How to Clean Your RV Holding Tanks

The Transwest Team
The Transwest Team
Jun 30, 2017
How to Clean Your RV Holding Tanks

Imagine you go out to your camper to get it ready for your next trip, and as soon as you open that door the green smog comes rolling out and it hits you right in the face. It smells like something scary has been sitting in your toilet since the last time you used it.

First of all, you need to figure out where the smell is coming from. The sewer smell can come from several different places, and once you figure that out it is easier to be able to take care of the problem.


Travel Trailers and Fifth Wheels have P-traps just like our homes, and when they are not being used for a while bacteria will grow if not cleaned out before putting away. From personal experience, this smell was more like rotten eggs.

How to Clean Out Your P-traps:

  1. Find an empty gallon jug and fill it up with water
  2. Mix in a cup of Baking Soda
  3. Pour down all the drains and the smell will be gone 



That smell coming from your toilet is most likely coming from your black tank. The black tank requires a good balance of water, waste, and ventilation. If the waste doesn’t have enough water to help it move freely then is can get stuck to the sides of the tank. This could cause it to not be flushed out when you dump your tanks, and then could build up where you can have a clogged mess on your hands. When you use the toilet let the water run for a few seconds. There are also several different chemicals you can purchase for your black tank to help break down the waste.

The black tank also requires plenty of ventilation through the vent out of the roof of the camper. Going down the road wind could cause the air flow to be pushed back down and the only other way out would be through the toilet. There are vents you can purchase that will use the outside wind to help suck the odor out of your black tank. 



After filling up your fresh water tanks, have you ever had a terrible smell or taste coming from the sink or shower? The best way to get rid of this is by cleaning and sanitizing your tank.

  1. Fill your fresh water tank up 3/4 full
  2. Mix 1 cup bleach with 1 gallon of water
  3. Pour Bleach/Water mixture into the fresh water tank
  4. Fill fresh water tank full with water
  5. Turn the water pump on
  6. Open all faucets until you smell the bleach
  7. Drive camper around if possible to let water move around the tank
  8. Let the water sit overnight
  9. Drain the water out of the entire system
  10.   Refill with fresh water only
  11.   Open all faucets again until you don’t smell bleach anymore
  12.   Repeat steps 9-11 if necessary to get rid of all the bleach

In the end, always remember to keep your tanks clean and free of debris. Travel Trailers, Fifth Wheels and RV’s are more often than not sitting in storage waiting for the next camping trip. Water and waste left in the tanks will become a bacteria breeding ground if not emptied after every trip. 

Happy Travels!

Want to know what types of chemicals are out there for your Travel Trailer? Contact the parts department at Transwest Truck Trailer RV, and they will be happy to help you find the right chemical for the job!

Transwest Truck Trailer RV

Parts & Service Department




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