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Is It Safe to Put Bleach in Your RV Black Tank?

Is It Safe to Put Bleach in Your RV Black Tank?

Is It Safe to Put Bleach in Your RV Black Tank?

Bleach helps kill bacteria but is it safe to put it in your RV’s black tank?

If you’re starting to smell some ‘funk’ near your RV’s bathroom, it may be time to sanitize your black tank. We’ve researched to determine if bleach is the best answer and what other options are out there.

Let’s take a look!

Diluted Bleach is Safe for Sanitizing Your Black Tank

Bleach is a strong chemical that kills the bacteria in your black tank, causing that lovely odor. However, too much of it can damage the seals and gaskets in your RV. Plus, it also kills the good bacteria that help break down the waste in your tank.

So most people say not to dump chlorine into your black tank and let it stay there.

That said, some people do use chlorine bleach to sanitize all of their tanks – black, gray, and freshwater. In this case, you use a diluted solution of bleach and water after cleaning your tanks with something like ice cubes or dish soap.

The diluted solution doesn’t sit in your pipes or on your gaskets, so it shouldn’t cause damage.

Pro Tip: Did you know that driving with a full black tank is not always a great idea. Here’s why.

How to Sanitize Your RV Black Tank with Bleach

As mentioned above, sanitizing your black tank comes after cleaning it, which usually entails dumping the tank, then using a special sprayer or tank cleaner. Some people simply fill the tank with water and toss in a bunch of ice cubes before they head out on the road. Whatever your method, start with a clean and empty tank.

In addition, check with the RV park to ensure it’s okay to dump chlorine bleach into the sewer. Some parks request you don’t, and others are on sensitive lands that don’t allow it.

Although sanitizing uses a bleach solution, you’re still working with fecal waste and a strong chemical. So we suggest wearing gloves, protective eyewear, and even a facemask in case of splashing.

Mix a solution of about 1/4 cup of bleach with one gallon of water. With your black tank connected to the sewer hookup and the valve closed, pour the solution into your toilet. Let that sit for about 10 minutes. Now open the drain valve, but keep adding water through the toilet until the water coming out is clear.

Alternatives to Using Bleach in Your Black Tank

If you have a consistent smell coming from your tank or bathroom, you may want to install a vent. There are numerous types and styles, but they all essentially allow the air from your black tank to move outside of your RV. These vents often help best when combined with regular use of an enzymatic cleaner, such as Happy Camper.

Even on the hottest days, the combo packs a one-two punch on black tank odors.

In addition, you may want to check your sink’s p-trap. If you don’t use that sink much and the p-trap becomes dry, odors can come up through the opening. Run some water in there every few days to keep the p-trap wet.

You may also want to check the gaskets or seals in and under your toilet. If they’ve become dry and brittle, or they forgot to use one when they installed your toilet, offensive odors can leak through those areas.


So, yes. You can use bleach in your RV’s black tank. However, we recommend using a diluted solution and only when sanitizing. Other options are available to help keep the smell down on a daily basis.

How do you keep the smell from your RV’s black tank under control?

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Cathi R.

Thursday 24th of March 2022

Please state strongly that bleach and urine don't play well together. Chlorine gas can also be released when bleach is mixed with urine, such as when cleaning the area in and around a toilet. Both chloramine and chlorine gases are immediately irritating with a very pungent odor, causing watering of the eyes, runny nose and coughing. In the small space of a trailer? That's bad news.

I'm not saying not to sanitize the tanks. Like you stated in the article, Just be sure to empty and rinse the tanks prior to the sanitizing of the tank.

Why Does My RV Smell Like Rotten Eggs? - Drivin' & Vibin'

Thursday 24th of February 2022

[…] Tip: If you are about to clean your black tank, you may be wondering Is It Safe to Put Bleach in Your RV Black Tank? We uncovered the […]

Keith Scarborough

Wednesday 4th of August 2021

Be cerain to ensure there's no urine in the tank before you use chlorine bleach. Urine contains ammonia, and ammonia and bleach cause chlorine gas.


Sunday 25th of July 2021

You should be carefull of mixing bleach and rv treatment chemicals. I created a mustard type gas accidently and my toilet started smoking. I dumped as much water in as i could to dilute and stop the smoking. Could have been really bad.

Ray Clark

Saturday 24th of July 2021

We are snowbirds so before heading north I sanitize our freshwater system. I collect the water from the sinks and shower and dump it down the toilet. That along with using the wand cleans the Blackwater sensors. On the ride home there is Happy Camper in the black tank so everything gets back to normal

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