Should You Keep Water In An RV Toilet?

It is very convenient to have your own bathroom on the road, right? You can go to the bathroom whenever nature calls. But along with it comes the responsibility of knowing how to take care of it properly so you can use it without any issues. In particular, how do you maintain an RV toilet? Should it always contain water? That's what we asked our RV experts and here's what they say.

Yes, you should always keep water in your RV toilet unless you're driving. The water will help block stinky odors coming from your black water tank. It also helps in maintaining a clean bowl and conserving your water supply.  

Continue reading so we can tell you more about why you should always keep water in your RV toilet, how to do it, and whether you can use boiling water in your loo. We'll also share with you how frequently you should be emptying your black water tank and how to disinfect it after. Let's get down to it!

stainless steel toilet seat on a camper van. Should You Keep Water In An RV Toilet

Why Is It Important To Have Water In Your RV Toilet?

Having your own toilet in your RV necessitates that you know how to use and maintain it properly. This will ensure that you continue to enjoy the convenience of this facility and you'll avoid having to deal with messy situations.

One of the best practices for maintaining your RV toilet is to ensure that there's some water in the bowl at all times. The only exception is when you take your camper to drive around. It's better to remove the water so that it won't spill on the floor.

There are 3 important reasons for keeping water on your RV toilet. 

white toilet for a recreational vehicle with blue matting and wood trim

Blocks Odor

Obviously, RV toilets are different from the ones we use at home. They are not directly connected to a sewage system. Instead, the waste goes into the black water tank which holds the waste until you empty it at the dump station. If you don't know how to use your toilet properly, your tank will release foul odors and soon you'll have a stinky bathroom. 

The water in the bowl will help block the stinky smell coming from the black water tank. It acts as an odor barrier and prevents the release of smelly gases coming from your RV tank.    

Helps Maintain A Clean Bowl 

When there's water in the toilet bowl before you use it, there's a lesser chance of having solid waste sticking on the corners of the bowl. The waste will easily be flushed down the tank and you'll have a clean toilet bowl afterward. As one user on a Q&A website says, it acts as a lubricant so that the waste won't cling to the toilet bowl.

Conserve Water

When there's poop residue on your toilet bowl, you have to remove it by using your toilet brush and water to flush down the waste (again). In effect, you're using more water than needed. Conserve your water supply by keeping a few inches of water in the bowl at all times.  

So, remember to leave some water in your RV toilet to help ensure that you have a fresh and clean bathroom at all times.

How Do I Keep Water In My RV Toilet?

Now that we know the whys of keeping water in your RV toilet, the next question is how to do it. Unlike our toilets at home which automatically refills the bowl with water, in the case of your RV toilet, you have to do this by yourself.

To add water, you just need to press the flush pedal down gently. The pressure shouldn't be too hard so as to open the valve all the way but just enough to fill the lower part of the toilet bowl with some water. Make sure that your RV toilet seal is working properly so that it can hold the water at the base of the bowl effectively.

Do this all the time to avoid foul odors from reeking from your bathroom and you won't have a hard time flushing and cleaning the bowl next time you use it. 

Can You Pour Boiling Water Down An RV toilet?

Yes, you can pour boiling water down when you have a clogged toilet in your rig. You're trying to flush the toilet but it isn't working. It's hard to open or close the valve. Some even cause their bathroom to be flooded (gross, right?). But try this simple method and your woes might be over sooner than you think:

  1. Boil a couple of pots full of water.
  2. When they're really hot, flush them down the toilet valve. Take note that the water has to be boiling hot when you do this or else it won't be effective. Be careful when handling hot water. 
  3. Allow it to sit for a couple of hours or overnight.
  4. You can also drive around to help shake things around.  
  5. Check if the toilet is working.

As the hot water flows from the toilet valve into the black tank, it will help dissolve whatever is blocking the way. The boiling water method usually works for clogged toilets and it's very easy to do. 

How Long Can Black Water Stay In An RV Tank?

Man connecting RV vehicle to dumping station, waste disposal

The frequency of your trip to the dumping station to empty your black water tank depends on the capacity of your tank, how many are using the RV, and how you conserve the space in your black tank.

Black Water Tank Capacity

The average range of the capacity of RV black water tanks is 18 to 64 gallons of waste. The higher the capacity of your black water tank, the longer you can put off your trip to the dumping station. The lower the capacity, the more frequent you have to go to the dumping site.

Take note though that it is recommended that you empty the waste in your RV tank within a week or 10 days at the most. You should also get rid of all its content before you store your rig after your camping adventure.

Number Of People In The Rig

It could also be that your RV tank has a low capacity but there are only one or two persons using the bathroom so it would also take longer before the tank is almost full. As expected, when there are more people using the toilet, it'll fill up easily so you have to dump the waste more frequently.

Conservation Of Black Water Tank Space

If you want to conserve the space in your RV black water tank, you can use the toilets in the campgrounds especially during the day. Just use your RV toilet when there are no public restrooms around. When you're doing number 1, a quick flush will do. Some RV toilets have this setting but if there's none, a quick release of the foot flush will do the trick.

Just remember to empty your RV black water tank when it is already three-fourths full. This is the optimum level so that it doesn't overflow and you'll be able to control foul odors. Sufficient time has elapsed for the chemicals to break down the waste in there so it is easier for you to dump the contents at the station.

Can You Put Bleach In RV Black Water Tank?

After you empty the content of your RV black water tank, it is important to have it cleaned and sanitized to prevent the buildup of bacteria and avoid foul odors.

When it comes to disinfecting, bleach is a popular choice since it has been known to be effective in killing viruses and bacteria. However, you should go easy on the bleach. Yes, you can still use it but it should be diluted in water. The recommended amount is 1/4 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water. This is enough to get the job done and won't cause damage to your RV plumbing system.

Take note that bleach is a strong chemical that can ruin or hasten the wear and tear of certain parts of your plumbing system. It can also kill the good bacteria inside your tank that helps in breaking down the waste components. Mixing bleach with water will make it safer to use. 

Diluted bleach is also safer to dispose of at the dumping station but better check with the site first as some are very particular about having chlorine dumped into their sewers.

toilet bowl inside RV poured with cleaning liquid disinfectant ready to clean bathroom

How To Disinfect With Bleach

Here are the steps for disinfecting your RV black water tank:

  1. Clean your water tank first after dumping the waste. Make sure you're wearing your gloves for protection.
  2. You need to do this while your tank is still connected to the sewer hookup but close the drain valve first.
  3. Pour the bleach solution into your RV toilet and let it sit for about 10 minutes. 
  4. Open the valve so you can drain the solution.
  5. Rinse the bleach solution thoroughly by adding water to your toilet until you see that the water coming out of the valve is clear.

close up flushing water in toilet bowl. Should You Keep Water In An RV Toilet

Final Thoughts

Always remember to put some water in your RV toilet. This is an essential part of maintaining your RV bathroom so that it's easier to clean and there's no stinky mess to deal with.  

To read more about this subject, you can check the following articles: 

Where Can You Dump RV Tanks?

RV Black Tank Flush Not Working – What To Do

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