Why Does My RV Toilet Stink? [And What To Do About It]

RVs are meant to be a home away from home. Making memories with your family on a vacation is one of the many reasons people buy RVs. A family vacation can quickly turn into a stinky situation with a smelly toilet in a small enclosed space. We have researched this topic extensively to bring you a thorough list of reasons for your RV toilet stinking along with solutions.

There are many reasons why your RV toilet may smell bad. Those reasons typically have a fairly simple solution. Here are some reasons why your RV toilet stinks:

  1. Dirty toilet
  2. Plastic toilet that holds odors
  3. Clogged black tank
  4. Black tank leak
  5. Clogged vent pipe
  6. Worn, cracked, or damaged bowl seal
  7. Damaged toilet flange
  8. Toilet vent cap

Finding the source of a stinky RV toilet is likely only one of many questions that you may encounter in caring for your RV. You may wonder what cleaning products are safe to put in an RV toilet. Dealing with pesky insects and keeping water in your bowl are likely subjects that you will also want to address. We will discuss these points and other closely related topics. Just keep reading!

Classic toilet interior on the recreational vehicle. Why Does My RV Toilet Stink [And What To Do About It]

1. Dirty toilets

A dirty toilet can cause bad smells in any home. This problem is only compounded by the small area of an RV.

Cleaning The Toilet Bowl. Why Does My RV Toilet Stink [And What To Do About It]

Cleaning your toilet and the rest of your bathroom regularly can take care of unwanted smells if this is the cause. A high-pressure cleaning wand, such as the one pictured below, can do wonders for the bad smells coming from your RV toilet.

Click here to find this product on Amazon.

2. Plastic toilets

Some RVs come with a plastic toilet that can easily hold onto odors. One way to fix smells coming from your plastic RV toilet is to thoroughly clean the plastic toilet and the area immediately surrounding it.

Antiseptic wipes can be used to effectively take care of this problem. While plastic toilets are great because they are lightweight and inexpensive, you may want to consider changing to a porcelain model.

3. Clogged black tank

One of the most convenient parts of owning an RV is the flushing toilet system. The black tank located under your RV is used to collect waste flushed from the toilet above.

While there is special toilet paper made for your RV toilet, there is still the possibility of a clogged black tank which can cause a bad smell to come from your toilet. Several scenarios can cause your black tank to become clogged.

Flushing something that shouldn't have been flushed

As mentioned, there is specific toilet paper meant to be flushed in RVs. If another kind of toilet paper or wipe is flushed, it can cause a clogged black tank.

Purchasing a rapid dissolving toilet paper, such as the one pictured in the example below, can save you time and money. If your black tank is still clogging despite the use of this type of toilet paper, you should call a professional to help clean out your black tank.

Read more: Why Do You Need Special RV Toilet Paper?

Click here to find this product on Amazon.

Not flushing for long enough

Without enough water in your black tank, solid materials can clog it. When you flush your toilet, water accompanies waste down into your black tank to help dissolve toilet paper and solid waste.

Adding an RV black water tank treatment to your water before using your RV bathroom can help to break down solids in your tank. Using a treatment such as the one below along with a generous flush of water can help prevent clogs in your RV's black tank.

Click here to find this product on Amazon.

4. Black tank leak

A leak in your black tank can also cause clogs due to inadequate solid waste and toilet paper to water ratios. By allowing liquid to escape the waste tank, solids are more likely to build up and cause a clogged black tank.

Before assuming that your black tank is leaking, check the dump valve to ensure that it is properly and completely closed. Even a partially open dump valve can mimic a leak within your black tank.

5. Worn, cracked, or damaged bowl seal

The RV toilet bowl seal is a circular rubber part that can come in two pieces that sit under the bowl and seal the toilet bowl to the toilet base.

These seals help to keep the water sitting in your toilet bowl, which creates a barrier, preventing gasses from your black tank from coming up from the base of your toilet.

A worn, cracked, or damaged toilet bowl seal can be the cause of a bad odor and or water leaking around the bowl onto your floor. Luckily, replacing your bowl seal can be a fairly easy project, as shown in this video:

6. Damaged toilet flange

The toilet flange connects the base of your toilet to the floor. A rubber gasket sits inside of the toilet flange preventing water leakage from your toilet.

Click here to find this product on Amazon.

Sometimes only the gasket is damaged and may be the only piece that needs to be replaced. However, if you need to replace your toilet flange, we have provided an informative video to assist you:

7. Clogged vent pipe

The pipe that runs from the black tank up to the roof of your RV is called the vent pipe. Its purpose is to vent the smells from the black tank up to the air above your RV.

This pipe can become clogged, giving the smells from your black tank nowhere to go except out of your toilet when you flush. To fix clogs in your vent pipe, run a hose down the top of your vent pipe on your roof and turn on the water to clear the clog.

8. Lost or damaged RV toilet vent cap

The toilet vent cap is a plastic vent cap that covers the top of your vent pipe and plays an important role in expelling bad odors from your home.

According to experts in the field of RVs, there are several different types of vent caps, but some stand out amongst the competition.

Installing a replacement RV toilet vent cap is a fairly simple task that requires only basic mechanic skills. A good vent cap can work wonders in removing unwanted smells from your space.

Can I put bleach in my RV toilet?

Bleach is a strong cleaning solution that works great in the home but can damage the plumbing system of your RV. The plastic black tank can be damaged by strong chemicals such as bleach.

Gaskets in the plumbing system can also be dried out with the use of bleach, causing them to leak and fail. Bleach can also damage the enzymes in your holding tank that help to break down smells.

Read more: How Do RV Toilets Work?

Can you put vinegar in an RV toilet?

Vinegar can be used in an RV toilet. By combining one of a few simple ingredients with vinegar, you can effectively clean your RV toilet.

Baking soda with vinegar can be a huge help in cleaning and disinfecting your RV toilet. Be sure to use gloves when working with vinegar, as it can harm bare skin.

Can I use Dawn to clean my RV toilet?

Dawn is recommended by many RVers as an effective cleaner for the black tank. By pouring about a cup of Dawn in your toilet and then down into the tank, you can clean both the toilet and the tank.

Because it is notorious for its grease-fighting properties, Dawn can help clean and freshen your toilet and waste tank.

How do I get rid of sewer flies in my RV toilet?

Sewer flies are pesky insects that feed on sewage and organic material. It is possible to rid your space of sewer flies usually by eliminating the source.

Since sewer flies thrive on old waste, cleaning out your toilet, pipes, and tank can help keep them out.

Should you keep water in your RV toilet?

There are several reasons why you should keep a couple of inches of water in your RV toilet. Water can create a barrier for unpleasant smells and also help to prevent stains on the bowl of your toilet.

Just a couple of inches of water can assist in breaking up solid waste and dissolving toilet paper.

toilet interior with stainless steel finishings. Why Does My RV Toilet Stink [And What To Do About It]

Final thoughts

Your RV should be your travel sanctuary, providing all of the amenities of your home when you are away from home. A stinky bathroom can turn any vacation sour.

We hope that this article has provided some effective tips for keeping your RV bathroom space smelling fresh.

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