How To Unclog an RV Toilet (8 Simple Tips & Tricks)

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RV toilets don’t work the same way as residential toilets, and they can be more difficult to unclog. Fortunately, there are some tried and true methods for unclogging your RV toilet.

Keep reading to understand why your RV potty is clogged and learn how to unclog an RV toilet.

How Does an RV Toilet Become Clogged?

RV Toilet shot from above with lid closed.
RV Toilet Clogs are Caused by a Blockage in the Line or Buildup in the Black Tank

RV toilets should not clog if the black tank is being used and maintained properly. RV toilet clogs are typically caused by not using the toilet properly or not thoroughly cleaning out the black holding tank when dumping.

The first type of RV toilet clog occurs when waste or toilet paper gets stuck in the line and causes a clog near the toilet. This can easily be avoided by using an RV safe toilet paper and flushing with a sufficient amount of water.

RV clogs can also occur due to buildup in the black tank. If an insufficient amount of water is used when flushing or the a black tank is not cleaned properly, waste will build up in the bottom of the tank.

In time, the buildup will prevent you from fully dumping the tank, and eventually, the waste can build up to the top of the tank and up to your toilet.

How to Unclog an RV Toilet

Now that you understand how your RV toilet became clogged, let’s talk about how to unclog an RV toilet. The following methods for unclogging an RV toilet are listed started with the easiest solution.

Pour Hot Water Into the Toilet

How to Unclog an RV Toilet: Use Hot Water
How to Unclog an RV Toilet: Use Hot Water

If the clog is located in the toilet pipe, the hot water method is the easiest way to unclog your RV toilet. The hot water will break up and flush out any blockages in your lines.

Simply bring a large pot of water to a boil and carefully pour it down your toilet. If the first pot of water does not clear the clog, repeat two to three times before moving onto the next step.

Use a Drain Snake

If you still have a clog after using the hot water method or the bowl is too full to add additional water, use a drain snake (or toilet auger) to try to break up the clog.

Insert the snake into the toilet, and move it up and down and around in circles to break up any debris in the line. If the snake partially breaks the clog, so water is slowly draining out of the toilet, you can follow up with the hot water method or a tank rinser to fully flush out the clog.

Use a Tank Rinser

If hot water does not unclog your RV toilet, purchase a Camco tank rinser to finish the job. This tool is designed specifically to break up clogs. We recommend purchasing the Swivel Stik rinser, which will still be effective even if your black tank is not directly below the toilet.

To use, simply attach the tank rinsing tool to the end of a standard garden hose. The hose will need to reach inside your RV, so you may need an extra long hose depending on where your water connection is located.

Then, insert the rinser into your toilet and down the line as far as possible. Turn on the water and allow the pressure to break up the clog. Move the hose around to shoot the water from different angles and break up any buildup in your black tank.

Use a Reverse Flush Valve

If the clog is in the tank and your black tank is not emptying properly, use a reverse flush valve to break up and clear waste in the tank. The valve is attached between your RV’s sewer connection and the sewer hose.

To use, attached a garden hose to the inlet on the reverse flush valve. Open the black tank valve on your RV and close the valve on the reverse flush valve.

Then, turn on the water. Water will shoot up into your black tank, helping to clear any buildup and clogs. Turn off the water before your black tank fills up, and open the valve to empty the tank.

Repeat the process until the build up in your black tank is gone and the water draining out is clear.

How to Prevent RV Toilet Clogs

Now that your RV toilet clog has been cleared, let’s review how to prevent clogs in the future.

Use RV Safe Toilet Paper

Woman holding the best RV Toilet paper. She is sitting on RV steps with dog.
How to Prevent RV Toilet Clogs: Use the Right Toilet Paper

The easiest way to prevent RV toilet clogs is to use the right toilet paper. It is not necessary to buy toilet paper made specifically for RVs, but only single-ply, septic safe toilet paper should be used in an RV.

Thicker toilet papers that do not easily dissolve in water will end up clogging your RV toilet pipes or building up in your black tank.

See our guide to the best RV toilet paper for details on how to test toilet paper before using in an RV.

Use Lots of Water when Flushing

Water in RV Toilet Bowl
How to Prevent RV Toilet Clogs: Use Lots of Water

Another common cause of RV black tank clogs is an insufficient amount of water. If you do not use enough water when flushing your toilet, paper could get stuck in the line.

A lack of water in the tank will also delay the breakdown of waste and paper in the black tank, allowing buildup to occur.

Dump Tanks the Right Way

How to Dump RV Tanks at Home
How to Prevent RV Toilet Clogs: Dump Tanks Properly

Emptying your black tank is not as simple as opening the valve. Black tanks need to be flushed each time they are drained to ensure the tank is fully cleaned.

First, your holding tanks should remain closed until they are close to full or you need to dump before travel.

When you are ready to properly dump your tanks, start by emptying the black tank. Then, empty the gray tank(s). After the initial drain, it is time to flush your black tank.

To flush the tank, connect a garden hose from the campsite water connection to the black water flush valve on your RV.  Let the water run until the black tank is almost full. 

Once the tank is almost full, turn off the water and drain the tank again. Repeat the flushing process until the water coming out of your black tank is clear.

See more detailed instructions in our complete guide to RV holding tanks.

Use Black Tank Treatment

The final step in preventing clogs is regularly using a black tank treatment. These treatments help break down waste and toilet paper, and prevent odors in your RV.

After dumping your black tank, add a little water to the tank either through the black tank flush valve or by flushing your toilet. Then, add the treatment to water in your toilet bowl and flush it down.

Thanks for reading our guide on how to unclog an RV toilet. We hope your black tank issue has been fully resolved.

To prevent more problems in your RV, download our RV maintenance checklist with essential RV upkeep tasks.

Happy Camping!

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