There are a number of different methods for maintaining your RV holding tanks, some of which are more effective than others. Some are home remedies that RV'ers swear by, while others use certain chemicals that are specifically designed for this purpose. While maintaining the holding tank may not always be the most pleasant of tasks, choosing the right method makes the whole process easier. Keep in mind that the overall effective-ness of certain methods will differ.
"Home remedies" for cleaning the inside of your RV's black water tank can vary. This can include filling it with hot water, or using baking soda. Some put ice in the holding tank with the idea that the ice will help 'scour' the insides and break up substances. Others may use bleach in the tank, which may not always be a good idea. If an RV'er chooses to use an enzyme based chemical, any bleach left in the tank would kill off those enzymes, making the chemical ineffective. Apparently some RV'ers have used a yeast & peroxide method, mixed with water, as a way to help break down solids.
A commonly used remedy is called the GEO Method, which uses water softener, laundry detergent, and chlorine bleach. Basically the water softener is mixed with hot water and poured into the empty tank. Laundry detergent is also added, and together the two work to keep waste from sticking to the inside of the tank as well as remove dirt. The bleach is used once in a while to keep the tank clean, although this step is not necessary. Adding the detergent and water softener first before using the tank allows the substances to work in the tank longer, making this method more effective. Keep in mind that water needs to be added along with the chemicals, which should be added after dumping the tank.
Holding Tank Chemicals
If you choose to use RV holding tank chemicals, two effective types are
. They are designed with similar purposes in mind, with the basic difference being that Kronen chemicals are mainly deodorizers, while Commando is mainly a cleaner. Commando is an enzyme based cleaner that comes in easy to use packets. One packet is used every 3 months to break down waste & paper. Commando cleans and restores the tank sensors, as well as lubricates the valves & seals. The dissolvable packet works within 12 to 24 hours to get rid of odors and sensor build-up. Kronen holding tank treatment uses naturally occurring micro-organisms to liquefy organic matter, which in turn eliminates odors. It is available in several different sizes, including drop-in treatments. Using Kronen with its natural microbes is easier on the environment, as well as being easier on septic systems.
Another chemical treatment worth mentioning is the
Blue Streak Chemical Metering System
, which measures the exact amount of chemical needed whenever the toilet is flushed. This eliminates potentially using too much or too little chemical, so none is wasted. It works using a chemical injector that adds chemical to the flush line from a reservoir that is mounted on the wall. A metering tip controls the chemical to water ratio, which is typically one ounce of chemical to 5 gallons of water. Completely non-electric, it creates a vacuum to draw chemical from the reservoir. The water in the bowl should then be a royal blue to sky blue color. Dark blue indicates that the chemical is flowing too freely, which usually means the reservoir should be re-positioned so it is mounted higher than the stool. The chemical itself leaves a baby powder scent.
Deep cleaning the RV holding tank is another aspect of tank maintenance. RV's with the back wash function can pressure clean the interior. If there is no back wash function, certain devices can be used to aid in this task. Typically a flush valve or wand can attach to a hose to perform the same function. A flush valve can connect to a gray water hose to send that water into the black water tank. A tank wand, such as the
Camco Swivel Stik
, can connect to an outside water hose or line, and is inserted through the toilet bowl to rinse the tank. It is often recommended when flushing the tank that a clear hose adapter be used to let you know when the water runs clean. Proper ventilation is also important. Both the
and the 360 Siphon
use the wind to create a vortex that draws out any holding tank odors. Both are available in white or black, and can work even with a light wind. The Camco Cyclone can rotate with the wind, while the Siphon pulls in wind from all directions.
Proper maintenance of your RV's black water holding tank preserves the lifespan of the sensors and prevents clogged plumbing. Remember that a holding tank should not be dumped unless it is at least 2/3 full, to reduce the chance of substances drying up in the tank. Filling it with fresh water can work if the tank needs to be dumped but is not full enough. When cleaning/dumping the tanks, always clean the black water tank first before cleaning the gray water tank. Holding tanks should be treated after cleaning & dumping for the maintenance method you use to be more effective.