Should You Poop in Your RV?

Should you poo in your RV?

To poop or not to poop. That is the question that RVers from all walks of life ask.

But unlike Hamlet, you don’t have to struggle over the answer because the answer is a resounding “yes!” You can surely poop in an RV toilet despite what you may have heard about number two unavoidably causing several difficulties.

RVers consider the luxury of owning a real toilet to take care of business rather than do it in the wild outdoors or some campground porta potty. So, why would you strip yourself of that privilege? And when it gets down to it, indulgence while camping is the main reason you hired or are considering purchasing an RV in the first place.

However, while you do your business in an RV toilet the same way as you do in your throne at home, keep in mind that an RV toilet works differently from a residential toilet. You also need to take particular actions to avoid clogs, odors, and misreading sensors, something you never fancy having to deal with while camping.

You may be just renting an RV to know if purchasing one is the right choice for you, but whether you own the RV or are just deciding it out, you should not worry about going number two if you follow the instructions in this guide.

The Difference of an RV Toilet from a Home Toilet?

Home toilets are usually connected to a city wastewater system or it comes with an underground septic system. A city wastewater system will instantly send the flushed waste to a treatment plant while the septic system will store waste as it continues to break down for several months until it is pumped out.

These systems come with complex plumbing that helps waste to flow easily straight to the treatment plant or septic system. Septic systems have a colony of bacteria that support breaking down waste into its nearly liquefied size. This system helps save space and prep waste to be pumped out easily.

In an RV, there isn’t a band of complicated plumbing or particular systems that help push waste. The only thing that helps the waste to flow down from a single pipe into the tank is water and gravity. And even when it reaches the holding tank, it’s still different from a home septic system. 

A holding tank is very different from a septic tank. A holding tank works as a repository for wastewater to temporarily chill until you get a chance to empty the tanks. But the brief stay of the waste in the holding tanks is considered more reasonable to ensure effective waste breakdown so that odors and clogs do not become a hassle when you’re enjoying your RV or trying to dump.

How do toilets work in an RV?

RV toilets work differently than residential toilets. These RV toilets also come in different types.

Some use a lever placed on the side or at the bottom of the toilet. There’s also the other type where you use no sewage hook up or water at all.

Push pedal or flush by hand toilets

These toilets are lightweight, very easy to use, and the most basic option for RV toilets on the market. 

For example: If you want to go number 1, all you have to do is open the lid like a regular toilet then do your business. Flush by pressing the pedal with your foot down all the way. For number 2, just press the pedal halfway with your foot, and it will fill up with water to your desired level. Then, press the pedal all the way down to flush it completely. 

Be sure to use your common sense to avoid overfilling or underfilling. This will depend on how much you feel like you require to go at the time. Once you flush the toilet, it will be sent straight and stored into a black water tank until you bring it to a dump station.

Composting toilets

This type of toilet is not connected to a black water tank or any city sewage lines. These toilets are ideal for individual users, small campers, couples, or camper vans.

Composting toilets produces no odor if you do it right. Most RVers think composting toilets are kind of like a litter box, but not really. When using a composting toilet, the pee and the poop go in separate buckets.

You can empty the pee bucket for around 2 to 3 days, depending on how often you go, or you can try clearing it when it gets near the top. You can do this in a regular toilet at a campground, or somewhere out in an open field.

You can also dump the pee right into the sewage line if you’re parked at a campground with sewage hookups.

What to do with the Pee and Poop?

If you are using a Black tank

This means that your RV toilet is not connected to any sewer lines at all. In this event, you may be boondocking, which implies you are out somewhere in nature, away from any shorelines and camping off the grid.

The capacity of your black tank will determine how often you would need to dump it. But when it is time for you to dump it, you should stop at a dump station, connect to the sewage line and flush it out into the sewer.

Make sure that you flush out your black tank thoroughly and apply toilet treatments to break up the waste.

If you are RV is connected to a city sewage

Your waste will be sent straight down the sewer lines. Be sure to keep your sewer line completely sealed while stationary to avoid waste build-up. The best way to do it is to open your sewage lines and flush them out every 2 weeks or so depending on how many people are in your RV or how frequently you use the toilet in your RV.

Always remember to pressure flush the sewer lines to completely keep the “poo” out and prevent smelly situations. You can do this step at the same time you flush the lines outside.

Using a showerhead that can also be connected to a hose that provides good pressure will certainly do the job.

If you are using a composting toilet

With a composting toilet, you will be required to bring the toilet outside each time you clear it. Remember, it is a composting toilet, which means that the poop will get composted over time and turn into fertilizer. This process is also ideal for gardening, feeding grass and trees, and overall, helping mother nature out a bit.

Before you use a composting toilet, you will need to apply treatment into the toilet that will help break down and compost the poop. RVers also use different types of soil for this, but the most common one is the Natural Coconut Fiber Pith (dried coconut fiber). You can also use cedar wood chips to keep it dry and keep the odor to a minimum if you are concerned.

This combination can turn your poop into fertilizer! How cool is that?

When using a composting toilet, the poop goes straight into a bucket with the dried coconut fiber and cedarwood placed under the rim of your toilet. To clear the composting toilet, you will be required to take the toilet outside and slide off the lid.

You will then set the toilet upside down and dump it into the composting bags. At this point, your waste will start to turn into fertilizer that you can use for gardening if your RV is stationary.

You can also put it into a compost bin which will then decompose into the earth when dumped.

Do RV toilets smell?

A basic RV toilet that is hooked up to a sewage line will surely produce a smell over time if not maintained often.

Depending on your treatment and how frequently you maintain your sewage lines and black tank can conclude how smelly it can get. Yes, it will smell if you do not keep up with the cleaning regularly.

That goes for both who are using a black tank or city sewage. Most likely, if you have a good habit in place, your RV toilet will definitely not produce a smell.

As for RVers who use composting toilets, some people even claim that composting toilets work better when it comes to odor than toilets used with sewer lines and black tanks.

Using More Water is the Best Odor and Clog Deterrent

Water is your best friend when it comes to pooping in an RV toilet due to its natural odor barrier. It also softens the solid waste to the point where it won’t build up to produce clogs.

Some people who dry camp or boondock for extended periods may advise you not to use too much water to save space in your tank and avoid dumping halfway through the trip. But doing this suggestion could lead to clogs, odors, or both. This is something you don’t want to happen unless you’re okay to cut your trip short.

Here are some water-related pointers you can practice to your camping habits that will help prevent odors and clogs.

Fill your toilet bowl with water before you begin using it

When you use your camper toilet, you should supply your toilet bowl with a few inches of water before using it. Doing so may help avoid the wastes from clinging to the sides of the bowl and placidly flow down the pipe when you flush the toilet. Failing to do so will surely lead to clogs in the line.

Always keep the toilet bowl filled with water (unless driving)

Keeping several inches of water inside the toilet bowl will act as a natural barrier to odors. The smell will not come out of the tank through the toilet line because the water kept in the bowl will block it. It’s also the reason why household toilets automatically refill the bowl with a certain amount of water after it is flushed.

Flush for several seconds to allow lots of water into the holding tank

Ideally, you should hold down your flush pedal for at least 10 seconds when you flush. In addition to assuring that the waste runs easily down the line, applying lots of water will also eliminate the bacteria in your tank and treat the waste with water, eliminating odors.

Note: It might look odd, but you do want a particular type of bacteria in your black holding tank to help with waste breakdown. For more information on why you should have bacteria in your holding tanks, please go to the Why Are Bacteria and Enzymes Good in RV Wastewater Tanks guide.

Promote these three toilet habits while camping and you should easily be able to avoid several issues that other campers fuss about. Water is the most direct way to hinder potential clog and odor problems.

Other Habits to Establish

Using lots of water is a great initial step and also an important component. But practicing healthy habits with the most suitable products is the way to obtain the highest level of success when applying the process.

We encourage you to apply and review the tips that will help you make your camping adventure as problem-free as possible. 

Keep your black tank valve sealed at all times (unless actively dumping a full tank)

Keeping your black tank sealed keeps the liquids inside your holding tank, stopping any waste from thickening or building up into a pyramid plug. Liquid towering above the solid waste also helps to keep odors held under the waterline.

Only flush urine, feces, RV toilet papers, and high-quality tank treatments down the toilet

Your black water holding tank is built to only keep human waste and toilet paper. The types of tank treatments you should or should not let into your holding tank alter depending on your preference.

Flushing any other solid objects like flushable wipes, feminine products, paper towels, and other things that are not designed to break down easily will lead to clogs and potentially expensive problems.  

Do not use too much toilet paper

Using too much toilet paper can create backups and clogs in both the toilet line and the tank itself. So be sure to only use the certain amount you need.

Some RVers also state that you must use RV toilet paper to prevent clogs. All toilet paper is designed to break down easily in water, so we suggest using whatever kind of toilet paper you want as long as you are applying a good solid-reducing tank treatment.

Of course, if you will feel more at ease using RV toilet papers, then go for it. It surely won’t hurt!

Always use a high-quality bacteria-based holding tank treatment

We recognize bacteria-based holding treatments as the gold standard when it comes to determining tank care products. It will guarantee that the waste in your tanks stays liquefied, providing for better flow when dumping.

Even on short camping trips, supplementing a high-quality bacteria-based treatment can help your camping activity and your dumping experience feel like a breeze.

Final Thoughts

Having the amenities in your RV, trailer, or fifth wheel enables you to have a remarkable and comfortable trip. There are lots of amenities that trailers come with that provide camping to be easy and carefree.

One amenity that is amazingly useful to have while camping is your own bathroom. Having your own bathroom enables you to shower and use the bathroom without having to run outside of your trailer.

An RV toilet is an added convenience that makes camping with your trailer a breeze. Hence, learning how your RV toilet works are crucial. RV toilets may have similarities to household toilets but have many differences as well. RV toilets utilize water from the freshwater tank or city water to let you flush and easily use your toilet.

Several people are intrigued if a person can poop in an RV toilet, and we clarified that in this article. Yes, you surely can poop in an RV toilet. Just make sure you supply your bowl with the right amount of water and use lots of water after you poop. Also, keep your black tank valve sealed until you have to empty your tank.

RV toilets are an added comfort to your camping trip, and knowing how to keep them maintained and how to use them is excellent information to remember.