and special differences.

One positive aspect of an RV toilet is that the water usage is minimal, therefore allowing for a smaller freshwater tank and less weight in your RV.

Another positive aspect of an RV toilet is the ease of keeping it clean. There are specific products on the market that are specifically formulated for RVs and should be used instead of chemical heavy cleaners. Because many RV toilets are made of plastic, it is smart to use specifically formulated cleaners or eco friendly cleaners to keep the plastic in good condition.

A common negative side of an RV toilet is that they have to be dumped. The length of time you can wait until you dump your RV toilet completely depends on how many family members are camping with you.

Dumping an RV takes only a few moments if you are near a sewer hookup, but if you are at partial hookups you have to be smart about how you use your toilet.


RV toilets are incredibly handy to have on any road trip and make your trip carefree. Having an RV toilet is helpful on any camping trip because it allows you to have your own personal space and not have to use a public restroom.

RV toilets work by depositing waste in a holding tank until it is hooked up and dumped at a dump site or campground sewer hookup. There are differences between RV toilets and residential toilets, one main one being that there are typically foot pedals on RV toilets. In order for your RV toilet to last for years to come, always make sure to clean your toilet well with specially made RV products.

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