Win A Golden Ticket Worth $100 This Weekend. Learn More


Switching To Bacteria-Based RV Toilet Treatments - Removing Caustic Chemicals

November 19, 2019

Switching To Bacteria-Based RV Toilet Treatments - Removing Caustic Chemicals

Key Points:

  1. In order to clean out any residual chemicals from your holding tanks, perform a deep clean of your black tank using Unique Tank Cleaner and a deep clean of your gray tank using Blue Dawn dish soap.
  2. You may also use your RV’s built-in rinser (if it has one) to clean out your tank, or you may use a tank cleaning wand to flush out your tanks. Finally, you may partially fill your tanks with water and flush your system until it is clean.
  3. Only human waste, toilet paper, water, and non-hazardous RV holding tank treatments should be allowed into your black tank; similarly, only water, soap, and non-hazardous RV holding tank treatments should be allowed into your gray tank.
  4. Do not allow any other items into your tanks, including lesser known items like alcohol, antibacterial soap, bleach, chlorine, formaldehyde (any aldehyde), iodine, strong acids, like sulfuric acid, or very strong alkaline chemicals, like lye or sodium hydroxide.
  5. Follow The Unique Method

Have you used chemical treatments in your RV holding tanks in the past, but now you’ve decided to make the switch to bacteria-based treatments? If so, good for you! We always recommend bacteria-based holding tank products, like RV Digest-It, instead of chemical treatments! Wondering why we recommend a high-quality bacteria-based holding tank treatment? Learn more here. This article will give you all the information you need in order to make the switch from chemical treatments to bacteria-based treatments!

If you’ve just recently stopped using chemical treatments, there are likely some residual remains of those chemicals in your tanks. And if any chemicals are still present in your holding tanks, they can disrupt the bacteria in a bacteria-based treatment, causing waste to not get broken down. Moreover, there are some things that you should never allow into your holding tanks if you want to switch to bacterial treatments.

Flushing Your Tanks to Remove Any Residual Chemicals

First, before you switch to bacteria-based treatments, it’s important to flush out any residual chemicals from your tank. Failing to do so can cause bacteria-based treatments to not work properly. There are a few options for flushing out your tank:

  1. Perform a deep clean of your black tank using Unique Tank Cleaner. This product will flush the system, remove waste from the sidewalls and tank floor, remove debris that may have collected on the sensor probes, and lubricate your valves and seals. See The Unique Method for more details.
  2. Use Blue Dawn dish soap to deep clean your gray water tank. The grease-eating enzymes in Blue Dawn will help remove the grease that has collected on your tank’s sidewalls. Let it sit overnight, and then dump your tank in the morning. See The Unique Method for more details.
  3. In addition to the two recommendations above, if your RV has a built-in rinsing system, you can also simply run the rinser to thoroughly flush out your tanks.
  4. Another option is a tank cleaning wand. Connect your wand to a water source and use it to clean out your tank via your toilet bowl.
  5. Alternatively, if your RV does not have a rinser, there is one more option. After dumping your tanks, close the valves and partially fill both tanks with water. To add water to your black tank, simply flush the toilet (if hooked up to water) or pour water down the toilet using a gallon jug or bucket (if at the dump station). Similarly, to add water to your gray water tank, run your sink faucet (if hooked up to water) or pour water down your sink using a gallon jug or bucket (if at the dump station). Next, open your valves and flush out your tanks. Repeat as needed. This option, as well as the previous two, should be used in conjunction with the first two options.

The moral of the story is that you should try to clean out your holding tanks as well as possible when switching to bacterial treatments, because residual chemicals in your tanks can disrupt the effectiveness of the bacterial-based treatments.

Keeping Chemicals Out of Your System

Now that you’ve cleaned out your holding tanks, its super important that you keep them chemical free! There are only a few things that should be allowed in your holding tanks

Items that are allowed in black tanks:

  • Human waste—either solid or liquid
  • Toilet paper
  • Water
  • Non-hazardous, bacterial-based RV holding tank treatments

Items that are allowed in gray tanks:

  • Water
  • Soap
  • Non-hazardous, bacterial-based RV holding tank treatments

Anything other than the items above should not be allowed into your holding tanks! Some of these items might include trash, grease, decomposing food (which causes grease), and hazardous chemicals (of course!).

Also, there are some lesser known items that contain chemicals. These items should not go into your holding tanks, since they will kill bacteria. These include:

  1. Alcohol
  2. Antibacterial Soap
  3. Bleach
  4. Chlorine
  5. Formaldehyde (any aldehyde)
  6. Iodine
  7. Strong acids, like sulfuric acid
  8. Very strong alkaline chemicals, like lye or sodium hydroxide

Additionally, if you are taking antibiotics, they can make their way into your holding tank through your waste. Antibiotics can also kill bacteria.

Sign up and get regular discounts on your favorite RV necessities. Unique Camping + Marine Holding Tank Treatments


If you’ve decided to make the switch from chemical treatments to bacteria-based treatments, the first step is to make sure your tank is thoroughly cleaned out. This will make sure that the bacteria can do its job! Next, you should be proactive in ensuring that only the right items enter your holding tanks. Making sure to keep these bacteria-killing items out of your holding tanks will ensure that the bacteria can thrive!

Choosing the right bacteria-based product is also super important! We recommend Unique RV Digest-It. This product contains a proprietary, 8-strain blend of the best, most-efficient bacteria that will digest all your waste, making waste-management easier and your camping experience more enjoyable.

Finally, follow The Unique Method for the best results when camping with bacterial treatments!

We hope this article has been helpful as you make the switch to bacterial treatments! If you have any further questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to reach out to us at We're always more than happy to help you!

Also in Guides and Resources

Learn how to sanitize your holding tanks - Unique Camping + Marine
Sanitizing Your Holding Tanks & Removing Algae

April 06, 2020

If you’ve been RVing for any length of time, it’s likely that you’ve heard a whole lot about RV holding tank maintenance. In fact, we have been the source of many articles about how to properly care for your holding tanks! But there’s a topic that often gets pushed to the side when it comes to properly maintaining your tanks: how do you deal with dirty, contaminated fresh water and algae build-up in your fresh water holding tank? 

Continue Reading

Protecting your RV holding tanks in times of quarantine. Unique Camping + Marine Guides and Resources
Protecting Your RV Holding Tanks During Times Of Quarantine

March 26, 2020

Uncertain times caused by the COVID-19 outbreak are forcing people to shelter-in-place. In order to remain safe and healthy, many people are staying in their RVs, meaning there is increased use of RV waste-water systems. These systems are crucial to the health and well-being of RVers, so keeping them in good shape is very important - especially now. 

Continue Reading

What is the shape of my rv boat camper trailer fifth wheel black gray water holding tanks and how does it lead to clogs pyramid plugs poop pyramids blockages blocks backups back-ups leaving your black tank valve open
RV Holding Tank Shapes - Could Yours Cause Waste Build Up?

March 25, 2020

Believe it or not, the actual shape of your RV holding tank can be a big reason why you struggle with waste tank clogs! The construction and design of your holding tank, as well as how it is mounted to your RV, have a surprisingly large impact on how susceptible you are to getting pyramid plugs and clogs in your tanks.

Continue Reading