How To Get Rid Of Holding Tank Odor In Your RV

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Are you ready to take a long and soothing trip, enjoy the sunshine and revitalize your soul? But wait, are you taken aback by your RV black tank or RV portable black tank smell ?

Besides packing your essentials, preventing holding tank odor in your RV is the most crucial part. It is a common problem that numerous people face. This frustrating and repugnant phenomenon has prevailed because many people have given up on finding the solutions on how to eliminate holding tank odors. If you are a beginner in RVing, check out these tips before you start. 


According to RV holders, this everlasting problem has no solution, besides giving up the luxury of having an RV. Fortunately, the bubble has burst. Here is How to get rid of holding tank odor in your RV.

Table of Contents

Root Cause

How to get rid of holding tank odor (7)

Before getting into the solutions, let’s first discuss the root cause of the problem. The inside of your tank may look all neat and clean, but in reality, it is flooded with uncountable aerobic and anaerobic bacteria. 

The rotten egg smell you experience inside your RV is caused by hydrogen sulfide emitted by these anaerobic bacteria. 

Since these bacteria respire without using oxygen, the sulfhydryl compound is broken down by them to produce a pungent smell. But the stink inside your tank is even worse because this pungent smell mixes with the aerobic bacteria. That is right. The combination of the two bacteria produces a pungent smell. 

Additionally, some other factors such as lack of water or excess heat amplify the intensity of the odor, which makes your TV tank smell like a rotten egg.
Having said that, we have all the possible solutions for RV holding tank odor control.  

Tip 1

Flush your RV water system

How to get rid of rv sewer smell? Before getting into any complex cleaning methods, firstly, you need to flush the water system properly.

There is one common practice you must have done to save your pipes from freezing. Besides adding an RV skirt to your rig, you can use a simple solution, that is, an antifreeze. As important as it is to use antifreeze, you must clear the antifreeze by flushing out the system.
[ Also Read: What is RV Skirting And Why Should You Skirt Your Camper in Winter ]

RV serves as a second home for all the passengers, where they use water for all their regular activities, from bathing to cooking. In this case, you must use a system to clear out your tank. The easiest options you can opt for to flush your system is to use a garden hose or simply, a water pump.  [ Also Read: RV Wet Baths (Pros and Cons You Should Know) ]


Moreover, the process is not as time taking as it sounds. All you need to do is run the water through the tank for a couple of minutes until it goes inside the sink or the shower. This will clear out all the antifreeze from the system. 

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Tip 2

Replace the bacteria

How to get rid of sewer smell in camper ? It’s better to replace the bad product with a good one, instead of eradicating it from the roots. 

Many people suggest killing the anaerobic bacteria in the tank since it is the root cause of the problem. But, anaerobic bacteria are beneficial to the tank, therefore, removing the bacteria is not a wise decision.

Instead, you can boost the production of the aerobic bacteria inside your tank. It will naturally remove the tank odour as it exhales carbon dioxide, which is an odourless byproduct. 

Therefore, the replacement of the bad bacteria with good bacteria can help you get rid of the odour. There are numerous high-quality natural treatments you can use for this process. 

Tip 3

Check the toilet seal

How do i stop my RV black tank from smelling ? Here is the most underrated trick people usually ignore. While many people get busy using expensive methods and products to get rid of the smell, no one checks the leaking in the toilet seal. 

It is, perhaps, one of the common possibilities of the problem. The leaking inside your toilet bowl can make the bowl dry. Due to this, the odour can easily make its way to the tank.  Check our guide for the Best RV Toilet if you do not have one yet.

The most effective product you can use to combat this issue is to use petroleum jelly regularly on your seal. The moisture inside the jelly will prevent the seal from drying up so quickly. 

Nevertheless, if you are still experiencing a dry seal even after applying the jelly, you may need to change the seal. It might be a bit cost-effective, but it is worth the investment. 

Tip 4

Avoid Clogging

There is no denying that RV systems clog very easily. RVs are used by hundreds of passengers, and it is difficult to keep track of who has dumped the waste into the garbage, instead of the sink.

People usually dump all their waste in the toilet or sink, which makes the tank clog. Clogging of these materials should be avoided so that the odour does not arise, in the first place. 

Another safe method is to use biodegradable toilet paper. Biodegradable toilet papers are a bit expensive, but they are worth it. They will not clog your toilet or sink, unlike the regular toilet papers. 

Tip 5

Know the capacity of your tank

How to get rid of holding tank odor (5)

This is yet another mistake people make that causes RV black water tank odor. It is a fact that people pay no attention to the capacity or the size of their tank. As a result, they are unaware of how much clog or waste the tank can bear. 

Do not live in the delusion that your RV has a massive tank size, just because it is not visible externally. After purchasing an RV, make sure to ask the manufacturer the size and capacity of your RV tank. 

This information is also present on the internet or other numerous sources. You should know the size of your tank and how much waste you can dump. 

Tip 6

Let in the fresh air

This might not be the new method for you. That is what you pretty much do to get rid of bad RV black tank stinks. 

The same thing can be applied inside your RV tank. When you experience a pungent smell inside your RV tank, instead of closing all the doors and windows, give it room for ventilation. 

Open up all the windows and doors of your RV to allow the smell to go into the open air. 

Tip 7

Deep Cleaning

Chemical treatments have become the solution to everything. From cleaning your house windows to your swimming pools, we all have become dependent on chemical products. 

The same thing can be used to clean the RV tank. Next time you go to a supermarket, make sure to pick up an RV tank cleaner or rv toilet deodorizer. 

And if you want an easier and economical way out, use baking soda instead of chemicals and wait for the magic to happen. Baking soda is a reasonable alternative to all the pricey chemicals present in the market. 

Closing Thoughts

In brief, there are a plethora of ways to get rid of or prevent the holding tank odor. Methods such as deep cleaning the tank and replacing the bacteria have always proven to be successful for people. 

However, if you are someone who takes precautions beforehand, you can avoid clogging your sinks and keep checking your toilet seals regularly. Therefore, there is no need to cancel your trip just because of the rotten egg smell in your tank. 

Try any of the aforementioned methods above and get rid of the pungent smell in a blink of an eye. 

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Jules and Ken

We are outdoor lovers, travellers, and writers all rolled into one. You have seen our posts here reviewing lots of different types of outdoor gear, camping equipment, RV equipment, kayaking, to cycling. Our reviews are guided by our years of experience being outdoors. We are happy to share our knowledge with you to make a better choice when you are outdoors.

We hope you enjoyed this article and if you have questions about How To Get Rid Of And Prevent Holding Tank Odor In Your RV or want to leave your own personal comments, feel free to leave a comment below. We would love to hear from you!

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