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Full Time RVing: The Definitive Guide To Treating Your Tank

January 23, 2019

Full Time RV Toilet Treatment Chemical - What is the best safe natural holding tank treatment for full timers hook ups- Guide

As a Full Timer it’s important that you properly maintain your RV waste water systems, not only because you want to avoid disgusting odors but also because you know that prevention is the best defense. As a rule, it’s always better to avoid a problem than to have to deal with it later. There is a lot of misinformation out there regarding the best ways to treat your tank, so we’ve developed this easy to follow step-by-step guide so you can effectively treat your black tank without worry.

Holding Tank Best Practices For Full Timers
  • Always keep your black tank valve closed - except when dumping your tank.
  • Always keep several inches of water in your toilet bowl when the RV is stationary to keep sewer gas from backing up into your RV.
  • Always flush your RV toilet with an ample amount of water to ensure the microbes that keep your tank waste and odor free are well hydrated and holding tank temperatures are kept below 85 degrees.
  • Keep your tank temperatures down. If your tank gets too hot the bacteria will begin working less efficiently. We recommend adding water or ice if you believe tank temperatures are exceeding 85 degrees.
  • We recommend dumping your holding tanks every 5 days to prevent odors and keep tanks in good operating condition.
  • Never clean your RV toilet bowl with chemical toilet cleaners. These will kill the good bacteria that keep your black tank clog and odor free. Clean your toilets with a safe, non hazardous toilet bowl cleaner like Unique RV Toilet Bowl Cleaner + Tank Enhancer.
  • After every dump, treat your black tank with a bacteria-based tank treatment like RV Digest-It to ensure your tanks remain clog and odor free.
  • Back-flush your tank for 20 to 30 minutes every 5 to 10 dumps to maintain working sensor probes and to ensure no residual waste is collected in the corners of the tank that can lead to clogs or odors.
Treating Your Black Tank
  1. Dump your black tank
  2. Back-flush your black tank - If your RV is equipped with a back-flush system, run the back-flush until only clear, fresh water can is coming out of your discharge hose. For some, this can take 30 minutes (or more) depending on your RV’s system, the dump station fitting, and how level your RV is. Don’t be fooled. You may start to see clear water coming out of the tank and assume your tank is clean. Keep flushing for another few minutes. Often, a second wave of waste will flush out that has collected in the corners of the tank. If your RV isn’t equipped with a back-flush system, run fresh water (or gray tank water) following your tank-dump to flush out the residual waste in the discharge hose.
  3. Close your black tank valve
  4. Add several inches of water to your toilet bowl
  5. Shake RV Digest-It thoroughly before each use. Bacteria settles over time and needs to be mixed up before each treatment so that the correct amount is used per treatment.
  6. Pour 2 ounces of RV Digest-It into your toilet (4 ounces for the initial treatment)
  7. Flush your toilet
  8. Add several inches of water to your toilet bowl. You’re done!

Repeat each time your dump your tank. To ensure your waste is being properly digested and odors are controlled, treat your black water holding tank following these instructions after each dump. You will only need to use 2 ounces of RV Digest-It per treatment after the initial treatment.

Treating Your Gray Tank

Everyone has differing ideas on how to properly treat your gray water holding tanks. For Full Time RVers, the method you ultimately choose is your decision and it should be based on how you routinely camp. Here are our recommendations when using RV Digest-It.

Before we get started, for full timers who camp with full hook ups, please know we recommend keeping your gray valve open with a trap in the hose to prevent sewer gas from backing up inside your RV. We know this goes against the grain for some of you who’ve been properly trained to ALWAYS keep your black valve closed but the reality is, your gray tank should be treated differently than your black tank.

Note: In some states, you are required to keep your waste hose off the ground. This is sometimes punishable by law and can cost unsuspecting RVers their hard earned money. Please make sure you are aware of all local laws and regulations.

Because we use our gray tanks more than our black tanks they tend to fill up faster. If you routinely keep your gray valve closed you will have to dump very regularly - often every day. This means more work and more expense if you are treating your gray tanks with RV Digest-It after each dump. This is simply not necessary if you’re camping on full hook ups.

Besides convenience and cost, we also suggest keeping your gray valve open because grease (from food waste, soap, shampoo, etc.) will likely end up in your gray tank. If you allow water to accumulate in your tank this grease will end up coating the walls and bottom of your tank and will eventually lead to sensor problems and odors. By leaving your valve open the gray water, grease, and light residue will run out of your tanks naturally.

The majority of the waste going down your sink, shower, or dishwasher drains should be primarily liquid. Your goal is to never allow solids into your gray tank, so, solid waste (aka clogs) shouldn’t really be a problem. If you don’t already use one, a good sink strainer is crucial to ensuring that only liquids go down your drains.

Some will argue that it’s not good to keep your gray valve open because you may get solids backing up that can cause a clog or cause your sensors to get debris on them and cause them to misread. This simply shouldn’t be the case if you are ensuring that no solids go down your drains and end up in the gray tanks. Further, by treating your gray tanks once per week you help eliminate any grease buildup in the walls, lines, bottom of the tank that can lead to odors or sensor malfunction.

It is also very important that you put a 'trap' in your discharge line so foul smelling, dangerous sewer gas doesn’t back up into your unit. If you forget to make this trap by creating a dip or kink in the line as mentioned above you will know it pretty quickly as your unit will fill up with foul smells from the sewer.

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Camping With Full Hook Ups

Even if you allow only liquids into your gray tank you will still accumulate grease, soap, and residue buildup in the tank bottom and lines that can eventually lead to foul tank odors and cause sensors to misread, so it’s important you follow these steps to make sure your tanks remain operating properly and that you don’t get odors in your RV.

Important! It’s crucial that you make a 'trap' in your sewer hose to keep dangerous and disgusting sewer gases from backing up into your RV.

  1. Keep your gray tank valve open
  2. Once per week close your gray valve and fill your kitchen sink with warm water. Pour 2 oz. of RV Digest-It Holding Tank Treatment into the sink then release the water so it drains into your gray tank. Use your tanks normally.
  3. After the tank has reached capacity, open your valve and dump your tank.
  4. Repeat regularly - we recommend once per week - or when you get tank odors. Remember, tank odors can also come from a line that doesn’t have a proper trap in it, so be sure to confirm that before treating with RV Digest-It.
Dry Camping

If you are dry camping (boondocking) full time and don’t have access to full hook ups it’s important that you use a waste treatment product to keep odors down and help keep your sensors operating correctly as you will often keep your gray valve closed.

Important! Make sure no solids get into your RV gray tank. The waste going down your drain should only be liquid waste so solid waste doesn’t accumulate in your gray tanks and lead to clogs and misreading sensors. If you don’t already use one, a good sink strainer is crucial to ensuring that only liquids go down your drains.

  1. Close your gray tank valve
  2. Fill your kitchen sink with warm water
  3. Pour 2 oz. RV Digest-It into the water
  4. Release the sink water and drain sink
  5. Repeat regularly - we recommend once per week - or when you get tank odors.


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