How to Keep Your Black Tank Clean

Let’s face it, the blank tank on your RV is not a fun thing to deal with. It can get pretty gross pretty fast! Here are some helpful ways on how to keep your black tank clean.

Keep It Clean

Preventative maintenance is the best way to keep your black tank in good working order and avoid a mess or build up. There are plenty of products that can help keep it clean, but there are also some great DIY ideas that will save you some money or double your efforts.

There are a variety of chemicals you can put into your black water tank to help reduce odors and break down waste. But an ingredient you want to avoid is formaldehyde. Some cleaners contain this chemical and not only is it not good for the environment, but it will actually preserve things inside the tank instead of breaking them down. This can lead to clogs. What works to break down the waste and control odors are bacteria and enzymes. The enzymes break it down and the bacteria will help to turn the waste into carbon dioxide. This means less work for you! Look for a product that contains both, or buy one of each for your tank.

If you’re still experiencing odors, you can purchase a deodorizer, or you can make your own! Here is a great recipe for a DIY deodorizer:

Things you will need:

  • 1 C. Borax
  • ½ C. Pine-Sol
  • 3 Tbsp. ammonia
  • One-gallon jug – we suggest an old milk jug
  • Hot water
  • Sharpie

Follow these steps:

  1. Place the Borax, Pine-Sol, and ammonia in the jug.
  2. Add about half a gallon of hot water.
  3. Shake the jug to mix.
  4. Fill the rest of the way with water.
  5. Use the sharpie to mark the jug with a warning that it is poisonous.

This will yield roughly 8 treatments for a 55-gallon tank.

So what happens when you have a mess on your hands? It’s time to clean the tank!

Cleaning the Tank

Many articles recommend dumping ice in your tank to help clean it as you drive. This is supposed to knock some of the waste off the bottom of the tank, however it has been said that you have to drive somewhat erratically in order to get the ice to move around enough to work.

The best way to remove stuck-on waste is to soak it just like you would a pan in the kitchen. Here are some steps to clean your black tank thoroughly to get rid of odors and build-up:

  1. Make sure you dump your tank first!
  2. Ensure you have a decent amount of water in your gray tank.
  3. Wear gloves at all times!
  4. Clean your toilet.
  5. Hook up your sewer hose to the RV and the dump connection.
  6. Connect a hose from fresh water to the sewage tank rinse valve.
  7. Slowly turn the water on so that you are adding water to the black tank. Keep this at a low level for now.
  8. Open the black valve so the water and waste begins to run through the sewage hose.
  9. Turn the water hose all the way up and let it run for about 5 minutes.
  10. Once your water is running mostly clear, close the black valve and let it fill up. If your tank has a lot of build-up, turn the water off and let it soak a while at this point.
  11. Reopen the black valve and let the water run back out.
  12. Continue this until the water is running pretty clear.
  13. Pull your gray valve to help flush the sewer hose out.
  14. Now you can add your chemicals back in to take care of the waste until the next dump.

Remember, preventative maintenance is always the best way to deal with the tank. Never ever use the black tank with the valve open! This is going to create airflow and cause a very dried-up, stuck-on mess. The only time this valve should be open is when you’re dumping and cleaning. Cleaning the black tank can be a very dirty job, but Mike Rowe isn’t showing up anytime soon to clean your tank for you. So use this info and you should be able to keep it clean and have minimal odors.

Do you have any black tank maintenance tips you’d like to share? What works for you? Share with us in the comments!

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