How To Dump Your Holding Tanks At Home

June 29, 2020

Learn how to effectively dump your holding tanks at home. Quick easy tips for Septic owners and homes on city sewer.

Key Points:

  • Only dump your tanks at home if you are on a septic system, you’ve only used septic-safe cleaners in your RV’s wastewater tanks, or you are on city sewer with a professionally installed cleanout.
  • Always check local codes and your HOA (if you have one) to make sure dumping your RV’s waste water tanks is allowable in your community.
  • There are 3 major methods for emptying your RV’s tanks at home: 1) with a bucket, 2) with a macerator pump, and 3) by dumping directly into a cleanout port without macerating.
  • If there’s only a few gallons of waste inside your tank that you need to get rid of, then the bucket method may be your best bet. See details below.
  • A more complicated and extra-expensive option is to macerate your RV’s waste before you empty it into your septic tank. See details below. It’s important with this option not to overload your tank by pumping too much waste into it all at once.
  • Perhaps the easiest option is to connect your RV directly to your home’s septic system without first macerating the waste. With this option, it is important not to overload your tank by pumping too much waste into it at once. See details below.
  • Use caution when emptying waste directly into your home’s septic tank or cleanout. There are harmful gases in sewer lines and wastewater that can be fatal if inhaled. Also, leaving the lid off of your septic tank for too long can kill the bacteria in the tank. See below for more information.
  • Septic Systems are sensitive to hazardous chemicals. If you are dumping into any septic system, it’s important to make sure you aren’t putting hazardous chemicals with your black or gray water tanks! See this article to learn what items are okay in RV holding tanks.

Disclaimer: Before you begin, make sure to check all local laws and regulations to make sure you can legally dispose of waste at home! If you can't dump your tanks at home, please see this article that details other locations where you can dump your tanks.

RVers commonly ask the question: can you dump your RV waste at home? Well, the short answer is, yes! You can dump your RV’s waste at home, and there are several ways to do it. In all honesty, many RVers have pretty good reasons not to empty their tanks at dump stations. Maybe you have one of those reasons, or maybe you’d just rather do it yourself. Either way, we’re here to tell you how it’s done!

Now, before we get started, we want to be clear that dumping your tanks at home certainly takes some time, effort, care, and responsibility! Even more important than that, it’s crucial that you learn the correct way to empty your tanks. 

If you're new to RVing, and/or you don’t feel completely comfortable dumping your tanks at home, we recommend that you empty your tanks at a dump station. Dumping your holding tanks at home can be messy, and if you aren’t on a septic system, it’s often not worth the time and effort. Touch or click here for information about finding a dump station near you. The only time we recommend you dump your holding tanks at home is when you have a professionally installed cleanout. Whether you’re on a septic system or city sewer, a cleanout is required to safely dispose of waste.

But for the purposes of this article, let’s assume you are either on a septic system or on city sewer with a cleanout.

3 Ways to Dump Your Tanks

There are 3 basic ways to dump your holding tanks at home: 

  1. Using a bucket. (This works best for smaller amounts of waste.)
  2. By macerating or mashing.
  3. Dumping directly into your home’s septic tank or cleanout without macerating.

Important: it’s critical that you not simply empty your gray or black water tanks into your toilet. Toilets aren’t built for the volume of waste that can come from RV holding tanks. You will almost certainly experience nasty clogs if you try to dump your holding tanks into your toilet!

Guide Continued Below

sign up and save. We send out frequent discounts and promotions.

Sign Up + Save

Join our newsletter and save $5 on your next order! Plus, get exclusive members-only discounts, access to our library of downloadable guides, and insider information on new products and promotions.

Learn More

The Bucket Method

The bucket method for emptying your tanks works best when you have only a small amount of waste in your RV holding tanks. With that in mind, it’s probably not smart to attempt this method if you’re dealing with a larger amount of waste! We strongly recommend that you use this technique if you have only a few gallons of waste in your tanks. Since many RVers won’t want to make a trip to the dump station to dispose of just a few gallons of waste, we suspect that this is the home dumping option that most RVers will end up using at some point.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Get a bucket. (A 5-gallon bucket will probably work best.)
  2. Place the bucket under either your gray or black water tank, open the valve very carefully and slowly, and fill the bucket with waste. Close the valve when you have finished. Opening the valve very slowly will keep the waste from splashing too much, but even so, you might want to plug your nose, wear a face covering, and/or wear gloves!
  3. Carefully dump the bucket of waste into your cleanout port (septic or city sewer). The cleanout is a PVC pipe located above ground (normally between your house and the tank or your house and the sewer) that has a screw cap. Simply unscrew the cap and pour the waste directly into the cleanout.*
  4. Repeat the steps given above until your gray or black water tank is empty. Don’t forget to clean and disinfect the bucket!

*If your septic tank does not have a cleanout, you can also use an access port. Use caution if you decide to go with this option. There are extremely dangerous gases inside your septic tank that can be fatal if inhaled. Be sure to use the access port that is closest to your home.

In the middle of your septic tank there is a baffle that keeps sludge (solid waste) from clogging your outlet. So if you pour on the wrong side of the baffle (the one farthest from your home), you risk clogging your tank. Beyond all this, make sure not to leave the lid off your access port for too long. Doing so can kill the bacteria that help to break down waste in your tank. While some sources recommend dumping into your toilet, we highly discourage this! It can very easily cause nasty clogs in your plumbing system that will ultimately lead to expensive and stressful repairs. If you do not have a septic system at your home, we recommend that you go ahead and dump your RV’s tanks at a dump station!

The Macerating Method

If the bucket method is just a bit too gross for you, there’s another option, although admittedly, a pretty complicated one! 

The Macerating Method involves macerating (just a fancy word for crushing!) your waste using a special macerator pump that chops the waste up into a smoothie-like consistency (yum yum!). The macerator pump then connects directly to a garden hose, and the macerated waste can be channeled to your home’s septic tank or cleanout port. 

Again, a lot of sources recommend funneling the macerated waste into your toilet and flushing it. However, there’s obviously a huge margin for error here, and you could end up with a huge mess! Instead, we recommend that you dump your macerated waste into your cleanout port to avoid the hassle. 

If you want to macerate your waste before you dump it into your septic tank (doing so will aid in the waste breakdown process, although it’s not absolutely necessary), then here’s how to do it.

You’ll need:

  • An RV waste macerator pump. (Generally, these can be obtained for between $100 and $200.)
  • A hose adapter to connect to your RV.
  • A CDFJ adapter to connect your macerator pump to your garden hose.
  • A garden hose. (It’s probably a good idea to dedicate one hose for this use!)

Follow these steps to empty your tank using the macerator pump technique:

  1. Using the hose adapter, connect your macerator pump to your RV’s waste outlet.
  2. Using the CDFJ adapter, connect your macerator pump to your garden hose.
  3. Place the other end of your garden hose into your home’s septic tank.
  4. Shortening the distance that the waste must travel through the garden hose will help speed the process and not strain your pump as much!
  5. Plug in your macerator pump.
  6. Open your RV’s waste outlet valve and turn on your macerator pump.
  7. Pour clean water into your RV’s system until it’s clean.
  8. When the water coming out of your RV is clear, you’ve successfully emptied your tank! Disconnect everything, and you’re done!

Of course, this method is a little more time consuming, and it will cost you a bit of money to obtain everything you need, but if you’re willing to put in some work, this method is highly effective for dumping at home.

The Dumping Without Macerating Method

The last option for dumping your tanks at home is to dump your gray or black water tanks without macerating. As with the other options, you will be dumping into your home’s cleanout or access port (on septic systems or city sewers). This is perhaps the simplest method so far, as it only requires that you connect your RV’s black or gray water tanks to your cleanout port using your sewer hose and flush the waste out.

If you decide to use this option, you should empty waste into your home’s cleanout port slowly. If waste is added too quickly, the tank can become overloaded and push undissolved waste into your lateral line system! Also, if you are accessing your septic tank via the access lid, be careful to disturb the scum layer as little as possible. Dumping directly into your septic tank has the potential to be very damaging to your septic, so great care must be taken!

Using the Right Products

As a caveat to all the methods outlined above, we must stress that you should not dump caustic chemicals into your septic tank. If you have been using caustic chemical products to clean your RV’s toilet bowl or to mask smells in your holding tanks (which is, let’s be honest, not a great option!), you should not empty your RV’s tanks into your home’s septic system. Your septic system functions by using bacteria to break down waste. Caustic chemicals and antibacterial products effectively bring this process to a halt by killing off bacteria, which can cause clogs in your septic tank, backflow into your home, and leakage out into the surrounding environment. These caustic chemical products are extremely detrimental to septic systems and can cause major problems down the road!

Avoid putting chemicals into your septic tank at all costs! We recommend using non-hazardous and septic-safe holding tank treatments if you plan to dump into a septic system. 

Using septic-safe holding tank treatments in your RV is crucial to lasting success not only when dumping your tanks into your septic system, but while RVing in general! Our comprehensive treatment process, The Unique Method, outlines the right wastewater treatment procedures to follow as well as the right products to use in your tanks!


We hope this article has helped you learn what you need to know about dumping your RV holding tanks at home! Once again, if you feel at all uncomfortable with any of the processes outlined above, we recommend that you simply dump your RV at a dump station. Touch or click here for information about finding a dump station near you. 

Again, be sure to follow all local ordinances while dumping your tanks, and if you should happen to have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to us. We want to walk with you every step of the way on your RVing journey! 

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!

Contact Us

Also in Guides and Resources

How to use RV tank rinsers and other rinsing tools. Unique Camping + Marine
How to Use RV Tank Rinsers and Other Rinsing Tools

January 19, 2022

Even seasoned RVers claim that you can just dump your tank without rinsing and still avoid odors and clogs. Our experiences with customers have shown us that not regularly rinsing your tanks will eventually lead to problems, so we recommend short rinses (5-10 minutes) after every dump and long rinses (20-30 minutes) every 3-5 dumps.

Continue Reading

How to unfreeze pipes and holding tanks this winter. Unique Camping + Marine
How to Unfreeze RV Pipes and Tanks

December 08, 2021

Many of these thawing techniques are also preventative measures, and the tools used to prepare for cold weather should be staple items in your RV if you will be camping through the winter, and even if you will be camping in the fall or very early in the spring when the weather in many areas can surprise you with early or late freezing temperatures. In this article, we will discuss the parts of the RV water system that could freeze, tools you might want on hand to thaw frozen tanks and pipes, and some of the techniques when using those tools to avoid damage during the thawing process.

Continue Reading

Is it okay to pee in your RV shower? Learn why you should never let pee get in your gray tanks.
Is It Okay to Pee in My RV Shower?

December 08, 2021

Who hasn’t peed in their home shower? Well, it seems that the nation is split almost 50/50 on that point, some enthusiastically admitting it and others recoiling at the thought. Peeing in a home shower is one thing, but what about peeing in an RV shower? As with almost any topic, there are nay-sayers and supporters on both sides.

Continue Reading