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Is This the Most Dreaded Part of Camping?
In the beginning I hated it. I felt like I should dress in an outfit to be handling hazardess materials. In other words, I didn't want to get close to it!
Cleaning out the black sewer tank is clearly the least favorable part of camping with a small travel trailer or RV for most people! It's certainly not difficult, but I don't think anyone looks forward to it. Unfortunately, I can't tell you that we've found a way to make it fun, but we do have two items we use that I wouldn't want to give up.
Getting the sewer tank cleanWe use the inexpensive tool shown above. It's called a Toilet Master Blaster. (Although it really should be called a Sewer Tank Blaster.) You insert it through the neck of the toilet, into the black water tank below and hose out the tank. It really works well for us. With Fay on the inside and me on the outside, here's the procedure we follow:
- First, Fay fill's the tank with water by stepping on the toilet flush valve. Then, when the tank is about full (she uses a flashlight through the toilet to know), I open the valve on the outside to drain it. We usually do this twice.
- Next, I turn off the water to the trailer. I attach the Master Blaster to a hose outside and pass it through the bath window to Fay. She steps on the toilet flusher then inserts it through the toilet down into the tank. She turns on the water (it has a valve on the handle) and starts hosing down the inside of the tank. After a few minutes, I open the drain valve again. We repeat this process until the water coming out is clear.
- If this is our final cleanout before heading home and we don't plan on going camping again anytime soon, we'll usually fill the tank with water one more time and drain it.
- Our final step is to put some of the sewer chemical in the tank through the toilet, and add about an inch of water to the bottom of the tank
So how do you know when the water is clear?
This is the other great product we use that makes the job a bit easier. It's called a Dual Flush Pro and it serves several purposes...
- First off, it's clear and you can see the water draining. As a result, it's real obvious watching it when you've got the tank clean.
- You attach a hose to it. It has a valve that lets you either spray water back into the tank, or else redirect it to rinse out your drain hose when you are finished.
- It has it's own gate valve that helps control the flow of water when flushing with the hose.
Let me explain how we use it.
- When draining the tank, I watch the clear portion to determine our progress. Once the water is flowing through it nice and clean, we know we're in good shape.
- To fill the tank with fresh water for steps 3 and 4 above (and sometimes for step 1 if Fay get's tired of standing on the flush valve), water gets added to the tank using this device. I leave the gate valve on the trailer open, and close the one on the device. This allows water to flow from the hose back into the trailer tank, and not to the sewer. I turn on the hose and point the flow of water towards the trailer. Fay keeps an eye on it through the toilet to make sure I don't let it overflow.
- When we are all done draining the tank(s), I close the sewer valve on the trailer and open the gate valve on the device. The hose is then turned back on and the flow of water pointed towards the sewer. This runs fresh water into the drain hose to flush it out.
So that's it!
It's still the least desirable part of camping for us, but these two products have made it much easier than when we were first getting started without them. As always, drop me a note on my contact page if you have any questions.
Denny JohnsonAfter having spent most of our adult life in Orlando, my wife Fay and I moved to Knoxville, TN in 2020. We are loving the change of seasons and being near the mountains. Plus, this part of the country is loaded with great places to camp.
We camped years ago with a pop-up camper, but got serious about it when we purchased our Casita in 2014. There was a lot to learn as we started traveling with it, and a lot of conflicting opinions on line. That's when I decided that creating a website would be a good retirement project. I started tinyTowable.com to share things we've learned along the way that have worked well for us in hopes that the information would be of help to others.
Thanks Denny ! Great job walking us through the process ! I have been an off trail backpacker most of my life , so never had to deal with a holding tank (just a small hole) … I’m restoring a 20’ trailer and just about ready to install all plumbing including holding tanks . Thanks agai for some great ideas ! 😎
Glad you got something out of the article Kirk. It’s really not that bad once you get an understanding and have gone through it a few times.
This was super helpful! Getting ready to purchase an Rpod and would like to make the tank dumping process as thorough as possible.
Thanks Jen. One suggestion is that the first time, stay somewhere that has hookups so you can go through it your own leisure at your campsite. You want to try and avoid being at a dump station and having people waiting in line behind you until you know what you’re doing!