Gone Outdoors

How to Make a Chemical for the RV Holding Tank

by Rene Agredano

Deodorizing and cleaning of holding tanks is a popular discussion among RV owners. Many campers choose to purchase commercial brands of ready-made tank chemicals and deodorizers. However, many of these products have caustic ingredients that are environmentally unsound. As a result, some RV owners are choosing to make their own holding tank treatments. These homemade chemicals are inexpensive to make and friendly to the planet. One popular method is called The Geo Method, which breaks up solids in your tank and replaces the need for commercial chemicals and deodorizers.

Purchase powdered water softener mix, powdered laundry soap and household chlorine bleach at your grocery store. These homemade RV holding tank chemical ingredients can be found in the laundry products aisle. Most RV systems will require about two boxes of softener. The water softener helps solid waste loosen up from the sides of the tanks.

Hook up your RV to water and sewer outlets, and have a hot water source available. With your RV tanks empty and the sewer valves closed, take 2 cups of water softener product and dissolve them into a 1-gallon bucket of steaming hot water.

Use your funnel to pour the water softener mixture down kitchen drains first, followed by your bathroom sinks, then into the toilet. Next, pour 1 cup of laundry detergent into the toilet tank. Adding laundry soap to the toilet tank will provide extra cleaning action. You do not need to add laundry soap to your gray water tanks, because these compartments regularly get enough detergents inside during normal use. You can leave this homemade holding tank chemical inside your tanks, until they are full again.

Proceed to use your RV waste water tanks normally. When they are about halfway full, add about 1 cup of bleach to your holding tanks. This final step will sanitize your tanks by killing off accumulated bacteria in your waste water. Adding bleach will also eliminate any odors resulting from normal use. Continue using your RV as usual, following normal waste water elimination procedures. Repeat the process as instructed above.

Items you will need
  • Funnel
  • Water softener powder
  • Laundry detergent powder
  • Household liquid chlorine bleach
  • Fresh water
  • Sewer system connection

Tip

  • Use a clear elbow connector at your RV sewer line connection to help you know if the tanks are rinsing properly. You should be able to see the color of the waste water change from dark gray and brown to light gray.

Warning

  • Regular cleaning and sanitizing your tank is critical. Neglecting this important maintenance procedure can cause odors, clogged waste water lines and microbial infestations.

About the Author

Rene Agredano is a traveling journalist and entrepreneur based in Fort Collins, Colo. Since 1998, she has covered travel, home-and-garden, fitness, animal care and other lifestyle topics for publications such as "The Times-Standard" newspaper of northern California. Agredano holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Chapman University.

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