How to Poop in an RV (aka How to Use the RV Toilet)
I know, we RVers are a weird bunch. We can talk for days and days about poop. And toilet paper. And well, toilets.
It’s the curse of the Black Tank.
But for RV newbies, there really are some tips to poop in an RV toilet and to not mess it up.
And more importantly, for RV tailgaters or any RVer that has non-RVer guests, you’ll need to teach your non-RVer friends how to use the toilet. Without it being a big deal. And I have something that will help you with that later on.
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Tips for Using an RV Toilet
Man, how do I always get to writing about poop? Guess it is the RV way, because there really is no shame in an RVer.
Pooping is nature and a requirement of life. And we have to deal with all the waste. Oh well, at least we can have a sense of humor about it. (See: the movie RV with Robin Williams)
Here are the basic rules for using RV Toilets:
Only Human Waste and Toilet Paper Down the Drain
Want to see a great debate? Go on one of the big RV groups on Facebook and ask whether you can put toilet paper down the RV drain.
You’ll get hundreds, yes hundreds, of comments arguing about the toilet paper. You’ll see people that say that no way, no how, that they never put toilet paper down into the black tank because you’ll get clogs. Instead, they put it in a trash can next to the toilet and take the trash out each day.
Personally, that seems weird. Plus, I have a dog that has been known to get into things he shouldn’t. Eeewww!
The key is to use septic safe toilet paper. You don’t even need the fancy (read: expensive) RV safe toilet paper. Septic safe toilet paper is more than fine.
But that is the only non-human waste thing that goes down the drain!
No feminine hygiene products. No paper towels.
And no, none of those “flushable” wipes that create giant fatbergs in city sewers.
If those flushable wipes can help create a 10 ton fatberg in London’s sewers, what do you think they will do for your RV black tank?
Oh, and don’t let the kids put toys down the toilet either.
Just stick with the septic safe toilet paper. That’s the only thing that goes down the toilet drain. This will prevent one of those classic RV stories about black tank blockages.
I like the mDesign small step trashcan which has the added bonus of the hands free step makes it easy to throw trash away and not make a mess. And they have a large variety of colors to fit your design preferences!
Water is Your Friend and Your Enemy
When we are out a tailgate or boondocking, we typically don’t have full hookups. Meaning no fresh water coming in and nowhere for the waste to go.
That means we are very high on the water conservation spectrum.
Now, RV toilets are way low flow toilets, at least compared with your regular household toilet. We don’t keep a tank of water there for flushing. This saves us fresh water and also black tank space.
If you are are only going #1 (ie liquid waste) than you don’t need to add any extra water. But if you are going #2, you’ll want to add a very small amount to the toilet bowl before you start.
This will help the waste go down the drain and save you water at the end when you flush.
A Fast Flush
Especially when it is only liquid waste, you really don’t need to use much water to flush the toilet. Instead, you just need to open up the drain and let gravity do it’s thing.
You will want to learn, and then teach guests, how to perform a fast flush to use a minimum of water.
For most RV toilets, this means that you just barely step on the pedal to open the drain and not get a lot of water.
Keep a Toilet Brush Handy
Everyone wants to have a clean toilet bowl. And no one wants to leave, um, skid marks on the bowl.
Most newbie RVers and non-RVing guests will often just try to use more and more water to clean it up.
Instead, you should use a toilet brush. But not those disposable brushes because someone will inevitably throw the disposable head down the toilet and break the first rule above about only human waste and toilet paper.
You’ll also want one that has a stand. That way you can leave it out, right next to the toilet. That will remind people to use the toilet brush to clean up rather than keep running the water.
The bristles also have some weird Clorox coating that they say will help protect against odor-causing bacteria, mold and mildew. I’m not sure how it works, but I’ll just go with magic.
It’s also on the cheap side, so when it gets gross you aren’t going to feel bad about throwing it away.
The RV Toilet Cross
Have you ever been told to make the sign of the cross in an RV bathroom?
This is absolutely nothing religious, unless you consider taking a dump a religious experience.
Instead, it is taking two pieces of toilet paper and making a cross over the bottom drain of the toilet bowl.
That way, when you do take a dump, the waste is sitting on the toilet paper. When you push the pedal to empty the bowl, gravity will take it all away at one time.
Leaving you with a clean bowl with no skid marks. And using very little water to make it all go away.
Maintaining the RV Black Tank
While we are in the middle of the tailgate, we want to conserve water as much as we can. But we also know that water is good for the black tank.
The RV black tank needs water to function properly. It will help dissolve the more solid human waste as well as the toilet paper into a more slushy type consistency that makes it easy to empty.
Throughout the tailgate, I will add water to the black tank by throwing the dirty dishwater down the toilet. This is a little gray water saving trick that I learned that really helps keep enough water in the black tank while not wasting fresh water either.
Plus, the dirty dishwater will have Dawn dish washing soap in there. It will help further break down the solids and clean everything up.
Also, normally the last night of the tailgate, after the shower, I am pretty much done with all my heavy water usage. I might have a little in the morning but I can run down a lot of the fresh water tank. So I’ll add several gallons of fresh water into the black water tank as I get closer and closer to the end of the tailgate.
Then, when I’m driving home (I dump at the house), the extra water is sloshing all the contents around and putting all the solids into suspension. This will make it easier to dump and avoid the dreaded poop pyramid.
Remind Visitors of the Rules
Often, it isn’t the RV owners that create the biggest problems with an RV toilet.
It is our well meaning friends who don’t know how different the RV plumbing is from the regular plumbing.
And they want to help keep the RV clean, but don’t realize that they are perhaps wasting so much of our water.
Or just don’t know how to open the drain.
That’s why I created this easy printable that you can print at home and either laminate or put in a small frame in the RV.
It’s great for those that like me, have visitors regularly in their RV but aren’t RVers. A simple reminder of the rules goes a long ways towards keeping the RV toilet running properly.
Don’t want to print one? Try these options from Etsy:
Or these options from Amazon:
How To Poop In An RV Toilet
Well, now you have it folks. You and your guests will be able to safely poop in an RV.
You never had any idea that there’s so much to know about pooping in an RV, did you?
Now, there’s a lot more to maintaining the RV plumbing system, but you are well on your way to success with these tips.
Like these tips? Pin for later!
For more information on RV plumbing and black tanks, you may be interested in:
RV Waste Tanks Explained
Make Your Own RV Black Tank Cleaning Bombs
RV Gray Tanks: The Other RV Waste Tanks
Essential Gear for RV Waste Tanks
Tips for Dealing with RV Odors