Can you poop in an RV?

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Can you poop in an RV? We will explain how RV toilets work, how to clean and maintain them. We will also discuss how to prevent common issues with RV toilets. 

Can you poop in an RV?

Yes, you can poop in an RV. Of course, using an RV toilet is going to be different than using your regular house toilet – but it is doable and a great amenity in a motorhome. Most RVs have chemical toilets.

A chemical toilet is a “portable” toilet that is not connected to a drainage system like in a house. The chemical toilet is a simple and effective way to have independent and transportable sanitary facilities. It is widely used in vans and motorhomes, but also in festivals or construction sites.

The best-known brands like Thetford or Dometic offer high-performance chemical toilets that work as well as household toilets.

How does the RV toilet work?

The RV chemical toilet works on a chemical principle that will destroy the droppings and feces. The collected wastewater is called black water.

The chemical toilet consists of three distinct parts:

  • a bowl
  • a black water cassette or the stool collection tank in which the chemicals are added
  • a clean water tank to supply the flushing system.

The black water tank is located under the toilet and its basin. The cassette is completely hermetic. It must be emptied regularly in places provided for this purpose. The oil change is done every 2 to 5 days depending on the size of your cassette and your habits. On average it takes 1.5L of excreta (urine and stool) per person per day.

The different types of RV toilets and how they work

  • Chemical cassette toilets are the most widely used system in motorhomes and campervans today. It is a fixed toilet integrated into the bathroom of the living area of ​​your vehicle. The clean water tank and the toilet bowl are located in the motorhome. The tank is only accessible from outside the vehicle for reasons of practicality and hygiene. 

The capacity of the black water tank varies depending on the models from 17 to 21 liters. The Thetford brand offers high-performance products and is fitted to most motorhomes.

  • There are also portable chemical toilets which are not integrated into the vehicle. Very compact, they are easily stored in small spaces of your vans. They do not require any specific installations. Like the fixed cassette toilets, they are equipped with a clean water tank, a bowl, and a black water tank. 

The black water tank can be completely removed so that it can be emptied. Prices vary from 50 to 200 € depending on the capacity of the black water tank (12 to 21L).

The Porta Potti of the Thetford brand is a very good quality chemical sanitary ware. There are several models and sizes to suit your needs.

What products can I use to maintain the RV toilet?

As the name suggests, a chemical toilet is cleansed with chemicals. The chemical for the maintenance of the black water cassette is called the “blue product”. This blue product breaks up faeces to facilitate emptying the tank and eliminating bad odours. 

In terms of the dosage of chemical toilets, a dose of the blue product must be put directly into the black water tank approximately every 5 days or each time the tank is emptied. These products exist in a conventional chemical form or in ecological and biological form (enzymatic action).

How to clean an RV toilet?

In order to preserve the life of your chemical toilets, it is important to maintain them regularly and correctly. The cassette should be drained and cleaned as often as possible. This will help you avoid bad smells.

To understand how a chemical motorhome toilet works, you should know that these toilets should not be emptied just anywhere. The chemicals that liquefy the dark matter in the cassette are very bad for the environment.

The cassettes must be emptied into tanks specially designed for this purpose. You will find these facilities in the following locations:

It is possible to empty the toilet cassette of a motorhome into a fixed toilet in a house or a campsite, but this is not recommended. You can do this in an emergency, but it is better to use specialized terminals.

Be careful, you cannot empty a chemical toilet cassette into a septic tank as this will destroy the septic tank ecosystem.

How to avoid bad smells from an RV toilet?

 To understand how a motorhome chemical toilet works, you have to know that black water can give off bad odours that are sometimes foul-smelling. This can be due to several things:

  • Improper use of chemicals: not enough blue product, inappropriate dosage, etc.
  • Oil changes that are not regular enough
  • Too much heat in your recreational vehicle

All these factors lead to a proliferation of bacteria responsible for bad odours.

Finding the right dosage can take time. The dosage depends on your lifestyle and the season. In summer with high heat, it may be necessary to overdose on the blue product. In winter, however, the cold slows the growth of bacteria, so you can use fewer chemicals.

To avoid bad odours in your chemical toilets, you must empty your cassette every 2 to 5 days.

It is possible to neutralize bad odours from chemical toilets in several ways:

 Now it’s up to you to choose the solution that best suits your lifestyle to maintain it.

How to avoid common issues with RV toilets

The most common problem when it comes to RV toilets is that they are clogged. And in 99% of the cases, it is because the user(s) haven’t used the right paper toilet.  Although one of the possible solutions would be to call a professional so that the RV toilet can be flushed and fixed, there are some things you can try by yourself.  

  1. Use a plunger fluid: A plunger is a liquid used to remove the clog in the toilet. You just have to flush it in the toilet and let them act.

Depending on how stuck it is, you should leave it for more or less time. I recommend that you let them act overnight. The next day, you will simply have to flush the toilet to run water. You have to be very careful because they are very aggressive. Read their instructions very well before using them, as the methodology may vary from one brand to another.

  1. Use a mop. This method of unclogging an RV toilet may seem a bit strange, but it is a homemade solution that works. What we have to do is cover the mop with a plastic bag. Keep in mind that the bag should not have any kind of hole, otherwise it will not work.

Afterwards, we are going to introduce the mop into the proper hole of the toilet so that it covers the duct completely. What we will do is start moving the mop-up and down. The effect that we will achieve is a vacuum effect that will be very similar to using a professional plunger.

Generally, if you do these movements two or three times, the pipe should unclog. But if the jam is very big, it may not work. Protect the floor so that it does not get too dirty if everything gets splashed. I recommend that you use gloves in case you get stained.

  1. Baking soda with vinegar. It is another of the homemade methods to unclog a toilet. First, you will have to pour 1 cup of 250 grams of baking soda. Pour it directly into the toilet bowl. Let it fall into the water and slowly descend.

Once it has gone down, add two cups of vinegar to make about 500 millilitres. It is better to pour the vinegar in a circular way so that it is distributed evenly on all sides. You will notice that when the vinegar mixes with the bicarbonate it will generate an effervescence caused by a chemical reaction.

Finally, you have to let everything rest for at least one hour and then flush the toilet as you normally do. That way, the toilet and any wipes in it will unclog.

Can you use a normal toilet roll in a caravan?

You can use a normal toilet roll in a caravan, as long as the regular household toilet paper quickly dissolves into fine particles. If, on the contrary, the normal toilet roll becomes a kind of a paste in contact with liquids, do not use it in your caravan or RV.

Here are the top five recommended caravan toilet paper brands:


The toilet of a caravan, the toilet of an RV, or whatever you want to call it, does not work the same as the one at home. It is similar, yes, but in the WC of these “house vehicles,” the waste does not go down the drain but remains in a receptacle called a sewage tank, which has a hermetic lock that, in most of them, has a manual system.

Do you have any other questions regarding RV toilets? Don’t be afraid to ask!

FAQ on Can you poop in an RV?

How to maintain RV toilets?

If you maintain your RV toilet properly, it will last longer. This is why it is important that you use the right cleaning products. The maintenance of rubbers is also very important. For this, it is better to use silicone spray. With this, you lubricate, maintain and protect the closures.

Should I leave my black tank open or closed?

Whenever leaving the campground, you should make sure that the black tank is tightly closed. When you flush the toilet, the black water goes into a reservoir. If the drain valves are closed, the black water remains stored in these tanks.

Can you use a normal toilet roll in a caravan?

You can use a normal toilet roll in a caravan, as long as the regular household toilet paper quickly dissolves into fine particles. If, on the contrary, the normal toilet roll becomes a kind of a paste in contact with liquids, do not use it in your caravan or RV.