Proper RV Holding Tank Chemicals to Use

Duration: 4:06

There are 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.

    Discussion
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    13 Responses to “Proper RV Holding Tank Chemicals to Use”
    1. Letty
      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?

      Reply
      • 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.

        Reply
        • Ken
          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.

          Reply
    2. Mike
      Mike

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

      Reply
      • Customer Service
        Customer Service

        Mike,

        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.

        https://www.thetford.com/product/aqua-kem-products/

        Sincerely,

        Dan
        RV Repair Club Technical Expert

        Reply
    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!!

      Reply
      • 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!

        Jessica
        RV Repair Club Video Membership

        Reply
    4. JOHN
      JOHN

      I have given my bowl and seal a good cleaning as when I winterized I put RV antifreeze in the bowl to keep the seal moist. It at some point drained. I sent it to the dealer under warranty, they cleaned the seal and said it was good and held water for 20 minutes. However, it still drains it out. Is that okay or should it hold water in the bowl continuously? When new it held continually until winter storage. I have added conditioner to the bowl as well. Is this seal bad or what should I do? Since not holding water, the tank treatment and cleaner smell comes back routinely.

      Reply
      • Customer Service
        Customer Service

        Hello John,

        Thank you for contacting us.

        Most likely the seal will need replaced. I bet there are very small cracks in the seal and this can allow a very slow leak over time. These will typically get worse. It may not be a big leak but if it is draining out after a few days then the seal is bad. It shouldn’t leak at all technically. Water can evaporate over time but this takes a while. Usually the water should last a few weeks in the bowl without use.

        If you have any other concerns, please contact us at 1-855-706-3536, or chat with us on our site.

        We greatly appreciate your business!

        Sincerely,

        Lindsay
        RV Repair Club Video Membership

        Reply
        • JOHN
          JOHN

          Thank you for the response. Guess I should further clarify, new to RV stuff, bought a 2019 Keystone Cougar Half Ton in June. I had good operation of the toilet through the summer. I winterized the system myself by using a compressor and blowing out the lines based off videos on this site. Straight forward and easy, love all the information on here by the way.
          Had to move into the trailer for a few days this winter as power to house was out. That is when I found the dry toilet. Sent into the dealer afterwards for warranty work figuring the seal was bad. They said they cleaned it and held water for 20 minutes. When I picked up was empty again. Filled at home again with conditioner and antifreeze. Did not hold for more than 10 maybe 15 minutes. Looks like I will need to haul back again. Any tips on how to get them to properly replace this seal? Seems like I am hauling this thing back to them every 6 – 8 weeks. Have had a lot of issues.

          Reply
          • Customer Service
            Customer Service

            Hello John,
            Here’s what the experts had to say about your question:

            Sorry to hear about all the issues you have been having. It sounds like the seal is definitely bad. I would tell them to add water and let it sit for a day and check again. They can do this while it sits on the lot and you can prove to them it does happen after some time. This is the best thing to recommend as it doesn’t even have to be brought into a service bay to prove it doesn’t work properly. If you don’t want to leave it there for a day it might be trickier to get it to leak faster. Technically drying it out makes it worse so don’t leave any liquids inside for a while before taking it might help get it replaced.

            Sincerely,
            Dan
            RV Repair Club Technical Expert

            Reply
    5. Russ
      Russ

      With all those different holding tank chemicals. Is it safe to add any of them together. Or should I be doing one at a time?

      Reply
      • Customer Service
        Customer Service

        Hello Russ,

        Thank you for contacting us.

        Technically it doesn’t hurt anything by adding them together but I feel like the specific use ones work better when they are used one at a time. These would include the tissue digester, level gauge cleaner and valve lubricant. The standard chemical and deodorizers can be combined to help break down the contents and help it smell better but if you need one of the others ones for a specific use I feel they work better on their own but really you can combine them if you would like and it won’t harm anything.

        If you have any other concerns, please contact us at 1-855-706-3536, or chat with us on our site.

        We greatly appreciate your business!

        Sincerely,

        Lindsay
        RV Repair Club Video Membership

        Reply