Ten Ways to Keep Your RV Clean and Tidy

Make every camping trip more enjoyable by keeping your RV clean and tidy

Almost everything about camping in an RV is great—except for cleaning it. The dreaded chore can put a damper on the fun. Spring cleaning, prepping before your next trip, and cleaning up when you get home are all important and often unpleasant tasks.

Being on the road often, driving, and parking in the dirt and traveling through various weather conditions all put your RV through a lot. The cleaner you keep your RV, the easier it will be to avoid the normal wear and tear from traveling throughout the year. (You should aim to wash the exterior of your RV at least once a quarter, if not more depending on how often you travel and where you go.) 

An RV seems like a lot of work to clean but doing little things frequently will make it seem like less of a daunting task and help you take pride in your ride.  

Here are 10 tips that can help to take the hassle out of cleaning your RV.

1. Read the instruction manual

Your RV’s instruction manual is a treasure-trove of information that can give you tips and tricks for cleaning your RV’s exterior and interior. This includes what type of cleaners you should and shouldn’t use and any specialized care instructions. For further information, try your RV manufacturer’s website for extra tips on cleaning and making your RV sparkle. Failure to read the instruction manual could lead to damage to your RV’s surfaces and finishes. 

2. Ditch the brand-name products

Most RV materials aren’t any different from other vehicle or living material types. It’s easy to want to purchase a brand-name cleaner or solution that’s made exclusively for RVs but the truth is many common and generic household cleaners work perfectly well to keep your RV sparkling, including dish soap, window cleaner, even distilled white vinegar. Those fancy products at the RV superstore are appealing but they’re typically more expensive. 

Dawn Dish Soap © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Spring cleaning

Make sure to have a clean start for your camping season. A deep clean each spring makes your entire summer of camping so much better.

Give the exterior of your RV a thorough cleaning and waxing.

Don’t forget to wash the awning, too. It is easy to forget about this important accessory because it is usually folded in when you are at home doing maintenance and cleaning on your RV.

Clean your RV’s tank sensors to keep them working all season long. Use a cleaning wand to blast the gunk out of your black tank. You can also soak your black and grey water tanks by adding a cup of Dawn dishwashing detergent to a tank that is ½ full of water and then driving around to agitate. There are also commercially available enzymatic tank cleaners that help to remove a dirty tank.

By the way, I have a series of posts on spring cleaning:

4. Clean out the storage area

Your RV’s storage areas can hide nasty messes and smells. It can also host mold, mildew, and other nasty critters. Clean out your RV’s storage areas, including external storage, often to avoid build-up of any dust or the accumulation of dirt and debris. Always check the nooks and crannies of your RV’s storage areas to make sure nothing is left behind that can turn to stink. 

Dump the black and then the gray water tank © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Dump those tanks

Your gray and black water tanks can be the source of many nasty odors and while tanks don’t directly affect your RV’s appearance, a poorly maintained tank will bother you while hanging inside and outside your ride. Dump and flush your tanks as necessary to keep your whole ride refreshed. Keep a supply of disposable vinyl gloves, a hose, a bucket, and other necessary items stored away exclusively for dumping and cleaning your tanks. 

Here are some helpful resources:

Reduce moisture with dehumidifiers © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Prevent mold and mildew

Mold and mildew are major enemies of RVs and since they thrive in moisture reduce moisture within your RV. This includes running yo ur air conditioning in humid environments, opening windows and doors when possible, and buying moisture-absorbing packets for closets and storage areas. If you have an item that reeks of mildew, avoid detergent as it can feed the critters. Wash mildew-smelling clothing in a washer with a couple of cups of distilled white vinegar to kill off the bugs and leave your clothes smelling fresh. 

Be sure to read How to Reduce Moisture and Condensation in Your RV.

Take good care of your tires © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Give your tires some shine

Over time, your RV tires start to fade and wear out as they are increasingly exposed to the elements and road debris. Tires withstand a lot of abuse and can sustain scuff marks and small cracks which ages them and frankly makes your vehicle less attractive overall.

Use a product that’s specially designed to spiff up your tires. The best tire shine brands not only clean your tires but also produce a nice, glossy look. When used as a regular part of your maintenance routine, tire shine not only makes your tires look better, it can also protect them from UV rays and other damage. 

There is quite literally more tire dressing products on the market than you can count. Recommended products include Meguiar’s Ultimate Insane Shine Tire Coating, Chemical Guys Galactic Black Wet Look Tire Shine Dressing, and 303 Aerospace Protectant.

Here are some articles to help:

8. Don’t forget the roof

The roof of your RV is one of the most important parts to maintain to avoid interior leaks and other issues. Many modern RV roofs are constructed from membrane roofing, but you still see plenty of metal roofs on the road. If yours is metal, you can wash like you would your RV’s exterior, but if your RV is made of modern membrane roofing, it’s recommended to use specialized cleaner found at RV and camping stores. A twice-yearly cleaning of a membrane roof is usually enough to keep it in good shape. Take this time to inspect the roof for any tears, cracks, rips, or other damage. 

Start with a clean RV

9. Before you head out

Starting out each trip with a clean RV makes the entire trip much more enjoyable.

Clean all of the surfaces of the interior. Use a mild cleaning solution like a mixture of vinegar and water to wipe down every surface, wash walls, and clean all the nooks and crannies.

Clean camping toys in the dishwasher with about a cup and a half of vinegar.

Make sure the sponges in your RV are free of bacteria by microwaving damp sponges for one to two minutes.

10. When you return home

Take a few minutes when you get home to do a quick tidy up so your next trip is that much easier.

Check everywhere for dirty laundry or stray dishes. Move cushions and open cupboards to make sure nothing gets left in the RV between trips.

A quick wet mop on the flooring cleans up all of the dirt that is bound to accumulate during a camping trip.

Clean the toilet with a gentle, natural cleaner so it doesn’t break down the seals around the toilet and cause a leak.

Throw all bedding in your home laundry so it is ready to go when you are.

Keeping your RV clean doesn’t have to be a huge chore. When everyone pitches in, it shouldn’t take too long to get your rig back up to scratch.

Worth Pondering…

Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing up is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.

—Phyllis Diller

How to Unclog an RV Shower Drain

If the drains in your RV have started to plug up or smell bad, there are lots of options available to you

RVs with showers are great! You can stay clean and fresh no matter where you’re camped. However, every drain in an RV can become clogged under the wrong circumstances. That’s why every RVer needs to know how to unclog an RV shower drain.

Heading into your RV after a long day of hiking and being able to take a nice, hot shower is a blissful moment for every RV owner. However, if your feet start slowly becoming submerged in the water and the tub is filling up, it could mean your RV shower drain is clogged. This can happen for a variety of reasons so let’s dig in and learn how to unclog an RV shower drain.

Sewer system © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why is the shower not draining in my RV?

There are several reasons why the shower in your RV isn’t draining and as soon as you find the culprit, you’ll be able to choose the appropriate unclogging method. 

When you’re dealing with a shower drain clog, the culprit is probably a mixture of hair, soap scum, and any other dirt/sand/debris that accumulates due to a life on the road. If you’re lucky, the drain will be able to stay clear on its own and will only need to be cleaned occasionally.

However, once the water starts rising and refuses to drain quickly, it’s time to prepare for some drain cleaning. There are several different tactics you can use to tackle this problem.

The first step would be to remove the drain cover if possible (some are held in with a screw or two… others are just pressure-fit into the opening). With it removed, you should be able to see if there’s hair and/or soap scum buildup blocking the flow of water and remove it manually. It’s also easier to use tools or pour things down when there is a clear opening.

Dawn dish soap © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Ways to unclog an RV shower drain?

Unclogging an RV shower drain may seem daunting if it’s not something you’ve done before. It’s a pretty easy job to complete though and even water alone can help solve the problem so you don’t need to worry about making a big dent in your bank account.

1. Hot water

Hot water can be useful to get rid of a blockage in an RV shower drain by helping dissolve the build-up of soap scum and allowing it to flush down through the pipes and into the gray water tank. Sometimes it just needs to be loosened up. You might need to repeat this process a few times if you have a substantially large blockage.

It’s best to avoid using boiling water as pouring high-temperature water down into your system can cause damage to pipes and seals. Heat at least 1 gallon of water, more if necessary. If it comes to a boil, let it cool for a few minutes before going ahead and pouring it into the drain.

2. Vinegar and Baking Soda 

A popular method of unclogging an RV shower drain is to use a mixture of white vinegar and baking soda. Not only is this a low-cost method but also avoids putting any harsh chemicals down your drain that could damage the pipes and maybe even the holding tank itself.

Sprinkle ½ cup of baking soda down the drain and follow it up with ½ cup of white vinegar. Let this combo sit for at least 1 hour, then pour hot water down the drain to rinse everything down.

3. Dawn Dish Soap

If water alone can’t fix the issue, you can also add a gentle soap to it. Dawn dish soap and laundry detergent are great additives that can cut through grease and soften up clogs. Add ½ cup of Dawn to a gallon of hot water and pour it down the drain.

Water filter © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Ice

An old-school method to help unclog a blocked shower drain is to use ice. If you have a particularly big blockage this method may not work but it may be worth a try. 

To use this method, pour ice down the clogged drain (pebble ice is best for this purpose) then drive the RV around for a bit to build up friction. This friction supposedly breaks up the clog and melts the ice, prompting everything to move into the holding tank. Other tactics are more reliable but you can give this method a try if you have ice on hand.

5. Chemical drain cleaners

You may need to use a chemical drain cleaner to unclog an RV shower drain. They can be used in your kitchen or bathroom sinks as well. No matter what kind of blockage you’re dealing with a good drain cleaner can help. There are numerous options available but I will describe two of the best.

Water system © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Drainbo All-Natural Drain Treatment and Cleaner

If you’d prefer a quicker and simpler solution, you can always turn to the wide lineup of Drainbo products. Each of their products is designed to be a gentle and effective RV drain cleaner.

Their cleaners are advertised as all-natural and RV owners have been happily using them for years. This brand also holds the honor of being the only drain cleaner that the Natural Products Association has labeled as safe and all-natural. If this is a priority for you, make sure you explore Drainbo as a possible new cleaner.

Green Gobbler Enzyme Drain & Greese Trap Cleaner

This enzyme-based cleaner from Green Gobbler is another fantastic RV drain cleaner. RV plumbing systems rely on a healthy batch of bacteria to break down waste in the holding tanks. Because of this system, you don’t want to completely kill everything with harsh soaps.

An enzyme cleaner is a perfect solution because it breaks through grime and bad smells but allows the natural processes to continue. This product from Green Gobbler is especially good at cutting through grease and food waste so it can be ideal for treating kitchen sinks.

Some of these will work quickly while others need to sit for a while. Make sure to read the specific directions for each product so you use the appropriate amount for the problem.

Pro tip: DO NOT use harsh cleaners like bleach or Drano—they will do more harm than good

Water system © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Closing Thoughts

You can also prevent clogs from forming (or at least slow the process) by regularly cleaning your shower and drain. Soap scum is another culprit of this problem, so keeping the shower nice and clean will reduce the amount of soap residue that’s left behind.

You can also pour a bit of cleaner down the drain every few weeks as a preventative measure. Some chemical cleaners won’t work against serious clogs but using a bit at a time can help keep the plumbing clear. This is also a simple fix that doesn’t require much effort!

Being aware of how to unclog an RV shower drain can prove useful time and time again as clogs are relatively common in RVs. It’s also worth knowing how to prevent clogs from happening in the first place so you can avoid the rather stinky job of reaching down your pipe to remove hair, debris, and soap scum from the pipes!

For large clogs that have developed over a substantial amount of time, you may need to repeat an unclogging method a few times, or even try a different method to remove the clog. My biggest piece of advice would be to take it slow, and do the job well so you won’t have to repeat it again anytime soon.

>> DIG DEEPER

Worth Pondering…

Remember, don’t sweat the small stuff. Life’s too short, and the older I get, the shorter it gets. So, just enjoy your life, do the best you can, live according to the Golden Rule and LIVE, LOVE & LAUGH. Have a GREAT day!

How to Find and Best Practices for Using RV Dump Stations

This is an answer to one of the most common questions that campers ask: How can I find RV dump stations near me?

Despite the RV life being one filled with freedom and excitement, it still comes with a few little changes of lifestyle that many newcomers have a hard time adjusting to.

One major issue that newcomers to the RV lifestyle find is the issue of waste. Yup, you got it! I’m talking about that waste. As in, the human kind!

Unfortunately, though it might be a great fertilizer you can’t dump your RV waste wherever you may want. It’s not as simple as pulling over along the side of the road and unloading. No, you have to find a dump station in order to make the unloading of your waste as safe, clean, and environmentally friendly as possible.

I will tell you how to find dump stations and offer helpful tips for dumping.

RV Dump Station © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What Are Dump Stations?

RV Dump Stations are facilities that are designated for dumping RV waste both black and grey tanks. RV owners can get a fresh start on their waste and dirty water storage throughout their road trips and weekend camping trips. However, dump stations aren’t exactly available on every block. Sometimes you must go out of your way to find one when your tanks get full.

Even though RV Dump Stations aren’t packing every street corner, they are still located all over the U.S. and Canada. With a little bit of proper planning, you won’t have to concern yourself too much.

In the same way that we plan our stops for overnight camping, sightseeing, and events, dump stations are another thing that we need to schedule.

RV Dump Station connection © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tips for finding RV Dump Stations

Finding RV Dump Stations is easier now than it ever has been. You can imagine what it was like back before the age of the Internet! Today, we can find dump stations rather easily through various online sources and even through simple Google searches.

Search engines make finding dump stations rather easy. However, there can be issues with the accuracy of the information. Sometimes open/closing times and prices will be a bit different than they are in reality. Use Google with a bit of caution!

Boondockers have more of a challenge in finding RV Dump Stations and if off-the-grid camping is your choice, you’ll need to work your trips around them to some extent. The more experience you get with your RV trip planning, the smoother the experience will be. It just takes a bit of practice to get the hang of incorporating dump stations into your trip planning as smoothly as possible.

RV sewer system © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Use apps and websites to find Dump Stations

Most campgrounds and RV parks have RV Dump Stations but they can often have long lines or the timing just doesn’t work out for you to use them when you need to. And there is a chance your campground won’t have one.

The following online resources will help you between stops. As for boondockers, the following will help you find dump stations wherever you camp.

Sanidumps.com

This site has been around for more than 17 years and claims to provide the most comprehensive listings of RV Dump Stations online. They list private, public, RV park, non-park, municipal, truck stop, rest stop, campground, camping, resort, commercial, pay, donation, and free RV Dump Stations worldwide including the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. You search by Zip or Postal code.

Rvdumps.com

This site is only for U.S. RV Dump Stations. They primarily focus on locations other than RV parks and campgrounds—places like rest areas, truck stops, gas stations, and others. This site may be easier to use because you can search by state, city, or map. The map feature lets you find your location and then visually see what is closest. The map feature also shows Interstate rest areas with dump stations are only shown on the dump stations map.

Allstays RV Dump

RV Dumps checks your location and displays up to 150 points on a map view. You can filter by type to see only what you want to see on the map and zoom out. You can also use the offline manual lookup to find locations by type, state, and city even when you have no phone service.

AllStays is a travel-focused company that provides a range of resources for RVers, campers, and truckers. One resource is an app specifically for finding dump stations, called AllStays RV Dump.

You can download that app by itself or AllStays Pro instead. With AllStays Pro, you can find RV Dump Stations and SO MUCH MORE! AllStays Pro is browser based (not an app) but it’s a great resource for RVers. Some RVers rely on it almost exclusively fot their RV travels.

Sanitize with Lysol © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Campendium

This is a popular website listing campgrounds and you can use it to find dump stations, too. First, search by state, then select “view map.” The map search feature then has a “Quick Links” tab near the bottom of the page where you can select “Dump Stations.” Dump stations will then populate on the map.

It’s worth noting that Campendium (and all its great features) has been bundled with a few other great RV resources into one great app called Roadpass Pro.

Roadpass Pro INCLUDES:

  • Access to all 14,000+ free boondocking locations in the OvernightRVParking.com app
  • RV GPS navigation that considers weight limits, low overhead clearances, grades of terrain, and propane restrictions to give you turn-by-turn directions specific to your RV
  • Roadtrippers Plus, where you can plan trips with up to 150 stops, collaborate with friends on route planning, and get real-time traffic along your route.
  • Full access to Campendium’s premium features, including viewing cell coverage maps, public land map overlays, and trail maps

RVshare.com

This RV Rental site also has a section that allows you to search for nearby RV Dump Stations. Find the state you are in and then scroll the cities for dump stations nearby. It’s a straightforward, browser-based resource that helps you easily find what you’re looking for.

Use disposable vinyl when dumping black and grey tanks © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tips for using RV dump stations

A very important thing to remember is that RV Dump Stations are a shared space where all RVers go to empty out their waste and tanks. That means that we should treat them with respect and care.

We are all guests at these sites and leaving the dump station cleaner than we found them is ALWAYS common courtesy.

The sad truth is that many RV dump stations have had to shut down due to excessive waste spillage and improper care by users. With this in mind, always take the time to clean up after yourself and keep your waste where it is supposed to be—in the septic tank underground and not above ground all over the place!

Sewerage system including black tank flush © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pre-preparation

Have the right tools ready and available:

  • Disposable vinyl gloves for handling the sewer hose
  • Clear sewer adapter to know if your tanks have finished emptying
  • Sewer, recommend 30 feet available
  • Coupler 90 bayonet fitting or 45 degree or straight
  • Hand sanitizer for clean up afterwards

Dump station practices and courtesies to keep in mind are:

  • Keep a pair of disposable vinyl gloves stored in the compartment that you store the tank hose. This will help you keep your hands clean as you work.
  • Keep a slope between the hose and sewer to make sure everything empties out of your tank.
  • Dump the black-water tank before the gray-water tank so the soapy water from the gray tank can clean the residue from the hose.

Also, remember to use the water hose provided at most dump stations to clean up the area and any potential spillage that may occur during your dumping process.

And as many dump stations also offer drinking water, be sure to choose the right connection if you are planning to top off your freshwater tanks. There are usually two hoses available. The one near the actual hole in the ground is usually marked as non-potable water. It’s just for washing down any spills.

The freshwater or potable hose is usually located at the far end of the dump station.

Make sure you have an airtight connection with the RV Dump Station Hole. Smaller hoses should use a small black donut that fits over the end of the hose coming from the RV.

Leave the dump station area cleaner than you found it.

Plan Ahead!

Dawn Dish Soap acts as a detergent in the black water tank © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Waste is something that all RV owners have to deal with. It may be a bit of a hassle but the freedom of the open road does come with a few obstacles that need to be overcome along the way. That is why RV dump stations are both a godsend and a hurdle that must be worked around at the same time.

The best practice when it comes to RV dump stations is to always plan ahead of time. You never want to be caught off-guard with a full black tank and nowhere to let it out safely and legally. That is why you should always keep an eye on your online resources for where the best dump stations are for you and your route.

With proper planning, you shouldn’t have to go too far out of your way to get to an RV dump station. Once you have a good understanding of where the dump stations on your route are, you can hit the road with a clear and calm head. You don’t have to worry that your, uh… Delicate matters will come back to haunt you in the middle of a trip.

On the same topic, you should also check out:

Worth Pondering…

Paper on which there are quotations or commentaries from the Five Classics or the names of sages, I dare not use for toilet purposes.

—Yan Zhitui (531–591)

How to Keep Your RV Drains Clean, Fresh, and Functioning Properly

What is the best RV drain cleaner?

Generally speaking, all aspects of your RV were designed to work properly as long as you follow a few basic maintenance steps. Unfortunately, over time, it’s easy to become complacent and allow those steps to fall by the wayside. This is how easily-avoided problems can become a day-long trouble-shooting adventure.

Like all plumbing systems, RV drains need some care and attention. When the shower starts to drain slowly or the kitchen sink takes on a weird smell, it’s time to find the best RV drain cleaner.

Keeping your RV drains clean © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV drains can be cleaned with a mix of vinegar and baking soda which is then washed down with boiling water. RV owners can also use enzyme cleaning fluids from brands such as Drainbo or Green Gobbler. Many household drain cleaners won’t work well in an RV. Avoid using caustic drain cleaners like regular Drano as they may damage the rubber seals on the dump valves or even the holding tanks themselves.

If the drains in your RV have started to plug up or smell bad, there are numerous options available to you. I’ll explore a few good drain cleaners below as well as some tips for how to prevent clogs in the future.

Keeping your RV drains clean © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Complications of RV drains

First of all, it’s important to understand why RV drains are different from the ones in a regular house or apartment. It might be tempting to just grab your go-to drain cleaner and get to work but this could cause more harm than good.

Home drains and RV drains function in different ways and have different requirements. For one thing, the pipes in RVs are smaller. They need to be more compact and light so they can easily fit into a limited amount of space. However, this makes it easier for debris and bacteria to build up inside. They also can’t handle the same level of pressure as household drains which limits your cleaning options somewhat.

Most RVs also don’t have a built-in garbage disposal which means that it’s much easier for chunks of food to get caught in the system. Finally, RV water goes into a series of holding tanks once it has been used. These are often regulated by helpful bacteria so you can’t use a cleaner that is too harsh. Because of this delicate balance, enzyme cleaners and natural soaps are usually your best bet.

Keeping your RV drains clean © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV drain cleaners

As mentioned above, there are a few different solutions that can be used to clean your drains. The best ones are fairly gentle and won’t kill helpful bacteria in the plumbing system. Obviously, you’ll want to find something that can cut through the grime, remove blockages, and get rid of bad odors. Each of the options below will work well and you just might find your personal favorite RV drain cleaner on the list.

Keeping your RV drains clean © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Vinegar and baking soda

No list of cleaning solutions would be complete without a shout-out to vinegar and baking soda. This miraculous duo can be used to clean almost anything so you should definitely have some on-hand.

If your drains smell bad or you just want to give them a bit of TLC pull out some vinegar and baking soda. Sprinkle about ½ cup of baking soda down your drain and then add ½ cup vinegar. This will need a bit of time to sit and fizz so cover the drain and leave it alone for at least 1 hour. Boil 1 gallon of water in the meantime.

After the time is up uncover the drain and pour in the boiling water. This will wash away the cleaning mixture as well as anything it was able to pull up from the sides of the drain.

Keeping your RV drains clean © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Drainbo Drain Treatment and Cleaner

If you’d prefer a quicker and simpler solution, you can always turn to the wide lineup of Drainbo products. Each of their products is designed to be a gentle and effective RV drain cleaner.

Their cleaners are advertised as all-natural and RV owners have been happily using them for years. This brand also holds the honor of being the only drain cleaner that the Natural Products Association has labeled as safe and all-natural. If this is a priority for you, make sure you explore Drainbo as a possible new cleaner.

Keeping your RV drains clean © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Green Gobbler Enzyme Drain Cleaner

This enzyme-based cleaner from Green Gobbler is another fantastic RV drain cleaner. As mentioned above, RV plumbing systems rely on a healthy batch of bacteria to break down waste in the holding tanks. Because of this system, you don’t want to completely kill everything with harsh soaps.

An enzyme cleaner is a perfect solution because it breaks through grime and bad smells but allows the natural processes to continue. This product from Green Gobbler is especially good at cutting through grease and food waste, so it can be ideal for treating kitchen sinks.

Keeping your RV drains clean © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How to treat drain clogs

Cleaning your RV drains is all well and good but sometimes there are bigger issues that can’t be solved with a simple liquid fix. Drains can be sources of mold, fungus, and harmful bacteria growth. If they get clogged they can also become health hazards. Plus, it’s just not fun to deal with a backed-up drain.

Luckily, even physical clogs can be broken up with a drain snake then cleaned with one of the products above.

Keeping your RV drains clean © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How to prevent drain clogs

The key is preventing these issues from developing in the first place. You can prevent buildups (or at least reduce their severity) by carefully monitoring your drains and doing all that you can to prevent foreign objects from getting stuck. This might include wiping off plates over the garbage before washing them and/or using drain covers in the shower. Hair and food are major causes of clogs, so taking preventative measures like these can be very helpful.

To keep your plumbing system in good condition it’s also a good idea to clean your RV drains after every long trip. Staying ahead of the problem will give you peace of mind in the future.

Keeping your RV drains clean © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Keeping RV drains clean

The steps for keeping your RV drains flowing freely are quite simple:

  • Don’t dump grease or oils down your RV drains
  • Using Dawn Dish Detergent helps prevent grease and oil from building up in the drains and causing clogs
  • Treating all the drains monthly with your enzyme-based drain opener will also help keep the drains in tip-top shape

>> DIG DEEPER

Worth Pondering…

Learn from yesterday, live for today, look to tomorrow, rest this afternoon.

—Charlie Brown, from Peanuts

17 Ways to Use Dawn Dish Soap…beyond Cleaning the Dishes

Dawn does the dishes and a lot more

Dawn dish soap isn’t just for washing your dishes. It’s a much more versatile product than you might realize. The uses for Dawn soap span far and wide and will blow your mind. Check them out!

In the last few years we’ve become dedicated Dawn dish soap devotees. We’ve put it to the test time and again and it always comes out on top. Not only does it cut through the grease and clean dishes better than anything else we’ve tried but it turns out this hard-working soap is also good for so much more than washing dishes.

If you have a bottle on hand, you’ve got a versatile cleaning tool you can use throughout the RV. Here are 17 uses for Dawn that proves it’s a cleaning superstar.

Dawn dish soap © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Remove grease stains from clothes

Oily cooking splatters on your clothes—just squirt on a little Dawn, rub it in, and let it sit overnight. Launder as usual and the stains will disappear. It works as a pre-treatment for non-greasy food stains too.

Use Dawn to clean stainless steel appliances © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Clean stainless steel appliances

Stainless steel appliances are both beautiful and durable. However, streaks, fingerprint smudges, grease splatters, and water drips all happen, even to the most durable of kitchen materials and cookware. First wipe the appliance with a wet cloth to determine the direction of the grain of the stainless steel (you’ll see faint lines running top to bottom or side to side). Put a few drops of Dawn on a wet rag, lather up, and wipe along the grain to remove sticky fingerprints and stains (wiping along the grain cleans better and prevents scratch marks). Follow with a clean damp cloth to remove residue and a dry cloth for buffing (microfiber works exceptionally well). 

>> Related article: Why and How to Use Dawn Dish Soap in RV Black Tanks?

Use Dawn to degrease cabinets © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Degrease cabinets

Kitchen cabinets are for storing dishes, not grease. Unfortunately, wood cabinets are prone to all sorts of grease, grime, and gunk from simply being in the kitchen. Dawn’s grease-cutting power works just as well on cabinets coated in cooking grease as it does on dishes. Just squirt some on a wet sponge, lather up, and wipe the grime away. Follow with a wet cloth to remove any residue and dry with a clean cloth.

4. Clean the oven

Mix baking soda, water, and a few drops of Dawn to make a paste. Spread the mixture inside the oven and spray with a 1:1 ratio of vinegar and water. Let sit for a few hours or overnight then spray again and scrub or wipe away the grime.

5. Clean grill grates

You don’t need a fancy grill cleaner. Just mix ½ cup baking soda with enough Dawn to make a thick paste. Scrape the big debris off your grill grates then coat them with the mixture and let sit for 30 minutes. Scrub and rinse and they’ll be good as new.

Use Dawn to clean the sewer system © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Clean outdoor furniture

Mix ¼ cup Dawn with one gallon warm water in a bucket and use it to sponge the grime off any kind of outdoor furniture—wood, metal, or plastic. Rinse off and towel dry.

7. Remove stickers and labels

Removing stickers and labels from a bottle can br quite irritating especially due to its adhesive residue. To easily remove this gummy residue spread an ample amount of Dawn dish soap on the sticker and wait for an hour or so. After that, you can peel it off easily.

Use Dawn to clean windows © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Clean windows

Mix 2 cups water, ½ cup distilled white vinegar, and 3 drops of Dawn in a spray bottle. If cleaning outdoor windows you can double or triple the recipe and mix it in a bucket. Spray or sponge on then wipe or rinse off.

>> Related article: 12 Simple RV Maintenance Tips

9. Clean showers

Dawn will cut through the grease from your body just like it does the grease from food! It also cleans soap scum. Just squirt it all over the shower and use a brush to lather and scrub it away. For really tough jobs and hard water stains, combine equal parts Dawn and distilled white vinegar in a bowl or spray bottle. The vinegar dissolves the minerals and the Dawn cuts the grime. 

Use Dawn to clean drains RV tanks © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Clear clogged drains

Pour ¼ cup to ½ cup of Dawn into a clogged sink or toilet. Let it sit for about 15 minutes. For sinks, just run the hot water for a few minutes and the water and soap should get the clog moving.

For toilets…

11. Unclog toilets

Clearing out clogged toilets is a cumbersome task. Try using dawn dish soap. First, heat a pot of water until hot but not boiling. Add the hot water to the toilet bowl then pour ½ cup of dawn into the toilet bowl and leave it to sit for 15-20 minutes before flushing. Repeat if necessary.

>> Related article: The Best RV Toilet Paper

Use Dawn to clean your RV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

12. Carpet stain remover

If you accidentally spill wine, juice, or any other drink on your carpet, dawn dish soap is the remedy that you’re looking for. Mix equal parts of dawn dish soap and warm water and spray it on the area. Use a microfiber cloth or sponge to scrub off the stain and wash the area with lukewarm water. Let it air dry naturally. Don’t scrub the carpet too hard as it can affect the material.

13. Tools cleaner

Tools get dirty—that’s a given! After completing any repair work, clean your dirty tools to prevent them from rusting. For this, make a solution of 1 tsp of dawn dish soap and 2 cups of water into a container. Then, drop your tools in it for 10-15 minutes. After that, scrub them with a brush to remove oil and grime.

Use Dawn to clean your RV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

14. RV wash

Make your home-on-wheels clean and shiny by taking a bucket full of lukewarm water and pour 2-3 tbsp of dawn into it. After stirring it well, clean your RV and tires with this solution using a sponge. Once you’re done, wash it off with water. Works for your toad/tow vehicle too!

15. Clean refrigerator

To clean both interior and exterior of your refrigerator, pour ½ tsp of dawn with ½ cup of lukewarm water into an empty spray bottle. Now, spritz it on the refrigerator surface and scrub it properly with a sponge.

>> Related article: The 10 Essentials Every RV Owner Should Buy Before Their First Road Trip

16. Cleaning the garbage can

Garbage cans harbor numerous germs and bacteria, that’s why it’s essential to clean it often. Pour 3-5 drops of dawn dish soap with ½ cup of lukewarm water into an empty spray bottle. Jiggle it well prior to its every use and then saturate the garbage can with the solution thoroughly. Leave it for 25-30 minutes and rinse it off with water.

Use Dawn to clean the RV holding tanks © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

17. Clean RV tanks

You can use Dawn dish soap to clean RV tanks. It is a detergent and grease cutter that will not harm your tanks and is eco-friendly soap that is safe 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. 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.

Worth Pondering…

Learn from yesterday, live for today, look to tomorrow, rest this afternoon.

—Charlie Brown, from Peanuts

Why and How to Use Dawn Dish Soap in RV Black Tanks?

The benefits of using Dawn dish soap in RV black tanks as well as proper tank cleaning procedures and some other cleaners to consider

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.

Sewer hose connected to dump site © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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.

Sewer hose connected to dump site © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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.
Approved dump site © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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.

RV connections for dumping and flushing tanks © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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.

Approved dump site © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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.

Related articles:

Worth Pondering…

Learn from yesterday, live for today, look to tomorrow, rest this afternoon.

—Charlie Brown, from Peanuts