RV toilets are handy to have on a road trip. However, it must be managed thoroughly to ensure the tanks can break down the waste until it is time to dump them.
Because these tanks are somehow large and use a small system to be lightweight and easy to manage, what you flush down the toilet does really matter.
Preventing blockages and untimely fill-ups provides for fewer trips to the dump. But this begs the question: Can tampons go down straight in an RV or Camper toilet?
Technically, you can flush tampons in an RV or Camper toilet. However, you should not do so as they do not break down quickly and could either clog your tank or cause foul odors.
Only urine, stools, water, and RV-approved toilet paper can be flushed down an RV toilet.
Keep in mind that the things that you are flushing down in an RV toilet will reduce the pressure on the septic system and stop clogging. Hence, it is important to use toilet paper that breaks down quickly, depending on the sensitivity of the tank.
Running into difficulties on a trip can be frustrating, time-consuming, and costly if you damage your RV toilet.
Let this post be your guide on how to properly dispose of tampons while riding an RV and how to maintain the condition of the RV septic tank system thoroughly.
How Does an RV Septic System Work?
With the use of tanks, all your plumbing is drained, and once it is full, it requires to be settled at dumpsites. Understanding the course of an RV septic system will further show why you should be cautious when flushing your tampon down the toilet.
RV Holding Tanks
The RV holding tanks and the septic system runs in a way that distributes different treatments for campers. And knowing the process can be illuminating.
The majority of RVs will have three tanks making up the RV plumbing system. They are as follows:
- Freshwater tank: The drinking water that is refilled at RV campgrounds and parks is stocked here. It can be reliably applied for drinking but also for washing too.
- Greywater tank: Whenever water is utilized inside the RV or camp, it goes down from the shower, sinks, or elsewhere to the grey water tank. Because it’s been applied to wash yourself, to wash vegetables, and for other needs, it’s not clean at that period. This is why it’s called greywater, even though it is still visually fairly clear. Not all RVs work with a grey water tank, but most of the later models will do.
- Blackwater tank: This is the tank where your toilet waste product fills. That involves RV toilet paper (but not the standard toilet paper or feminine hygiene products). Solids are broken down, so nothing irregular must be embedded into the black water tank that can block that. Doing so will surely block it up making it more difficult to clear and might lead to a bad smell inside the living area.
RV toilet cleaners attached to the black tank help to quicken the breakdown of waste products. However, RV toilet paper is also built to disintegrate faster than the regular type.
Monitor the sensors for tank fill levels to avoid reaching the limit. Don’t let the tank reach its limit as you’re unlikely to drive near an RV dump station when you require one.
Why You Should Not Flush Tampons Straight Down in an RV or Camper Toilet?
Using things that break down quickly is key for the RV tank to run correctly. Meanwhile, tampons are devised with absorption in mind, and their capability to keep liquid without breaking down is what makes them so powerful.
If you were to set a tampon in water, you would notice it expand to absorb water and then stay in position. This is exactly the type of thing that you don’t want to put into an RV septic tank.
It is typical for several sewage systems outside of an RV to urge you not to flush feminine products down the toilet. Not only do tampons swell the tank and not break down quickly, but they can also obstruct the piping system (septic system or not).
Clogging the piping with things that cannot break down may require you to take them out yourself or have to hire a plumber to fix the issue.
When working with tampon extraction, plungers and snakes could make the problem more serious. You can avoid these obstacles by taking proper care in using your RV toilet.
When tampons, solid toilet paper, and other things are flushed down in an RV toilet, the accumulation of solid substances forms blockages and restricts the proper flow of the toilet.
Alternative Ways of Flushing Down a Tampon
Tampons technically should not be flushed down on any toilet system. What you can do instead is put them in a disposable bag and toss them in the garbage.
The most suitable options to flushing a tampon down in an RV or Camper toilet involve:
- Trash can: Wrap it up in paper (carry some plastic bags along the way for ease) and place it in the trash you can remove at stops. Particularly in an RV, with multiple campsites and rest stops possible, you should be able to throw them away immediately.
- Menstrual cups: Used as an environmentally friendly option to tampons, this period solution only needs emptying the cup, which can be performed in the toilet, and washing. There is no disposal needed for this method.
- Cloth alternatives: Cloth pads or underwear that have excellent absorption can be applied instead of a tampon. This is typically kept for light flow days in the menstrual period.
Because tampons and other things that cannot be broken down lead to the landfill anyway, tossing away your tampon in the garbage does the same.
Bear in mind, a tampon applicator should never be flushed down a toilet as this plastic can severely impair a plumbing system. Flushing your tampon straight down on any toilet is even more damaging for the septic systems that are quite susceptible to the accumulation of material and potential blockages.
According to Tampax, tampons can’t be recycled. So, the best thing you can do with them is to throw them in the garbage. If you see a public bathroom that doesn’t have a readily accessible bin and don’t feel satisfied wrapping up your tampon in toilet paper and bringing it to the nearest one, you can purchase discreet and biodegradable disposal bags, like those from FabLittleBag.
RV Black Tank Clogged with Tampon
Here’s the thing: It is not easy to fix an RV’s black tank that is clogged with a tampon.
You’ll be required to apply a gallon or more of boiling water and discharge it into the toilet. Give it 12-24 hours to break down the waste. That may support removing any stuck items including tampons. Then proceed to an RV dump station to dump the tank the following day.
While it’s an imperfect solution, doing it repeatedly can clear some of the most obstinate clogs in an RV black tank.
What Else Can and Cannot be Flushed in an RV Toilet?
Like tampons, wipes should not be flushed down an RV toilet, either.
The real question is what happens to them once they reach the holding tank. There is such a thing as flushable wipes. But because the world is not that perfect, most of these products do not really break down as stated.
Without those particular exemptions, it is not a sensible move to flush wipes down an RV toilet. Wipes will also do the same damages as tampons. They will not break down and could clog and lead to other problems inside your black water holding tank.
The simple way to flush down breakable wipes is not to clear the holding tank right away. You will be required to wait for 2 to 3 hours before it will be safe to dump the contents of your tank.
You can easily flush toilet paper straight down your RV’s toilet but you should also be careful with the brand you use. Regular toilet paper may not reach the water right away and maintain its solid form for some time. This could lead to some problems when you clear and clean the tank.
Plus, regular toilet paper normally carries a lot of chemicals that can be very damaging to your RV’s septic system.
Instead of using regular toilet paper, you should shift to an RV-friendly toilet paper that can be easily purchased. This variant of toilet paper breaks down quickly and easily. It also does not carry any harsh chemicals that will damage your septic system.
The great news is that there are several brands of this toilet paper on the market so buying some for your RV use should not be complicated.
While you can flush a variety of stuff down your RV toilet, your RV toilet and holding tank may not be built to manage those materials.
Here are some items you can flush down your RV toilet:
- RV friendly toilet paper. It may not be soft but it won’t obstruct the piping system of your septic system.
- Recycled toilet paper. As long as there are no dyes, fragrances, and chlorine employed.
- Marine toilet paper. It is great for boats, thus it is suitable for RVs.
Here are those things you should not flush down your RV toilet:
- Food. Your RV toilet is not a garbage disposal. Food can obstruct the piping system of your septic system.
- Sanitary products (including tampons). Tampons expand not decay, making them terrible things in a holding tank.
- Diapers. These are not created to dissolve or go away instantly.
- Wipes. While there are flushable wipes, most do not disintegrate in the holding tank.
- Creams, lotions, and chemicals. These can produce damage to the piping system and holding tank.
- Napkins, facial tissues, and paper towels. These items do not always disintegrate the way you think or as fast as you hope.
How Much Water Should be Used to Flush an RV Toilet?
This question actually has several answers. First of all, the amount of water you use on an RV flush depends on your personal preference. There is the chance of flushing too much water and too little, but that would be up to you to measure.
The rule of thumb is to let 2 to 3 inches of water make the first flush, then wait 1 or 2 seconds before sealing the valve off. Another thing you can do is load the bowl with water before flushing.
Your third option is to count to three after the flush and then you can stop the water from running into the black water tank. You can estimate by eye how much water gets out of your black water tank. But you can double-check to detect if you are using too much water.
More water in the tank can be a hint that you must cut back on your water use a bit. It will be a bit of trial and error to determine the correct balance for you.
RV Toilet Flush Capacity
RV toilets are devised to be more water-efficient than your normal household toilet. The latter can utilize about 18 1/2 gallons a day when flushing regularly. Of course, that sum depends on the type of toilet you own in your home bathrooms.
On the other hand, a reliable RV toilet is built to use only 1 1/2 gallons per day under regular flushing circumstances. Again, this may depend on the brand, make, and model of your RV toilet. It also varies on your flushing habits.
How to Keep Your RV Toilet Running Well?
There are some key points you should ensure to keep the RV toilet and black water tank in excellent condition:
- Degradable toilet paper: Even more valuable than flushing tampons, the kind of toilet paper has a vital impact on your RV toilet. Apply 1-ply paper or types that will quickly break down. This will deter most of the blockages that are encountered in RV toilets.
- Only flush waste: Hopefully, this post has shown that only waste and minimal toilet paper should be flushed down straight to your RV toilet. It limits the need to clean frequently and will keep your system in a more reliable condition!
- Chemical applications: Adding treatments to the black water tank will aid in sanitizing the tank after unloading, help break down accumulation easier, and help with odors. This is an essential part of keeping your RV tanks.
- Flush often: Putting water down the toilet regularly will keep anything that may have gone caught in the tank moving and keep the system operating smoothly. Make sure there is adequate water in the bowl (more may be required to be added) before flushing to avoid tension on the system.
Beyond clearing your tanks whenever required, keeping the tank with these preventative steps will extend the life of your tanks.
Mounting problems not only get in the way of your ventures, but they can be expensive if a replacement or professional intervention is required for solutions.
Why is Flushing Tampons Such a Big Deal?
The main cause is that tampons don’t break down easily in the wastewater system. The bottom line is to flush only the three P’s in an RV toilet: pee, poop, and paper.
Flushing anything other than pee, poop, and paper can damage the piping system of your holding tank. We may even see tampons that make their way through the pipes of the holding tank, completely intact. They don’t easily break up like toilet paper.
RV toilets are a lot like normal toilets you own in your home. They render temptation for fast disposal of those things you want no one to see or may create a mess.
Keeping tampons and other solids away from the RV toilet is the best method to avert further damage and achieve the longest life from your RV’s septic system.
While it may require extra action and a little more difficulty, it still beats the trouble of the consequence of clogged black water tanks.
Unfortunately, RV toilets and holding tanks are not built to manage those products. Also, the chemicals associated may generate a lot of repair expenses when they break your septic system.
If you have space in your RV’s bathroom, put a garbage can with a lid to handle those items when you are required to get rid of them. Or you can place plastic bags inside the bathroom to make sure users can endure temptation.
Making sure there are disposable alternatives other than the toilet itself in your RV will save you a lot of money.