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RV Toilet Etiquette Tips For The New RVer

There’s an old saying among experienced RVers:

You know you’re a real RVer when . . . you can eat a sandwich with one hand while dumping your tanks with the other.

Case in point: Cousin Eddie from the movie, Christmas Vacation, needs only a single hand to do the duty (with the other free for his brew of choice: Meister Brau).

Cousin Eddie emptying waste tanks
Warner Bros.

Waste is Part of RVing: Deal with It

This might seem like an exaggeration, but if you but hang around any group of RVers long enough you’ll learn that as a whole we’re pretty comfortable with poop talk and sanitary dump station disaster stories.

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Our fifth wheel at a typical RV dump station.

RV dump station
Rene Agredano

It’s not a pretty subject but how we handle our waste on the road is a critical part of the RVing lifestyle. If you happen to take a trip with non-RVers who aren’t as experienced in the unglamorous side of RVing, they’ll need a crash course on RV toilet etiquette, fast!

Here’s an easy way to explain one of the biggest transitions between stick house and RV  living– how to use the RV toilet and save room in the black water holding tank.

RV Toilet Etiquette Tips for Newbies

Step 1: Explain that only waste and toilet paper go into the toilet – and a very minimal amount of toilet paper.

That means no cigarette butts, dead bugs or wipes. Want to reinforce the message? Try instilling some dump station phobias into your guest by telling them that too much TP can clog the tank valves and possibly cause a dump station catastrophe like the one in RV – The Movie:

(Source: YouTube)

Step 2: Show your guest how to put water in the toilet bowl.

Step on the pedal about halfway and fill with a small amount of water. Reiterate the part about “a small amount” by explaining to your companion that your tanks are not nearly as big as the ones in the sewage treatment plant in your home town.

If you’re boondocking you have your work cut out for you. Explain that you have a limited amount of water on board. Make this critical point stick by inventing a crazy story about how RVers sometimes recycle toilet water for drinking when supplies run out too soon.

Step 3: Make a Sign of the Cross

Once water is in the bowl, explain how sometimes waste sticks because it’s there’s not a lot of water there. Then point to the toilet brush and say something like “Don’t be afraid to use it.”

This toilet paper cross will help the ‘medicine go down’.

RV toilet before flushing
Rene Agredano

Show your guest how to make a “sign of the cross” before sitting down. No, that doesn’t mean you’ll need to pray. Just place a “T” shape of toilet paper into the bowl before sitting down. The paper allows the solid matter to more easily slide down into the black water holding tank without sticking to the bowl.

If your RV toilet has a sprayer hose, be sure to explain that the hose is for rinsing solid, clingy waste off the side of the bowl and nothing else.

Step 4: Demonstrate a Fast Flush

Since non-RVers have no idea how to quickly flush a toilet to conserve water, you might want to show your guest before they use the facilities.

You don’t need much water for a ‘fast flush’.

RV toilet during flush
Rene Agredano

Place your foot on the pedal, step down and quickly release. Remind your guest that the longer the water flows, the closer you will be to recycling that black water for drinking water, so flush efficiently.

From holding tanks to gas tanks, there’s so much to RVing that most people don’t think about before hitting the road. If you’ve never been comfortable talking about bodily waste and toilet etiquette, you will be soon enough.

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