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RV Toilet Smells When Flushed: How to Fix?

RV Toilet Smells When Flushed: How to Fix?

Do you have an RV and are currently experiencing toilet smells when flushed? This can be a very frustrating experience, but don’t worry – we’re here to help! In this article, we will answer some common questions about RV toilet smells when flushed and provide helpful tips on how to fix the issue. We hope that this information will help make your RVing experience more enjoyable!

Reasons Why Your RV Toilet Smells

There are a few possible causes of an unpleasant smell coming from your RV toilet when it’s flushed.

It could be due to poor ventilation, backed-up tanks, or too much buildup in the tank itself.
  • Poor Ventilation: A smelly RV toilet can result from inadequate ventilation of the sewer lines or holding tank. This is especially common with older RVs that may not have been well-maintained over time. If you’re experiencing an odor problem, check to make sure all vents and ports are clear and free of blockage, as this can reduce airflow drastically.
  • Backed-Up Tanks: If you neglect to empty your black water (sewer) tank regularly, any organic matter built up inside can cause an unpleasant smell. This is especially true if your tank is small and doesn’t have enough space for proper decomposition of the waste. If this is the case, be sure to empty out your tank regularly to prevent odors from occurring.
  • Too Much Buildup: Even when your tanks are being emptied regularly, there may still be too much buildup in the tank itself. The main culprit here is toilet paper, as it doesn’t break down as easily as other organic matter such as human waste or food scraps. Make sure you’re using RV-specific toilet paper that’s designed to disintegrate quickly and easily in septic systems so that it won’t accumulate and create a stinky situation.

Reasons Why Your RV Toilet Smells

Dirty Toilet

In addition to smelly tanks, another common cause of unpleasant smells in your RV toilet is a dirty toilet bowl. This can happen if there isn’t enough water in the bowl after flushing, which allows waste matter to accumulate and start to smell. To correct this, simply add more water to the bowl by pressing down on the handle several times until it’s full.

Clogged Black Tank

If your RV toilet is still smelling bad even after you’ve taken the steps above, it could be due to a clogged black tank. This can happen when too much solids build up in the tank and prevent waste from draining properly. To unclog the tank, use a special auger tool to break up any stubborn chunks of solid matter that may be blocking the flow of liquid. If the problem persists, call a professional for help.

Clogged Vent Pipe

Another possible cause of RV toilet smells is a clogged vent pipe. This occurs when the ventilation system becomes blocked, preventing air from flowing freely through the tanks and creating an odor problem.

To correct this issue, you’ll need to inspect the vent pipe for obstructions and remove any debris that might be preventing airflow.

Tank Buildup

Finally, if your RV toilet is still smelling bad after all of the above solutions have been tried, it could be due to tank buildup. This can happen if you’re using too much chemicals in the tanks or not cleaning them regularly enough. To prevent this from occurring, use natural and biodegradable cleaners whenever possible and clean out your tanks at least once a year.

Bad Toilet Flange or Bowl Seal

Lastly, bad seals or gaskets around the toilet flange and bowl can cause odors to escape. If you notice any cracking or signs of wear on your seals, it’s important to replace them right away to prevent smells from seeping through. [1]

Reasons Why Your RV Toilet Smells

By following these tips and taking action when necessary, you should be able to get rid of those unpleasant odors coming from your RV toilet once and for all!

How to Keep Your RV Toilet from Smelling

There are a few things that you can do to help keep your RV toilet from smelling when it is flushed:

  • Keep the bowl clean! Make sure you regularly use bathroom cleaner or vinegar and water to wipe down the inside of the bowl. This will help remove any buildup on the surface, which can cause odors over time.
  • Change your tank chemicals often. The bacteria-fighting chemicals in an RV toilet tank break down over time and must be replaced with fresh ones every once in a while to ensure efficiency in odor control. You don’t want any build up of wastewater causing smells!
  • Check for leaks around the base of the toilet and seal them if necessary with a sealant. Leaks can lead to the growth of mold and mildew, which in turn can cause unpleasant smells.
  • Make sure your vent pipe is clear and free from obstruction. If it is blocked, air won’t be able to escape properly when you flush and this will also contribute to strong odors.
  • Try using deodorizing tablets that are specifically designed for RV toilets. These work by releasing pleasant scents whenever the toilet is flushed, helping to mask any smell coming from the tank or bowl itself.

How to Keep Your RV Toilet from Smelling

RV Air Freshener Alternatives

If you don’t want to use the traditional deodorizing tablets, there are a few other alternatives that can keep your RV smelling fresh.

  • Essential oils: You can buy special essential oil blends specifically designed to be used in an RV toilet system or make your own combination of favorite scents. Place 2-3 drops in the tank before flushing and they will release a pleasant aroma every time it is flushed.
  • Dryer sheets: Placing dryer sheets directly into the toilet bowl (or even behind the toilet seat) can act as air fresheners, giving off a pleasant scent whenever it is flushed.
  • Activated charcoal: It may seem like a strange method, but activated charcoal can absorb odors. Place some in the bowl and it will help keep any foul smell at bay!

Best Odor Eliminator for RV

When it comes to eliminating odors from RV toilets, the best option is an effective odor eliminator. There are a few different types to consider. First, you can use a spray or liquid-based product that works to target the source of the odor and break it down. These products come in both aerosol cans and pump sprays, so you can choose which one works best for your situation. Another option is to use natural odor eliminators like baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, or essential oils. All of these have antibacterial properties that can help neutralize bad smells while being gentle on your toilet and plumbing system. Finally, if you’re looking for a more permanent solution, there are charcoal filters available that can be used to trap odors and keep them from escaping into your RV or other areas.

No matter which option you choose, it’s important to follow the directions of the product carefully and take note of any warnings that may come with it. Additionally, if you’re dealing with persistent odors, it might be a good idea to talk to a professional about what would be best for your specific needs. This can help save time and money in the long run, as well as prevent potential damage due to incorrect use of products. As always, safety first!

Once you’ve found an odor eliminator that works for you, make sure to continue using it regularly in order to maintain fresh and clean-smelling air in your RV. Regular maintenance is key to a long and pleasant life for your recreational vehicle.

RV Odor Eliminator Ingredients

If you’re looking to make your own homemade RV odor eliminator, there are a few easy ingredients that you can get your hands on:

  • Baking Soda: Baking soda is one of the most common and effective deodorizing ingredients. It’s great for absorbing odors, so sprinkling some in the toilet bowl before flushing will help keep it from smelling bad.
  • Vinegar: Vinegar has natural antiseptic qualities, which makes it a great choice when trying to eliminate unpleasant smells coming from your RV toilet. Simply pour 1/4 cup vinegar into the toilet and let it sit for about 15 minutes before flushing. You may want to repeat this process a few times a week to keep your toilet smelling fresh.
  • Lemon Juice: Lemon juice is also great for eliminating odors and can help neutralize the smell of urine in your RV toilet. Squeeze one lemon into a cup of water and mix it together, then pour the solution into the toilet and let it sit for 15 minutes before flushing.
  • Essential Oils: Essential oils are popular for their natural properties that can help reduce bathroom odors. Just add a few drops to some water or vinegar and spray the mixture around your RV’s bathroom area to freshen up the air. You can also put some drops on cotton balls and place them near areas with strong odors such as under the sink and around the toilet. [2]

By using these simple ingredients, you can create your own all-natural RV odor eliminator and keep your RV smelling fresh for years to come. Just be sure to use them in moderation and never use too much, as this could lead to a buildup of residue that will eventually cause more problems than it solves.

How to Keep Your RV Toilet from Smelling

RV Toilet Smell Prevention and Maintenance Tips

It’s important to be proactive when it comes to maintaining your RV toilet and preventing a smelly mess. Here are some tips:

  • Clean the bowl every week. Use a mild detergent or cleaner specifically designed for RV toilets to get rid of any residue or waste that may be lingering in the bowl.
  • Empty out the black holding tank regularly. Do this at least once a month, but more often if you use your RV frequently. This will reduce any smells that could build up in the tank.
  • Make sure to flush with enough water. Each time you flush, make sure there is enough water in the bowl so that everything is washed down properly without leaving residue behind. Otherwise, the smell will linger.
  • Add a deodorizer to the tank. Drop some RV-specific toilet tank cleaner into the bowl each time you flush to help reduce odors and keep everything smelling fresh.
  • Check all drain lines regularly for clogs or leaks. If there is something blocking one of your drain lines, it can quickly lead to an unpleasant smell in your RV toilet area.

RV Toilet Smell Prevention and Maintenance Tips


Can I pour bleach down my RV toilet?

Yes, you can pour bleach down your RV toilet — just make sure it’s a diluted solution of one part bleach to five parts water. Adding too much bleach may cause corrosion and other damage to the plumbing system so be careful not to overdo it. Additionally, always use plain white household bleach with no added fragrances or dyes as these can irritate the sensitive RV sewer system. Make sure you allow at least 30 minutes for the mixture to sit before flushing. [3]

How do I stop my RV waste tank smelling?

There are a few things you can do to reduce the smell coming from your RV waste tank. Firstly, if you suspect that something has been left in the toilet bowl, then it’s best to check and make sure everything has been flushed away properly. It might also help to flush out the tank from time to time with fresh water in order to prevent any bad smells from building up.

Another trick you can use is adding an enzyme cleaner or deodorizer into your tank every month. These additives help break down solids, liquids and odors inside the tank – helping keep your RV smelling fresher for longer! [4]

Finally, never dump grey water directly onto the ground as this will cause bacteria and other waste to grow in the soil, which could cause bad odors. Always empty your grey tank into an approved septic or sewer system instead.

Why does my RV smell like a sewer when I flush the toilet?

If your RV is smelling like a sewer when you flush the toilet, it could be because there is an issue with the seals in the black water tank. Over time these seals can become worn or cracked, allowing odors from inside the tank to escape. It may also be caused by a buildup of waste material and bacteria inside the tank which can cause a strong odor that will spread throughout your RV.

Another possible source of sewer smell when flushing your RV toilet could be caused by a blockage somewhere in your plumbing system. If you notice that after flushing there’s a bubbling or gurgling coming from behind the fixture then this is most likely due to some kind of clog further down the line. This might require professional help to locate and resolve the issue.

It’s also worth inspecting your vent stack if you’re experiencing strong odors when flushing. The vent stack is a pipe that runs from the roof of the RV down and out the side, allowing air to escape from within the plumbing system. If this is blocked or damaged then it will cause pressure build up which can lead to sewage gas leaking into your RV. You may need to call in a professional plumber to check and repair any issues with your vent stack.

How do I make my toilet smell better after flushing?

Sometimes even the cleanest RV isn’t immune to bad toilet smells after flushing. There are a few ways you can make your RV toilet smell better:

  1. Regularly use a septic system treatment – this will break down and remove any build up in your tank that could be causing odors.
  2. Give your sewer hose a good scrub – use a stiff brush and some degreaser or soapy water to really get the buildup off of your hose which can lead to smelly toilets.
  3. Use an air freshener – place it near the toilet for an extra boost of freshness when you flush.
  4. Try using baking soda as a deodorizer – sprinkle some baking soda in the bottom of your toilet bowl and flush it down to help keep smells away.
  5. Empty your waste tank regularly – if you don’t empty out the contents of your tank often, the liquids will eventually build up which can lead to bad smells. [5]

By following these tips, you can make sure that your RV’s toilet stays smelling fresh after each flush!



Ultimately, there are many different factors that could be causing your RV toilet to smell when flushed. In most cases, simple cleaning and sealant of the seals around the tank should help resolve the issue. If not, then you may need to check out other components such as the valves or pipes for clogs or other problems. With some troubleshooting, you can find and fix whatever is causing your RV toilet to smell when flushed. Don’t forget to give it a good clean every now and then! Hopefully this guide has helped you troubleshoot and put an end to any unpleasant odors in your RV bathroom. Good luck – happy travels!


  1. https://rvshare.com/blog/rv-toilet-smells-when-flushed/
  2. https://koa.com/blog/control-tank-odors-with-this-simple-trick/
  3. https://drivinvibin.com/2021/07/24/is-it-safe-to-put-bleach-in-your-rv-black-tank/
  4. https://uniquecampingmarine.com/blogs/rv-toilet-odors-series/how-to-control-rv-holding-tank-smells-in-high-heat
  5. https://home.howstuffworks.com/home-improvement/household-hints-tips/cleaning-organizing/how-to-get-rid-of-odors-in-toilet-tanks.htm