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How to Use an RV Dumping Station

  • 7 min read

Article 9 of 9 in Series: Dumping RV Holding Tanks

Read series from the beginning

Key Points:

  • Common sense dumping practices are easy to remember and worth practicing to show respect to other RVers waiting in line.
  • Basic etiquette is to dump as quickly as possible, avoid flushing your tank if there’s a long line, and clean up after yourself (basically leave the station as tidy as you would want others to leave it for you).

When you’re new to RVing, you never really want to look like you’re a newbie, and going to a dump station for the first time is one place where your newbieness can certainly show through. But it’s not something to be afraid to do because it’s really very simple as long as you operate by two main guidelines: dump as quickly as possible and clean up after yourself. It all basically boils down to that. But we want you to be a model dumper, so in this article, we’ve explained in detail some of the finer points of dump station etiquette so you can be sure not to annoy the wrong camper.

Tips and Advice for Being a Respectful Dumper

There are certain common sense things that you would think most people would make a part of their dumping routine to not only keep themselves and their RV sanitary and clean, but also the dump station and the people around them. Unfortunately, some people do not possess these dump station etiquette and can easily be the target of a dumping station’s version of road rage. If you’re new to RVing, there’s nothing to be afraid of when showing respect to other RVers at a dump station. We’ve compiled some common sense tips and advice to make your dump station experience incident-free.

  1. Dump the black tank first, then gray
  2. Keep wastewater valves in proper working order
  3. Don’t spread germs (have the appropriate tools to dump)
  4. Move your RV forward to access fresh water (drinking/potable water)
  5. Try to complete your dumping process as quickly as possible
  6. Don’t perform non-dumping tasks while hooked up to the dumping cleanout
  7. Clean up after yourself

We’ll go into greater detail on all of these tips so you can have the most comprehensive idea of how to operate at a dump station.

Dump the black tank first, then gray

After having read through this dumping series, you know that the black tank should always be dumped first, but let us reiterate it again. Dump your black tank first so that if you are not able to flush your black tank at the dump station or there are too many in line behind you to do that, your gray water dump will decently rinse the hose before storing and heading home. It seems much less gross to disconnect the discharge hose after the gray water rinsed it out than if the black water had just gone through. No one wants to disconnect and see chunks hanging out in the grooves of the hose and potentially watch them fall out onto the ground. Observe the best dumping order to respect others waiting in line and the cleanliness of the area.

Keep wastewater valves in proper working order

These are the gate valves you pull when you’re hooked up to a cleanout and are ready to dump. However, the more you use these valves, the more they wear out like anything that is used often. RV gate valves keep your holding tank waste safely sealed until you can connect a hose and dump. But the more you use your RV, the more those gate valve seals will wear out and allow waste water to drip through the valve even when closed, causing a minor mess after uncapping the discharge pipe to hook up. You do not want to be the one to leave a puddle of contaminated water at the feet of the next RVer in line. You can find twist-on wastewater valves that are designed the same way as the manufacturer-installed valves, but they twist on to the end of the discharge pipe. You can add one of these as a secondary defense against dripping from a worn valve.

Don’t spread germs

Have all the appropriate tools to dump your tanks in a sanitary way. Don’t try to DIY a sewer hose or some other essential tool. Invest in manufactured items that ensure tight seals and non-drip dumping. We also recommend always wearing disposable rubber gloves to protect yourself from any germs that escape during the dumping process and having sanitary wipes on hand to wipe down contaminated surfaces to protect future RVers from being infected by any residual germs.

Move your RV forward to access fresh water (drinking/potable water)

Trying to make your hose reach from where you are at the dumping cleanout means that you are adding more wait time to the RVers in line when you are not even using the actual dumping cleanout. By moving your RV forward to the fresh drinking water spigot, you are allowing another RVer to begin the dumping process and keep the line moving (not to mention avoiding any cross-contamination). You might also consider wiping the fresh water spigot with wipes to decontaminate it in case the previous RVer wasn’t as considerate as you. Everyone in line will thank you for moving your rig forward because most RVers have all had an experience being stuck behind someone who takes up to an hour to dump, when it should really only take 15 minutes at most. 

Try to complete your dumping process as quickly as possible

Ever been sitting in a drive-thru line behind someone who has been ordering for what seems like 15 minutes when it should only take a couple minutes? The first reaction is often, “What, are you ordering the whole store?!” If you take too long to dump, you may have people behind you wondering if you’re dumping an entire septic tank. And most of the time, the act of dumping the tanks is not the time-consuming part; it’s all the other little things people decide they must do before moving out of the way for the next person. Other blogs may say you should never flush your black tank at a dump station out of respect for other RVers in line. There’s nothing wrong with rinsing your tank after dumping, but try to do it as quickly and efficiently as possible, or if there is a very long line, here are a few things you could do instead depending on your situation:

  • Already have everything hooked up to your RV and ready to go when you get to the cleanout and only rinse for 5 minutes; it’s likely you could dump and rinse within 15 minutes, which is the unofficial average time expectation for dumping.
  • Rinse it when you get home and employ the bucket dumping technique if you must for the rinse water.
  • Fill the unrinsed black tank with fresh water when you get home and add a bottle of Store-It until your next outing. Then dump at the station on the way there.
  • Save long rinses for when you’re camping on hook-ups or dumping in a home sewer cleanout.

Don’t perform non-dumping tasks while hooked up to the dumping cleanout

Some RVers think this is the perfect time to do dishes, take showers, casually chat on the phone, or even snack on something! Dish washing and showering should be done before you get to the dump station or when you get home. There’s really no reason to wash dishes or shower while hooked up at the dump station. Wait to perform any activities that are not dumping related until you’ve arrived home or have moved away from the cleanout. While you may be able to talk on the phone and dump at the same time (gross though, sanitize your phone after), RVers behind you in line won’t see it that way. Talking on your phone or doing other non-dumping tasks while dumping makes people think you are in no hurry and their time is not being respected. Avoid the perception that you are the disrespectful RVer; focus on dumping, and get on the phone after you’ve moved out of line.

Clean up after yourself

You’d think it goes without saying, but don’t litter. Put your disposable gloves and other waste products from cleaning up after your dumping process in the proper waste bins to keep the dump station clean and sanitary for the next person. Some stations may not have convenient trash cans or the trash cans could be completely full. Just put your used gloves or used wipes in a plastic bag and take them home with you to your big dumpster. Don’t balance them on top of the overflowing trash or toss them at the foot of the trash can. General rule of thumb is: leave the area cleaner than you found it.

How to Hook Up and Dump at a Dump Station

Luckily, we have an entire guide on that topic; refer to our guide on How to Dump Your Black and Gray Water Tanks. It’s pretty simple and you should have no trouble at all figuring it out. If you’re confused about anything, the RVer behind you has likely done it before and would probably be willing to give you some guidance; just ask!


We’ve finally come to the end of our series on all things dumping! Let’s briefly review what we covered in this article:

  • There is an assumed code of conduct for dump stations:
    • Dump the black tank first, then gray
    • Keep wastewater valves in proper working order
    • Don’t spread germs (have the appropriate tools with you)
    • Move your RV forward to access fresh water (drinking/potable water)
    • Try to complete your dumping process as quickly as possible
    • Don’t perform non-dumping tasks while hooked up to the dumping cleanout
    • Clean up after yourself
  • If you’re unsure how to hook-up at a dumping station, refer to our guide on How to Dump Your Black and Gray Water Tanks.

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