Eliminating RV Toilet Odors

Toilet odors are the most annoying problems you may encounter when camping in your recreational vehicle. Instead of you having fun and enjoy the fresh air and calm and quiet of nature, enter your recreational vehicle’s toilet and its various smells and odors.

Odor in Recreational Vehicle (RV)

Vacation and fun ruined! But do not worry. Just like any other problems people encounter, there is a solution to these toilet odors. Well, not just one solution, actually, but several.

Learn about them as you read on, and probably, you will find one which will suit you best and will be effective in eliminating your recreational vehicle’s toilet odors.


There are different factors which may cause the nasty smell on your recreational vehicle’s toilet. If you encounter foul smell on your recreational vehicle’s toilet, find out what is causing it and do something about it.


Your recreational vehicle’s toilet might not have proper ventilation. This is the reason why the odor inside lingers and is not flushed out of your recreational vehicle. Find out what is wrong with your ventilation.

The exhaust system might probably be clogged or is not working properly. What you should do is clean the exhaust and check if there are parts missing or loose and work on it. Make sure that you re-install it properly and check that it is working perfectly.

If not, and you feel you cannot fix it, then probably it is time for you to call an expert to fix your recreational vehicle’s vent and exhaust system.

The Temperature Outside

An increase in temperature outside your recreational vehicle can contribute to the odor on your recreational vehicle’s toilet.

Hot Weather

It cannot be denied that if the temperature is too hot, bacteria forms inside your recreational vehicle’s holding tanks, causing the unpleasant odor to be present in your recreational vehicle’s toilet.

To prevent this problem from happening, it is advised that the temperature of your recreational vehicle’s holding tanks must be regulated. The minimum temperature which is ideal for your recreational vehicle’s holding tanks is 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Maximum temperature would be around 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you feel that it is too hot outside and that your recreational vehicle’s holding tanks have exceeded its maximum ideal temperature, it is advised that you pour cold water or some ice inside your holding tanks.

There are cases where pouring ice or cold water inside your recreational vehicle’s holding tanks may not be enough. If the temperature outside is too hot, here are some things you can do to prevent the formation of bacteria:

  • Treatment should be increased, but only enough to not kill naturally-forming bacteria
  • Pour more water into your recreational vehicle’s holding tanks
  • Dumping your recreational vehicle’s holding tanks more often

Cold Weather

If the temperature outside is cold, bacteria may also form in your recreational vehicle’s holding tanks and pipes. So it is not just during hot weather that bacteria are present. If this is the case, make sure that your recreational vehicle’s holding tanks and pipes are well insulated and prepared for the cold weather.

Water In Your Recreational Vehicle’s Toilet Is Not Sufficient

Another factor which can cause a foul odor in your recreational vehicle’s toilet is insufficient water. Water acts as a barrier so no sewage gas can escape into your recreational vehicle. You would not like the terrible smell of sewage gas to invade your recreational vehicle, would you?

To be safe about sewage gas, make sure that there are at least several inches of water left in your toilet bowl when you park your recreational vehicle. The nasty smell of sewage can not only be annoying, but it can also affect your health.

Insufficient Water In Your Recreational Vehicle’s Holding Tanks

One cause of odor in the toilet of your recreational vehicle is that the water in your recreational vehicle’s holding tanks is not enough.

If there is not enough water, there is a tendency for your holding tanks to dry up. This will kill bacteria which form naturally, which are responsible for breaking down the waste materials which go into your holding tanks. 

Once these waste materials are not dissolved, they emit a foul odor, causing the toilet of your recreational vehicle to smell terrible.

So that this situation will be prevented, make sure that your holding tanks have enough water. The reason for this is so that bacteria will form naturally and break down the waste materials in your recreational vehicle’s holding tanks.


Most people often neglect other factors which are related ( in one way or the other) to the odor that the toilet of their recreational vehicles emit. Aside from the causes mentioned above, they should also give important attention to the waste materials in their recreational vehicle’s holding tanks.

You may have been advised to use chemicals for these waste materials. Be careful with the chemicals that you are using on your recreational vehicle’s holding tanks. They might do more harm than good, as they are ineffective.

Aside from not being able to break down and dissolve the waste materials on the holding tanks of your recreational vehicles, they may add more heavy materials to the said holding tanks. This will make clogging a bigger possibility.

To lessen the “load” on your recreational vehicle’s holding tanks, make sure you do not dump flushable wipes, and other hard to “digest” materials. If it cannot be avoided (like using toilet paper, and of course human waste), there are chemicals which can help you with the digestion of these waste materials in the holding tanks of your recreational vehicle.

To be safe, make sure your recreational vehicle’s holding tanks do not dry up. See to it that it has enough water always.


To prevent unpleasant odor from invading your recreational vehicle, it is best that you keep its toilet clean and maintain it properly.


Check your toilet and sewer pipes to see if there are clogs. Clogs can create a big problem for your recreational vehicle’s toilet. So make sure you get rid of these annoying clogs if you find them.

Flapper And Toilet

When cleaning the toilet of your recreational vehicle, make sure you also clean the flapper. There are times when pieces of paper (toilet paper) get stuck on the flapper. This may cause the flapper to not function properly.

In cleaning the flapper, use a clean, wet rag in wiping the area. This will take out whatever elements are stuck in the flapper. If you detect any problem and your cleaning it does not seem to solve it, it is wise to call a repairman to do the job.

It is also essential that you clean your toilet bowl inside and out. Odor in your recreational vehicle’s toilet may also be due to unclean toilet bowls. As you use it, there is a possibility that dirt may form and harden on the rim and other hard to reach parts of your toilet bowl. That is why cleaning it thoroughly as regularly as possible is a must.

Holding Tanks

Due to frequent usage, dirt may form on the walls of your holding tanks. To make sure that your tanks will not have a dirt build up, make sure you scour them. After scouring your tanks, sanitize them and put pine scented treatment to sweeten it.


Aside from the toilet of your recreational vehicle, there are other bad odor-causing factors which may invade your recreational vehicle.

Dead Animal

This usually refers to rats or rodents. It cannot be avoided that they get into your recreational vehicle and get trapped somewhere. Naturally, this will cause them to die. Once dead, these rodents can emit a very terrible smell. Make a way to find them and throw them away properly so its bad odor will not bother you and other campers.

Pet Odor And Carpet Smell

There are campers who bring their pets along with them when they go camping. It is inevitable that the odor of these pets sticks on your carpet and other furnishings. It may not be just pet odor which causes the smell, but it may also be due to the dirty carpet.

Meaning, regardless of what the cause of the carpet smell may be, you need to wash it properly before using it again. The foul smell on other furnishings which cannot be washed may be eliminated by wiping with disinfectant and pine scented cleansers.

Rotten Food And Refrigerator Odor

It cannot be avoided that you may bring along perishable food to camp. Or maybe you have cooked food which you forgot and have become moldy. These may be causes of foul odor in your RV.

Rotten food and different smell inside your refrigerator may also be one of the causes of bad odor in your RV. Once your refrigerator is untidy and unclean, it emits a bad odor when you open and closes.

It is best that you check your supplies and provisions frequently and get rid of whatever causes bad odor.


As you can see, the toilet of your recreational vehicle may not be the only culprit for four odor in your RV. Unpleasant RV odor can ruin your camping, which is supposed to be fun and relaxing.

Whatever the cause of four odor in your RV, the best thing for you to do is maintain it regularly, and clean it properly. Not only your RV’s toilet but the whole RV as well.

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