How do toilets work in RVs?

In this blog, we will answer the question: “How do toilets work in RVs?” We will talk about the functions of RV toilets and how they work. We will also list the different types of toilets that are used in RVs. We will mention the features with the advantages and disadvantages of using these toilets in RVs. 

How do toilets work in RVs?

An RV toilet works predominantly on gravity. Unlike the toilets at home that need water pressure, RV toilets are different. RV toilets have water to rinse the bowl, but they do not consume as much water as the toilets at home. RV toilets usually come with a foot pedal to flush and the waste from the water goes straight to the black water tank.

RV toilets are built-in and are made of porcelain. The black water tank holds all the waste from the toilet, which needs to be emptied later on. The only challenge with RV toilets is emptying the black water tank from time to time. You will need to empty the waste from the black water tank at a proper dump station by using a flexible hose.

These toilets are constructed based on saving water. Hence, water is not the primary source of flushing. Some of the latest RVs have electric flushing systems. These systems help in creating water pressure to rinse out the bowl. It might seem to be slightly different when you use an RV toilet for the first time.

Types of RV toilets

Initially, most of the RV toilets were made of plastic. The latest RVs have adapted to porcelain toilets. Plastic was used at the beginning since it is light and easy to fit in an RV. Over the years, RV manufacturers have focused on developing their toilets and have come up with various types. Here are the different types of RV toilets.

Thetford plastic RV toilets

  • The Thetford RV toilets are made up of plastic and are one of the most common types of RV toilets. They are lightweight and many RV manufacturers use them to keep weightless in the vehicle. 
  • Before using these toilets you will need to fill the bowl with water by pushing the foot pedal that is attached below the bowl on the outside.
  • After using the toilet, you will need to push the foot pedal once again to flush everything into the black tank. This toilet is easy to use and it does not consume extra water. 
  • It is also perfect for dry camping or boondocking. You can also save the shower water and use it for flushing. The disadvantage is that these toilets do not appear as clean as porcelain bowls.

Nature’s Head composting RV toilets

  • The composting RV toilets are completely waterless and work differently than the previous one. 
  • There is no need for a black tank with this type of toilet. 
  • This toilet separates the liquids from the solids. This toilet is not that hard to use and there is a switch at the side that needs to be adjusted according to the use.
  • The tank below consists of compost and you can get any type of compost to use.
  • When you are out boondocking or camping, this composting toilet can easily last you for a month. After which, you will need to clear out the compost and add new compost to the tank. 
  • These toilets are perfect for smaller vehicles like a van or a class B RV.

Thetford porcelain RV toilets

  • This is a standard Thetford foot flush toilet that is made up of porcelain. This toilet is just like the ones that we have at home. 
  • The process is the same as the plastic toilet, except you will need to push the foot flush halfway to fill the water before using it. 
  • Once you are done you can fully push the foot flush to get rid of the waste.
  • The advantage of this porcelain toilet is that it comes with a rinse wand.
  • The only advantage with these toilets is that the water does not clean up the bowl well. The rinse wand is provided for cleaning up the bowl. 
  • These toilets are efficient and good for boondocking as well. It is also easy to repair, but you will need to use the rinsing wand to clean the bowl often.

Thetford Tecma RV toilets

  • This RV toilet is an automatic macerating toilet and is similar to the toilet at home. There is no foot flush for the Tecma RV toilets since they come with two switches that are located at the top. 
  • It’s easy to flush and the biggest advantage is the indicator on the two switches. This indicator will let you know if the black tank is full or not.
  • If the indicator blinks green, it means that the black tank has not full. 
  • The yellow light means it is half full and the red light indication means that you need to empty the black tank. 
  • The only disadvantage with this toilet is that it consumes plenty of water and is not recommended for boondocking. These toilets are usually found in large recreational vehicles.

Thetford porcelain electric

  • This porcelain toilet is electric and is easier to use than the normal Thetford foot flush porcelain toilets. 
  • There are two buttons located at the top, the smaller one to add water and the bigger one is used to flush. 
  • When the water is added it comes right around the bowl. The size of this toilet is matched with the normal toilets that are used at home.
  • It is easy to keep clean and is comfortable to use. The disadvantage is that these toilets are a little heavy when compared to the other ones. 
  • You will also need to use electricity for this toilet along with the pump. The switch at the back will convert this toilet like the residential ones by filling up water automatically.

Dometic porcelain foot flush

This is a porcelain foot flush toilet that comes with a spray to clean the toilet. The foot pedal is located at the side of the toilet and is used to fill the bowl and flush the toilet. There is nothing different other than the location of the foot flush. This toilet works typically in the same way as the previous porcelain foot flush models.

Dometic vacuflush toilet

  • The Dometic vacuflush toilet works with vacuum technology. It looks like any other toilet that comes with a foot flush. However, the functions are different since the vacuum works when flushing. 
  • This toilet can be loud when flushing. You will need to push the foot flush down for three seconds when you are going to flush the toilet.
  • This toilet runs on a small vacuum generator and it can be pretty loud at times. The biggest disadvantage is when you get any paper stuck around the seal. 
  • This will automatically start the vacuum to start drawing the water through. You might need to clean the seal often to make sure that the vacuum does not start again. This is a porcelain toilet that is similar to a toilet at home.

Cassette RV toilets

  • The Cassette toilet is pretty compact and it came to be used in wet toilets. The Cassette RV toilets come with the same mechanism but it will have a level at the bottom of the toilet that is used to close a latch on the inside to keep away all the bad odor. 
  • The other functions are pretty much the same, but this is a tiny toilet and is perfect for smaller vehicles.
  • RV toilets usually have a similar process and they work primarily on gravity. 
  • Most of the toilets function in the same manner, except for the composite toilets that work differently. 
  • Most RV manufacturers try to bring out the best technology to preserve water while camping. However, some RVs try to bring the best home experience in their vehicles.


In this blog, we have answered the question: “How do toilets work in RVs?” We have talked about the functions of RV toilets and how they work. We have also listed the different types of toilets that are used in RVs. Additionally, we have mentioned the features with the advantages and disadvantages of using these toilets in RVs. 


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