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June Newsletter 2024

  • 6 min read

As summer continues to heat up, holding tanks can start to stink! We’re going to help you solve this once and for all!

Why Does My Holding Tank Stink

Bad smelling holding tanks are a pretty easy fix when you understand what is happening inside your RV black tank!

At the core, holding tanks smell because of bacteria from your stomach.

As you make deposits into your black tank, the naturally-occurring bacteria from your gut are doing their job of breaking down your poop into smaller bits. This is called biodegradation. It’s natural, necessary, and we’re sure you’re familiar with the process if you attended middle school science class. Without it, our world would be covered in rotting waste.

Waste breakdown is also important in your holding tank because your holding tank is a vessel that holds waste until you dump it, and when you dump it you want as much of the solids in the tank broken down as possible to avoid any problems, like solids that can get left behind and clog your tank or impede in the dumping process.

To Digest or To Not Digest

We know there are some voices in the RVing community who recommend that you avoid waste breakdown in your RV black tank because they claim that you want your waste to remain in solid form when dumping. This illogical position falls apart the moment you really consider it.

Think about a pan full of lasagna that you need to wash. Are you going to pour the pan of leftover lasagna down the drain (probably would end up clogging the lines, and would require professional cleaning), or are you going to trash the biggest clumps of lasagna, and then use lots of water and dish soap to break apart the residual that's left behind, so it can be rinsed down the drain without causing problems? Any logical person is going to do the latter, because it only makes sense.

It seems logical, too, that the only people who are promoting this tank-plugging practice are professional tank cleaners, who charge a service fee to manually clean out tanks.

It’s important to remember that we are big advocates for getting your tanks professionally cleaned when needed, but the recommendation that you avoid waste breakdown is not helpful and can lead to bigger problems. So, do yourself a favor and follow the logic on this one (and our decades of experience helping tens of thousands of RVers unclog their clogged tanks!) - you want the waste to break down!

So, let nature run her course and break the waste down from your gut bacteria!

Now, back to bacteria.

There are two types of bacteria:

  • Anaerobic - The kind most often found in your stomach that releases stinky hydrogen sulfide gas as it breaks down waste
  • Aerobic - The kind that releases odor-free carbon dioxide and water as it breaks down waste

The odor you’re smelling is actually your stomach bacteria doing its job - but it stinks and we want it OUT OF OUR RV!

So, the solution is to replace the anaerobic bacteria with aerobic bacteria.

Enter your holding tank treatment!

Bacteria-based holding tank treatments infuse good smelling bacteria into your tank so you get the benefits of waste breakdown, without the byproduct smells!


Though many products claim they can break down waste, only bacteria/enzyme products are truly capable of doing this well. Be sure to read the ingredients list on the back of your holding tank treatment, and don’t just trust the claims on the front of the label. The devil is in the details and if you don’t see bacteria and enzymes listed as the active ingredients in your tank treatment, you’re probably throwing money down the toilet - literally.

RV Digest-It Plus is powered by aerobic bacteria and enzymes that go into your tank and force out the stinky anaerobes by competing against them for food (poop and paper). And when they win, they break down the waste without releasing smelly hydrogen sulfide (the all-too-familiar outhouse smell!).

Why Does My Holding Tank Stink Worse In The Summer

Now that you understand the basics, you need to understand that stinky anaerobic bacteria thrive in hot, acidic environments - like your stomach - so, when you allow your tank to turn into a hot, acidic environment, you’re promoting the growth of these stinky bacteria.

You don’t want that.

You want to support the good smelling bacteria (aerobic) by creating an environment that allows them to flourish and do their job, odor-free.

Hot, acidic black tanks are the culprit behind summer stinks!

How Do I Eliminate Stinky Tank Odors

To eliminate RV black tank odors, simply follow these practices:

  • Keep your tanks cool - This is easy! Just hold down your flush pedal longer each time you flush the toilet when smells start to show up. This will add cool, fresh water to your tank that promotes the good bacteria, keeps the tanks from becoming too acidic, and keeps the poop underwater so you can’t smell it!
  • Dump your tanks more frequently - You may be going too long without dumping which is creating hot, acidic tanks. Just dump more often.
  • Rinse your black tank - Be sure to rinse your black tank regularly and thoroughly. This short video will walk you through rinsing your tanks.
  • Check your ventilation - In rare situations your tank may be improperly ventilated which causes the black tank gasses to reverse back into your RV instead of venting up and out of the RV roof.
  • Treat your tank with a high-quality bacteria- and enzyme-based treatment - This will ensure you are filling your tank with odorless aerobic bacteria.

If you employ these practices you’re going to see your stinky black tanks turn into fresh-smelling tanks! You can do it today - just add water to your tank (along with a bacteria-based treatment) and you’re going to see almost instant success!

The Big Holding Tank Myth

There is a myth that is far too popular that says a holding tank treatment is all you need to solve your RV black tank problems.

As the makers of the best-selling premium tank treatment, we can tell you this is DEAD WRONG!

Think of it like this: It doesn’t matter how great your toothpaste is if you squirt it in your hair.

A product is only successful when it’s used correctly. And for holding tank treatments to handle hot summer heat, they need to be supported by YOU following the correct practices.

It’s a 50/50 thing. 50% using the right product, and 50% following the right process. If you’d like to learn more about that process, you can read this article.

So, if you think that you’re going to solve all of your tank smells by simply buying a new treatment, but continuing to follow the same bad tank habits, you’re going to be in for a letdown.

You can’t lose weight eating healthy foods if you sit on the couch all day. It takes the right product (good food) and the right practices (exercise).

How Do I Prevent Tanks From Smelling

If you’re looking to prevent smells in your black tank as you go into the hot summer months, just follow these simple rules:

  1. Treat your tanks with RV Digest-It Plus
  2. Keep your tanks cool by using lots of water - Water, water, water! We can’t say this enough!
  3. Dump your tanks every 3-5 days
  4. Rinse your black tank regularly and thoroughly
  5. Keep water in your toilet bowl (when you’re parked) to prevent tank gasses from entering your RV
  6. Double check your tank ventilation to ensure your tank is venting properly

If you’d like to dig deeper into this topic, we have this guide that will help you understand a little more in-depth about why tanks smell. And this guide will walk you through the steps of eliminating tank odors if you want a deeper dive.

And, if you’re still unsure about which tank treatment is best for controlling odors while also breaking down waste, the answer is easy! RV Digest-It Plus! There is a reason it’s trusted by thousands of RVers every day!

Buy Now

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