Proper RV Holding Tank Chemicals to Use

Duration: 4:06

There is a lot of different RV holding tank chemicals available to use for your system. The chemicals available today are much better than the old-school methods of cleaning holding tanks. In previous years, many RV owners would use cleaning products such as Lysol and Pinesol. Neither option is good to use because they will kill the good bacteria that is needed to break down solids in the black water tank. In addition, these chemicals will eat away at seals and clean away lubrication wanted inside the tank.

It is best to use approved RV holding tank chemicals. These chemicals come in liquid form and are biodegradable. Some black water treatments come in a container with its own measuring device, while others come in biodegradable packets that can be tossed right into the tank. Aquachem by Thetford is one example and a popular option that also includes a deodorant. This can be used to help control odor in the grey water tanks, which can develop over time from water coming from the shower, kitchen and bathroom sinks.

The Thetford Tissue Digester will help breakdown toilet paper in the black water tank. However, it is still a good idea to use an approved RV toilet paper that will easily breakdown on its own.

Other suggested RV holding tank chemicals include:

  • Level Gauge Cleaner: Dissolves and digests sediments, lime and anything on the probes that could cause a false reading.
  • Drain Valve Lubricant: Best to use when storing or letting the RV sit for long periods of time with nothing in it.
  • Toilet Seal: Lubricates the flapper on the toilet for a better seal and stopping odors from coming into the RV.
  • RV antifreeze: Best when wanting to winterize an RV before long-term storage.
  • Using proper RV holding tank chemicals will help effectively clean the holding tanks without damaging any of the seals or other components of the system.

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    7 Responses to “Proper RV Holding Tank Chemicals to Use”
    1. Letty

      Well water sat in our fresh water tank until it acquired a bad smell. We have emptied it, but now want to make sure we flush it out well to remove the smell. What product do you recommend?

      • Customer Service
        Customer Service

        Hi Letty. Thanks for visiting the RV Repair Club site and the opportunity to assist with your fresh water tank smell. There are several products on the market from Thetford, Camco and others to freshen tanks, however I recommend plain old fashioned bleach! Growing up in rural America we had several places that used wells to supply water. At times the well would go bad and we would pour bleach in it to sanitize it. You can do the same thing, 1/4 cup bleach in a gallon of water. Depending on the size of the tank, I would use
        about 5-8 gallons of this mixture, pour it in the tank, then fill the tank and let it sit for a day or more. It also helps to drive around a little, letting it mix up and slosh around. The bleach smell/taste will dissapate shortly, or you can use vinegar, baking soda, or products from Thetford as mentioned before.

        • Ken

          Agree. Bleach is the right choice. Will oxidize the organics and sanitize the surfaces of bacterial contamination. Just plain bleach, not the ones with lemon or bubbles.

    2. Mike

      I’ve been in some porta-potties that actually smelled good. Is there an RV product that smells good?

      • Customer Service
        Customer Service


        Aqua-Kem actually has a few different fragrances for their chemicals and they do have a better smell to them than just the chemicals. There are other companies that make deodorants but I know these work really well. Here is a look to their page with more information.


        RV Repair Club Technical Expert

    3. Mary Ann Weber
      Mary Ann Weber

      I am renting an RV spot for a month on a private lot. The lot has a septic hook up — but the contract states: “Chemicals are not permitted in the septic tank. Only dump non-treated waste. The odor control chemicals are disinfectants to kill the anaerobic bacteria in the waste. When the disinfected waste is dumped into the septic tank it kills the necessary bacteria in the septic tank system.” I am wondering what type of holding tank additive I CAN use — can you please offer suggestion? Thank you!!

      • Customer Service
        Customer Service

        Hi Mary Ann!

        We received your question in our email inbox this morning and we sent you a response back! We are looking for your year, make, and model before we send your question off to our experts!

        Thank you!

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