I'm told you're not supposed to use bleach in your black water tank - but no one can tell me why.......


Does anyone know?


Tags: Bleach deadly for RVers in Blackwater tank, black water & Bleach deadly

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Bleach and certain other chemicals like vinegar, most toilet bowl cleaners and ammonia combine to make Nerve gas and the fumes can comes back up the pipe or toilet and you die or are hospitalized for a very long time. Also, human urine, such as in the blackwater tank, and Bleach are equally deadly combinations which acutally have an explosive hazard from the fumes. My wife says the same is true if I have a beer and eat beans for dinner.

Phew, as if there isn't enough to worry about when rving. Leave the bleach, ammonia and harsh chemicals out of the blackwater tank. It's a deadly combination for RVers.



Yes, It can be deadly to use Bleach in the Black water tank. The reason is because urine turns into ammonia and when you mix bleach with ammonia it causes a deadly gas.  

So, how do I clean the build-up of crud on my plastic hemispheric dump valve?  For the heavy stuff, I take it apart and literally scrape it off, but what about normal cleaning?

Suggestions gratefully received.



Plus it eats up gaskets.

well you can put anything you like in the tank i suppose, but bleach will destroy the rubber in the drain valve, to the point it will not seal anymore and you will incur that cost of replacement. the other reason not to use bleach would be the solids that do go into the tank rely on germs to break down, and bleach will kill those germs and stop the partial breakdown of waste, and that means toilet paper as well, which can build up and plug you up right against the valve and not let you dump the tank. you may not have run into that one "yet" but it does happen, i have a rv park i run and i have seen it happen to newbies quite a bit, another thing i see is folks not keeping the black tank valve shut and they end up with a pyramid of feces in  the middle of the tank which eventualy reachs the seat....not fun to fix. we also tell folks to keep away from formaldehyde as it also does what bleach (except the rubber part)does but also will kill everything in our septic system. if you have the original papers for your toilet you will also note that the say not to use bleach in it either as it will destroy the seal that seperates you from the black tank and you end up with a smell you wish you never had.   redwing




There are many types of treatments/cleaners on the market for black water tanks.  As explained, bleach is NOT one of them!  An excellent product is Treatzall, available from Dupree Products.  It's concentrated so you don't need to carry a lot of it and, well... just read about it.  I used it and it was by far better than the off-the-shelf stuff.


most popular product used out there for rv holding tanks grey and black, is rid ex which can pretty much found out there on the market alot cheaper and does a better job.



I am going to throw out something a little different than you have read so far.

Your holding tank is not a septic tank, it does not deal with the waste, only holds it until you can dump it in a system that deals with the waste, be that a septic system or sewer system.  Given that you should be considerate of where you will dumping, your holding tank is not a chemical dump.

I have no experience with Rid-X and the other products mentioned, just the generic blue juice from the RV shops.  Use RV paper, it breaks down quicker, but still not real quick.  Put 5 gallons fresh water and product of choice in the holding tanks prior to use.  When you dump, fill both black and grey tanks, then dump.  The more water the better the flush, this helps clean things up.  You don't want to treat your RV system like a home system, only open the valves to dump otherwise they are closed.

I am considering trying the GEO tank method now that my blue juice is gone.  The idea is to get and keep your system clean, which this system claims it will do.



this statement may be true of those who only go out for a weekend, but doesn't stand up for those who fulltime, the waste stays in the tank alot longer and does digest and if not helped can cause a terrible smell, adding something that helps digest faster and controling which bacteria that goes in can help in many ways by breaking down waste that settles to the bottom and help liquify it so that when it is dumped will help it flow out and not leave as much in the tank that can build up.

the primary function of tank chemicals is to break down waste and remove odors. older products used formaldehyde to very successfully prevent odors. However, many septic systems can't break it down and it has a nasty habit of killing "good" bacteria. As a result, nearly all campgrounds and dump stations prohibit the draining of formaldehyde into their sewer systems.

a nice, modern alternative is enzyme-based toilet chemicals that use live bacteria to digest odor-causing agents and break down solid waste. They are designed to accelerate the digestion of organic material while maintaining a low environmental impact and low toxicity. which is exactly what a septic system does.

not helping this waste break down can also cause it to add up or say you leave it open to a septic system, the build can actually reach the toilet it self and no more waste can be added or it will over flow, this happens frequently to many people who think of it as just a tank and fulltime. aqnd i have ended up with many a rv'er with a plugged tank in my rv park.

what works for part timers does not work for fulltimers or those who boondock especially the bunch of water.

DOs and DON'Ts
Holding tanks don't rely on mechanical devices for their trouble free operation. The most common problem unpleasant one - clogging. You can minimize the chances of clogging by keeping the following considerations in mind:

Keep the black water tank knife valve closed to at least 3/4 full before draining. Use only toilet tissue formulated for tank or RV sanitation systems.
Keep both knife valves closed and locked, and the drain cap tightly in place when using the system on the road.
Use only cleaners that are approved for use in """septic tank""" systems.
Use a special holding tank deodorant chemical approved for septic tank systems in the black water holding tank. These chemicals aid the breakdown of solid wastes and make the system much more pleasant to use.
Do not put facial tissue, paper, ethylene glycol based or other automotive antifreeze, sanitary napkins or household toilet cleaners in the holding tanks.
Do not put anything solid in either tank that could scratch or puncture the tank.
If the drain system does get clogged:
Use a hand-operated probe to loosen stubborn accumulations. Seriously clogged P-traps may require disassembly. Be careful not to over tighten when reassembling.
Do not use harsh household drain cleaners.

This will do a couple things. First, it will prevent odors from the campground sewer system from backing up into your RV. Second, it will give the digesters in the tanks a chance to do their job.

do not use the "blue" RV holding tank deodorizers as they can introduce bacteria-killing products into a septic tank.

The components of a system additive depend on its category:
•Biological – Active bacteria and/or enzymes
•Sludge Reducing – Flocculants
•Odor Control – Formaldehyde, paraformaldehyde, quaternary
•ammonia, and zinc sulfate (the source of the odor should be investigated rather than covering it up)
•Inorganic Compounds – Strong acids or bases
•Organic Compounds – Chlorinated hydrocarbons (bleach) usually used as machine degreasers

the key words to keep in mind is "tank" that includes any "tank" that holds human waste, from one in the ground to one under the rv, both are tank made for a certain job, the easier you make it for your self the better for everyone down the road.

in the geo method its great for the rv'er's nose and the tank, but terrible for a septic tank or some sewer systems as it kills bacteria and when dumped into some systems can kill them and cause them to FAIL!

OK then, being a newbie, I am going to be living in my motor home at some point in the near future. What do you suggest a person uses for the tank? I saw so many suggestions, I must admit I am now lost. But I do know leave the tank closed until it needs draining. Oh and should I add some water in there to start with when I get all parked and ready?



adding water is not necessary at first, you using it will be adding water each time you do number 1 or number two if you use your toilet correctly. adding some ridex dry and no water it will sit there and wait for the first feeding, in hot weather its best to add it twice between dumping as heat can kill bacteria as well. you can leave the black tank closed till its atleast 3/4 full or a bit less, but er half is best this ensures enough liquid to move whats in the tank, once a month it is best to atleast fill the tank with water to flush anything left and untill the liquid comes out mostly clear. once a month on the grey tank add some ridex and close the valve and watch the gauges, when full let her flow out the valve, this will help in keeping the grease build up on the bottom from happening. if you find yourself using alot of water like at a rvpark and have left the grey tank open like alot of folks do, once a month do the cleaning process overnight with ridex and it will clean while your sleeping. in the winter if its real cold you have to make sure you have a slanted hose  to the drain, or you can find your self plugged up with ice and eventually the tank full of ice and water and eventually the motorhome or trailer.


here we have been down to -8...atleast that is the last few winters and we are in the desert at 4200ft elevation, but most who have read the little letter i put out every winter never lose their water supply or drainage. only one person had a problem and he thought leaving his black tank open was good, but eventually it pyramided up to the toilet and he was stuck using the parks bathroom till spring, about three months, there was no way to fix his problem during that time. he knows better now.




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