Having the use of a motorhome is a wonderful thing. The freedom of the open road; being able to travel with plenty of comforts and supplies; not having to pitch a tent in the rain…the list is endless. There are, however, several chores that renting or owning a campervan requires, and cleaning and maintaining a chemical toilet is one of them.
This guide on everything you need to know about cleaning your motorhome chemical toilet will give you the complete lowdown on this rather unpleasant but very necessary activity. From what the different types of chemicals do to how to prepare, empty and maintain your chemical toilet, we’ve got it covered. Time to sort out your motorhome toilet.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then, let’s begin.
What kind of chemicals should I use for my motorhome toilet?
Chemicals for campervan toilets are conveniently coloured to avoid confusion. Opt for a concentrated product to limit your environmental impact and reduce space and weight in your vehicle.
Blue toilet cleaner
This is one of the most commonly-used varieties. It works by breaking down solid materials and neutralising odours. Simply pour it into the flush tank, add water if directed on the product label and you’re good to go.
Green toilet cleaner
This works in the same way as its blue counterpart but it doesn’t contain formaldehyde and is better for the environment. Some, such as the Elsan variety, are biodegradable.
Pink toilet cleaner
The pink toilet cleaner variety also works in the same way as the blue and green products but adds a protective layer to prevent limescale and to keep the loo fresh and clean.
How to prepare your motorhome chemical toilet
Most motorhome chemical toilets operate in a similar way, but it’s worth reading the instructions for yours before you begin preparations, in case there are any specifics you need to take into account.
- Remove the cassette from the main structure. Sometimes there is a clip or catch to secure the two parts in place or they may just slot in together with a bit of encouragement.
- Unscrew the cap on the flush tank and add in your chemical toilet cleaner of choice, making sure you dilute it correctly if it’s a concentrated product.
- Replace the cap and reconnect the cassette with the main structure, making sure they are fitted firmly together.
- Give the flush a try to make sure it is operating well.
Normal toilet paper is fine to use in motorhomes. There are some products on the market that claim to break down faster in the tank but unless you want to add an extra layer of hassle to your travels, we recommend you use the regular (preferably recycled/sustainable) variety. It’s best to avoid flushing sanitary products, wet wipes and kitchen towels as these will not only clog your flushing function but could also block the chemical disposal or Elsan you use at the campsite. Which won’t make you very popular with your fellow travellers!
How to empty your chemical toilet
Emptying your chemical toilet is the trickiest part. However, many motorhome holidaymakers find that this task isn’t that bad in practice. Check the location of the disposal facility before starting the process and find out if there is a security code or a key for the door.
It’s a good idea to wear disposable gloves and have a few tissues at hand to mop up any leaks.
- Check that the sliding cover of the toilet bowl is closed. If it isn’t, move the lever across so it is.
- Remove the cassette from the main toilet structure.
- Stand the cassette on its wheels or attach it to a trolley if you have one. If you are feeling strong, it’s fine to carry the cassette though make sure you can last the duration!
- Take the cassette to the disposal area and position it carefully over the unit.
- Unscrew the cap.
- Empty the cassette. The cassette may have a button to press at the same time as you empty it to create a vacuum for easy flow.
- If the facility has a hose, give the cassette a good swill out with water, especially if there is toilet paper in there as well.
- Reconnect the cassette with the main structure and refill the toilet chemicals if required.
Remember, you must only empty chemical toilets in facilities designed specifically for toilet waste. Most campsites will have these, but it is best to check before you book.
How often should I empty my motorhome chemical toilet?
The short answer is ‘whenever you need to’ - but it is a bit more contextual than that. As someone who lives on a boat and has to carry the cassette a long way down a rickety pontoon, I have learned that it is a good idea to empty it before it gets difficult to carry!
Some toilets have an indicator on to tell you when it is getting full. A good rule of thumb for a group of three or four people is to empty it every 1.5-2 days.
How to maintain your chemical toilet
As with most things, the better you maintain your chemical toilet the better it will perform and the longer it will last. Here are a few tips for maintaining your chemical toilet.
- Regular cleaning will extend the life of your chemical toilet so try not to neglect it when you are on the road.
- Keep the outside as well as the inside clean by wiping with a cloth and disinfectant.
- Don’t clean the bowl with a hard brush as this could result in scratches which will collect dirt and germs.
- Change the flushing water regularly, especially if it hasn’t been used for a while.
- Clean inside the cassette from time to time. Simply swill some diluted cleaner around the cassette after you empty it.
- Keep the rubber seal supple by spraying some silicone lubricant on it now and then.
- Keep the hatch seal open when you aren’t using your van for longer periods. This will prevent the seal from sticking to the cassette lid.
- If your motorhome isn’t being used over winter, empty the water. Cassette toilets can freeze over and this can damage the toilet. According to Household Blogger, it is safe to put antifreeze in chemical toilets.
There you are! That’s all there is to it. Not so bad after all, right? As I mentioned earlier in the article, it is one of those tasks that is far worse in the anticipation than in the actual doing. Once you have emptied and cleaned your chemical toilet a couple of times it will become second nature. Though it also may become another thing that you and your fellow travellers have to negotiate when deciding on who does what during your time away! Our advice? Toss a coin, get it done and get right back to enjoying your fabulous motorhome holiday.
If you don’t have your own motorhome but want to find out about hiring one for your dream break, check out Goboony’s motorhome rentals. There’s something there for every traveller, with and without toilets! And if you are the lucky owner of a motorhome and want to supplement your income or offset your costs by hiring your vehicle to one of our trusted customers, find out more today!