Keeping up with RV maintenance and cleaning is just part of RV life! One aspect that is necessary but not very glamorous is emptying and cleaning the black and grey water tanks. This can seem like a complex problem but many products and solutions can help make this a lot easier.
One common remedy involves the use of Dawn dish soap in RV black tanks. It is a detergent and grease cutter that will not harm your tanks and is eco-friendly and biodegradable. It is not corrosive and will not damage your plumbing. It has no phosphates so is a green product that is considered environmentally friendly.
Whether it’s a store-bought cleaner or a homemade recipe, there are numerous ways to clean your black tanks and keep them functional. Below, I’ll explore some of the uses and benefits of Dawn dish soap as well as proper cleaning tank procedures, and some other effective cleaners to consider.
Why use Dawn dish soap in RV black tanks?
Dawn dish soap is one of the most popular household cleaners and its uses are nearly limitless. Obviously, it can be used to clean dishes (it’s right in the name) but this soap can also be used as a pest remover, drain cleaner, stain remover, or just as an easy way to make a bubble mixture for kids.
It’s important to properly clean your RV water tanks so you’ll want to make sure that Dawn is a good choice before you start using it. Many people have incorporated it into their maintenance routines and some of the benefits are listed below:
- Eco-friendly: One of the best parts about using Dawn dish soap in RV black tanks is that it’s an environment-friendly soap. It doesn’t contain phosphates and can be broken down by bacteria. This means that it’s a safe and biodegradable soap to use even if you’re cleaning/dumping your tank in a strict or natural environment.
- Cheap: Another great bonus is that Dawn dish soap is quite affordable! If you use high-end cleaners that are specifically engineered for tank cleaning, that price can add up fast. On the other hand, Dawn is cheap and it won’t make a dent in your wallet. In addition, you only need to use ¼ to ⅓ cups of Dawn dish soap at a time so the average large bottle will last you for multiple months.
- Non-corrosive: Dawn is also a gentle and non-corrosive soap. It’s effective at breaking down grease, eliminating odors, and softening blockages but it won’t eat into the material of your tank. Other effective cleaners exist (such as bleach) but they can be harmful to your tank and the surrounding pieces. You can use Dawn with peace of mind and won’t have to worry about the long-term effects it will have on the integrity of your plumbing system.
- Easy to buy in bulk: Finally, Dawn is widely available in stores and online and easy to buy in large quantities. If you clean out your tank regularly you may just want to get a large container and work your way through it. If this is the case, Dawn is a fantastic option. You can find it at pretty much any grocery store and might even be able to find it in gas stations or small mini-marts along your journey. Loading up in large quantities is easy and affordable.
How to clean an RV black tank
Now we know that you can use Dawn dish soap in RV black tanks but that knowledge won’t do you any good unless you follow proper tank-cleaning procedures. It’s important to do a deep clean of your tanks at least twice a year but you’ll probably want to do it even more frequently than that if you live in the RV full-time.
Your black and grey water tanks should be dumped frequently so that odors and blockages don’t become a problem. Generally, the rule of thumb is that it’s time to empty them once they are about 2/3 full.
Many of us just don’t like to think about it until we have to but cleaning out RV tanks is quite simple. Here’s what you need to do:
Use disposable plastic gloves to wear when performing the deed. You’ll eliminate any chance of spreading bacteria if you toss the gloves before going into your RV.
Drain the tanks by connecting the sewer hose and emptying the contents into an approved dumping site. Drain the black tank first. Always! Once drained, close the black tank valve. Then open the gray water valve to empty it. The reason for this is to clean the hose attached to your wastewater tanks. The residue will go into the septic system at the campground.
Clean out buildup by using a tank rinser, flush valve, or macerator. This will help prevent blockages in the future. When finished, close both black and gray waste tank valves.
Add 4-5 quarts of fresh water to the tanks to provide a good base for future use. The system needs a certain amount of water to operate so never leave it completely dry. Finally add ¼ to ⅓ cup of Dawn dish soap to your tanks and you’re ready to go.
Other cleaners for RV black tanks
Using Dawn dish soap in RV black tanks is certainly an effective method but it’s not your only choice. There are numerous other tank treatments that have been used over the years and some of them might work better for you depending on your preference and the availability of certain products in your area.
While you can always use store-bought water treatments there are a number of homemade tank cleaners you can try as well. Some of the most popular ones include:
- Citric acid: This is a mild, naturally occurring acid that can break down build-ups and improve the smell of your holding tanks. It can be combined with Borax, water, and baking soda to strengthen its cleaning ability.
- Fabric softener: Fabric softener is another good way to break down buildups in your tank and improve the smell. This is a mild and pleasant cleaner that has proven to be effective.
- Yeast: Believe it or not, kitchen yeast is a good RV tank cleaner too. Yeast is an active culture that feeds off the bacteria and waste in a tank. It might take a few days to become effective so some people combine it with hydrogen peroxide to make it stronger.
- Water and more water: Surprisingly enough, some people get by just fine without using any kind of special add-in. As long as you use plenty of water to flush out your tanks, you may not need to add a chemical cleaner. However, if you’re having problems with blockages and smells, one of the previous options can be helpful.
- The Best RV Toilet Paper
- The 10 Essentials Every RV Owner Should Buy Before Their First Road Trip
- Sewer Tank Woes
- Maintain Your RV: What You Absolutely Need To Know To Avoid Disasters on the Road
Learn from yesterday, live for today, look to tomorrow, rest this afternoon.
—Charlie Brown, from Peanuts