The Good the Bad and the Ugly in Your RV Black Tank

white tissue paper roll on brown wooden table


There is nothing worse than the smells that come from your RV black tank. Add on the hot days of summer and it can get unbearable!  But, hold on. You don’t have to abandon ship just yet. I have a tip that will save you tons of headaches.

Robert and I have been RVing full time for a year and a half now. We love everything about the RV lifestyle except cleaning the black tank. The first time we cleaned it was a bit scary for us both. I had on the face mask, rubber gloves up to my elbows, and a shower cap! Yes, I did. I looked like a hot mess. In my mind, I had to protect myself from flying poop and water.

Cleaning the Blank Tank

Honestly, you need a good pair of gloves to wear when you handle your stinky slinky. Since we are full-time stationery. We don’t have to worry about that disconnecting and reconnecting.  Saturday is “Tank day“ at our house and that is when we dump it and clean. I will usually close the gray tank the day before tank day so that I can use the water from the gray tank to flush the hose clean.

These are the step we use on tank day:

  1. Drain the black tank.
  2. Once the black tank is empty, we open the gray tank to clean the stinky slinky.
  3. Add three small trash cans of water (about 10 gallons of water) to the black tank and drop in an odor-neutralizing pack. (two if it’s a hot summer) Always add water to the empty tank so that you have water inside.

Maintaining Bacteria Balance

Once every three months, we will fill the tank with water and add a box of baking soda, let it sit for 24 hours, and then drain it. The baking soda helps to maintain the good bacteria balance that’s needed to break down the solids and tissue. Over time the bacteria can get unbalanced which causes the bad smell.

person holding round clear container

So, there you have it, the steps we have followed since we have been full time in our RV. A side note. It gets really hot in the Carolinas during the summer, and we keep extra tank neutralizers on hand just in case we need to double up on using them during those days when it is 100 degrees outside.


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