Stinky Situations: Banishing RV Toilet Odors for Good

Stinky Situations: Banishing RV Toilet Odors for Good

Posted by Happy Campers Store on Jan 11th 2024

Don't Let RV Toilet Odors Tear Your Family Apart

The best part of RVing is being closer to nature and each other, but we've all experienced RV toilet odors that make you want to get as far away from your family as possible.

What if it didn't have to be that way?

An Introduction to RV Toilet Odors:

Ah, the open road! 

The wind in your hair, the freedom to explore new places, and... oh, wait, what's that smell? 

If you're an RV owner, you know that dealing with unpleasant toilet odors is just one of the downsides of life on wheels. But fear not, my fresh-smelling friends! Today, we're diving deep into the smelly world of RV toilet odors and discovering some foolproof ways to stop them in their tracks.

  1. The Source of the Stank: Understanding RV Toilet Odors

  2. Let's start with the basics, shall we? RV toilet odors can stem from a variety of sources, from a lack of ventilation to clogged pipes and even bacterial buildup. One thing's for sure, though - that funky smell is not what you signed up for when you hit the road. So, let's roll up our sleeves (and pinch our noses) as we explore the main culprits behind these pesky odors.

  3. Ventilation is Your Best Friend

  4. It's time to let the stink out! Proper ventilation is crucial for keeping those toilet odors at bay. Make sure your RV's bathroom vent fan is in good working condition and use it regularly while you're doing your business. Trust me, a little bit of fresh air can go a long way in banishing those unwanted odors.

  5. RV Toilet Chemicals: The Odor-Fighting Heroes

  6. When it comes to battling toilet odors, the right chemicals can be your secret weapons. Look for RV-friendly toilet chemicals that are specifically designed to neutralize odors and break down waste effectively. These mighty potions will not only keep your bathroom smelling fresh but also prevent clogs and maintain a healthy plumbing system. It's like having a superhero squad cleaning up after you – without the capes and catchy theme songs.

  7. Keep it Clean and Tidy

  8. Just like any other thorny issue in life, a little cleanliness goes a long way in eliminating RV toilet odors. Establish a regular cleaning routine that includes scrubbing the toilet bowl, wiping down surfaces, and emptying the waste tank regularly. And remember, folks, prevention is key! By treating your RV toilet with care and avoiding tossing anything down the throne that doesn't belong there, you'll save yourself from future smelly disasters.

  9. The Power of Baking Soda and Vinegar

  10. When life gives you toilet odors, make a DIY odor-busting cocktail! Baking soda and vinegar are not just versatile pantry staples; they can also work wonders in eliminating unpleasant odors. Mix equal parts of baking soda and vinegar, pour it into your RV toilet, let it sit for a while, and then flush away those odors. Voila! A natural, budget-friendly solution that'll have your RV smelling fresh and clean in no time.

Managing Your RV Holding Tanks With Treatments

There are dozens of great posts online that cover the different types of RV holding tank treatments. Ultimately, what RVers are looking for is a product that works. 

The real question then becomes, how do you define 'what works'?

If you've done any research online, RVers have essentially narrowed this down to two main points;

1) Does the treatment stop bad odors?

2) Does the treatment break down waste?

For me, it's pretty simple; I want a product that eliminates bad RV holding tank and toilet odors completely. There are a handful of really good products available that all claim to address these two issues, including our own Happy Campers. In my experience all of the products available do one better than the other, that's just the nature of the different types of formulations. 

Many enzyme based treatments do a great job of breaking down solids, but fall short when it comes to controlling odor. Happy Campers holding tank treatment is often confused with enzyme based treatments, but it is not, and this is important. 

Why? Because enzyme based treatments require an optimal temperature to work.

Happy Campers is a proprietary blend of micronutrients and minerals, many of which support the growth of good bacteria in holding tanks and septic systems. Unlike enzyme based treatments Happy Campers is developed to work in extreme heat and extreme cold.

The ideal temperature range for the "good bacteria" in septic tanks, which are responsible for decomposing waste, is between 77 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit[1][2]. This temperature range is considered optimal for aerobic microbes to thrive and effectively break down the waste in septic tanks[1].

It is important to maintain the appropriate temperature range to support the growth and activity of these beneficial bacteria. A temperature below 77 degrees Fahrenheit may slow down the bacterial activity, leading to less efficient waste decomposition[2]. On the other hand, excessively high temperatures above 95 degrees Fahrenheit may have a negative impact on the bacterial population.

I love camping under ideal circumstances, but my family does a lot of camping in cooler climates as well as some that are hotter than Hell ie: Texas, Arizona, Florida which go well above 95 degrees. There's really nothing quite like the smell of baking poo. 

What to Avoid Putting in RV Holding Tanks

When it comes to RV holding tanks and septic systems, there are certain chemicals that should be avoided and this means for cleaning your rv toilet as well. These chemicals include: 

  1. Formaldehyde: Traditional RV holding tank chemicals often contain formaldehyde or bronopol1. Formaldehyde is a biocide that kills bacteria and breaks down waste quickly. However, it is harmful to the environment and can disrupt the natural bacterial balance of septic systems1. 
  2. Petroleum-based Products: Products like motor oil, gasoline, diesel fuel, and other petroleum-based chemicals should never be put into RV holding tanks or septic systems. These substances can contaminate the soil, groundwater, and surface water1. 
  3. Harsh Cleaning Chemicals: Avoid using harsh cleaning chemicals, such as bleach, chlorine, and ammonia, in RV holding tanks or septic systems. These chemicals can kill the beneficial bacteria that are essential for breaking down waste and maintaining a healthy septic system1. 
  4. Antibacterial Soaps and Cleaners: Antibacterial soaps and cleaners contain chemicals like triclosan, which can disrupt the natural bacterial balance in septic systems. It is best to use septic-safe alternatives for cleaning purposes1. 

Pro-Tip: Always stay away from bleach or chlorine products. These will erode the rubber seals in your plumbing as well as kill helpful bacteria. It is important to use environmentally friendly alternatives in RV holding tanks and septic systems to prevent harm to the environment and maintain the proper functioning of the systems1.


So, my RV-owning comrades, it's time to bid farewell to those pesky toilet odors that have been cramping your style on the open road. From proper ventilation and RV-friendly chemicals to good old-fashioned cleaning and a little DIY magic, armed with these savvy tips, you'll be on your way to a journey that smells as sweet as a field of lavender. Say goodbye to the stink and hello to fresh-smelling adventures! Happy travels, and may your RV always be a sanctuary of delightful scents!


  1. Wren Environmental - How Lower Temperatures Impact Bacteria in Your Septic Tank
  2. The Grey Water Guide - What Temperature Does A Septic Tank Reach?
  3. Do It Yourself RV. RV Holding Tank Chemicals: Environmentally Friendly Options vs. Traditional Chemicals. ↩ ↩2 ↩3 ↩4 ↩5 ↩6