How to Use Your RV Toilet

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A white RV toilet set against a dark gray backdrop.

There are many things you’ll learn when getting an RV, but who knew you’d need to learn how to use an RV toilet? RV toilets often look and feel like residential toilets, but they’re quite different. Misuse of an RV toilet can lead to expensive repairs. Let’s take a look at how to use your RV toilet.

How RV Toilets and Black Tanks Work

An RV toilet connects to a black tank. The black tank usually sits under the RV directly below the toilet. This allows gravity to assist in moving material downward.

Anything flushed down the toilet will sit in the black tank until you empty the tank. Having plenty of water in your black tank is essential to avoid potential clogs or blockages.

The more water you have in your tank, the easier it will be for materials to break down and pass through the drain valve during dumping.

How to Use Your RV Toilet: How to Flush

If you’ve never used an RV toilet before, it may take a moment to figure out how to flush.

Lightly press the foot pedal to release water into the bowl of the toilet. The further you press down, the more water fills the bowl.

Completely pushing the pedal down will open the base of the toilet bowl and release the contents into the black tank.

Side view of a Dometic 320 RV toilet showing the foot petal you use to flush it

Before Using Your Toilet, Add Several Gallons of Water and Additives to Tank

Your black tank should never be 100% empty if you’re actively using it. You should add several gallons of water and additives to your black tank every time you get it out of storage or after you dump.

RV black tanks rely on water and enzymes to help break down materials. If there’s no water in the tank, fecal matter can build up and create a clog. It’s better to err on the side of being too generous with water when using your RV toilet.

Adding enzymes to your tank helps increase the speed and effectiveness of breaking down the materials.

These enzymes also help keep odors down. They’ll help your RV work efficiently and smell clean, and they’re even safe for the environment.

Use Plenty of Water When Flushing

Be sure to be generous with water when you use your RV toilet, especially when flushing solids or RV toilet paper.

Too many solids and not enough liquid in the black tank will cause a clog that can be incredibly difficult to fix.

If there’s not enough water in the tank, the tank’s contents can coat the inside of the tank. 

Pro Tip: You don’t need to use expensive RV toilet paper. Check out these RV Toilet Paper Alternatives You’ll Wish You Used Sooner.

An RV toilet bowl is full of lots of water to help maintain tank health.

Tips for RV Toilet Maintenance

Here are a few tips to keep your RV toilet running efficiently. Let’s take a look!

Always Keep Water in the Bowl

An RV toilet comes with a gasket at the base of the bowl. This gasket seals the bowl when the toilet’s foot pedal is not compressed.

If this gasket is allowed to sit without water, it will dry out. A dried-out gasket will not only lead to leaks and cracks but also can be incredibly smelly.

Be sure to keep a sufficient amount of water in the bowl to protect this vital part of your RV toilet.

Never Leave Black Tank Open

Leaving the black tank open is one of the worst things you can do for it. This is a common mistake that RVers make, and it can eventually cause significant issues.

When you leave your black tank open, you allow the liquids to drain out of the black tank. The only thing that won’t drain out of the black tank is the solids.

The more solids that build up, the more likely you are to experience a clog. If tanks are left open for a prolonged period, these solids will harden and create a massive blockage.

Never leave your black tank open, even if you have a full hook-up site.

Use Plenty of Water

Water is a black tank’s best friend. The more water you use, the better. Water will not only help break down material but also help with dumping your RV’s tanks. 

Flush Black Tank Often

One of the best ways to keep your black tank running efficiently is to flush it often. RVs with a black tank flush make this incredibly easy. You’ll be shocked at what’s left behind after emptying your tanks.

If your RV does not have a black tank flush connection, you can buy one or press the toilet’s flush pedal to the ground and fill the tank up with water this way. It may take longer, but it’s a great way to keep an eye on the level of your black tank to avoid any issues with overfilling your black tank.

Using your RV toilet means saying goodbye to sketchy gas station bathrooms while traveling and no longer having to use campground vault toilets. Having your own toilet is a great benefit of owning an RV, but it requires maintenance. What’s your favorite RV toilet story you’d share with other RVers?

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