Is It Safe to Put Bleach in RV Black Tank? (Clean Black Tank in 4 Steps)

Is It Safe to Put Bleach in RV Black Tank

If you are concerned about getting rid of the bad smell in your RV blank tank, you must have wondered if it is safe to use bleach in the black tank. This article will help you find the answer and provide you with four steps to get a clean black tank.

Is it safe to put bleach in RV black tank? Although bleach can kill the odor-causing bacteria in the black water tank, too much chlorine can damage the RV’s seals and gaskets. However, diluted chlorine bleach as well as non-chlorine bleach, such as hydrogen peroxide, are safe to use in the RV black tank.

Besides, there are several other safe options to clean the black water tank, such as enzyme formulas, dishwashing detergents, baking soda, yeast, etc.

How Safe is Putting Bleach in the RV Black Tank?

The odor in the RV waste holding tank results from the build-up of bacteria and residual waste products inside the tank after dumping.

Besides, a neglected RV black tank can lead to plumbing issues as well as create a breeding ground for disease-causing bacteria.

That is why it is essential to clean and sanitize the black water tank with cleaning chemicals regularly, especially before you put your RV in storage.

Using bleach and water is one of the most readily available and affordable toilet deodorants. However, many people do not recommend using chlorine bleach because:

  • A high concentration of chlorine may deform the rubber seal and gaskets.
  • It can also kill friendly bacteria that help to digest the waste.

Considering these cons, you should be careful to make a proper, diluted solution while cleaning the black water tank.

Read also: The 7 Best Composting Toilet for RVs // How To Use?

Although the total amount of solution will depend on your tank size, mixing one-quarter cup of bleach with one gallon of water should be sufficient. Typically eight gallons of this cleaning solution should work for most cases.

If you clean the RV black tank in the proper method, you can easily avoid the risks and get a clean tank in 4 simple steps.

RV Bleach Tip for Fresh water tank/ black tank >> Check out the video below:

How To Clean Your RV Black Tank in 4 Steps

To clean your RV black tank, just follow the steps below which include:

Step 1: Take the Necessary Preparation and Precautions

The first and foremost priority of any job is keeping yourself safe! As you know, the contents of your black tank can be hazardous.

You don’t want to inhale the toxic odor or fumes or let any of the waste to get on your cloth or body. Therefore it is essential to take some precautions:

  • Prior to beginning with the cleaning process, prepare yourself by wearing some protective gear, essentially rubber gloves, and protective goggles. Although optional, I always recommend to wear shoe covers and face masks.
  • Keep the arrangement of soap and running water close to the cleaning area, so that you can easily reach for them, just in case any spill happens.
  • Make sure none of the contaminants from the cleaning job reach the inside of the RV.

Step 2: Empty the Tank When It is At Least 2/3rd Full

After taking the preparatory and precautionary measures, the primary cleaning step is to empty the RV waste tanks.

Make sure that the tank is full till at least 2/3rd of its capacity. This is because too frequent dumping can leave behind accumulated solid waste.

When the tank is full, it facilitates the solid waste to break down and can be emptied out easily.

However, you would not want the tank to become so full that it would cause the black tank to leak. Moreover, excess waste content may damage the tank and cause plumbing issues.

When the tank is too full, no more water can be added to liquefy the solid waste, resulting in clogging during draining.

So, add water to the tank till the appropriate capacity and then park the RV at a sewer outlet in a dumping station or campsite.

In case you are dumping at your house, it should be into an approved residential sewer system.

How to Hook the Hose and Drain the Tank

  • Typically the RV black water tank is located directly under the toilet. There are two ends of an RV sewer hose. One end with bayonet style will connect to the RV, while the other with ‘L’ shaped filling will go into the dump station inlet. To avoid any leak, ensure a tight seal, use a gasket if you need one.
  • While the black tank valve is close, fill the gray tank with water.
  • Now slowly open the black tank valve to allow the tank waste to flow out. Give it enough time so that the wall of the waste contents in the black tank is trickled out. When done, remember to close the black tank valve.
  • Next, you open the gray tank valve. Thus its water can flush the residual waste from the sewer hose and clean it. Always keep an eye on both the connections so that they are perfectly sealed.
  • Once the tank is completely drained, you can close the sewer hose valves.

A Few Things to Bear in Mind while Draining the Tank

  • Please do not use any hazardous chemicals such as formaldehyde while flushing the waste tanks.
  • Never use the drinking water hose in the RV to flush the black tank or sewer hose. This will cause serious contamination in your freshwater tank.
  • Last but not least,  maintain respectful behavior at the dump stations and use their equipment carefully.

Related reading: Can You Flush Tampons Down an RV Toilet? Facts You Should Know

Step 3: Removing the Waste Buildup from the Tank

To prevent the odor and blockages, you should get rid of the caked waste deposited inside the tank at least once a week.

  • Once the tank is empty, lock the drain outlet. Now flush the toilet so that at least 3/4th of the black tank is full.
  • Now is the time you use the bleach-water solution or any other black tank treatment you prefer. Leave the mixture for no more than 10 minutes. In this way, the buildup will get softened, and the tank will be sterilized.
  • Then drain the tank and simultaneously keep filling it with water. Repeat the process until the smell of bleach disappears, and the discharge looks clear. In this process, the bleach will not sit inside and won’t damage the tank parts.
  • Regular removal of build-up should help you clean the tank thoroughly. In case you still notice residual waste in the black tank, you may need to backwash the black tank.

Backwashing the Black Tank

This is a deep cleaning process that will eliminate all the hardened waste with pressurized water.

Based on the design of your RV, you can backwash the tank with the built-in rinser or by a handheld backwasher attaching to a water hose. There are also other systems such as the macerator system and the flush valve.

Keep in mind that till this step, your black tank drain must be connected to the sewer drain to avoid the dirty mess.

Step 4: Final Preparation of the Tank and Toilet

The final step is to prepare the tank and toilet for use until the next cleaning.

  • Lock all the drain pipes to prevent leaking of waste.
  • Fill and flush the toilet 4/5 times to fill the black tank’s bottom. Otherwise, the first waste going inside can get solidified, which can eventually cause clogging.
  • After filling with enough water, treat with an eco-friendly enzyme cleaner, which is basically biological catalysts to breakdown the waste.

I hope this article helped you to get an insight into cleaning your RV black tank. Choose a treatment chemical you prefer for your black tank and try to keep regular maintenance.

How Often You Should Sanitize Your RV Water Tank

So, how often to sanitize RV water tank? Experts recommend on average every six months to sanitizing your RV water tank. However, if you are intermittent when using your RV, you might want to consider a more regular schedule like every 3 months.

Form our own experience we recommend each year when you get your RV out of storage, you should sanitize the freshwater system.

HOW TO Sanitize RV Fresh Water Tank and How Often >> Check out the video below:

Baking Soda In RV Holding Tank

Can you use baking soda in RV holding tank? Yes, baking soda can be used in an RV Holding tank. Baking Soda is a base and it’s used in washing machines to help eliminate odors and boost washing power. So, yes, it will work in your black tank.

Vinegar In RV Black Tank

Can you use vinegar in RV black tank? No, you should not use vinegar in RV black tank, vinegar is an acid. If you are Sanitizing your water system using bleach, and you flush the bleach mixture through the toilet systems and into the Black tank the resulting reaction can generate Chlorine gas which is toxic.

Baking Soda and Vinegar In The Black Water Tank

Can you use baking soda and vinegar in the black water tank or septic tank? No, you should not use baking soda and vinegar in a black water tank or septic tank together. Vinegar is an acid. Baking soda is a base, so, both components cancel each other out. Human solid waste is very greasy and needs soap to get it in suspension so it can be flushed out.

Homemade RV Black Water Tank Cleaner

Homemade RV black water tank cleaner. Easily get rid of black tank smells in your RV >> Check out the video below:

Best RV Black Tank Flush System

Which one is the best RV black tank flush system out there. Comparing Tank Flushers in the Clear RV Black Tank. Which one will remove the most waste from your RV’s holding tank? >> Check out the video below:

Recommended Reading

For more helpful articles about RVs please check out our articles below:

Is Charmin Toilet Paper safe for RV? – What You Need To Know

Setting Up a Travel Trailer to Live In: 20 Essential Steps

This Is Why Your RV Toilet Foot Pedal is Leaking – [How to Repair]

Where to Properly Dump Portable Toilet Waste?

Do RV Toilets Have Wax Rings? Here Are The Facts

Jessica Gilmour

Jessica is co-founder of RV and Playa and loves sharing her enthusiasm for the Beach- and RVing lifestyle. As a full-time RVer since December 2017, Jessica playful writing style helps make learning about RV a bit more interesting. Nothing is as freeing as being on the beach (Playa), lacing your feet with the sand, having the water lap your legs and becoming one with nature.

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