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RV Toilets: How Do They Work?

Updated: Jul 18, 2023

Explore RV toilets - porcelain, incinerating, macerating & more, pros, cons & cleaning tips for a comfy & hygienic travel bathroom.

How do RV toilets work

RV toilets are an essential component of your mobile home, ensuring a hygienic and convenient bathroom experience while on the road. Understanding the different types of RV toilets available will help you choose the best option for your needs. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the various types of RV toilets, from traditional porcelain models to innovative macerating and incinerator toilets. Additionally, we'll delve into the key parts of an RV toilet to provide a deeper insight into their functioning. So, let's dive into the world of RV toilets and learn how each type works!

Best RV toilets

Types of RV Toilets

Choosing the best RV toilet depends on a number of factors; the first of which is deciding which type of RV toilet are you looking for. Here is a brief overview of the types of RV toilets available in the market.

RV Porcelain Toilets

Discover the classic and widely used porcelain RV toilets, known for their durability, ease of use, and resemblance to residential toilets.


  • Resemble residential toilets, providing familiarity and comfort.

  • Sturdy and durable construction for long-lasting use.

  • Simple and easy-to-use flushing mechanism.


  • Require a standard black water holding tank, which may need frequent dumping.

  • Larger water consumption compared to composting and incinerator toilets.

RV Macerating Toilets

Explore the functionality of RV macerator toilets, which utilize a macerator pump to break down waste for smoother disposal into the holding tank.


  • Efficiently grind waste, making it easier to move through the plumbing system.

  • Smaller particles reduce the risk of clogs and promote smoother tank emptying.

  • Some models can pump waste uphill, increasing flexibility in choosing a toilet location.


  • The macerator pump may require occasional maintenance.

  • Higher power consumption due to the electric pump operation.Incinerator Toilets

  • Learn about the unique incinerator toilets that use high temperatures to burn waste into ash, eliminating the need for a black tank and reducing water consumption.

RV Cassette Toilets

Uncover the convenience of a cassette toilet RV, which features a portable waste cassette that can be easily emptied at designated dumping stations.


  • Portable waste cassette makes waste disposal convenient and easy.

  • Ideal for boondocking and areas without traditional dumping stations.

  • Smaller and lighter than traditional black water tanks.


  • Smaller waste capacity may require more frequent dumping.

  • The cassette needs to be manually emptied, which can be less pleasant compared to standard RV dumping.

RV Incinerator Toilets

Learn about the unique RV incinerating toilets that use high temperatures to burn waste into ash, eliminating the need for a black tank and reducing water consumption.


  • Virtually eliminates the need for black water holding tanks.

  • Reduces water usage significantly.

  • Eco-friendly option that burns waste into ash, reducing environmental impact.


  • High initial cost compared to traditional toilets.

  • Requires a power source to operate the incineration process.

RV Composting Toilets

Delve into eco-friendly composting toilets that utilize natural decomposition processes to turn waste into usable compost material.


  • Environmentally friendly, using natural decomposition to turn waste into compost material.

  • No need for black water holding tanks, reducing tank maintenance.

  • Suitable for remote areas and boondocking, as no external water supply is needed.


  • Regular maintenance required to ensure proper composting and odor control.

  • Some users may find the composting process unfamiliar or more involved than traditional flushing.

Parts of an RV Toilet

Here is a look at the different RV toilet parts:

Flush Pedal or Button: The flush pedal or button activates the flushing mechanism in traditional porcelain RV toilets. In some newer models, an electric button may control the flushing action, especially in macerating and composting toilets.

Water Valve: The water valve regulates the flow of water into the toilet bowl during the flushing process. It allows water to enter the bowl to rinse away waste and maintain cleanliness.

Flapper or Ball Seal: The flapper or ball seal is found at the bottom of the toilet bowl and prevents water from draining out of the bowl when not flushing. When the flush pedal is pressed, the flapper or ball seal lifts, allowing water and waste to exit the bowl and flow into the holding tank.

Holding Tank: The holding tank, typically located directly below the toilet, collects and stores waste until it can be properly disposed of. In macerating and composting toilets, waste may be processed differently, but they still have a container for collecting waste.

Macerator Pump (For Macerating Toilets): Macerating toilets have an electric pump, known as a macerator pump, which grinds waste into smaller particles. This pump allows for easier movement of waste through the plumbing system.

Incinerator Unit (For Incinerator Toilets): Incinerator toilets have a built-in unit that incinerates waste, reducing it to ash. The incinerator unit requires a power source for operation.

Composting Chamber (For Composting Toilets): Composting toilets have a composting chamber where waste is mixed with organic material, such as peat moss or coconut coir. This chamber facilitates the natural decomposition of waste into compost material.

This RV toilet diagram shows you the basic toilet parts for an RV.

RV toilet diagram

How do RV Toilets Work?

Porcelain RV Toilets

Porcelain toilets can be found in various types of RV toilets, including gravity flush and vacuum flush models. The porcelain bowl provides a smooth and durable surface for easy cleaning. In gravity flush toilets, water is released from the tank to create a force that pushes waste into the holding tank, while vacuum flush toilets use suction to remove waste from the bowl.

Incinerating RV Toilet

Incinerating toilets for RV are unique in that they use electricity to incinerate waste into ash. After using the toilet, you activate the incineration cycle, which heats the waste to high temperatures, reducing it to a sterile ash residue.

Macerator RV Toilets

Macerating toilet RV uses a macerating unit or a built-in grinder to break down waste into a fine slurry before flushing it into the holding tank. When you activate the flush mechanism, the macerator grinds the waste, allowing it to pass through smaller hoses to the tank.

Cassette RV Toilets

Cassette toilets have a removable waste-holding cassette located under the toilet bowl. When you flush, the waste is deposited into the cassette. To empty the toilet, you remove the cassette and carry it to a designated dumping station.

Composting RV Toilets

Composting toilets use natural processes to break down waste into compost material. When you use the toilet, solid waste is separated into a separate container, while a mixture of peat moss or coconut coir is added to aid in composting.

Rv composting toilet

How to Clean RV Toilet

Maintaining a clean and odor-free RV toilet is essential for a pleasant and hygienic travel experience. Regular cleaning and proper waste management are crucial to ensure that your RV's bathroom stays fresh and functional. Here are some steps to effectively clean your RV toilet:

**Step 1: Gather Supplies**

- Rubber gloves

- Toilet brush or scrubber

- Mild cleaning solution or specialized RV toilet cleaner

- Vinegar or baking soda (optional for natural cleaning)

- Microfiber cloth or disposable wipes

**Step 2: Empty the Holding Tank**

Before starting the cleaning process, ensure that the holding tank is empty or nearly empty. Properly dispose of the waste at a designated dumping station.

**Step 3: Flush the Toilet**

Press the flush pedal or button to rinse the toilet bowl. Make sure the water valve is working correctly, allowing water to flow freely into the bowl.

**Step 4: Apply Cleaning Solution**

Using an RV-specific toilet cleaner or a mild cleaning solution, apply the cleaner to the inside of the bowl. Pay special attention to any stains or mineral deposits.

**Step 5: Scrub the Bowl**

Using a toilet brush or scrubber, thoroughly scrub the inside of the bowl, ensuring you reach all the nooks and crannies. This will help remove any remaining waste and stains.

**Step 6: Clean Exterior Surfaces**

Wipe down the exterior surfaces of the toilet, including the flush pedal or button and any other accessible parts. Use a microfiber cloth or disposable wipes for this task.

**Step 7: Rinse**

After cleaning, flush the toilet again to rinse away any residue from the cleaning solution.

**Step 8: Deodorize (Optional)**

To keep your RV toilet smelling fresh, consider using natural deodorizing agents such as vinegar or baking soda. Simply pour a small amount into the bowl and allow it to sit for a few minutes before flushing.

**Step 9: Regular Maintenance**

Clean your RV toilet regularly, especially after each trip. Regular maintenance will help prevent stubborn stains and odors from building up over time. When using cleaning solutions or chemicals, always follow the manufacturer's instructions and guidelines. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive tools that could damage the toilet's surfaces.


Understanding the different types of RV toilets and how they work is essential for choosing the right toilet system for your RV. From traditional porcelain models to innovative macerating, incinerator, cassette, and composting toilets, each type offers unique features and benefits. Consider your specific needs, available resources, and environmental preferences when selecting an RV toilet. With this comprehensive guide, you can make an informed decision and enjoy a comfortable and efficient bathroom experience on your RV adventures. Happy travels!



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