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How Do Enzyme Holding Tank Treatments Work In RVs?

  • 4 min read

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. 

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 or minerals and don’t run the risk of damaging your seals or RV water system components. 

Note: For more detailed 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. Zinc or mineral products are very good at reducing odors (especially when traveling in high-heat areas), but they can pose the same level of risk as chemical products; they are even considered by some states to be non-biodegradable, toxic chemicals and are banned from use. In addition, zinc or mineral products that are packaged as loose powders can easily release fine powder into the air which can be inhaled and cause respiratory issues. Before considering a treatment like this, be sure it’s approved for use in the state where you’re camping and handle it with extreme caution. 

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 Plus. RV Digest-It Plus includes a healthy mix of both enzymes and bacteria, so you don’t have to buy an enzyme-only treatment and a separate bacteria treatment to pair it with; RV Digest-It Plus has both enzymes and bacteria in one convenient bottle. 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 bacteria and The Unique Method, you will have happy, healthy holding tanks. Let’s review what we covered in this guide:

  • Enzymes are non-living proteins that break down toilet paper and solid waste into smaller chunks.
  • Enzyme-only products work well for certain camping styles, but they do nothing for eliminating odors.
  • Use caution when choosing tank treatment products to pair with enzyme-only products; sometimes they contain harsh chemicals or zinc/minerals that might be banned in certain states and have the capability of causing serious eye and tissue damage if exposed.

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