All across blogs, forums and Facebook groups there is the always entertaining toilet paper debate. Generally those new to the camping world will ask a question on a variety of forums regarding what kind of TP to use, how often to dump the tanks, what kind of chemicals to use and to use or not to use the bathroom in the RV and this topic produces a very wide variety and sometimes very heated opinions and discussions.
While working in any campground office, I frequently get asked those types of questions from newbies to the well experienced camper. Some people take it quite seriously and literally while others just kind of roll with it. We fall some where in the middle. That’s not to say when we first got started 6 years ago, our naivety had us spending WAY more money than we should and worrying WAY more than we needed to. With that said, we have now found what works very well for us and we no longer stress about it.
Campground and camping stores will sell a variety of products but the great TP debate is very much a personal issue. RV and toilet manufacturers will provide some guidance and much to the dismay of too many, they quickly finding themselves with problems of some sort or another. Sometimes it is a manufacturing defect and other times it is quite simply user error or ignorance. With all of that said, here is what we have learned.
First and foremost, if you bought an RV with a bathroom, the idea is to use it and not be afraid of it. If you are hooked up to sewer than there is no reason to worry about your toilet paper clogging things up, provided you are using enough water. While I am all for conserving, and we do when we don’t have sewer hook ups, water is you and your tanks friend. And here begins the great TP debate. There are toilet paper manufacturers that have “designed” RV/marine grade TP that is supposedly friendly for tanks and septic systems. However, we have discovered that specific TP is not human friendly necessarily. It’s rough, weak and just doesn’t get the job done. Before we got on the road, we were die hard super soft TP fans, loyal only to one brand. When we started researching this issue for ourselves, we were heartbroken to learn that our favorite TP would not pass the RV test. We briefly bought the RV specific type and with great disappointment for ourselves and our wallet, decided there must be another option. We then discovered through trial and error and many campfire discussions that one brand in particular was RV friendly and more importantly human friendly. The truth of it is that even in a stick and brick house, the fluffy for your bottom TP is not really as sewer/septic friendly anyhow and isn’t really necessary when there are better options that are safer for the environment and for our wallets. Good ole fashioned Scott’s (Extra soft) TP for the win!
Another component of the TP debate also incorporates how much water you use and how often you dump your tanks. This again is a personal issue, but if you use enough water, you don’t have to worry about clogging your tanks and if you dump at regular intervals the solids have less time to get rock hard causing more problems. Since we are generally hooked up to sewer, we use water. Prior to doing our business, we fill up the bowl with water and the flush with a few seconds longer on the other end. It’s literally that simple. Without conserving, we can go approximately 7-10 days without dumping the black tank and without having any major smell issues as well. In 6 years living full time in our rig, we have been blessed with no blank tank problems to speak of, other than the gauge not reading properly. But that is just one of those things that we can’t do anything about and truthfully don’t worry about. We know the gauge isn’t accurate so we just dump at regular intervals.
Lastly is the concern about whether or not to use chemicals. We have used a variety of chemicals over the years, but we do so sparingly. We don’t use them every time we dump but maybe every few times. The idea of using chemicals in your blank tank is to help cut down on smells and help break down the solids. But we have learned by dumping regularly and using plenty of water, we don’t really have issues with either of those things.
Over the years, we have come across many who won’t use their RV bathroom for reasons of unnecessary concern about how to manage the blank tank. Using it does not devalue your RV, it’s not difficult to manage and the main reason you probably bought an RV is to have a bathroom with you while your camping. So go ahead and use it!
The bottom line, is to do what works for you, but it doesn’t have to be a stressful evolution by any means and certainly doesn’t have to be something that you need to worry about on a regular basis.