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How does a Travel Trailer Toilet Work?

Posted on May 27, 2020

If you are new to RV travel you likely have a lot of questions. From fuel economy and vehicle handling to operating the generator and electricity, there is a good amount of things to learn if you want to take full advantage of your motorhome rental. At 1st Choice RV some of the most frequent questions we hear from renters concern the RV toilet. If you, too, are curious about your RV toilet don’t be ashamed! Hopefully this post will spell out the basics, and our expert staff at 1st Choice RV can get you further dialed on your specific rig when you come to pick it up this summer!

Motorhome Water Source & Filling the Bowl

Like plumbing in your house, a motorhome requires a water source in order to function. If you are at a campsite there is a good chance that you will have a water hook-up. If not, most all RVs will have a freshwater tank that you can draw from. To properly use your toilet you will need to fill it with water. To do so, in most motorhome bathrooms, there will be a foot pedal near the floor. Hold this down to fill the bowl about halfway. When you are done with your business, you will use this same foot pedal to flush.


When it comes time to flush there are a few things to keep in mind. First and foremost, you should avoid putting anything besides human waste into the toilet. In terms of toilet paper, you should use RV specific products as they dissolve easy and will be less of a burden on the system – helping you avoid bigger problems further down the line. As noted above, you will use the foot pedal at the base of the toilet to flush fresh water into the bowl and open the bottom flap to deposit waste.

Every RV has three water tanks. The freshwater tank holds water for use in the kitchen and bathroom. The grey water tank holds wastewater from the sinks. All toilet waste will be deposited into the black water tank after you flush.

Managing the Tanks

As you can imagine, the grey and black water tanks require more maintenance than the fresh water tank. These two need to be emptied every couple of days, depending on how much you are using your RV toilet and sinks. Ideally you will remember to empty all tanks before you hit the road, as the added wait can sufficiently reduce your fuel economy. Depending on where you are staying, most campgrounds will have dump stations where you can empty grey and black tanks. Each has a specific valve and hose connection to seamlessly empty all waste into the provided sanitation station. If you empty the black tank first, you can use the semi-clean grey tank water to help flush the more foul contents from the black tank out of the hose. Once you have emptied both tanks, run fresh water through the toilet to clean out any remaining waste, close the valves, and rinse your hose. Add some waste treatment supplies to the tank via the toilet, and you’re ready to hit the road.

While it may seem strange to have a bathroom in your vehicle, you will quickly find out that the system itself is pretty simple. Our passionate staff at 1st Choice will walk you through everything, and before you know it you will be an RV toilet expert – whether you want to be or not!


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