How to Eliminate Rid Of Black Tank Odors and Smells

how to get rid of RV smell


Time to talk about your RV’s sewer tank — a lovely topic we know. But how you handle and take care of this issue will greatly affect the convenience of your trip and the ease with which your whole family travels.

But before we jump into the meat of this post and start explaining how to combat black tank odors, let’s first talk about reasons why your black tank might be smelling.

  1. Your tank is damaged
  2. There is a leak in your toilet
  3. You haven’t deep cleaned your tank in a while
  4. The tank is backed up: this can happen as a result of using the wrong toilet paper (non-biodegradable toilet paper) that in turn backs up the pipes
  5. The flapper is broken (this is the mechanism that closes and seals waste in the tank. If the flapper becomes stuck open, the smell won’t be sealed in the tank, allowing bad odors to leak out)

Depending on why your black tank is smelling will determine what measures can be taken to eliminate the odors.

If you are unsure what the problem is and how it can be easily remedied, we’d suggest speaking with an RV expert or having a plumbing expert check out the situation.

Here are tips for avoiding situations that would result in bad odors and pipe blockage.

1. Don’t Let the Tank Run Dry

Letting your black tank run dry can result in a host of problems. Waste that gets stored in your RV’s black tank needs to be mixed with fluid in order to keep everything working as it’s meant to. Mixing water with waste that is stored in RV black tanks ensures that the tank isn’t damaged and also works to mitigate odors.

This brings up the question, how much water should I add to my black tank? As a general rule of thumb, add enough water to the tank to cover the bottom completely.

2. Prevent Clogging

This means using biodegradable toilet paper (please don’t just use regular toilet paper in your RV bathroom!), and flushing tank chemicals down your toilet often to ensure that the waste and paper is being broken down.

3. Clean the Toilet & Flapper Often

As gross as this job sounds, it’s necessary to prevent foul odors from permeating the RV. If you are making sure that your black tank and pipes are in good order and that you are only using RV-safe toilet paper but the foul smell persists, it’s a strong indicator that you need to clean your toilet or flapper. Use bleach, air freshening cleaners, vinegar or whatever cleaners you prefer to scrub down your RV toilet and flapper.

When the gross work is over, your nose and family will thank you heartily for your service.

4. Empty the Sewer Tank Whenever You Can

Another practical way to eliminate black tank odors is simply by emptying your sewer tank whenever you can. Whenever the smell starts to persist you can be pretty sure that it’s time to empty the tank. Empty the sewer tank and hose it out whenever possible.

5. Have a Good Ventilation System

RVs are small, confined living spaces. This means that good ventilation systems are essential for keeping your RV smelling fresh. Make sure that you have a good ventilation system in place and a fan in your bathroom. Having a small window to allow in fresh air is also a good idea if you are going to be spending a lot of time in your RV.

Good RV bathroom ventilation can mean the difference between a really pleasant trip and a very uncomfortable one so make sure that your bathroom fan is working properly before you set out on your road trip.

6. Use Fabric Softener

This is a nifty little hack for RV owners. If you want to eliminate black tank odors and freshen the atmosphere of your RV, take a capful or two of scented fabric softener and pour it into your black tank.

Pack along your favorite fabric softener on your next RV trip and use frequent capfuls to combat foul sewer tank odors.

Need Help Finding Your Next RV?

Here at Kirkland RV, we have a range of RVs in a variety of different price points to suit the needs of every kind of traveler. Whether you are a family looking for all the amenities of home life on the road, a solo traveler who doesn’t mind roughing it, or a couple looking for a long term RV home, Kirkland RV has something for you.

If you need some help selecting the perfect RV for your next adventure, give our team of RVing experts a call today. We’d be more than happy to show you around the lot and help you pick out the best RV for you.