RV Tips: 4 Tips for Keeping Your Black Tank Manageable

Hi, my name’s Kate! I’m a full-time RVer living in a fifth wheel with my husband, two-year-old, and our golden retriever. After almost a year in our RV, I have a few tips to share about our missteps when it comes to black tank care, and I’m going to share those with you! Whether you’re living full-time in an RV or planning a weekend vacation, these tips can help you avoid disaster when it comes to the least exciting part of camping. Check out my RV tips below.

Rockwood main
This is a similar floorplan to the RV we live in; it’s perfect for full-time because of the two-bedroom layout.

1. Get the Right Equipment

My husband and I had never really been RVing when we moved into our fifth wheel. We’re both pretty quick studies, so we figured we could learn a lot of things on the fly, and we have. However, we have also had our fair share of huge mistakes. Be sure you have a proper black tank hose before you leave for the campground, and make sure you get it attached to the hookup correctly before you try to drain your tanks. Additionally, you will want gloves. Even when things are hooked up properly, there is a chance that you can get it on your hands when disconnecting or cleaning the hose, especially if there’s a crack in the hose. Lastly, buy sewer hose supports. You need them to ensure the flow is properly leveled to wash everything away. Clogs are a huge pain. 

rubber gloves
Do not forget gloves!

2. No Toilet Paper!

There is toilet paper on the market that is safe to use in RV black tanks, but we decided not to mess with that at all. Instead, we keep a close-lidded trash can in the bathroom and throw all paper products in the trash instead of the tank. The fewer solids go into your tank at all, the better! Your tank will drain much more easily when it is primarily liquids.

3. Drain the Black Tank First

We have our gray tank open all the time, so we never have to drain it, but the day before we empty our black tank, we always close the grey and let it fill up. This practice allows us to flush the lines after the black tank has drained so that nothing remains stuck in the hose. You can also just run water in your sinks and shower, but it won’t flush things as well as a day or two of greywater built up in the tank. Additionally, this doesn’t waste a bunch of water to clean the hose since you would have used all that water already.

4. Use Black Tank Cleaners

You can find all sorts of black tank cleaning capsules to use to clean out your system after use. We try to do a full cleanse of ours about once or twice a quarter. I don’t have a specific brand of cleaners to recommend since we have only had time to try out a few. Just be sure you follow the instructions: empty the tank, drop in the capsule, and fill the tank with clean water. Next, you’ll have to let it sit overnight or for the next 24 hours.

Water hookups Rockwood
If your RV has a black tank flushing system, keep a separate hose to hook up to that system so that you avoid any possibility of cross-contaminating.

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