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RV Rules: Can You Dump Gray Water Anywhere?

One of the many benefits of RV travel is having your own kitchen and toilet. Pulling into a rest stop and using your kitchen to prepare a hot, budget-friendly lunch with access to your bathroom is priceless.

You can even do your dishes from anywhere. But where does all of that used water go, and how do you dispose of it?

Today, we will give you all the details on your gray water tank and where you can safely and legally dump it. Let’s get started.

What Is RV Gray Water?

RV gray water refers to any discarded water coming from all sink and shower drains. This includes all dishwater, water from washing hands and brushing teeth, and soapy shower water.

Gray water does not include toilet waste which is black water. Gray and black water travel into separate holding tanks. So what happens when it fills up?

What Happens When Your Gray Water Tank Is Full?

RVs have many sizes of gray water tanks. Typically, the smaller the RV, the smaller the holding tank. Regardless of its size, it will eventually become full.

When a holding tank reaches its full capacity, the overflow has to go somewhere — usually, the nearest sink or shower drain. When your tank fills, it will no longer drain, and the water will remain in the sink and shower basins. 

Two people hooking up RV to empty tanks
Your grey water tank will hold water from your sinks and shower drains, so you will need to empty it while on the road.

How Do You Dispose of RV Gray Water?

If you notice your gray tank is getting full either by a sensor reading or undrained sinks, you need to dispose of your RV’s gray water. To empty your gray tanks, find a dump station or have a honey wagon come to you. 

RV dump stations allow you to bring your RV and use your supplies to dump your gray and black tanks legally and responsibly. Campsites often include dump station services in the rate, and non-campground guests can use them for a small fee. If you can’t take your RV to a dump station, some services will bring a honey wagon to your location and pump your tanks for you. 

Pro Tip: Learn more about your RV gray water! We uncovered Is RV Grey Water That Bad?

What Do You Need to Dump RV Gray Water?

To properly dump your RV’s gray water, you need a few supplies. First, get a sewer hose to transfer your gray water from your tank to the sewer connection. Secondly, add a sewer elbow fitting to the end of the hose to ensure a proper fitting to the sewer access point. 

Many choose to use a clear elbow fitting to know when the tank is empty. These fittings also help when flushing your tanks to ensure you get the gunk out of them. 

Many prefer to use gloves while dumping. You can keep a box of them stored with your other dumping supplies. If you choose to use gloves, dispose of them before getting back into your vehicle. Those who don’t use gloves typically keep an easy-to-access bottle of hand sanitizer with their supplies for use after dumping their tanks. 

Truck hauling RV motorhome.
Dispose of your gray water properly to ensure you don’t negatively impact other campers or the environment.

Is It Illegal to Dump Gray Water on the Ground?

Gray water must be disposed of properly. You may initially think you can dump gray water directly on the ground, thinking soapy water wouldn’t be an issue. But that is generally not the case. It is illegal to dump gray water in anything other than an approved sewage system in most places. 

Gray water has food particles, oils, soaps, and even oils from the skin, which can devastate vegetation. It can damage the environment and make that location unappealing for future campers. 

How Do You Find RV Dump Stations?

Thankfully, RV dump stations are relatively easy to find in most parts of the country. Most state parks and RV parks will have a dump station that non-guests can use for a small fee. Just call ahead to verify. 

Some gas stations or large truck stops also offer RV dump stations. You may be surprised to know that some rest areas even have free ones. Use apps such as Campendium, iOverlander, and AllStays to find a station on your route. Many of these apps provide detailed reviews and other important information. 

Pro Tip: Check out our tutorial on how to use Campendium to make RV life easier!

Safely Dump Your RV Gray Water

Dumping the tanks in your RV doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. Proper advanced planning and research can make the experience much easier. While it’s not a pleasant experience to drain gray or black water, having a plan reduces mishaps. Knowing where to find dump stations on your route or near your location takes away the stress of full tanks. As responsible RVers, it is our job to dispose of our waste properly. 

What resources have you used to find clean and convenient dump stations? Is there a specific region you feel has the best access for disposing of your gray water? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

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