Article 8 of 8 in Series: RV Toilet Clogs
- You CAN poop in an RV toilet, contrary to many opinions out there
- Lots of water is very important when adding solid waste to your holding tanks
- Adopt The Unique Method to enjoy a worry-free pooping experience in your RV
To poop in an RV toilet or not to poop. That is the question that RVing newbies and experienced veterans both ask. But unlike Hamlet, you don’t have to agonize over the answer because the answer is YES! You can poop in an RV toilet despite what you may have heard about number two inevitably causing a number of problems. RVers value the luxury of having a real toilet to take care of business instead of having to do it in the wild outdoors or some campground porta potty, so why would you deprive yourself of that benefit? And when it comes down to it, luxury while camping is the main reason you bought or are considering buying an RV in the first place.
However, while you make deposits in an RV toilet the same way as the throne in your home, an RV toilet functions differently from a home toilet and requires specific habits to avoid clogs, odors and misreading sensors, something you never want to have to deal with while camping. You may be just renting an RV to see if buying one is the right choice for you, but whether you own the RV or are just trying it out, you should have no fear of going number two in any RV if you’re following our recommendations in this guide.
Before diving into the discussion about pooping in an RV toilet, we want you to know that much of the advice and tips shared in this article draw from the principles of The Unique Method, a proven, easy-to-follow approach to treating your RV wastewater holding tanks. We highly encourage you to read the full article and begin using The Unique Method whether you own an RV or are just renting one to see if the purchase is worth it. Much of the grumbling in the RVing community over odors, clogs, and misreading sensors could be a non-issue for you if you stick to the rules of The Unique Method.
But you might ask, what easy steps can I take right now to avoid those issues? In the next couple of sections, we will explain the habits, treatments, and general rules to follow to sidestep any potential snags.
How is an RV Toilet Different from a Home Toilet?
Home toilets are typically hooked up to a city wastewater system or an underground septic system. A city wastewater system will immediately carry the flushed waste to a treatment plant, and a septic system will house waste as it continues breaking down for a couple months until it is pumped out. These systems have complex plumbing that helps waste easily flow to the treatment plant or septic system. Septic systems have a colony of bacteria that help break down waste into sizes so small it’s nearly liquefied; this helps save space and prep waste to be easily pumped out.
In an RV, there isn’t a bunch of complex plumbing or special systems that help push waste along; the only thing helping waste flow down the single pipe into the tank is water and gravity. And even when it gets to the holding tank, it’s different from a home septic system. The holding tank should not be considered a septic tank because it is not. It is just a repository for wastewater to briefly chill until you get a chance to dump the tanks. But the short stay of the waste in the holding tanks is actually more reason to ensure effective waste breakdown so that odors and clogs do not become a problem when you’re enjoying your RV or trying to dump.
Using More Water is the Best Odor and Clog Deterrent
Water is your best friend when it comes to pooping in an RV toilet because it is a natural odor barrier and will soften the solid waste to the point where it won’t build up to create clogs. Some people who dry camp/boondock for long periods of time may tell you not to use too much water in order to conserve space in your tank and avoid dumping partway through the trip, but doing this could lead to clogs, odors, or both, another thing you don’t want partway through your trip. Here are some water-related tips you can apply to your camping habits that will help prevent odors and clogs.
Fill your toilet bowl with water before you begin using it.
When you use your camper toilet, you should fill your toilet bowl with a couple of inches of water before you use it. Doing so helps the waste to not cling to the sides of the bowl and smoothly flow down the pipe when you flush the toilet. Failing to do so can lead to clogs in the line.
Always keep the toilet bowl filled with water (unless driving).
Constantly having several inches of water in your toilet bowl will act as a natural barrier to odors; they will not be able to rise up from the tank through the toilet line because the water in the bowl will block it. It’s the same reason why your home toilet automatically refills the bowl with a certain amount of water after it is flushed.
Flush for several seconds to allow lots of water into the holding tank.
Ideally, you should hold down your flush pedal for a minimum of 10 seconds when you flush. In addition to ensuring that the waste flows smoothly down the line, using plenty of water will also hydrate the bacteria in your tank and cover the waste with water, suppressing odors.
Note: It might seem odd, but you do want a certain kind of bacteria in your black holding tank to help with waste breakdown; for more information on why you should have bacteria in your holding tanks, refer to our guide, Why Are Bacteria and Enzymes Good for Your RV Holding Tanks?
Cultivate these three toilet habits while camping and you should easily be able to avoid many of the issues that other campers complain about. Water is the most immediate way to curb potential clog and odor problems.
Other Habits to Establish
Using plenty of water is a great first step and is an important component of The Unique Method, but stubbornly adhering to the entirety of The Unique Method is the surefire way to never have to deal with clogs, odors, or misreading sensors. The Unique Method’s 50/50 approach of practicing healthy habits with the best products (specifically Unique Camping + Marine products as they were designed to work best with the method) is the way to achieve the highest level of success when using our process. The following tips are all included in The Unique Method guide as well as much more, so we encourage you to also review that as it will provide more information to help you make your camping experience as problem-free as possible.
Keep your black tank valve closed at all times (unless actively dumping a full tank).
Keeping your black tank closed traps the liquids inside your holding tank, preventing any waste from solidifying or building up into a pyramid plug. Liquid rising above the solid waste also helps to keep odors contained under the waterline.
Flush only urine, feces, toilet paper, and high-quality tank treatments down the toilet.
Your black water holding tank is designed to only hold human waste and toilet paper. The types of tank treatments you should or should not allow into your holding tank vary depending on your preference (something we will touch on below). Flushing any other solid items like flushable wipes, feminine products, paper towels, and other items that are not designed to break down quickly will lead to clogs and potentially costly problems.
Do not use too much toilet paper.
Using too much toilet paper can cause backups and clogs in both the toilet line and the tank itself, so be sure to use only the amount you need. Some RVers also claim that you MUST use RV toilet paper in order to avoid clogs; all toilet paper is designed to break down quickly in water, so we recommend using whatever kind of toilet paper you wish as long as you are using a good solid-reducing tank treatment. Of course, if you feel more at ease using RV toilet paper, it certainly won’t hurt! For more information on toilet paper usage in an RV toilet, refer to our guide, Is RV Toilet Paper Necessary?
Treat your holding tank with a high-quality bacteria-based holding tank treatment (like Unique RV Digest-It Plus).
We consider bacteria-based holding treatments the gold standard when it comes to choosing tank care products. It will ensure that the waste in your tanks stays liquefied, allowing for better flow when dumping. Even on short camping trips, adding a high-quality bacteria-based treatment can help your camping experience and your dumping experience feel like a breeze. For more information on all the types of tank treatment products on the market and their pros and cons, refer to The Unique Method guide.
Pooping while camping can be just as easy and problem-free as when you’re in your home if you follow The Unique Method. While we highly recommend that you review the entire Unique Method article to get the best results, here is a short review of what we’ve covered in this guide:
- RV toilets function differently than home toilets
- Fill your RV toilet bowl with water before using it to help waste flow down easily
- Keep several inches of water in the bowl at all times (unless driving) to block odors
- Hold the flush pedal down for 10 seconds to help hydrate the black tank
- Keep your black tank valve closed at all times unless actively dumping a full tank
- Only flush human waste, toilet paper, and tank treatments down the RV toilet
- Don’t use too much toilet paper
- Treat your holding tank with a high-quality bacteria-based holding tank treatment (like Unique RV Digest-It Plus)
- Follow The Unique Method