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Unclogging An RV Toilet

October 11, 2019

How to unclog a plugged camper toilet RV motorhome holding tank step by step

Nothing kills RVing fun like a disgusting, backed-up toilet! Let's be honest, isn't a comfortable bathroom experience one of the main reasons why we buy RVs?! If you want to get rid of your clog, read on, and we'll tell you all you need to know to get it taken care of! Don't worry. In most cases this a very inexpensive and easy fix!

What’s covered in this guide:

  • How to unclog your RV holding tank.
  • The most common causes of back-ups inside your RV holding tanks.
  • How to prevent holding tank clogs in the future.

How Do I Unclog My RV’s Toilet?

The majority of clogged RV toilets come from pyramid plugs (read more about pyramid plugs below). To deal with these clogs, many people will use a wand or try to break up the plug manually. But we’re here to tell you, it doesn't have to be so messy!

What you need to do is knock out the base of the pyramid plug. As soon as you do so, the pyramid will collapse into the bottom of your tank, and if you do it correctly, the waste will flow out of the tank and into the sewer.

So how do you do it? One option is to go through all of the work of hauling your rig into a dealership or repair shop where they will charge you $100 - $200 (on average) to use a spray wand. A spray wand reaches into your tank and sprays the clog with water to breakup and clear the debris. Or… (and the better option in our opinion!) you could unclog your RV toilet the easy and inexpensive way with Unique Tank Cleaner.

Here's how easy it is:

  2. If possible, add several gallons of water to your black tank. The more water, the better, so fill up your holding tank as much as possible without making a mess.
  3. Through your RV’s toilet, pour an entire bottle of Unique Holding Tank Cleaner into the tank.
  4. Let sit for 12-72 hours (the longer the better!). After the treatment period, the solids in your holding tank should be broken up and liquefied.
  5. Open your black tank valve and let the tank empty out.
  6. If you have a tank rinser (i.e., the flusher), run it for about 20 minutes so that the tank is thoroughly rinsed out.
  7. CLOSE YOUR BLACK TANK VALVE, and only open it when you're dumping so you never have to deal with this problem again!
  8. Enjoy your unclogged RV toilet!

How Does Unique Tank Cleaner Work?

Unique Tank Cleaner employs billions of safe bacteria cultures to eat the solid waste in your tank, turning everything into liquid so it can flow out smoothly. These bacteria are essentially probiotics, like you find in yogurt, and all of the ingredients in Unique Tank Cleaner are safe for the environment, people, and pets.

Why Did My RV Toilet Get Clogged?

Like we said above, in most cases, the reason an RV’s toilet gets clogged is because of a nasty little thing called a “pyramid plug.”

A pyramid plug is literally a pile of poop and toilet paper that has built up from the bottom of your black water holding tank and formed a pyramid of grossness that has now reached your toilet and is clogging it up. When they have a clogged RV toilet, many people incorrectly assume that their waste water tank is totally full. For a very few people, this may indeed be the case, but for most people, the culprit is not a completely clogged tank but, in fact, a pyramid of waste.

To understand why you get a pyramid plug, you first have to understand that your holding tank is essentially flat on the bottom. Why is this important? Well, most people who get pyramid plugs do not follow Rule #1 of The Unique MethodKEEP YOUR VALVE CLOSED.

Here’s how it works: when your black water valve is kept in the closed position during normal operation, the solid and liquid waste accumulate in your tank and slosh around. When you dump, all of that sloshing waste flows out smoothly.

However, if you keep your black water valve in the open position during normal operation, every time you use the toilet, the liquid waste flows freely out of the tank and into the sewer, but because your tank is flat on the bottom, the solid waste accumulates. Over time, if you keep adding more and more of that solid waste, you will begin to build a pyramid plug.

A Couple Notes:

  1. If your tank is so full that you cannot add any more water, you can skip adding water to the tank. However, you should know that for Unique Tank Cleaner to work properly, it needs liquid to nourish the active cultures that digest the waste. So, getting as much water in the tank as possible is incredibly beneficial.
  2. It’s important to run your tank rinser for 20 minutes or more after the tank contents have been broken up and successfully dumped from your black water tank. Often, when you first start your rinser, you'll see clear water coming out, but don’t assume that your tank is completely clean. This is just the clean hose water running out of the tank. Normally you’ll find that if you let the rinser run longer, at some point the waste will break loose, and you'll see a tidal wave of brown water come pouring out of your tank, and this can often last for several minutes!

What If My Holding Tank is Actually Completely Clogged?

Don't worry! Even if your tank is completely clogged from a compacted line (which is very rare), Unique Tank Cleaner can open it!

In the case of a completely clogged line, you may need to allow for more time in order for the product to work effectively (like 18 hours). Also, if your line is completely clogged, there is a good chance that a lot of liquid is still present in the tank, which means that you won’t have to add water before using Unique Tank Cleaner. (That being said, we do recommend that you add water if you can—just to be safe!) However, despite these caveats, the treatment steps are the same—as outlined above.

How do I prevent my tank from backing up in the future?

To prevent backups, you must ensure that the liquid inside the tank is a sloshy mixture. You can achieve this by following The Unique Method. The Unique Method is a series of practices that we have created through our own experience and working with thousands of RVers over the years. Try it out and tell us what you think! We've found that it can be a lot to grasp at first, but is absolutely worth it to RV clog AND odor free!

You might think that a lot of people experience clogged toilets when dry camping (boondocking) because they use very little water with each flush, but in most cases, dry campers have to keep their valve closed until they get to a dump station. This allows for plenty of sloshy action inside the tank that can help keep the waste liquefied.

We know, we sound like a broken record, but we cannot stress it enough: keep your valve closed! As much as we like to think of our RVs as our homes, the plumbing simply doesn't work the same way as the plumbing in your home, so you can't expect your waste to flow out into the sewer lines with every flush.

Hopefully this answers all of your questions about your clogged toilet. If you should find yourself in this putridly poopy predicament and need further assistance, please don't hesitate to reach out to us at We're more than happy to help you get your toilet issues back on track!

Happy Camping!

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