Don’t Use This Common Household Cleaner in Your Black Tank

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Cleaning the toilet is everyone’s favorite chore, right? Getting a brush and scrubbing around all that gunk and leftover residue is a dream. In a sticks-and-bricks house, many people use bleach to do the job. 

But can you use this cleaner in your black tank? 

Cleaning your RV bathroom is a necessary chore, but let’s look at why using bleach is a dangerous idea.

The Dangers of Using Bleach in Your RV Black Tank

You must maintain your tanks to prevent odors, build-up, and clogs. It’s not going to make Instagram, but cleaning the bathroom and tanks is a part of RV life. However, you do not want to use bleach.

Most liquid treatments designed for RV tanks are biodegradable and chemical-free. This means they break up the waste and gunk inside your black tank without using harmful chemicals. This is vital when you’re constantly traveling through the outdoors because we want to take care of the environment we love.

Although bleach will kill the bacteria in your black tank, it’ll also kill the good bacteria that can break down the waste. Using bleach can also damage the sensors, seals, and plumbing. Finally, bleach mixing with the ammonia in your urine can potentially create deadly chloramine gas. 

Just take the safe route and don’t use bleach to clean your RV black tank.

Should You Use Any Chemicals in Your RV Black Tank? 

It’s completely fine to use chemicals in your RV black tank. Just make sure they’re RV-safe and biodegradable. There are several liquid treatments specific to RVs. If you don’t want to use liquid treatments, there are alternatives.

Drop-in treatments, like tablets, pouches, and powders, are common because they require no measuring. You simply drop the cleaning solution into the toilet. 

Just make sure what you use states that it is RV-safe and biodegradable. You don’t want to introduce harmful chemicals to the environment, and you don’t want chemicals to sit around and possibly damage your sensitive septic system.

Pro Tip: Does your RV toilet smell when you flush it? Find out how to stop the stink.

The Geo Method for Black Tank Cleaning

If you don’t want to use store-bought chemicals but would rather create your own cleaning solution, use the Geo Method. The Geo Method is one of the most popular DIY RV treatments, so let’s look at how to clean your RV black tank properly.

How to Do the Geo Method

What You’ll Need
  • 1 cup powdered water softener OR 1 cap of liquid softener
  • 1 cup laundry detergent OR Dawn dish soap
  • Hot water

The Geo Method requires a cup of powdered water softener or one cap of liquid softener, like Calgon. The water softening process is important to get the solid waste off the inside walls of the black tank. You also need one cup of laundry detergent or Dawn dish soap. This helps to rinse away the waste and clean the sensors.

There are a couple of processes that use the environmentally-safe Geo Method. When you’re ready to use either of them, empty it and then plug it. Go ahead and empty the gray tank to clean out the sewer hose.

The first suggestion is to mix both the water softener and the laundry detergent with hot water. First, dissolve the water softener in about a quart of hot water. Then flush that mixture down the toilet. Again, make sure your black tank valve is closed during this process. 

Do the same thing with the laundry detergent or Dawn dish soap. Dissolve it in about a quart of hot water and flush it down the toilet. Finish the process by flushing another quart of hot water down the toilet.

A slightly different technique is to fill your black tank with water after emptying it. You can do this by holding down the flush and allowing water to flow into the tank for about a minute. Then you dump both the water softener and laundry detergent or Dawn dish soap down the toilet. This method doesn’t require mixing with hot water. 

So, it’s up to you how you want to go about doing the Geo Method. Regardless, after you’ve followed the steps, go about your day like normal. If you do this on travel days, the solution will slosh around as you drive, more thoroughly cleaning the black tank. Or it will sit and clean as you remain stationary.

Pro Tip: We compared the Geo Method vs Happy Campers tank treatment and, for us, there was a clear winner.

Keep Your Black Tank Clean with Regular Black Tank Flushing

It’s crucial to maintain your black tank by regularly flushing it. This is different from cleaning it. Flushing the tank will eliminate the build-up inside the black tank so that your sensors function correctly and you can limit odors. 

When you flush the black tank, it’s not the same as flushing the toilet. Instead, some RVs have a built-in flushing system that uses a high-pressure spray inside the tank.

If your RV has a built-in flushing system, you’ll see it on the outside of the RV. Connect the sewer hose and empty the black and gray tanks as normal. However, leave the black tank valve open. 

Then, connect a hose to your water source and then to the tank flush system. Use a non-drinking water hose. This might go without saying, but don’t use the same hose you use to connect your RV to a water source. Rather, grab a hose dedicated solely for cleaning out the black tank. 

Finally, turn on the outside water source and let it run for two or three minutes until the water runs clear. Turn off the water, disconnect the hose, and plug your black tank valve.

How to use your RV’s black tank flush

How to Flush Your Black Tank If You Don’t Have a Flush System

Many RVs don’t have the previously mentioned built-in flush system. This means you’ll need a few extra tools to clean the black tank. You need to buy a rinsing wand (there are many options). 

You’ll attach this wand to a hose (again, not a drinking water hose), and pull the hose through your RV to the bathroom. If you have a bathroom window, you can just run the hose through it. This is a two-person job because you’ll need someone at the water source and another person using the wand in the bathroom.

The rinsing wand goes into the toilet and through the hole to reach the black tank. When the water is turned on, the wand uses a high-pressure spray to clean the waste build-up just like a built-in flushing system. 

You can also purchase a flushing attachment for your sewer hose. An attachment operates similarly to a rinsing wand.

Regular Cleaning and Maintenance Goes a Long Way

Regularly cleaning and maintaining your black tank and sewer hose is critical for proper function and longevity. The sensors in any black tank are pretty sensitive, so those may never be reliable. 

But as long as the gunk and waste build-up is being cleaned out regularly, you shouldn’t have many problems with your septic system. Do your part as an RV owner and take care of your black tank. 

When was the last time you did a thorough flushing?

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