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How To Get Rid of RV Holding Tank Odor

Tired of your RV holding tank emitting an odor? We’re here to help you fix it! Check out the blog below for a rundown of what causes the odor and how you can get rid of it.

How To Get Rid of RV Holding Tank Odor

RV holding tanks are an essential part of any recreational vehicle or motorhome. These tanks are responsible for holding and storing the vehicle's occupants' waste, including black water and gray water. Holding tanks allow RV users to enjoy the convenience of modern plumbing and sanitation while on the road or at a campsite without the need for a traditional sewer connection.

However, one issue that RV owners often encounter is the unpleasant odor that can arise from their holding tanks. If these tanks are not properly maintained, they can emit a foul odor that can make the RV living experience unpleasant. Read on to find out the causes of RV holding tank odor and tips for preventing and eliminating it.

Why Does Your RV Holding Tank Smell Bad?

Why does your RV holding tank smell bad?

RV holding tanks can emit a foul odor for several reasons. The most common cause is a buildup of waste inside the tank. When waste is allowed to accumulate, it can start to decompose and produce foul-smelling gases. That is why it is important to clear your tanks regularly. Proper ventilation is also essential for maintaining a fresh-smelling RV. Without adequate ventilation, odors from the holding tanks can permeate the entire RV.

Staying on top of your RV’s maintenance is incredibly important. If there are leaks or blockages in the plumbing, then the tank system will not function properly, leading to odors escaping from the tanks. Be sure to also use the right chemicals to treat your RV’s holding tanks. Using the wrong chemicals can damage the RV holding tank and lead to worse odors.

Tips to Get Rid of RV Holding Tank Odor

Tips to get rid of RV holding tank odor Keeping your RV holding tank clean

1. Just add water

To prevent drying out, holding tanks require water to mix with the waste. This water most commonly comes from liquid waste, sink water, and the shower. However, if the sewer tank line is left open, the liquid dries out, giving rise to odor. Adding water to the holding tank helps to dilute the waste, which can reduce the concentration of odor-causing compounds. Water also helps along decomposition and prevents clogging. This can help to make the odor less noticeable and prevent it from permeating throughout the RV.

2. Clean the tank

The buildup of waste in the holding tank is a primary cause of the unpleasant odor. Cleaning the tank removes the waste and the odor-causing bacteria, leaving the tank fresh and clean. You can also use a cleaning solution that is designed specifically for RV holding tanks that can kill the bacteria and leave the tank smelling fresh. Make sure to clean the tanks thoroughly, especially the sides. If you think the job is too unpleasant for you, you can always hire someone to complete the task!

3. Choose the right toilet paper

RV holding tanks have limited space and are typically emptied infrequently, so it is important to use toilet paper that can break down quickly in the tank. Regular toilet paper is resistant to breaking down quickly in water. When it is used in an RV holding tank, it can accumulate and form a blockage or cause the tank's sensors to malfunction. That is why RV owners should use toilet paper that is specifically designed for use in RVs and is biodegradable. This type of toilet paper is typically labeled as "rapid dissolving" or "septic safe" and is designed to break down quickly in water.

4. Keep the flapper sealed

Flappers provide a tight seal between the toilet bowl and the holding tank. If there is a breake or blockage in the flapper, it can lead to RV tank odor by allowing wastewater and odors to leak from the holding tank back into the RV. That is why you should regularly inspect your flappers for signs of damage or wear. This includes checking for cracks, tears, or other signs of damage, as well as ensuring that the flapper is properly aligned with the toilet bowl and the holding tank.

5. Use chemicals

Chemicals can help reduce RV tank odor by controlling the growth of odor-causing bacteria and breaking down organic matter in the holding tank. There are a variety of chemicals and treatments that are designed to help control RV tank odors. Some of these treatments contain enzymes, which break down organic matter in the holding tank, and other treatments contain biocides, which kill odor-causing bacteria and prevent the tank from developing unpleasant smells. Do read the manufacturer's instructions carefully first to see how often you should use the chemicals and how.

Keeping Your RV Holding Tank Clean

Keeping your RV holding tank clean

If you have got rid of the root of the odor, it is important to maintain the hygiene of your tank so that you don’t see a repeat of the problem. However, remember not to use products and chemicals that are very strong. Abrasive and harsh cleaning substances can easily damage your tank, the toilet bowl, the valves, or the seals. Get good cleaning supplies, empty your tanks regularly, and keep an eye on your plumbing and flushing system to make sure everything is running smoothly. Use this list to get started on your RV holding tank maintenance.


Your RV is your home, and you deserve to feel comfortable and pleasant in your place of rest. That is why eliminating RV holding tank odor is an important aspect of maintaining a clean and livable space in an RV. By following the tips and steps we have covered above, RV owners can help to create a more enjoyable environment in their vehicle, free from unpleasant odors and other sanitation issues.



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