Exactly How to Use and Clean a Cassette Toilet

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man dumping Cassette Toilet into a dump station in europe

Did you know that some RVs don’t have bathrooms? You’ll find many camper vans, truck campers, and pop-up campers don’t have room to include a traditional bathroom. But some of them do have a cassette toilet. 

For RVers who are limited in space, it’s an excellent solution. 

Let’s learn more! 

What Is a Cassette Toilet?

Most RVs have plumbing systems that take wastewater from the toilet to a large holding tank underneath the rig. When the tank is full, you empty it into a sewer connection at the campsite or a dump station.

However, smaller trailers and Class Bs won’t have room for a standard 40-gallon waste tank.

One option manufacturers have chosen to include a toilet still is a cassette toilet.

When you use the bathroom, the waste goes into a much smaller portable tank rather than the large black tank normally underneath your RV.

However, unlike a portable toilet you would bring tent camping, a cassette toilet is permanently fixed to your RV.

The toilet still has a seat and bowl but is usually smaller than standard RV flush toilets. Attached is a small freshwater tank that allows you to flush and a small portable black tank that collects the waste.

Since there’s no plumbing to the outside of your RV, you don’t dump a cassette toilet the same way you dump a flush toilet. We’ll learn more about that below.

What RVs Have a Cassette Toilet?

Smaller RVs will often have a cassette toilet. You can usually spot one if they have a rectangle access hatch on the side of the RV.

Class B vans, truck campers, and pop-up campers are the most common. But you might also find a cassette toilet in a small travel trailer.

They are also the standard in many European and other international RVs.

How Do You Use a Cassette Toilet?

First, lift the toilet lid, sit down, and use the bathroom like a regular flush toilet. You still flush the waste when finished. That’s where the similarities end.

The small portable black tank will get full much quicker than a black tank underneath a large fifth wheel or Class A motorhome. This is the most significant difference.

Even though you have to dump a cassette toilet more often due to the smaller black tank size, it’s easy and doesn’t take long.

Along the exterior of your RV will be a side panel to access the portable waste tank.

You slide out the tank and carry it to a dump station to empty it. Then, when done, you return it to the compartment.

To empty a cassette toilet tank at the dump station, you open the dump spout and pour the contents into the sewage hole.

Cassette toilets also allow you to dump them if there’s no dump station.

You can use a bathhouse and pour the tank contents directly into a toilet. You’ll likely have to flush a few times to avoid overflowing the toilet, but it’s a pretty big convenience for out-of-the-way travels.

How Many Times Can You Use It Before Emptying?

As mentioned, you’ll have to dump a cassette toilet more frequently than a standard flush toilet. This has nothing to do with the toilet itself but the waste tank capacity. Whereas a 38-foot Class C motorhome may have a 40-gallon black tank capacity, a small cassette toilet’s black tank may only hold five gallons.

How often you have to empty the tank comes down to how often you use it.

Some people use it only at night to avoid walking to a bathhouse. Following this method, you won’t have to dump the tank nearly as often.

Other travelers use the bathroom multiple times a day. You’ll have to dump the tank every couple of days or even daily if you regularly use the toilet. 

The toilets themselves vary depending on tank size, but on average, a 5-gallon cassette toilet tank will need emptying every five to six toilet flushes.

Where Do You Dump a Cassette Toilet?

One benefit of owning a cassette toilet is the ease of emptying the tanks.

Whereas you must find a dump station to empty larger tanks with plumbing systems, you can take your portable black tank to any public restroom and empty it into a flush toilet.

This opens up the options and makes dumping much more convenient.

You can always also use a normal RV dump station.

Never dump your black tank on the ground. Find a bathroom or dump station and empty it in an environmentally safe way.

How Do You Clean a Cassette Toilet?

When it’s time to clean it, it’s pretty simple.

After emptying the tank, pour half a cup of distilled white vinegar and add water.

Swish it around and dump it.

Do this as many times as needed to ensure your tank is clean.

In between uses, if you’re trying to keep it cleaner, you can use any standard RV tank toilet treatment. Make sure to scale the usage recommendation down from the standard 40-gallon tank though.

How Often Do You Have to Clean It?

You want to clean your cassette toilet and the portable waste tank regularly.

If you don’t, you’ll likely experience odors and have a problematic buildup that is more difficult to get rid of.

You don’t have to clean it every time you dump, but you’ll want to clean it often. We suggest at least once a month.

What’s the Difference Between a Cassette Toilet and a Portable Camping Toilet?

We mentioned a portable toilet earlier and want to clarify the difference between a cassette toilet and a portable toilet. While a cassette toilet is permanently attached to a camper, a portable one isn’t.

You can take it outside or anywhere else you like. When it’s time to dump, you’ll remove the bottom of the toilet and take it to a restroom or dump station.

Is a Cassette Toilet Right For You?

A cassette toilet makes camping more convenient for RVers in truck campers, pop-up campers, and vans. Small RVs wouldn’t have a toilet option without a cassette toilet.

Having fewer parts also means reducing the chance of problems. You also don’t have to lug around a nasty sewer hose. So, there are several benefits.

If you travel in a small RV, take care of your cassette toilet with proper maintenance and cleaning. Avoid those odors that can quickly overtake a tiny camper!

Have you ever used a cassette toilet?

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