How To Clean An RV Toilet (The Right Way)

Just like any other toilet, the toilet in your RV needs to be kept clean. If you don’t keep it clean, it’s going to look dirty, and it’s certainly going to smell too. There is a lot of bad advice out there so we decided to put together a guide on how to clean an RV toilet the right way.

To clean your RV toilet, spray the bowl with your chosen cleaning solution (vinegar and baking soda also work well), let it soak, scrub using a soft brush to avoid scratches, and then flush. It’s best to avoid using hard chemicals such as bleach as they can actually cause damage to your black water tank.

how to clean an RV toilet

What Can I Use To Clean My RV Toilet?

What you need to know about RV toilets is that you really can’t use any abrasive cleaners or harsh chemicals. 

First of all, if you use abrasive cleaners to clean your RV toilet, you’re probably going to end up scratching it. Things like extremely stiff bristle brushes are going to damage the toilet. Remember, the toilet in your RV is not like the toilet in your home

Moreover, you also don’t want to use any really harsh chemicals, especially caustic chemicals. the reason for this, first, is because these harsh chemicals will kill off all of the beneficial bacteria in your RV black water tank. 

These bacteria are needed to break down the waste quickly and to prevent it from smelling too bad. Moreover, extremely harsh chemicals may also damage the holding tank, particularly if it is made out of plastic.

They may also damage rubber seals.  So, what can you use to clean your RV toilet?

1. A Soft Scrub Brush or Sponge

You are going to want to purchase some kind of soft sponge or relatively soft-bristled brush that you can use to scrub the toilet bowl. Remember, you don’t want any brush with extremely stiff bristles or very coarse and hard sponges. 

These will scratch the inside of the RV toilet and cause permanent damage. Therefore, something relatively soft and gentle is called for. There are special RV toilet sponges and brushes that you can purchase for this exact purpose.

2. An Old Towel or Cloth

If you need to clean your RV toilet, but don’t have any soft sponge or brush on hand, another option is to use some old cloth or paper towel.

This is especially the case for the upper part of the bowl that is not submerged in water, the toilet seat, and everything else. 

If nothing is super stuck on, an old cloth, basic paper towel, or even an old T-shirt that you don’t wear anymore, or anything else of the sort, will do just fine. You just need something that can lift up the dirt off of the toilet.

3. Water & Vinegar

One of the best natural cleaners out there that will not damage the inside of the RV toilet, the pipes, or the holding tank, is some good old vinegar. Vinegar may not smell fantastic, but it is a fantastic cleaning product. 

It has the ability to kill germs and bacteria, therefore killing odors and preventing them from coming back. vinegar is also pretty good at removing stains.

Pure vinegar will work best here, but if you’re on a budget, or if the toilet is just not overly dirty, you can always dilute it with some water. 

4. Vinegar, Water, & Baking Soda

if your RV toilet is too dirty to clean with just water and vinegar alone, you can always try adding some baking soda to the mix.

Going back to third-grade science class, when you mix baking soda and vinegar, it creates a chemical reaction that produces a whole lot of oxygen. 

These oxygen bubbles are fantastic at removing stuck-on grease, grind, and stains of all sorts. Of course, baking soda itself is a great cleaning solution and odor killer. 

Baking soda will get rid of smells, as well vinegar, plus vinegar kills germs too. All you have to do here is generously sprinkle some baking soda into the bowl of the RV toilet, and imply your water and vinegar solution.

5. RV Toilet Cleaner Spray

You could always purchase a special RV toilet cleaning spray. There are plenty of cleaning sprays out there that use chemicals that aren’t too harsh for RV toilet bowls. One example is Thetford Premium RV Aqua-Clean.

Most of these RV toilet cleaning products also won’t scratch any surfaces, are fine for porcelain, fiberglass, and plastic, are safe on toilet seals and are 100% biodegradable too. 

Most of these sprays should also be able to remove all basic stains such as soap scum, iron stains, hard water stains, and urine stains too.

6. Drop-in Tablets

You then also have special drop-in RV toilet tabs, such as the ones made by Dometic. These, you just drop right into the water, and they more or less instantly dissolved and foam up.

This helps to clean the inside of the toilet bowl, although you’ll probably still want to scrub it a bit. These are also designed to be perfectly safe for RV toilets and for the black water tank, as well as the seals. 

The added bonus with many of these drop-in tablets is the fact that they contain enzymatic elements which then help to also clean the sensors and the holding tank.

On that note, these enzymes will also help to break down waste, therefore preventing odors and blockages.

7. Enzymatic RV Toilet Cleaner

You then also have dedicated enzymatic RV toilet cleaners. These enzymatic cleaners are generally not designed to clean the actual toilet bowl but are designed to help clean sensors and the black water tank.

These enzymes are bacteria literally eat waste and break it down. This also helps to prevent odors and blockages.

How To Clean An RV Toilet

Cleaning an RV toilet is easily done in a few simple steps. Of course, the exact method is going to depend on the cleaning product that you are using. 

Step 1: Apply The Cleaner & Wait

First, you are going to apply your cleaner of choice. If using water and vinegar, just apply the vinegar into the toilet bowl. If using baking soda and vinegar, sprinkle the inside with baking soda and then apply vinegar and water. 

If you are using a spray cleaner, simply spray it onto the surface. If you are using the tabs, drop them into the bowl. You’re now going to wait for anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes for your cleaner of choice to work its magic.

Step 2: Rub & Scrub

Once you have allowed the cleaner to soak in for a few minutes, get your soft bristle brush or a soft sponge, and scrub away any stains as you see them. It’s really no different than cleaning any other toilet.

At this point, you can also use an old cloth or some paper towel to clean the seat, the top of the tank, and other components. Remember, clean the floor around the toilet’s base as well.

Step 3: Flush

All you have to do now is to flush your toilet, and it should be good as new. If you are using enzymatic cleaners to help keep the tank clean, now is also the time when you will want to drop this in, and flush.

You may also want to rinse with some additional clean water.

Can You Put Bleach In A Camper Toilet?

The general recommendation here is that you do not put bleach in a camper toilet. Bleach is a very harsh chemical and it can cause damage to the plastic or rubber seals. This can then cause leaks to occur, or worse. 

Bleach can also be harmful to a plastic black water holding tank over prolonged periods of time. It can actually damage the integrity of it. 

Some people may mix four parts of water with one part of bleach (to cut down on its harshness), as it does work well as a cleaner. However, due to the aforementioned reasons, it’s really not recommended.

Can You Use Vinegar To Clean RV Toilet?

Yes, vinegar is absolutely fine to clean an RV toilet with. In fact, this is one of the first recommendations we would go with, even before using a professional RV toilet cleaning product.

Vinegar is very effective, it kills germs and odors, and it is extremely cheap as well.

Related: How to fix a toilet that bubbles when flushed.

Tips To Keep Your RV Toilet Clean & Fresh

Let’s go over a few quick tips to keep your RV toilet clean and fresh.

1. Spot Cleaning Helps

The best thing you can do to keep that toilet clean is to clean it regularly. You don’t have to clean it after every single use, but a quick daily scrub down will definitely help.

Moreover, if you make a mess, don’t leave it for later. Spot cleaning small messes is always easier than having to clean up huge messes that have been left to fester all at once.

2. Use Dissolvable Toilet Paper 

You should also be using dissolvable toilet paper in your RV toilet. Regular toilet paper will not dissolve and can therefore lead to clogs and horrible odors. Normal toilet paper can also stick to the sensors in the holding tanks, therefore leading to false readings.

Dissolvable RV toilet paper is specially designed so that it does not produce clogs, and therefore helps prevent odors from occurring, as well as issues with the black water tank sensor.

3. Clean & Empty the Holding Tank Regularly

To help prevent odors from occurring, you also want to clean the black water tank regularly. Essentially, this means that you want to empty the holding tank regularly, and then flush it out with clean water, and possibly some RV black water tank cleaning solutions.

4. Use Drop-In Tablets

To help break down waste in the RV black water tank, and therefore to help prevent odors from occurring, using enzymatic drop-in tablets will help. These enzymatic tablets will break down the bacteria causing these odors.

Madeline Cooper