How Do Enzyme Holding Tank Treatments Work In RVs?

January 15, 2019

How Do Enzyme Toilet Treatment Chemicals Work In An RV, Motorhome, of Fifth Wheel

Key Points:

  • Enzyme products work by breaking up large chunks of solid waste (poop and toilet paper) inside your black water holding tank into smaller pieces, preventing clogs and backups.
  • An enzyme product produces the best results when it is paired with a high-quality waste-digesting product (bacteria-based). 

The top holding tank issues for RVers are preventing clogs and eliminating foul holding tank odors. Many frustrated RVers turn to popular holding tank treatment products to try to combat this, and many of these products are enzyme-only products. But the real question is, how does an enzyme-only holding tank treatment work, and is it the best product to combat the top issues faced by RVers? In this guide, we will provide a brief explanation of how an enzyme-only tank treatment product works and if it’s the best product for tank odors and backups. But if you want the nitty gritty reasons for why we think enzymes should be teamed up with bacteria, read our guide on Why Bacteria and Enzymes Are Good for Your RV Holding Tanks.

How Enzyme-Only Treatments Work

In order to fully understand how these enzyme holding tank treatments work, we first need to understand that enzymes are non-living proteins that break down organic waste. These enzymes work in your tank by breaking down the feces and toilet paper inside your black tank into smaller pieces, preventing large build-ups of waste from occurring inside your tank. It’s that simple! But they are well-complemented by teaming up with bacteria to really tackle the waste that could create clogs and odors.

The Benefits of Enzyme-Only Products

Enzyme-only products have three main features that make them very popular. First, enzymes are really good at breaking down large chunks of waste, which, as we covered a little earlier, aids in preventing those larger chunks of waste from becoming a clog or leading to a backup. 

The other benefit of an enzyme-only product is its speed. Enzymes often work very quickly, which can be especially helpful if you’re dealing with a clog that needs to be removed right away. Do keep in mind, though, that enzymes cannot fully break down the poop and toilet paper inside your tank to the smallest possible pieces; they only break the waste down into smaller pieces that are more easily removed from your tank. 

Finally, enzyme-only products do not pose a health threat to humans or the environment as many chemical-based treatments or home remedies do. Enzyme-only products don’t contain any of these harsh chemicals and don’t run the risk of damaging your seals or RV water system components. 

Note: For deeper information on how enzymes work in your RV holding tanks and why you should pair them with bacteria, refer to our guide on Why Bacteria and Enzymes Are Good for Your RV Holding Tanks.

Enzyme-Only Tank Treatments and Odor Elimination

Enzymes do well breaking down waste quickly, but they are unable to control odors. To make up for this lack of odor control, some enzyme-only tank treatments try to tackle the odor issues by adding strong fragrances that mask these odors, which is just replacing one foul odor with another overpowering odor. Sometimes the make-up of the fragrances that are added can kill bacteria, which is never a good thing if you are pairing enzyme treatments with bacteria treatments. 

Other manufacturers prefer to use a chemical solution, which means it could easily come in contact with your skin or eyes and cause irritation. This risk seems unnecessary when there are other effective products on the market that lessen exposure issues. Zinc or mineral products are very good at reducing odors (especially when travelling in high-heat areas), but these products can be dangerous to use if not packaged correctly. Zinc or mineral products that are packaged as loose powders can easily release fine powder into the air which can be inhaled. Inhaling a zinc-based product can cause respiratory issues, so as long as you are using a product that is packaged with safety in mind (like Unique Tank Odor Eliminator), a zinc or mineral-based product is great for reducing odors. 

Ultimately, the most effective and risk-free way to control odors and clogs in your holding tank is to use a bacteria and enzyme product like Unique RV Digest-It. Bacteria and enzymes are the best pairing to control all the issues RVers dread, so we invite you to read more about why these two are such great teammates in our guide on Why Bacteria and Enzymes Are Good for Your RV Holding Tanks.


In the end, enzyme-only products have their advantages when it comes to breaking down the waste inside your tank, and many people find them to be extremely helpful. But when you pair enzyme-only treatments with an effective odor reducer and The Unique Method, you will have happy, healthy holding tanks.

Adopt The Unique Method

You bought your RV so you could enjoy life and spend time with family and friends. The last thing you want to do is waste precious time and money on fixing wastewater holding tank problems. Keeping your tanks in peak operating condition doesn’t have to be hard, confusing, or expensive if you follow our proven process: The Unique Method.

The Unique Method is a comprehensive tank care plan that we developed after years of conversations with real customers facing real problems. The Unique Method provides you with simple, preventative steps to stop odors, clogs, and sensor problems before they start so you can spend less time worrying about your holding tanks and more time enjoying the freedom and adventure of RVing. Try it yourself and see why thousands of campers trust their RVs with The Unique Method every day.

If you need more help with anything covered in this guide or simply have a comment, we’re here to help you anytime!

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