The Basics of RV Bathroom Maintenance, Part 1

When it comes to maintaining your RV, there is one topic that many often overlook: the bathroom. Sure, you keep the bathroom in your RV clean, but there is more to maintenance than simply cleaning it. A well-maintained bathroom ensures that your RV never experiences odors, problematic leaks, or expensive repairs.

In this blog post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about maintaining the bathroom in your RV. In part 2, we’ll cover a few checklists for maintenance before and after each trip.

Toilet Maintenance

When it comes to maintaining the toilet in your RV, there are a few factors to consider. Firstly, an RV toilet is a little more finicky than a home toilet, although the only real difference is that the sewer tank is attached to the RV, instead of going into a septic tank or sewer system. Regular maintenance of the toilet in your RV’s bathroom helps to prevent the build up of odors, as well as blockages and overflows, which can be expensive problems to have! Here are a few tips to keep things running smoothly.

1. Prevent Odors & Blockages

A common problem that many RV owners have is that, after a while, they start to notice sewage odors in their bathroom, as well as throughout their RV. This is due to the fact that the sewage tank is located in the RV itself and buildup has created an odor problem. You can purchase RV-specific toilet chemicals to control the odor and build up; some brands are used to help dissolve toilet paper and toilet waste, making it easier to empty the sewage tank. But remember: never use toilet chemicals designed for regular or home toilets, as they are too harsh and will wear down your plumbing, which can lead to leaks.

Those same chemicals, as mentioned, can help dissolve toilet paper, which can help to prevent blockages as well. However, remember that RV toilets are a little more delicate than home toilets; anything that cannot be easily dissolved by water or the chemicals you’ve chosen to use should not be flushed down the toilet. That includes paper towels, q tips, baby wipes, and feminine products (as well as more); these items can cause a blockage, a sewage backup, or a blocked toilet. You can also purchase toilet paper that is designed for RV toilets; it is more easily dissolved than regular toilet paper.

2. Empty Your Sewage Tank.

It’s a task that many RV owners dread, but is vital to maintaining your RV’s bathroom. However, that being said, it is easy to think that emptying the tank as often as possible is the best solution, but this actually counterproductive. You should empty your tank once it is at least ¾ full. Why? A fuller tank moves faster and empties faster (reducing the time you spend on the task); as well, this gives the chemicals you’re using in your sewage system a chance to break down waste and toilet paper, which again reduces the amount of time you spend on this task.

However, you shouldn’t put off emptying your sewage tank until it’s absolutely full; this can cause odor problems, blockages, and other issues that you definitely want to avoid!

3. Sanitize and Deep Clean

We know you know to keep your bathroom clean (no one likes a dirty bathroom!), but we highly recommend sanitizing and deep cleaning your sewage tank itself. Doing so can help prevent issues with your tank sensor saying it’s full when you know you’ve emptied it, as well as preventing odors. We like this tutorial for empting your black water tank, as well as deep cleaning.

4. Check & Repair the Toilet Seal

Before and after each trip in your RV, you should check the toilet seal. The toilet seal helps keep water in your RV toilet at all times and keeps odors at bay. When the seal hardens or dries out, it can leak, causing odors. One easy way to fix this is to use something like plumber’s grease to seal any areas that are hardened or dried out. If the seal is starting to experience a lot of wear, it might be best to replace the toilet seal entirely; we like this tutorial to do so.

Shower Maintenance

The shower of your RV can often be one of the biggest draws of owning an RV! After a long day of hiking, fishing, skiing, and other outdoor adventures, you aren’t crawling back into a tent (as fun as that is); you’re walking into a home away from home, including a hot shower. However, maintaining the shower in your RV is crucial to keeping your RV in working order for many years. We’ve written about the basics of replacing RV shower parts before here, but we want to cover some more parts of maintaining your shower.

1. Prevent Mold, Mildew, and Buildup

Let’s start with the basics: preventing buildup of anything will help keep your shower in perfect working order. Whether you have a basic shower head or a shower head with a wand, you need to keep an eye on those parts to check for anything that might cause a leak or nasty build up. Wiping fixtures after each shower goes a long way towards preventing buildup. You can also use a squeegee to push excess water towards the drain; this is specifically important for RV’s with a wet bath. A wet bath is where the shower, toilet, and, many times, the sink are in one large stall. Doing so not only prevents a buildup of mold and moisture but also helps prevent falls from rogue water later on.

After each camping trip, you should do a deep clean of your shower that includes using a cleanser and wiping everything down. Many RV owners swear by using dryer sheets to clean their shower because the fibers are enough to scrub off any build up, without damaging the surface.

2. Watch for and Repair Leaks Immediately

You might notice your shower head is leaking just a little bit, or that your shower pan is starting to get a small crack. You might be tempted to put off these replacements for later, thinking it won’t be that bad. We encourage you to never overlook or ignore leaks like these. Leaking shower heads should be replaced immediately, as should any shower pans that are starting to develop cracks or other damage. We wrote a blog post about replacing these parts several years ago; click here to read it.

Cleaning Your Bathroom

Keeping your bathroom exceptionally clean, and monitoring it for leaks or issues after each trip, is the best way to keep your RV running (and never preventing you from heading out on an adventure). We always recommend cleaning your bathroom before and after each trip in your RV. Cleaning should include checking all valves, hardware, and seals for leaks or issues that need addressed. As we mentioned, you should use cleaners specifically designed for your RV to prevent issues in your plumbing and never flush anything like paper towels or disinfectant wipes.

In part 2 of this blog post, we’ll post our tips for cleaning your RV’s bathroom, as well as checklists for maintaining your bathroom, sewage tank, and more throughout your RV to ensure that you never experience a bathroom issue out on the road.

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