Owning and maintaining an RV is certainly not cheap, so you may wonder, is there really a need to buy special toilet paper too? You may already use the standard stuff you’d find at any grocery store for your hygienic needs, but you’d be surprised what damage this can do to your RV toilet. We know from researching it.
Since RV toilets are not like the ones back home, most experts agree that you should buy special RV toilet paper. Otherwise, you risk clogging up your blackwater holding tank and the toilet itself. When the tank gets backed up, you could have to deal with leaky bathroom waste all over you or your RV!
If that sounds nasty, do know that you can avoid this whole unfortunate scenario. In this article, we’ll explain more about the risks of using normal toilet paper in your RV toilet. We’ll also tell you which kind of toilet paper you should switch to instead.
Why Do You Need Special RV Toilet Paper?
To explain why you need to invest in special toilet paper, we need to discuss a bit about RV toilets and how they work first.
Your RV has several tanks, such as your freshwater tank, the graywater holding tank, and the blackwater holding tank. The freshwater tank is for getting potable water. You can use this for drinking, cleaning, or cooking. The graywater and blackwater tanks both hold waste. In the case of the graywater tank, this waste comes from the sinks and showers.
Blackwater tanks are only for toilet waste.
Some blackwater tanks include sensors, although only the higher-end models. These sensors let you know when the tank is beginning to fill so you can drain it before something messy happens. There are two things that can obstruct the sensors, and neither are very nice.
The first is feces (sorry). The second is toilet paper.
As you know if you’ve ever used a home toilet, too much toilet paper in the tank can clog it. That’s because, in a home toilet, the toilet paper remains in the septic tank even after you flush. There, it will break down and dissolve. This happens in a matter of minutes…most of the time. Not every toilet paper brand dissolves.
So if your standard toilet—which has all the plumbing fixtures and power to pull things down the drain—has issues dissolving some brands of toilet paper, what makes you think your RV toilet can?
An RV toilet is much simpler in design. Assuming we’re not talking about the plastic fold-open ones, then most RV toilets on the market are incredibly basic. They have a hose connector for filtering in water, another connector for the blackwater tank, and that’s pretty much it. Pressure isn’t wonderful. There’s no septic system, either.
The toilet paper goes straight to the blackwater tank. If you’re using RV toilet paper, then the water in the tank, as messy as it is, can break down the toilet paper.
Regular toilet paper takes much longer to dissolve, and if it gets stuck on the sides of the tank, then it won’t dissolve at all.
Who Makes Special RV Toilet Paper? Where Can You Get It?
There are two specialty toilet paper brands that are popular among RVers: Thetford and Camco. Both companies produce highly-rated toilet paper that can be broken down in RV toilets.
You can find both brands of toilet paper on Amazon. Thetford sells its toilet paper on its own website, while Camco’s product is also available at Walmart and Home Depot.
Let’s discuss both products a little more.
Thetford’s most popular toilet paper is called Aqua-Soft Toilet Tissue (Amazon link). This white, two-ply toilet paper boasts 396 sheets for each roll. Although it doesn’t look or feel different than standard toilet paper, Aqua-Soft is designed to break down immediately.
Camco’s RV toilet paper (Amazon link) is also two-ply. You get more for your money, as there are 500 sheets for every roll. Designed for septic tanks and blackwater holding tanks, Camco’s toilet paper is biodegradable. It will also leave no waste behind. The brand even says their product is “clog-resistant.”
Can I Ever Use Normal Toilet Paper in an RV Toilet?
If you can’t find Thetford or Camco toilet paper, those aren’t the only two brands out there you can use in your RV toilet. There are several “regular” toilet paper brands that are safe alternatives.
These brands produce quick-dissolving toilet paper that is also septic-safe. That means the toilet paper is fine to use in your RV toilet. You might want to wipe with moderation though just to be safe.
Which brands can you stock up on? Try any of the following (Amazon links ahead):
- Seventh Generation
- Angel Soft
- Cottonelle Ultra ComfortCare (other Cottonelle products may not be suitable for RV toilets)
- Charmin Ultra Soft (other Charmin products may not be suitable for RV toilets)
- Scott 1000
- Caboo Tree Free Bamboo Toilet Paper
- Freedom Living Septic Tank Safe Toilet Tissue
How to Unclog a Blackwater Holding Tank
If you used any other toilet paper brands than the ones we recommended, you might run into a rather unfortunate problem: a clogged blackwater holding tank.
Nasty bathroom sewage water comes bubbling up out of your toilet when the holding tank becomes bogged down with toilet paper. The next thing you know, your bathroom flooring is ruined.
Halloween might be on the way, but we don’t want to scare you too much with this horrific tale. If you notice a blackwater tank backup, try one or more of the following methods to fix it ASAP.
The Ice Cube Method
Let’s start with arguably one of the easiest fixes you can do. It’s called the Ice Cube Method.
You simply fill your blackwater tank with water until it’s 1/3rd full. Toss in ice to fill the rest of the tank.
Then, hit the road. The ice should break down toilet paper and other waste that could be causing toilet and tank clogs. Make sure you drain all the water and remaining ice after your leisurely drive. Then try your toilet. It should be working much better!
The Water Hose Method
If you’re the handy type or your RV warranty expired, you can always try the Water Hose Method. You’ll need a clear hose connector, an RV sewer hose, a garden hose, and a drill for this job.
Attach the clear hose to the blackwater tank with your connector. Using your drill, make a hole in the connector’s top so water get can out. Find your blackwater tank valve, twisting it on.
Water or waste will begin passing through your clear hose, emptying the blackwater tank of all that gunk. Let all the waste come out and your toilet should be as good as new.
Check Your Blackwater Waste Line
You know to clean your blackwater holding tank, but when was the last time you’ve cleaned the waste line? This line is often where pyramid plugs form. Pyramid plugs are the accumulation of waste that builds up and solidifies. Too many plugs will prevent the waste line from working, thus backing up your blackwater tank and your toilet.
It’s simple enough to remove pyramid plugs from the waste line. One method you can try is mixing liquid soap and water. Pour the mixture in your blackwater tank until it’s half full. Once again, drive around in your RV, letting the tank clean itself with the movements of your vehicle on the road. Drain the line and the pyramid plugs should be history.
If that by chance doesn’t work, you can always invest in an auger to manually dislodge the pyramid plugs. It’s not recommended you use snakes in your blackwater tank normally, so be especially careful if this is your method of choice.
Use Chemical Treatments
We recommend this above all else. Chemical treatments are designed to clean your blackwater tank while dislodging feces, toilet paper, and other messes. They often do the job more than adequately. Plus, using one of these treatments means you don’t have to spend too much time around your blackwater tank. For hygiene’s sake, this is a good thing.
Here are some recommended chemical products (Amazon links):
- Walex Porta-Pak Holding Tank Deodorizer Drop-ins with sunglow scent (available in a 10-pack, 50-pack, or 250-pack on Amazon)
- Thetford Aqua-KEM RV Holding Tank Treatment (available in a two-pack of six each)
- Unique RV Toilet Cleaner + Holding Tank Enhancer (comes in a 24-ounce bottle)
Treat Your RV Toilet Well and It Will Treat You Well Back
RV toilets are finicky, delicate things. They’re not like your toilet back home, and you can’t treat them as such. By purchasing special RV toilet paper, watching how much paper you use, and draining your blackwater tank regularly, you can avoid clogs and toilet paper jams.