Cleaning an RV toilet is not as straightforward as cleaning a home toilet. RV toilets do not have a regular plumbing system. They are made with sensitive materials that can damage easily. Therefore, cleaning an RV toilet requires using suitable cleaning materials and the right process. The cleaning process also depends on the type of toilet in your RV.

Most RV toilets have a bowl connected to a water supply and a black tank. You flush the toilet by pressing the foot pedal and emptying the waste into the black tank. The toilet system is made of either plastic or porcelain. Smaller RVs have a cassette toilet, while others have a composting toilet.

This article will provide the steps for cleaning the most common types of RV toilets – those with a black tank.

5 Simple Steps for Cleaning RV Toilet Tank and Bowl

1. Gather the Cleaning Supplies

You will need the following:

Rubber Gloves

Always wear rubber gloves when cleaning your RV toilet. They protect your hands from harmful bacteria in the tank or bowl and prevent direct contact with the cleaning products, which can be irritating.

RV Tank Cleaner

RV tank cleaners contain enzymes and bacteria that break down waste, and other dirt flushed down the toilet. They reduce the chances of clogging and prevent odor, resulting in a clean and fresh-smelling toilet. RV tank cleaners are typically safe for the RV plumbing and the black tank and can help extend the tank’s lifetime.

RV Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Use a chemical-free RV toilet bowl cleaner. Do not use a regular chemical toilet bowl cleaner like you would typically use for your home toilet. Typically, home toilet cleaners contain chlorine, bleach, or other harsh chemicals.

Although bleach and chlorine effectively clean toilet bowls, they may damage the black water tank. Some black tanks employ bacteria-based tank treatments, and chlorine and chemicals will kill off the bacteria interfering with effective waste breakdown.

On the other hand, RV toilet cleaners such as Scrub-It are chemical-free. Some also contain a blend of bacteria and enzymes, improving the black tank’s waste breakdown.

Alternatively, you can use vinegar and baking soda. Pour two tablespoons of baking soda into the toilet bowl, followed by equal parts white vinegar. They will mix and foam up, removing dirt from the bowl and along the drainage system.

Non-Abrasive Brush or Sponge

Since most RV toilets are made of plastic or contain plastic components, you must use a soft-bristled toilet brush or a soft sponge to clean them to prevent damage to the bowl. A hard-bristled brush or sponge can cause scratches.

It is worth investing in a cleaning toilet brush designed for RV toilets. It is more effective at cleaning the toilet in your RV bathroom, including removing buildup dirt and stains, without causing scratches.

Plastic Container or Bucket

If you are cleaning your RV at a remote location, you might need a bucket or a plastic container to transport water to the RV. You may also need to pour fresh water into the bowl. Alternatively, rinse off cleaning products and debris using a hose with an adjustable nozzle.

2. Clean the Toilet Bowl

Here are the steps for cleaning your RV toilet bowl:

  1. Wear rubber gloves.
  2. Apply the RV toilet cleaner on the rim, under the rim, and inside the bowl. Check the product packaging for additional instructions on how to use the particular RV toilet cleaner.
  3. Let the cleaner sit on the bowl and rim for 5-10 minutes or as specified by the manufacturer.
  4. Then use the RV toilet brush or sponge to scrub. Work from the top of the bowl, downwards and also scrub the rim and around the edges of the bowl.
  5. Flush the toilet by holding down the flush lever.
  6. Inspect to see if it is well-cleaned. If not, repeat the cleaning process.

3. Empty the Black Tank

man emptying black tank

Cleaning the RV toilet bowl alone is not enough. You also need to drain and clean the black water tank, or else unpleasant odors will develop. Below are the steps to emptying your RV toilet black tank without spillage:

  1. Determine if the black water tank is full. If not, fill it with fresh water before draining, preferably up to two-thirds capacity. You want to ensure the tank has enough fluid to flush out solids. You can do this by flushing the toilet several times or simply pouring water into the bowl.
  2. Turn off the water supply to the toilet.
  3. Drive the RV next to the dump station.
  4. Hook the sewage hose to the dump station inlet.
  5. Open the drain valve and let the tank drain completely.
  6. While still connected, flush the toilet severally to remove residues.

4. Clean and Treat the Black Tank

After dumping and flushing the black tank, the next important step is to clean and treat it. This step prevents waste buildup, clogging, and odor. It also facilitates the waste breakdown process in the tank. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Close the drain valve.
  2. Fill the tank two-thirds way with water.
  3. Add RV tank cleaner to the tank according to the instructions provided by the manufacturer on the product’s packaging. You should add the RV tank cleaner through the toilet bowl rather than the tank’s external access port. It helps to break down waste.
  4. If your RV has a tank wand, insert it into the tank through the toilet bowl. Use it to reach the corners and crevices of the tank to break up and dislodge stuck waste. If not, disconnect the sewer connection and drive around for 15-20 minutes. It will allow the cleaner to slosh around, removing accumulated waste and debris from the tank. Alternatively, use the RV’s built-in waste backwash system if the tank has one.
  5. Reconnect the tank to a dump station and drain it. Then flush with water severally to clean it up completely.
  6. Disconnect the sewer connection.

5. Dry and Disinfect the Toilet Seat

Rinse the entire toilet system one more time to get rid of residual cleaners and dirt. Then, wipe the toilet seat and lid. Use a tissue to wipe the toilet bowl’s exterior, and use disinfectant wipes to remove any remaining dirt or bacteria and dry up the toilet.


Since RV toilets have obvious differences from home toilets, the cleaning process is different. First, the plumping system and materials used to make the toilet are prone to damage.

Therefore, it is recommended that you use RV toilet and tank cleaners instead of regular home toilet cleaners. Also, use a soft-bristled brush to clean the bowl and prevent scratching.

Another crucial aspect when cleaning an RV toilet is draining and cleaning the black tank. Draining involves hooking your tank outlet to a dump station and opening the valve to remove the waste.

You then clean the tank with RV tank cleaner, followed by a thorough rinse. Finally, rinse the toilet system one more time. Wipe the toilet seat with disinfectant wipes for optimal hygiene.