Jason & Lisa McEwen

What You Need to Manage Your RV Holding Tanks

Jason & Lisa McEwen
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Duration:   7  mins

In an RV, waste flows into two tanks on the underside of your rig. Learn what each of them does and how to empty them.

What’s a gray tank?

Your gray tank collects all wastewater that doesn’t come from your toilet. So, when you’re washing your hands, doing the dishes, or taking a shower, all that water goes into your gray tank below.

What’s a black tank?

Your black tank is connected to your toilet; as you’d guess, all your waste goes in there.

Supplies needed to handle tanks properly

When you’re out on an RV trip, you need a few supplies to ensure you’re handling waste properly. If you don’t, you’re in for a really smelly situation, which you don’t want. Here are the supplies that Lisa and Jason McEwen, an RV family from Florida, use regularly:

RV toilet paper

RV toilet paper is thinner than traditional paper and breaks down easier in your tank. You can buy a package of RV toilet paper at big box stores. Explore which type of RV toilet paper is best for your rig.

Septic pods

You also want to buy septic pods. They’re similar to your washing machine pods, but they’re for your black tank. How and when you use them will vary, but typically you drop a pod into the toilet after you empty the tank.

If you notice odor coming into your RV, you can drop a pod into the tank too or you can rely on other chemicals to manage odor.

Waste hoses

You need at least one house, which some RVers refer to as a “stinky slinky.” One end connects to your tank and the other to the septic at a dump station or an on-site septic tank. The hoses come with caps, which you want to keep on there, it keeps smelly water from dripping out.

You can also use a clear elbow, which connects to the sewer so you can see when the waste is done flowing through.

Disposable gloves

When you’re handling the tanks, you can wear disposable gloves if you want.

Portable waste tank

If you’re planning a long stay at a campground and there’s no on-site sewer hookup, you can get a portable tank. Rather than breaking camp and taking the RV to the dump station, you can use a portable tank and transport the waste to the dump station.

At a site with septic, should you leave the valves open? No. Leave the valves closed until you’re ready to dump the waste. If you leave the values open, the smell will come up into your RV, and it’s not pleasant.

Use these tips to manage your RV waste tanks properly!

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