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Question Of The Week

Recommended Holding Tank Treatments For RVs and Campers

This week we asked Truck Camper Magazine readers what holding tank treatments they use, and why.  What surprised us was the sheer variety of treatments people are using, and the concerns folks have about the use of formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde prevents the bacteria in a septic system from breaking down waste.  In turn, this causes dump stations to clog.  Fixing these clogs can be very expensive, and thus a number of county, state and even private dump stations are shut down every year.  It’s an economic, not just environmental, problem.

Fortunately, awareness of formaldehyde is well known and there are many formaldehyde-free and bio-degradable tank holding treatments available.  We double-checked our two favorite holding tank treatments (TST Max Orange Drop-Ins and Happy Campers Organic RV Holding Tank Treatment) and both are labeled formaldehyde-free and bio-degradable.

That aside, we were also amazed at the folks who don’t use holding tank treatment or use alternatives like Dawn Ultra Antibacterial Hand Soap and Dishwashing Liquid.  We are going to stick with our tried-and-true treatments, but it’s certainly interesting to see what everyone else is using.

This week’s Question of the Week was, “What brand of black tank treatment do you use, and why?”

“No paper goes into our camper toilet. It goes into a small lined trash can. Paper can be a problem in black tanks when it gets stuck to the tank and hardens.

We also flush well, keeping lots of liquid in the black tank. Eighteen-years of RVs and we have never had any holding tank problems or smell.” – John and Cathy Strasser, 2012 Chevy 2500, 2013 Eagle Cap 850

“We started using Happy Camper several years ago while in South Dakota. It was the beginning of our RVing adventures and the summertime heat really smelled things up. A campground we were staying at had Happy Camper for sale. We started using it and have never looked back. I now order it on Amazon when needed.” – Jason Brazeal, 2014 Ram 3500, 2001 Lance 1140

“I use Odorlos or Aqua Kem holding tank treatment and find that they both work fairly well. The Aqua Kem has an odor that helps cover any smell while the Odorlos seems to eliminate odor without a cover smell.

What seems to work best though is to add 1/8-cup of Dawn dish detergent in the tanks. I can’t see the inside of the grey tank, but the black tank is always clean when empty and looking down through the toilet.” – Dave Miller, 2015 Ford F-350, 2002 Bigfoot 10.6E

“Happy camper. It’s the best that I have used in the last 45-years of camping.” – Dan Woollard, 2013 Ford F350, 2018 Arctic Fox 1163

“Just like TCM, I use the Camco TST Ultra-Concentrated. I order the 15-pack for $10 from Amazon Prime, and they are on an auto deliver/order system through Prime every six-months. I use the same holding tank chemicals in my fifth-wheel that I full-time in.

I recommend Amazon Prime and the, “Subscribe & Save” function. I also get my toilet paper, toothpaste, and dog food the same way. I don’t even have to remember to order them!” – Jordan Pawley, 2004 Chevy 2500, 2007 Outfitter Apex 8

“We use the orange foil packs that were in there from the previous owner. After they are gone we will use fabric softener and dish soap.” – George Lovely, 2018 Chevy Silverado, 2005 Lance 845

“After trying several different products that all failed our expectations, we checked with a number of big motorhome users. A large number of them are using Dawn Ultra Antibacterial Hand Soap and Dishwashing Liquid in their holding tanks.

We have not been disappointed! It is readily available in most grocery stores, is anti-bacterial, and lubricates the valves.

Our Bigfoot is a four-season camper and, when running in cold weather, I add RV anti-freeze to the tanks with it. Using anti-freeze we are able to dump the tanks without issues with the valves.” – Keith Jurey, 2009 Dodge Ram 3500, 2006 Bigfoot

“We use Downey fabric softener in both the black and grey tanks. There is no objectionable odor and the cost is minimal. Does Downey decompose paper and solids? Probably not, but we tend to dump the tank regularly and have experienced no problems.” – Scott Goodrich, 2014 Ford F-350, 2011 Arctic Fox 811

“Coleman liquid tank deodorizer was in the camper when we bought the camper new. It seems to work fine in the cassette toilet. I’ve seen no reason to try anything else.” – Howard Bisco, 2015 Ford F250, 2014 Palomino HS-6601

“For the last 20 odd years, we have used Thetford Campa-Chem Natural Holding Tank Deodorant, which is Formaldehyde free. It comes in a box of eight 56.7-gram packs. They have been hard to find. I get them at Walmart now.” – Rick Jones, 2005 Chevrolet 2500HD, 2013 Wolf Creek

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