How to Clean an RV Toilet & Keep It Smelling Fresh

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It’s important to keep the toilet in your RV clean. But beware, cleaning an RV toilet differs from your home toilet.

To avoid damaging your camper toilet and plumbing, we show you step-by-step how to clean an RV toilet the right way and keep it smelling fresh!

What Do You Clean RV Toilets With?

It’s important to use the correct cleaning supplies for your RV toilet. Not only do RV toilets come in different types of materials (often, RV owners don’t know what it’s made of), but any cleaner you use in your toilet will empty into your black water tank.

Because of this, you need to make sure you use safe, non-abrasive toilet bowl cleaners that work on many different surfaces and are effective. That may sound like a lot to ask out of a camper toilet cleaner!

So, what cleaner is safe for RV toilets?

Thetford Aqua Clean RV Toilet Cleaner

From the maker of some of the best RV toilets on the market, today is a safe and powerful solution for cleaning RV toilets – Thetford Aqua Clean RV Toilet Cleaner.

The reason I prefer this cleaner is because it’s one cleaner that does it all! This gentle and effective cleaner is perfect for your RV toilet bowl, countertops, sinks, showers, and tubs. Essentially, it’s one bottle to handle the majority of my cleaning.

Other benefits include:

  • Won’t scratch any surfaces
  • Works great on plastic, fiberglass, and porcelain surfaces in RVs, on boats, and anywhere really
  • Removes hard water and iron stains, soap scum, and more
  • Safe on your toilet seal
  • Bleach-free
  • 100% biodegradable

Check out this quick video for a closer look at Thetford Aqua Clean RV Toilet Bowl Cleaner.

Thetford RV UltraFoam Aqua Clean Kitchen & Bath Cleaner
Thetford Premium RV Aqua-Clean Kitchen and Bath Cleaner

Thetford Premium RV Aqua-Clean Kitchen and Bath Cleaner

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Non-Abrasive Bowl Brush or Sponge

The only other thing you’ll need to clean your RV toilet is a non-abrasive bowl brush or sponge. Really, any bowl brush will work as long as it’s soft bristle. And if you use a sponge, be sure it’s non-abrasive and won’t scratch the toilet bowl.

If you’re looking for ideas for a stylish and safe toilet bowl brush, check out this brush with soft silicone bristles (that are super easy to clean) and a heavy-duty aluminum handle.

POPTEN Toilet Brush and Holder Set

POPTEN Toilet Brush and Holder Set

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How to Clean an RV Toilet Bowl

With the proper cleaning supplies, cleaning your camper toilet is as easy as 1,2,3…

Step 1: Spray Toilet Bowl With Cleaner

Spray the inside of your toilet bowl evenly with cleaner. Let the bowl cleaner sit for 5-10 minutes to allow it to break down any stains and build up.

Step 2: Scrub Bowl

Next, we will want to use our non-abrasive bowl brush or sponge to scrub the toilet bowl clean. If you have a plastic toilet, it’s even more important to use a soft bristle brush or non-abrasive sponge as they tend to scratch easily.

Step 3: Rinse With Clean Water

After scrubbing, simply rinse the toilet out with a few flushes. The cleaner will flush down to your black holding tank and help break down waste in there, as well.

Important: Do NOT use concentrated cleaners, scouring powders, or other harsh chemicals, as they may ruin the toilet, damage the toilet seal, and even void any warranty you might have left on your toilet.

How to Keep Your Toilet (And RV) Smelling Fresh

Since a camper toilet works differently than a home toilet, there are several tips we can follow to ensure that not only the toilet stays clean and fresh but the RV bathroom and the entire vehicle itself stay fresh, as well.

Clean Your Toilet Regularly

To keep your toilet as clean as possible and to make subsequent cleanings easier, you’ll want to ensure you regularly clean your RV toilet.

It’s also a good idea to flush often! Water is your camper toilet and black tank’s best friend.

Clean Your Black Tank Regularly

If your RV bathroom is starting to smell… less than fresh… then the main culprit is likely your black water tank., not your toilet. Essentially, your toilet sits over a large tank of your waste, so a foul smell coming from the tank is not that big of a surprise. But you can limit the odor from escaping by regularly cleaning your black water tank.

Use Drop-In Packets

Of course, you can’t keep it clean ALL the time, but you can keep it smelling fresh between cleanings using drop-in packets. These special black tank treatments help break down waste in the tank and remove odors. Plus, they are super simple to use – just drop one in your toilet and flush!

Camco TST MAX Drop-Ins

Camco TST MAX Drop-Ins

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Turn The Bathroom Vent Fan Off When Flushing

Your bathroom vent usually does a great job of removing unwanted odors from your bathroom, but when you flush your toilet, it essentially sucks the foul odors and fumes out of your holding tank and into your bathroom. So, continue to run your fan, but shut it off during the flushing process.

If there’s still a problem even after shutting your vent fan off, check out our guide to fixing an RV toilet that smells when flushed.

Use Dissolvable Toilet Paper

Regular household toilet paper may lead to clogs and nasty odors coming from your holding tank. It can also stick to your holding tank sensors, causing false readings.

While their effectiveness is debatable, RV-safe toilet paper dissolves quickly and easily, thus reducing the possibility of clogs and broken systems.

Scott Rapid-Dissolving Toilet Paper

Scott Rapid-Dissolving Toilet Paper

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If your toilet is (or gets) clogged, check out our guide on how to unclog a camper toilet.


Can You Use Regular Toilet Bowl Cleaner in an RV Toilet?

In general, yes, you can use regular toilet cleaner to clean the bowl of an RV toilet. However, it’s important to make sure the cleaner doesn’t contain bleach or harsh chemicals, as these could damage the bowl, seals and valves, and potentially the black water tank.

Every RV toilet and plumbing system can be a bit different, so it’s always a good idea to check your owner’s manual or consult with the manufacturer for specific cleaning and maintenance advice.

2 thoughts on “How to Clean an RV Toilet & Keep It Smelling Fresh”

    • Depends on the toilet. But, if you haven’t already, try cleaning the seal first and rubbing some petroleum jelly on it. Then make sure the seal is properly set. Wear gloves, put a finger down the hole, and run it around the inside edge while pulling up to ensure it’s sealed tight.


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