Don’t Break These Unspoken RV Dump Station Rules

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If you’re boondocking outside Arches National Park for a few days, you’ll need to search for an RV dump station before setting out on your next destination. It’s part of the dry camping experience. Knowing where to find these locations and how to use them properly will help make this essential task quick and simple.

Before you head over to a communal dump station, here are a few rules that all RVers should follow that might not be on a sign. Let’s take a look!

About RV Dump Stations

RV dump stations are locations within a campground or another facility where you can empty your gray and black tanks. Many state parks and Army Corp of Engineers parks don’t provide sewer systems at individual campsites.

Instead, they might provide water and electricity, and then near the entrance to the park, there’s a dump station where you can empty your tanks on your way out. These are free for overnight guests.

If you’re staying off-property, like dry camping nearby, but need to dump your tanks, parks may charge you a fee to use their dump station. Other locations like fuel stations and rest stops sometimes have dump stations. Usually, these are free to use.

An RV at a dump station hooked up to the water and a sign saying that there is a $15 dump fee

Where Can I Find RV Dump Stations?

Websites like and provide extensive lists of RV waste management locations. They include free and paid dump stations. Users update Sanidumps, so it’s as real-time as any other app or website.

They’ve been collecting data for over a decade and have more than 17,000 locations worldwide. RVDumps also provides a color-coded map to search for locations near you by price. It’s very similar to Sanidumps.

Pro Tip: Some dump stations charge a fee and others don’t. Here’s How to Find Free RV Dump Stations for your next trip!

Don’t Break These Unspoken RV Dump Station Rules

When you need to use an RV dump station, there are some unwritten rules you need to follow. These are for your safety and the safety of other RVers. They’re also general rules of etiquette. Just as there is campground etiquette to follow, there’s also RV dump station etiquette.

A cement RV dump station with water sitting in a puddle

1. Sanitize the Water Spigot 

Before you do anything, sanitize the water spigot. You don’t know if the user before you adhered to the same etiquette as you. Always clean the tap before and after use. This reduces the chance of spreading germs and disease. Make sure you always keep gloves and sanitizing wipes on hand.

Pro Tip: Dump your tanks like a pro with these 20 RV Sewer Accessories that Don’t Stink!

2. Check Your Hose Connections 

Make sure your hose connections are tight and secure before emptying the tanks. If you spill at a community dump station, you’ll contaminate the area.

You also want to maintain your valves and connections properly. Clean them regularly and inspect them for leaks and tears. This will help you catch a problem before it becomes a big mess.

3. Dump Your Tanks in the Correct Order

Always dump your black tank first. This is important because the gray tank water will flush out your sewer hose and rinse the connection to the ground at the dump station site. Although neither water is clean, your gray water is less likely to spread germs or leave feces and urine pathogens on the outlet.

The black and grey tank valves of an RV with a hand pulling one open

4. Avoid Flushing When Possible 

This goes with number six below. If you have someone waiting behind you in line, never flush your tanks. This takes too much time. Don’t inconvenience the next person.

If there isn’t someone in line, someone might be pulling in soon. So avoid flushing if possible and save this for the next time you’re at an entire hookup site.

5. Don’t Leave a Mess

Proper campground etiquette means picking up your trash. The same is true for dump station etiquette. Don’t leave your disposable gloves on the ground. Don’t spill water, so there’s a pool for the next person to stand in. Keep the area as clean and tidy as possible. RV dump stations can already be gross. Don’t make them worse.

Learn More: If you’re worried about accidentally breaking some of these rules, learn How to Use an RV Dump Station before trying!

6. Don’t Hold Up The Line

Many RVers will also fill up with potable water at a dump station, especially if they’re dry camping nearby. If you need potable water, pull up as far away from the dump station as possible so that the next person can start emptying their tanks without waiting for you to fill up your fresh tank.

If you notice something needs to be locked or fixed before heading out, pull up and out of the way before you start working on your rig.

An RV parked at a dump station with a line of other RVs waiting behind it

7. Don’t Block Other Dump Stations Or Traffic

Some RV dump station locations will have several sewer sites. If this is the case, make sure you are not blocking another dump station. Just like you don’t want to hold up the line, you also don’t want to keep another RVer from doing what they need to do when there’s an empty dump station in plain view.

This also goes for traffic. If you’re pulling into a fuel station and the dump station is right at the road’s edge, make sure you’re out of traffic. It could be dangerous for you and other drivers.

Dump Your Tanks And Get On Your Way

Dumping your tanks is part of RVing, whether at your private campsite or a communal dump station. Take care of your business quickly and cleanly, and then move along. Don’t chat with the next person in line. Don’t take your dog out for a bathroom break.

Put your gloves on, sanitize the spigot, attach the proper hoses and connections, empty the tanks, put everything away, sanitize the spigot again, and get out of the way.

Have you used an RV dump station before? Have you had any bad experiences with previous users not following these unwritten rules?

  1. Noticed on a recent journey some rest stop RV dump stations are now out of service, most likely due to the mess some folks leave. Appears more RVers are less than considerate as messes are found more frequently in public areas.

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