Wecome To RVs and OHVs

This blog is all about RVs (recreational vehicles) and OHVs (Off Highway Vehicles), camping, and survival
and how they work together to provide wholesome family fun and great learning opportunities.
Many posts are intended to familiarize novice campers and RVers with RV systems and basic camping and survival
skills. But even experienced RVers and campers will enjoy the anecdotes and may even benefit from a new
perspective. Comments, questions, and suggestions are encouraged.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

RV Toilets

OK, so it isn't a very polite or palatable subject.  However, there are several things newbies should know that will make life on the road -- and in camp -- more pleasant.

First of all, most RV toilets are not made of porcelain like home toilets.  They are made of plastic.  One reason for that is it makes them a lot lighter and saving weight in an RV is important.  However, that means they have special cleaning requirements.  You can usually use most liquid toilet cleaners safely, but never use harsh cleansers which will mar the finish. Once scratched it is almost impossible to restore and will collect unpleasant deposits.  Use something liked a "Softscrub" cleanser,  Bon Ami ("Hasn't scratched yet"), or a Mr Clean Magic Eraser for stubborn stains.  That said, there is an increasing tendency toward the use of porcelain toilets in RVs so you might come across one.  If you do, clean it was you would the one at home.

The plastic lid and seat often becomes discolored over time.  Sometimes you can safely restore the appearance by cleaning plastic parts with vinegar or lemon juice.  Lemon juice has the advantage of leaving a more pleasant citrus fragrance.  It is unlikely a standard toilet set will fit an RV toilet.  If yours is damaged, seek a matching replacement from your RV store or track one down in a junk yard.

To avoid stains sticking to the toilet bowl in the first place, always press down the flush pedal part way to run a little water in the bowl before using the toilet. Then keep a toilet brush or a dowel handy to clean stains after use.  Use the dowel to swab the bowl with a little toilet paper.  That way you don't put smelly deposits on a brush that will be left sitting in a container behind the toilet.  You can simple flush the toilet paper.  I installed an old dirt bike hand grip for extra comfort on the dowel we use in our RV.  It also prevents you from grabbing the dirty end!

Some RV toilets have a sprayer like the one on your kitchen sink that you can use to aid in cleaning the bowl.   These get mixed reviews.  While the sprayer may add convenience to cleaning it sometimes encourages excessive water use and you have a couple more plumbing connections that might be prone to leak.

Don't put facial tissue in your RV toilet.  It will not break down as easily as toilet paper and can cause buildups and clogs that are difficult to remove when you dump the tanks. 

Speaking of toilet paper, it is best to use the toilet paper designed for RV toilets.  If you run out, use the cheapest and lightest weight paper you can find.  The fancier, multi-layer brands won't break down well and may contribute to clogs and difficulty dumping the black water tank.  Plain single ply is best.

NEVER put disposable diapers or feminine hygiene products down an RV toilet.   Or not even "flushable" baby wipes.  Once again, these products won't break down in the holding tank and will cause clogs and bad odors.

Here's a tip for guys:  to avoid urine smell buildup around your RV toilet, sit down to urinate.  OK, so it may not be the most macho thing to do, so what?  Its private.  And it can keep things a lot nicer.  No matter how good your aim is, it still splatters and over time the residue adds up on cabinets, walls, and floors.  You will also find it especially convenient for nocturnal trips when you don't want to turn on any lights.  Your female companions will definitely appreciate having a clean smelling bathroom.

You may have a tendency to limit water usage when flushing to conserve your fresh water.   While conserving fresh water is almost always a priority when boondocking, using too little water will create problems in the black water tank, ranging from th buildup of a pyramid of waste right below the toilet to not having enough liquid for the chemicals to their job or to flush the tank when the time comes.  It may take a little experimentation to determine the right balance between conservation and adequate flushing.  It is usually a lot easier to err on the side of using too much water and slowly backing down than having to deal with too much solids building up in the tank.  Too much water in the holding tank will not cause any problems with dumping, but too little definitely will.  Too little water also impedes the function of holding tank chemicals, which break down solid waste and control odor.  If you think you are short of water in the black water tank (as evidenced by piles of solids seen beneath the toilet when you flush it), try adding some extra water collected while warming up your shower or even draw a bucket  off your gray water tank and dump it down the toilet.

Enjoy your RV "throne".