Go On the Go With the 10 Best RV Toilets

Go On the Go With the 10 Best RV Toilets

There’s nothing quite like living life on the road, bouncing between jaw-dropping landscapes and careening through our glorious nation with a grin from ear to ear.

But if there’s one thing even the most seasoned RVer misses from home, it’s a properly plumbed residential toilet. The ability to send bodily waste to a far-away abyss at the press of a button is a luxury the RVer must do without—and emptying the dreaded black water tank is one of the major downsides of life on the road.

Nonetheless, it’s an essential part of RVing that cannot be avoided. And with the right toilet installed in your rig, the process doesn’t have to be so bad.

In our in-depth buyer’s guide, we’re going to detail everything you need to know about RV toilets. Of course, we’ll also include a top 10 list of the best RV toilets on the market to help you find the ideal option for you.

Factors to Consider in an RV Toilet

Before we get stuck into our top ten list, you need to know what to look out for when on the hunt for an RV toilet. Here are the most important things to consider when shopping for a toilet for your RV.

Type

RV toilets come in a range of different types, each with distinct pros and cons. Choosing the right one for your rig is essential, so be sure to read our section on RV Toilet Types to get the lowdown.

Size

If you’ve got a small RV, you’re going to struggle to squeeze in a big toilet, not to mention the necessary holding tank. In the same vein, there’s no need to limit yourself to a tiny little portable toilet if you’re driving around in a big rig.

Material

Some folks might be happy to sit on a functional and lightweight material like polyethylene plastic. Others, however, demand something more stylish like ceramic or china. Choose a toilet made from a material to suit your personal preference.

Installation

If you’re installing a brand new toilet into your RV, then look for an option that can be retrofit with minimal fuss. Plumbing pipes into an existing RV is outlandishly expensive, if not impossible; only consider toilets that are suitable for your current setup.

Waste Capacity

If you’re traveling with a large group of people, then chances are your toilet will fill up pretty quickly. In that case, it’s wise to opt for a model with a bigger-than-average waste capacity so you won’t have to empty it every other day.

Mobility

If you or anyone in your group has mobility issues, you’ll need to ensure your RV toilet is fit for purpose. High-profile toilets sit higher off the ground like a residential toilet and are easier for the elderly and the disabled to use (and for taller people, too!).

Cleaning

All RV toilets require the user to dispose of black water, but the exact process involved varies between the different types. Gravity flush and macerating toilets use a drainage hose, while portable and cassette toilets have you empty a container by hand.

With all that in mind, let’s take a look at some great toilets for your RV.

Top 10 Best RV Toilets 2021

1. Best RV Toilet Overall: Thetford Aqua-Magic V

Thetford Aqua-Magic V

Why we like it: This functional plastic toilet from Thetford is easy to use and feels like a throne.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Toilet Type: Gravity flush
  • Material: Plastic
  • Dimensions: 15.75 x 18.25 x 19 inches
  • Weight: 9.65 pounds

Sure, it might not be the most beautiful RV toilet on the market—there’s no denying that ceramic bowls look prettier. But what Thetford’s latest addition to the Aqua Magic range lacks in aesthetics, it makes up for in raw functionality.

If you’re after an awesome gravity flush toilet that’s easy to clean and gets the job done, look no further than the Aqua Magic V. Even after countless miles bouncing around on the highway, this heavy-duty product sits firmly in place and works time and time again. Furthermore, DIY installers will be happy to hear this one is a cinch to hook up.

Its outstanding usability is mostly due to the single-pedal system, which adds water to the bowl at the halfway point and flushes it down at a full press—it doesn’t get much easier than that.

The high-profile toilet sits at 18.5 inches with the lid closed to provide optimal comfort. If you’d prefer something a bit shorter, there’s a low-profile option available as well. You can also choose between two colors: white and parchment (we prefer the latter).

Another cool feature about this model is the optional add-on of a hand sprayer, which allows you to give the bowl a quick clean using a minimal amount of water. The practice is ideal when you’re boondocking well away from civilization, and water is at a premium.

Pros

  • Easy to install
  • Simple to clean
  • Comfortable height
  • Durable design
  • Hand spray add-on

Cons

  • Plastic less pretty than ceramic

2. Best Budget RV Toilet: Camco (41541) Portable Travel Toilet

Camco (41541) Portable Travel Toilet

Why we like it: This budget portable toilet does a brilliant job of keeping your effluent safely locked away.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Toilet Type: Portable
  • Material: Polyethylene plastic
  • Black Water Tank Size: 5.3 gallon
  • Dimensions: 14 x 16 x 15.5 inches
  • Weight: 10.8 pounds

Budget-minded RVers after a functional portable toilet that works wonders at blocking smells should invest in Camco. The proudly American-owned company has been manufacturing RV toilets (among other things) since the 60s, and they really know their stuff.

This 5.3-gallon portable toilet’s biggest attraction is the high-quality sealing valve that does an outstanding job of locking in smells. In fact, it’s unlikely you’ll notice your effluent is there at all—until it comes time to empty the thing, of course. Luckily, it only weighs 32 pounds when full and comes with a convenient carry handle to make the dirty deed less daunting.

Two side latches work well at holding the toilet in place for life on the road, and its sturdy yet lightweight design is built to withstand rigorous bumps. To empty the bowl, a basic bellow type flush works in conjunction with a side valve.

It’s a bit lower than the ideal height of 18.5 inches, so avoid this one if you’re exceptionally tall. Still, the kids will undoubtedly appreciate the low-profile on offer here.

As a neat little bonus, Camco throw in a pack of their TST biodegradable toilet chemicals for free—superb value for money given the unit is so cheap already.

Pros

  • Super cheap
  • Comes with free chemicals
  • Sturdy and lightweight
  • Simple flush function
  • Holds in smells

Cons

  • A little bit too low

3. Best Premium Toilet: Nature's Head Dry Composting Toilet

Nature's Head Dry Composting Toilet

Why we like it: It’s environmentally-friendly, odor-free, and requires infrequent emptying.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Toilet Type: Composting
  • Material: Plastic
  • Black Water Tank Size: 5 gallon
  • Dimensions: 17.75 x 20.75 x 21.5 inches
  • Weight: 28 pounds

At almost a thousand bucks a pop, it’s little wonder so many RVers balk at the price tag attached to Nature’s Head. But for those in the know, this incredible composting toilet offers some of the best mobile washroom convenience on Earth.

For starters, Nature’s Head is exceptionally environmentally friendly. Forget about buying big packs of planet-destroying toilet chemicals because this unit functions through the natural process of composting. When the process is finished, you can deposit your composted droppings onto a garden to use as fertilizer, in turn creating new foliage to help our planet breathe.

Another tremendous advantage is that because human feces shrink into a fraction of the normal size after being composted, you won’t have to empty the number two section of the toilet very often at all. In fact, the small tray that traps the composted solids underneath only needs to be changed every few months—compare that with a cassette which should be emptied every few days.

But the biggest draw to this toilet—and it’s a biggie—is that the poop in Nature’s Head literally doesn’t stink. You won’t smell a thing while it’s in there composting, and you’ll only notice a faint, and not particularly unpleasant, earthy smell when it comes time to empty it. For RVers who gag at the thought of dealing with feces, Nature’s Head is the ultimate non-odorous solution.

As for number one’s, an innovative design sees fluids trickle into a separate bottle, which you’ll be required to empty as you go.

The American-made product is easy to install and is built tough to last.

Pros

  • Doesn’t smell
  • Requires infrequent emptying
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Made in the USA
  • Easy to install

Cons

  • Very expensive

4. Best Portable RV Toilet: Thetford Porta Potti

Thetford Porta Potti

Why we like it: The Porta Potti from Thetford is luxurious to use and easy to clean.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Toilet Type: Portable
  • Material: Plastic
  • Black Water Tank Size: 5.5 gallons
  • Dimensions: 18.39 x 15.75 x 17.83 inches
  • Weight: 13.45 pounds

Perhaps the best selling portable toilet of all time, the Thetford Porta Potti is a much-loved product among RVers and campers alike. Although this highly versatile toilet sits firmly in the premium range, the financial investment is well worth it for the convenience it affords.

As a portable toilet, there’s no installation required whatsoever, which saves the cash-strapped RVer a significant sum. The main appeal of this toilet, however, is the Porta Potti looks and feels just like your toilet at home—a rarity in the portable space. At slightly over 18 inches high and with a smooth ergonomic curve, the product is comfortable to sit on and is a hit for its sleek, modern design.

A battery-powered flush negates the need to push on a clunky floor pedal, and the tank level indicator seems to work better than most. Best of all, the toilet features a highly effective leak-proof valve that stops pungent odors from permeating through your RV.

The only discernible downside to this product is the price—it costs a pretty penny. Sure, it also won’t hold nearly as much as a flush toilet, but that’s to be expected from a portable.

Although this isn’t the most expensive item on our list, the price point is undeniably high for a portable toilet. Grab this one if your budget isn’t too tight, and you want the best portable money can buy.

Pros

  • Comfortable and ergonomic design
  • Sleek appearance
  • Doesn’t smell
  • Battery-powered push button flush

Cons

  • Expensive

5. Best Ceramic RV Toilet: Dometic 320 Series RV Toilet w/Hand Spray

Dometic 320 Series RV Toilet w/Hand Spray

Why we like it: A ceramic toilet that offers luxury even when boondocking in the wildest places on the road.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Toilet Type: Gravity flush
  • Material: Ceramic
  • Dimensions: 22 x 14.75 x 19.75 inches
  • Weight: 37.5 pounds

For the posh RVer who insists on having all the comforts of home, it’s hard to go past this beautiful ceramic toilet from Dometic. The company specializes in creating high-quality outdoor gear for adventurous Americans, and their plush ceramic RV toilet delivers the goods.

What makes this one so luxurious, you may ask? Its glossy and vitreous ceramic finish, smooth, elongated design, and earthy enameled wooden seat make it look exceptionally more stylish than the other RV toilets out there. And that’s not to say it’s overly pricey—the Dometic 320 comes in at a similar price to the Thetford Aqua Magic V.

Aesthetics aside, the flush function on this product is pretty good, too. A pressurized full-rim flush clears the entire bowl with ease, so you needn’t stress about those unsightly skid marks. Plus, it uses a mere one pint per flush; you won’t run out of freshwater too quickly.

The foot-pump is pretty easy to work out—press it in a bit to add water and all the way for a full flush. The unit also includes a hand spray, which is effective at keeping things spotlessly clean.

Just be careful not to break the foot pedal as there’s no replacement part available, so you’d have to go out and purchase an entire new toilet.

Pros

  • Excellent aesthetics
  • Pressurized full-rim flush
  • Easy-to-use foot pedal
  • Vitreous texture
  • Water-efficient

Cons

  • No replacement pedal

6. Best Value RV Toilet: SereneLife Outdoor Portable Toilet

SereneLife Outdoor Portable Toilet

Why we like it: This easy-to-use portable toilet doesn’t emit much odor and represents excellent value for money.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Toilet Type: Portable
  • Material: Plastic
  • Black Water Tank Size: 5.5 gallons
  • Dimensions: 16.5 x 14.6 x 16.9 inches
  • Weight: 11.25 pounds

Cheap and cheerful, this popular road tripping accessory is suitable for woodland camping and RV living alike. Coming in at 11 pounds (empty), it’s portable enough to lug around the campsite, and its sizable 5.5-gallon holding tank is big enough for the whole family to use.

Its petite dimensions are another major attraction, as the unit can easily slide away under a bench when not in use. And for the owners of class B RVs or campervans, that extra portability is a godsend.

Under the hood, a splash-free rotatable outlet pipe lets you quickly pour the tank out without the risk of making a mess. For the price you pay, it does an excellent job of holding in the smell as well—don’t forget to add your chemicals, though. Furthermore, the unit comes with a handy travel bag that makes it super simple to tote to and fro.

On the downside, the tank can be a little hard to clean due to two rather poorly placed indentations that have a nasty habit of securing solids in place. The seat is also relatively small, which, while ideal for children and skinny adults, doesn’t bode well for big people.

Pros

  • Large holding tank
  • Affordable portable toilet
  • Comes with a travel bag
  • Easy to empty

Cons

  • Hard to clean out solids
  • Too small for large adults

7. Best China RV Toilet: Thetford 34430 Aqua Magic Style Plus Toilet

Thetford 34430 Aqua Magic Style Plus Toilet

Why we like it: This elegant toilet from Thetford looks just like a classy residential toilet.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Toilet Type: Gravity flush
  • Material: China
  • Dimensions: 19.5 x 25 x 22 inches
  • Weight: 44.9 pounds

If you love the Thetford brand but can’t stand the thought of using an unsightly plastic toilet in your RV, then this fancy china bowl model is the ideal option for you. While the Aqua Magic V gets top marks for functionality, the Aqua Magic Style Plus is all about looks.

Price-wise, it’s not much more expensive than the Aqua Magic V, which is surprising because china is a premium material. But in terms of it-feels-just-like-home aesthetics, this toilet comes up trumps. The contemporary design is almost indistinguishable from the throne you use at home, all thanks to its shiny china bowl.

It’s not all about appearances, however, as the Style Plus is awash with nifty features. An anti-microbial seat prevents the growth of nasty bacteria, while a powerful in-built flush spans the entire bowl. It’s even got an innovative ball valve that physically wipes the bowl clean upon each flush.

It’s relatively easy to install if you closely follow the instructions—no need to get a professional plumber involved. The biggest downside to this product is the seat is a little small for larger adults.

Pros

  • Comes in a chic contemporary design
  • Looks and feels like a toilet from home
  • Anti-microbial seat prevents bacteria
  • Ball valve wipes the bowl clean
  • Easy to install for a non-professional

Cons

  • The seat is too small for large adults

8. Best RV Toilet for Tall People: AW Gravity Flush RV Toilet

AW Gravity Flush RV Toilet

Why we like it: It’s got everything a good RV toilet needs plus extra height to cater to tall users.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Toilet Type: Gravity flush
  • Material: High-density polyethylene plastic
  • Dimensions: 19.5 x 25 x 22 inches
  • Weight: 44.9 pounds

There’s nothing worse than trying to use a toilet that’s too small for you—it feels like squatting down onto a child’s potty. And if you happen to be exceptionally tall, you’re going to find most RV toilets are just a tiny bit too short.

The Gravity Flush Toilet from AW solves the age-old conundrum with a bigger and better RV toilet that’s suitable for tall users. Coming in at a whopping 20 inches high, it’s at least an inch and a half taller than most RV toilets, and that makes all the difference for anyone over six feet.

Aside from the extra height, it’s a decent gravity flush product that’ll stand the test of time. Its durable high-density polyethylene frame is designed to last at least five years, although you should get double that under normal conditions. The toilet is easy to use, too, with a simple push pedal system that either adds water or does a full flush.

But be warned, AW doesn’t have the same quality customer service as the big brands like Thetford and Dometic. Also, there’s no warranty to speak of, so purchase at your own risk.

Pros

  • Good for tall users
  • Tough frame is built to last
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Poor customer service
  • No warranty

9. Best Vacuum RV Toilet: Dometic VacuFlush 509

Dometic VacuFlush 509

Why we like it: It uses advanced vacuum suction technology to suck away the poop.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Toilet Type: Vacuum
  • Material: China
  • Dimensions: 20.5 x 18.75 x 15.25 inches
  • Weight: 42 pounds

Sure, it may cost you a pretty penny, but the Dometic VacuFlush 509 offers both exceptional functionality and sleek aesthetics in the one shiny china bowl.

The elongated seat and smooth deep bowl feel just like a residential toilet, while its powerful vacuum-operated flush does an impressive job of washing away unwanted fecal matter.

The vacuum mechanism means the toilet uses hardly any freshwater for each flush. In turn, that significantly increases your holding tank efficiency, thus means you won’t have to empty the thing so often. Using the system is easy enough thanks to a user-friendly flush pedal that isn’t at all hard to reach.

When it comes time for cleaning, the anti-splash rim ensures water stays in the bowl rather than on the floor. Another neat bonus is the toilet fits into a surprisingly small space yet manages to cater to taller users at the same time. If none of your party is particularly tall, then you can install it on the low-profile setting instead.

Pros

  • Vacuum flush technology is water efficient
  • Requires emptying less often
  • Easy to use
  • Suitable for tall or average-sized users
  • China bowl looks swanky

Cons

  • Expensive

10. Best Macerating RV Toilet: TMC Marine Electric Toilet

TMC Marine Electric Toilet

Why we like it: It chops your effluent into tiny fine pieces, which makes them easier to dispose of.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Toilet Type: Macerating
  • Material: China
  • Dimensions: 15 x 14 x 14 inches
  • Weight: 35 pounds

Although pricey, this high-tech macerating toilet from the little-known brand TMC is perfect for users who want to break solid waste down into a liquid for easy disposal. If you’re finding that RV toilet chemicals aren’t doing a good job of liquefying your poo or you suffer from unusually dense stools, investing in a macerating toilet could be your best bet.

It’ll only cost about a hundred dollars more than the other mid-range options we recommend, and that will be money well spent when it comes time to empty your tank at the dump station.

Aside from the heavy-duty macerating feature, TMC makes a comfortable and stylish toilet that’ll look lovely in your RV. The polished china bowl is compact and exceptionally vitreous, while a standard household toilet lid completes the package to make you feel right at home.

In terms of usability, a self-priming pump will rinse the bowl on your behalf, while the scavenger pump and macerator will dice up your doodoo—technology at its finest, folks. Rather than an annoying floor pedal (annoying for the elderly or infirm, at least), this toilet has a household-style push button that’s oh-so-easy to use.

Pros

  • Slices feces into tiny pieces for easy disposal
  • Perfect for constipated consumers
  • Stylish china bowl and residential toilet-style seat
  • Self-priming pump for flushing
  • Push-button rather than floor pedal

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Comes from a little-known brand

RV Toilet: Buyer’s Guide


RV toilet in a bathroom

The RV toilet is surprisingly complex, so you’ll need to do quite a bit of research to find the perfect product. Luckily for you, we’ve compiled the most crucial info into the following in-depth buyer’s guide.

From the different toilet types to the key things you need to consider, here’s everything you should know about the RV toilet.

What Is an RV Toilet?

An RV toilet is, of course, a toilet for your RV. But what makes it different from a regular residential toilet, you may ask?

While the toilet in your house is plumbed into a town sewerage system that whisks the wastewater away in seconds, an RV toilet is not. Instead, you’ll need to store your smelly effluent inside the RV until you can manually dispose of it at the nearest dump station (or appropriate location).

The Benefits of an RV Toilet

RV toilets don’t come cheap, and emptying them all the time is undoubtedly a chore. Nonetheless, these must-have contraptions are still an essential RV accessory for the comfort and convenience they afford.

Go without an RV toilet, and you’ll be forced to find a public restroom every time nature calls. More often than not, the nearest facilities will be miles away—or worse, they’re so horrendously unclean you can’t bear step inside.

With an RV toilet, you’ve got the freedom to expunge bodily waste whenever you choose, ultimately allowing you to live a healthier and happier existence on the road.

The Drawbacks of an RV Toilet

Some RVers, particularly those roadtripping in smaller rigs like a Class B, might shun the idea of a toilet, opting to seek out a restroom or dig a hole in the woods instead. Although excruciatingly inconvenient, especially on an extended trip, there are a few advantages to forgoing a toilet in the RV.

RV toilets are relatively expensive, both to purchase and to install. Budget orientated RVers might prefer to save the cost of a bathroom to spend on other parts of their rig, such as the battery or solar setup. Skipping out on a toilet also means you’ll never have to empty the black water tank, which every RVer agrees isn’t a whole lot of fun. And finally, RV toilets can start to smell if not emptied frequently and maintained adequately.

RV Toilet Types

RV toilets come in several different types, each of which is suitable for users with unique needs.

Gravity Flush

The RV gravity flush toilet works in a similar fashion to your toilet at home—you flush the button, and gravity forces the wastewater to flow down the drain and into a holding tank. One key difference is the RV flush toilet doesn’t have a water holding tank, which means you’ll need to turn your RV pump on or connect it to an external water source to flush.

Once you’ve finished doing your business, you flush the waste away with a foot pedal and then fill the tank again with a lever.

Traditional gravity flush toilets connect to a holding tank that could be located elsewhere in the RV.

Macerating Flush

The macerating flush is the same as gravity flush except for one thing: it includes a razor-sharp set of motorized blades that macerate (slice) solid waste into a sticky slurry before sending it to the waste holding tank. The key advantage of the macerating flush toilet is it turns effluent into a more viscous fluid that’s easier to store and dispose of.

Macerating toilet technology enables the toilet bowl and waste holding tank to be installed apart, reducing unwanted smells and allowing for a bigger tank.

Vacuum Flush

One of the best toilet types on the market, vacuum flush technology sucks the effluent from the bowl using a vacuum vessel and macerating pump, then stores it inside a holding tank. As a result, you get a spotlessly clean toilet bowl after every flush and a tank full of liquid-like effluent that’s easy to dispose of.

Like macerating toilets, vacuum flush toilets can also be installed in a different section to the black water tank, which reduces smells and allows for greater flexibility with the installation.

Cassette Toilet

A classic option in campervans and trailers, the cassette toilet gets its name from its cassette-like wastewater tank stored in an external locker. The toilet bowl sits directly above the cassette, and the waste falls straight inside upon being flushed.

To empty the wastewater cassette, the RVer must manually remove it from the service door and pour it into a toilet or dump station. The process makes you get a bit more “up close and personal” with your effluent, but most RVers get used to it and don’t find it so bad after a while.

Cassette toilets are an excellent option when there’s limited space to work with. However, the external service door means the RV manufacturer must install them upon construction; thus, they aren’t appropriate for the average consumer (which is why we don’t include them on our list).

Portable Toilets

As the name suggests, portable toilets are small enough to be taken anywhere, which makes them a popular choice for tent camping as well as RV use. These petite and lightweight toilets have a plastic bowl that sits right on top of a wastewater storage tank, which the effluent drops into as it would on a cassette toilet.

When the black water tank becomes full, you need to remove it from the bowl and manually pour it into a toilet or dump station—again, much like a cassette.

Composting Toilet

The composting toilet is a unique, environmentally friendly option that composts your effluent on the go. Liquid and solid waste are deposited into separate containers, and the solids are composted into a humus-like substance that can be safely returned to the soil. To empty a compost toilet, either pour it into a compost bin or down a drop toilet and let nature work its magic.

The system doesn’t use a drop of water, which makes it advantageous on remote excursions into arid areas. And aside from being environmentally friendly, compost toilets are popular as they emit very little odor when functioning correctly.

RV Toilets for Those With Limited Mobility

Whether you’ve got elderly travelers in your group or someone with a physical disability, it’s crucial to consider their needs when shopping for an RV toilet.

If possible, opt for a high-profile toilet that sits well off the ground like a regular household toilet and is more comfortable for the infirm to lift themselves on and off. However, these options are usually only available in gravity, macerating, or vacuum toilet types. If you need to install a cassette or portable toilet, consider creating a platform to raise it off the ground.

The classic foot pedal flush is also best avoided. If possible, opt for a modern electric flush that comes with a handle on the wall.

The Different RV Water Tanks

These days, almost all RVs have three separate water tanks: freshwater, greywater, and blackwater.

Freshwater refers to potable water that comes directly out of the town water supply tap and into your RV, often passing through a food-grade hose and water filter to ensure it tastes great.

Greywater is the water you’ve already used to clean your dishes and shower in. As greywater isn’t especially bad for the environment, most RVers will flush it down the drain or release it on the side of the road.

And then there’s blackwater, the icky stuff. Blackwater is what you’ve deposited into your toilet, typically a foul concoction of feces, urine, chemicals, and TP. This tank definitely isn’t environmentally friendly, so you’ll need to empty it into a standard toilet or dump station.

RV Blackwater Tank Sizes

If you’re wondering what the ideal size for an RV blackwater tank (AKA holding tank) is, the answer is simple: as big as possible.

The larger an RV black water tank is, the less frequently you’ll be required to empty it—and as we already know, pouring your poop down a hole in the ground isn’t the most enjoyable chore in the world.

The size of your blackwater tank will vary depending on the type of toilet you’re using and the available space and weight on your RV.

Oversized RVs and fifth wheelers with a gravity flush or macerating/vacuum toilet may have a blackwater tank as big as 100 gallons. However, the average size of a blackwater tank for large to medium RVs is between 20 and 50 gallons.

Smaller RVs, on the other hand, tend to favor the more compact cassette or portable toilets, whose holding tanks are usually around 5 gallons in size. These need to be emptied more frequently—typically every few days if two people or more are using the toilet.

Compost toilets also hold solid matter, which isn’t measured in gallons but can be emptied extremely infrequently (every few months).

When shopping for a new RV toilet, you only need to consider the blackwater tank size when looking at portable or cassette toilets. Other toilets (gravity flush, macerating, and vacuum) will use the blackwater tank already installed in your RV.

Finding a Place to Dump Your RV Toilet

Man emptying RV toilet in dump station

Unless you’re well off the beaten track in some far-flung locale, there’s usually someplace close by to dump your effluent. The best place to dispose of your waste depends on the kind of toilet you’re using.

Where to Dump Gravity Flush, Macerating, and Vacuum Toilets

RVing is a hugely popular pastime throughout the United States, and there’s a highly developed infrastructure network out there to support the lifestyle.

One of the most prevalent infrastructure pieces is the dump station, which is essentially a hole in the ground that connects with the town sewage system. These have been specially designed so that RVers—especially those with a gravity flush, macerating, or vacuum toilet—can safely and efficiently empty their black water tanks. Each station is either available for free or for a nominal fee.

These three toilet types have a big hose that connects to the holding tank and drains the black water directly into the dump station. Attempting to empty any of these into a standard flush toilet could result in a horrible mess—trust us, you don’t want to try this.

The easiest way to locate your nearest dump station is by using a cell phone app such as WikiCamps USA.

  • Dump Stations: Yes
  • Standard Flush Toilets: No
  • Remote Drop Toilets: No

Where to Dump Cassette and Portable Toilets

RVers using a cassette or portable toilet have a distinct advantage: they’re able to dump their wastewater into dump stations and any standard flush toilet, so long as it’s connected to the town sewage system. This flexibility provides the RVer with extra convenience in remote areas as they don’t have to keep a keen eye out for the nearest dump station.

However, you must never dump the contents of a cassette or portable toilet into a drop toilet, as the harsh RV chemicals could destroy the composting system and cause thousands of dollars’ worth of damage. The bathrooms in some remote RV parks may also be unsuitable for dumping, as they run on a delicate septic system. Keep an eye out for warning signs, and if in doubt, ask.

  • Dump Stations: Yes
  • Standard Flush Toilets: Yes
  • Remote Drop Toilets: No

Where to Dump Compost Toilets

Compost toilets separate number one and number two into two different compartments, each of which should be disposed of differently.

Compost Toilet Pee Bottles

Number one filters into a “pee bottle,” which includes a durable, watertight cap to avoid spillage. As urine isn’t especially harmful to the environment, it’s relatively easy to find a place to empty these. Normal flush toilets, dump stations, and remote drop toilets are all acceptable places to dispose of urine.

  • Dump Stations: Yes
  • Standard Flush Toilets: Yes
  • Remote Drop Toilets: Yes
Compost Toilet Number Two’s

A compost toilet uses a combo of coco pith, peat moss, and/or sawdust to turn your number two’s into a humus-like substance that’s solid, dry, odorless, and relatively non-toxic. However, this is still humanure we’re talking about, so it could potentially contain E. coli or salmonella and should be disposed of carefully.

Feel free to add the contents into a compost pile or use it to fertilize a garden—but avoid fertilizing vegetable patches or orchids intended for human consumption. Another option is to dispose of its contents directly into a drop toilet at a trailhead or remote camp, as these compost toilets are designed to function in a similar manner. Some campers dig a hole in the woods, although that’s quite laborious, and you’d need to dig deep to empty an entire compost toilet worth of waste.

The easiest option is somewhat controversial: bagging your composted poop and disposing of it in a trash can. While some RVers believe this option to be unethical and perhaps even illegal, others argue it’s a safe and responsible way to empty a compost toilet. In any case, throwing composted humanure in the trash is certainly no worse than chucking out dirty nappies or plastic-wrapped dog poop.

  • Dump Stations: No
  • Standard Flush Toilets: No
  • Compost For Edible Fruits And Vegetables: No
  • Remote Drop Toilets: Yes
  • Compost Bins And Gardens: Yes
  • Garbage Bins: Yes

Emptying an RV Toilet

The process of emptying an RV toilet varies depending on its type.

Emptying a Blackwater Holding Tank

Traditional flush, macerating, and vacuum toilets all store effluent in a large blackwater holding tank, which may reside in an entirely different section of the RV.

To empty the blackwater into a dump station, follow these steps.

  • Put on a pair of thick rubber gloves
  • Take off the outlet cap of the holding tank
  • Hook up the drainage hose between the holding tank outlet and the dump station
  • Open the holding tank valve and drain the black water into the dump station

Although not strictly necessary, it’s a smart idea to flush your blackwater tank and drainage hose.

  • Fill the holding tank with freshwater and drain it again to flush it out
  • Close the blackwater valve
  • Run water through the draining hose to flush it and lift one end to let all the water trickle out

Adding chemicals to your holding tank is essential, especially if you plan to use it for number two’s.

  • Disconnect the hose and stash it in your RV
  • Rinse the dump station clean and close the lid
  • Add fresh water and RV toilet chemicals to the holding tank

Emptying a Cassette or Portable Toilet

To empty a cassette or portable toilet tank into a standard flush toilet or dump station, follow these steps:

  • Ensure the toilet is closed
  • Remove the cassette from the external locker (or from beneath the bowl for a portable toilet)
  • Twist the outlet pipe so that it points away from the cassette
  • Unscrew the cap on the outlet pipe and pour the contents into the toilet bowl or dump station
  • Press the vent button at the top of the cassette to avoid splashbacks

It’s wise to take a moment to rinse out the tank every time you empty it to reduce the onset of odors.

  • Pour approximately one gallon of water into the cassette, reattach the cap, and swish it around vigorously
  • Empty the water into the toilet or dump station again

Now that the inside of your cassette is nice and clean, you’ll need to add water and chemicals.

  • Pour about half a gallon of water into the outlet pipe
  • Add the manufacturer’s recommended dose of your preferred RV toilet chemicals
  • Put the lid back on the outlet pipe and return the cassette to the external locker

Emptying a Compost Toilet

The process for emptying a compost toilet is simple and less “icky” than the aforementioned types.

Number One:
  • Ensure the cap on the pee bottle(s) is properly fastened
  • Empty the bottle into an appropriate receptacle.
Number Two:
  • Open the holding tray
  • Transfer the contents into an appropriate bag (plastic for the trash or biodegradable for burying/drop toilets)
  • Dispose of the bag in an appropriate place

Note that human waste shrinks when composted. Therefore, you’ll only have to empty the number two’s from your composting toilet every month or so.

RV Toilet Chemicals

If left untreated, the effluent in an RV blackwater tank would clog up the pipes and start to smell horrendously bad. To address the issue, RV toilet manufacturers have released an array of RV toilet chemicals specially designed to break down human waste.

These chemicals come in satchel or liquid form and are added to the blackwater tank with a half-gallon of water. Septic-safe RV toilet chemicals are better for the environment, while the standard chemicals do a better job of breaking down the nastiness.

RV Toilet Paper

Regular toilet paper doesn’t break down quickly enough to be suitable for RV use. Although it is possible to use it in an RV, there’s a high risk of creating a clog—and of course, you’ll have to unclog it yourself!

For this reason, savvy RVers opt for specialized RV toilet paper instead. Stacks of different competing brands are available, but we reckon Thetford makes the best of the bunch.

RV Toilets for Remote Travel

If you’re planning to venture way off the beaten track, you may want to consider investing in a backup toilet. In far-flung areas, there’s often no dump station around, so you’ll have nowhere to dump your blackwater.

One option is to carry an extra portable toilet with you, which will buy you a bit of time. If you’re using a cassette toilet, you could bring a second backup cassette to start using once you’ve filled your first one up.

RV Toilets: FAQ

If you’ve still got questions that need answering about the RV toilet, then take a look through our FAQ below.

How Do You Unclog a Blackwater Tank?

Try emptying the black water into a dump station. If that doesn’t work, use a course toilet snake and an extra-long and bendable auger to poke around inside the piping and tank. Ensure these are designed for RV use because a domestic one could damage your pipes.

Who Makes the Best RV Toilets?

Thetford and Dometic make the best RV toilets on the market, each offering a wide variety of different toilet types. For compost toilets, however, it’s hard to look past Nature’s Head.

Can You Put a Residential Toilet Into an RV?

Residential toilets aren’t appropriate for RV use because they’re too fragile and use too much water. Furthermore, residential toilets are designed to pump effluent directly into the town sewage system, which isn’t possible in an RV.

What Do You Clean RV Toilets With?

To clean the bowl, use a soft-bristled and non-abrasive brush combined with the household cleaner of your choice. As for the pipes and holding tank, you may need a toilet snake and/or auger to clear out any clogs.

Do RV Composting Toilets Smell?

RV composting toilets work by breaking your feces down into a soil-like humus substance that doesn’t emit any odor. Therefore, when working correctly, composting toilets don’t tend to smell.

Do I Need Special Toilet Paper for an RV?

Although it’s possible to use regular toilet paper in an RV, it isn’t recommended as it could clog your piping or holding tank. RV toilet paper is specially designed to decompose rapidly, which makes it much less likely to clog.

Why Does My RV Toilet Stink?

A foul odor emanating from your RV toilet could be caused by several things: a full holding tank, clogged piping, insufficient or ineffective chemicals, excess heat and humidity, a leak in the tank or piping.

Best RV Toilets: Final Thoughts

You’re now an expert on the exciting world of RV toilets. If you’ve made it this far through our guide, you now know all the essential info about going to the bathroom in an RV—including, we dare say, a few things you probably didn’t want to know.

With this high level of expertise at hand, you’re now ready to sort through our top ten list to pick out the perfect toilet for you. Remember to factor in our key considerations before coming to a decision. If you’re looking for further ways to residentialize your RV experience, we have an article about great washer/dryer combos for RVs too.

May your number one’s and two’s be forever non-odorous and easy to clean.