By the time you’re half-way through your amazing RV adventure, your holding tank is packing some pretty serious sewage. Your lovely time is at risk of descending into some iffy territory.
It’s not uncommon for foul odors to wriggle their way up through the flooring and into your living space. All that black and grey water stagnating beneath you, sloshing with every turn, needs to be dealt with, especially if you’re not going to have a chance to empty them any time soon.
Olfactory memory is a very real thing. Scents can take you back to a certain time or feeling, and the last thing you want is for the memory of your gorgeous trip around the coast marred by the smell of your own stewing feces.
This is why a good holding tank treatment is invaluable on even a short trip out and about. So, to keep you feeling fresh when you’re on the road, we’re going to be reviewing the five best holding tank treatments. We’re also going to put together an in-depth buyer’s guide and FAQ section to see you on your way.
S**t Hit the Fan?
No problem. We’ve got your quick fix right here with our top pick.
Best RV Holding Tank Treatment
OUR TOP PICK
OUR TOP PICK
Keeping it fresh at the top of tank mountain here is an amazingly practical treatment renowned for its efficacy. The treatment comes in convenient pre-packaged portions that look like washing machine pouches. You simply drop one in your toilet, give it a flush, and the Walex pouch takes care of everything.
This treatment breaks down waste and paper, but that’s not all. It actually preserves the waste at the same time it’s breaking it down. This ingenious combination of effects helps with both the disposal process and the build-up of odors. To really put the cherry on top, it’s lightly perfumed with a ‘sunglow’ fragrance that’s fresh and subtle.
Yes, these little pouches are blue, but let’s discuss how they’re also green. The blue dye used to blue-wash waste is a non-staining solution, and the pouches get so thoroughly diluted in your septic tank that they barely even exist after an hour or so. No harmful changes to any septic culture will ever take place. They’re also formaldehyde-free! Formaldehyde is toxic to both humans and the environment, so this is a big win.
Despite being so well designed that they dissolve to near nothing, these tiny pouches pack a powerful punch. Just one of them can treat 40 gallons of wastewater effectively. Some customers claimed that in very hot weather, it’s best to use two to totally do away with odors, but we still think that’s pretty amazing.
Suitable for your grey water as well as black, the Walex Porta-Pak will keep your adventure smelling as fine as the view looks.
- One pouch can handle 40 gallons of wastewater
- Non-staining dye colors waste a pleasant blue
- Breaks down waste and paper efficiently
- Preserves waste to reduce natural odor build-up
- Unique, subtle and fresh fragrance
- Good for septic cultures
- Easily administered
- Resealable bag
- May take 2 pouches to fully deodorize in very hot climates
- May need to buy multiple packs
Our number deux deuce deodorizer is the number one rated organic holding tank treatment on the market. The Happy campers formula is a powdered agent, so it’s not quite as convenient as our favorite pick, but you do get 64 treatments in one tub.
We know not all of you enjoy synthetic fragrances. Maybe you have sensitive noses or it triggers your asthma. Maybe you want to immerse yourself in the natural scents of your environment. Well, you’ll be happy to know that this tank treatment is completely odor-free.
That’s not to say that this treatment won’t quell the odor of your tanks, because it absolutely will. The water-activated mineral blend completely neutralizes any unsavory build-ups in both your grey and black water without the use of any disguising fragrances.
A single scoop of this organic odor-eater will take care of a 40-gallon tank of black water, while a second scoop will deal with your grey water. Unlike a lot of other tank treatments, this solution isn’t affected by residuals of previous treatments, so don’t worry about a full clean before making the switch.
An organic label means this treatment is going to be completely non-toxic. It uses natural bacteria that won’t interfere with septic cultures or harm the environment. It’s totally formaldehyde-free, biodegradable and safe. Don’t worry about buying any specialized expensive toilet paper. This stuff breaks down waste so effectively, some customers use it to unclog their plumbing.
- Organic formula is great for septic cultures and the environment
- You get 64 treatments from one box
- Treats both black and grey water tanks
- Completely obliterates natural odor build-up
- Unaffected by residuals
- Breaks down waste incredibly well
- Easy to use
- Can be used to unblock plumbing
- Available in bigger tubs
- Needs to be thoroughly stirred to dissolve before a flush
Providing one of your five a day (for your nose anyway) is our citrusy third place dynamo. This formula is going to blast away those nasty smells and fill your RV with the sweet smell of fresh oranges.
The Camco Citrus Treatment comes in the same super convenient pre-portioned pouches as our number one pick. You simply pick one out and flush it away. It couldn’t be any easier. It’s also a really cost-effective solution to your holding tank predicament. You get 30 pouches in one very fairly priced tub. A couple of those in a cupboard and you’re ready for one hell of an adventure.
Breaking down waste is no problem for this ultra-concentrated formula. It should liquify any solids, making disposal easy as can be. It also includes potent odor stopping agents, so before you even smell the oranges, the air is clean and fresh.
Much like our other favorite picks, this Camco treatment is made without bronopol. Bronopol is the ingredient in septic tank treatments that releases formaldehyde. These pouches are totally biodegradable and safe for use, each with the power to cleanse 40 gallons of wastewater.
- Lovely orange scent
- Destroys natural odor build-up
- One pouch treats up to 40 gallons of water
- Breaks down waste really well
- Comes in tubs of 30
- Pouches are rarely prone to breaking over the course of delivery
Dissolving into our number four position is this total odor obliterator from Thetford. This is for the campers who take no prisoners, the RV rovers that demand military-grade waste management solutions.
The Aqua-Kem formula comes pre-dissolved in a secure bottle with an ergonomic handle; although, you can find it in sachets and pouches if you’d prefer. A free liquid isn’t quite as convenient as a sachet or a single scoop powder as you have to measure out how much you need. It does however allow you to be very precise with the application.
For instance, if you have a 60-gallon holding tank and only the pouches that clean 40 gallons a pop, you’re going to have to waste 20 gallons of cleaning potential. WIth the Aqua-Kem liquid, you can pour in exactly what you need. It’s also completely unscented so you can enjoy a nice neutral aroma.
A powerful three in one formula, Aqua-Kem fully liquidates waste, controls odors, and cleans your whole tank. It’s 100% biodegradable but, unfortunately, it does use the formaldehyde emitting bronopol ingredient. This will make it an intensive cleaning solution, but formaldehyde does release toxic vapors over time. We worry that if scents can escape you holding tank and invade your living quarters, then so could these toxic vapors.
We think this is a great product to use in conjunction with a safer pouch portion treatment. You could use the pouch portion for the majority of your tank maintenance needs, then use the Aqua-Kem for precise top-ups. This way you keep the toxins to a minimum whilst maximizing tank cleaning efficiency.
- Super powerful solution that will actually clean your tank
- Breaks down waste to eliminate clogging
- Destroys foul odors
- Unscented to prevent any sickly or overpowering smells
- Liquid allows you to precise with your treatments
- Good to use in conjunction with other portioned products
- Contains formaldehyde
- Quite pricey
Making your portable potty palatable in the last spot of our pleasantly smelling list is an all-natural product with all the cleaning power you could ever need. This treatment comes in a 33.8-ounce bottle which gives you a mammoth 68 applications with each portion measured at ½ an ounce.
Ever heard of struvites? Well, they’re a solid crystalline residue that builds up in septic tanks. They harden tissue, making it difficult to be processed, and are the number one cause of sensor failure. Tank Techs Rx is the only brand on our list to claim their solution can break down these crystals and prevent further build-ups.
As an all-natural treatment, it uses probiotic microorganisms exclusively to combat bad smells. This means it’s good for your septic tank, and it’s good for the environment. It’s also completely unscented to keep your nose in neutral. Customers reported that this treatment was very effective for breaking down solid waste.
This product is perfect for treating both black and grey water tanks and must be measured by you for application. Again, as we explained during our fourth review, this has its benefits and fallbacks. Unlike our fourth squalor squasher, this product is completely formaldehyde-free, yay!
Due to its probiotic makeup, this substance tends to work more efficiently in warmer weather than colder weather. This is interesting as it is usually the opposite. Perhaps it’s worth using this in conjunction with another treatment that excels in the cold.
- All-natural recipe
- Fights build-ups of and existing struvites
- Protects sensor
- Good for both black and grey water tanks
- Fairly affordable
- 68 portions per bottle
- Works well in warm weather conditions
- Liquid form makes it a little bit fiddly to use
- Might not be quite as efficient in cold temperatures
Best RV Holding Tank Treatment Buying Guide
Let’s discuss some of the things to consider when searching for the best RV holding tank treatment for you.
Pre-dissolved solutions that come in bottles are perfect for precision treatments. You can measure out exactly how much you think you need and flush it straight down the toilet.
With pouches, convenience is king. You simply flush one away and you’re done; however, you don’t normally get as many treatments in total. Make sure your pouch is biodegradable and soluble.
Powders will normally come with a measuring device such as a plastic scoop. They’re easily administered but some might need extra agitation to properly dissolve before being flushed.
Try to find a holding tank treatment that fits the size of your tank. Most of the best products on the market will treat 40 gallons of water per portion. If you have a much smaller tank, there’s no need to waste money on that kind of potency.
Similarly, if you have a bigger tank, you should look for something a bit stronger or use liquid products to measure out the perfect dose.
Scented or Unscented
Neither one of these kinds of treatments are any better than the other purely because they do or do not have a synthetic smell. It all comes down to personal preference. Having a perfumed product will be really pleasant as it combats other extraneous odors as well as those emanating from your holding tanks.
That said, it might be worth reading up on some customer reviews to see how powerful the scents can get. Being stuck with one especially sweet or overpowering scent might grow irritating or sickly. If you’re on a rather long trip, you’re going to have to deal with that singular smell a lot.
Unscented products are often preferred for a few reasons. They’re less invasive and create a neutral smelling environment. This is fantastic for those of you who really want to experience the sites, sounds, and smells of your journey. Imagine driving on a road bordered by dense pine forests, but all you can smell is chemically synthesized lavender. Picture parking up in a field full of wildflowers, waiting for a storm to hit. Instead of petals and petrichor, you get...chemically synthesized lavender.
Another great aspect of unscented products is that they won’t trigger any kind of respiratory ailments such as asthma, and you can tell when and how well they’re working. They don’t rely on any perfumes to hide unfinished business in the tank.
Ideally, you’ll find a product that’s good for the environment as well as your tank. Certain chemicals traditionally used for the cleaning of septic tanks aren’t entirely harmless. This isn’t just important for the eco-conscious. Normally things that are considered toxic to the environment are also highly toxic to humans.
As we’ve discussed in our reviews, products containing formaldehyde can release toxic vapors into the air or seep toxins into water, although they clean exceedingly well. If you must use formaldehyde-based products, do some research into steps the company has taken to reduce risks.
Dyes are a really neat feature when it comes to waste treatment. It can make dealing with it far more pleasant as it looks so dissimilar to normal waste. Unfortunately, dyes can spread and stain other aspects of waste systems and even affect water supplies. Look for products that have specialized dyes that are safe for use.
Septic Tank Culture
Another reason for an all-natural solution is that your tank and the sewage system you’ll dump your waste in eventually have particular bacterial cultures. Introducing harmful chemicals into these systems could disrupt these cultures and affect the whole sewage process.
Dissolvable and Biodegradable
No matter what treatment you settle on, it absolutely must be soluble. If it doesn’t dissolve in water, it’s going to leave a residue in your tank that could eventually cause a blockage or damage to the sensor.
It’s equally important that your solution is biodegradable. If for instance, it comes in a pouch, the waste they would produce if they were indelible would clog your system and any larger systems you deposited your waste into.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use bleach to clean my RV holding tank?
Yes, you can use bleach to clean your RV holding tank, although it’s important you use an appropriate amount.
Can I dump the grey water from my RV on the ground?
Sometimes. It depends on what state you’re in as the laws vary. Even if ground dumping is legal in a state, it may only refer to one particular source of grey water such as bathing refuse. Check up on the area’s laws and health codes to find out where they stand on the matter.
Is it okay to dump black water from my RV?
You should never just dump your black water. That would be a massive health hazard and, frankly, an awful thing to do. It needs to be disposed of properly at a specialized dumping station.
All done and dusted folks. This is all the information you need to go out and make an informed decision about a tank treatment that will suit your needs. Now you can sit back, relax, plan that next trip, and flush all your worries down the toilet.