The ultimate guide to your motorhome toilet

Author: Your RV Good Guide   Date Posted: 20 May 2024


Travelling by motorhome is a dream lifestyle and one that more and more Kiwis are embracing. But for new motorhomers, it also brings up a few questions. Top of the list? How does the toilet work in a motorhome? Followed closely by how often do you need to empty a motorhome toilet? Then, of course, there are all those toilet care products to choose from – which ones do you even need?

This handy guide is here to put your mind at ease. From the nitty-gritty of how your motorhome toilet works, to keeping it in tip-top shape, we're here to make sure you're as comfy with your RV toilet as you are with the one at home.


How does the toilet work in a motorhome?

What you need to know about using and emptying your RV’s toilet

Maintenance tips to make your RV toilet last longer

What you need to know about self-containment


How does the toilet work in a motorhome?


The good news is motorhome toilets are not as complicated as they might seem. So, it’s worth taking the time to get to know the ins and outs.

A motorhome toilet typically includes a bowl, where waste is deposited, and a flush system to clean the bowl after use. The flush can be powered in two ways: some models have a dedicated flush tank, while others draw water directly from the motorhome's main water tank. The flushing mechanism itself varies too, with options ranging from manual hand pumps to electric flush systems.


The RV cassette toilet system

In most New Zealand motorhomes, toilets use a cassette system. These nifty little units are a breeze for waste management and consist of two main parts: the toilet bowl with a flush mechanism and a removable waste-holding tank (that’s the ‘cassette’).

The cassette is accessible from outside the motorhome and is easily emptied at a dump station. It’s simple, no fuss, no mess – once you’ve done it once, you’ll wonder what you were ever worried about.


Trusted brands and styles

In New Zealand, the most commonly used brand of motorhome toilet is Thetford Known for their reliability and quality, Thetford toilets come in various styles, including bench and swivel designs. The bench style is fixed in place, offering stability, while swivel toilets can be rotated, providing flexibility in tighter bathroom spaces.


What you need to know about using and emptying your RV’s toilet

Let’s flush away any niggly worries about maintaining your loo with a straightforward guide to your motorhome toilet – from how it works to keeping it clean, and everything in between!


Chemical vs. biodegradable toilet chemicals

The choice of chemicals you use in your motorhome toilet can significantly impact your waste system's efficiency and the environment.

Traditional chemical toilet additives are effective in breaking down waste and controlling odours. However, they can contain harsh substances that may not be eco-friendly.

On the other hand, biodegradable options are gaining popularity for their environmental benefits. These cleaning agents are designed to break down waste effectively while being kinder to the environment. When selecting RV toilet treatment products, consider the balance between efficiency and ecological impact to make a choice that aligns with your values and needs.

Regular toilet paper vs RV toilet paper

When it comes to RV toilet paper, you might think any roll will do, but in fact, RV-safe toilet paper is made slightly differently.

Unlike the regular kind you grab from the supermarket, RV toilet paper is made to break down quickly. That’s important if you want to avoid the headache of clogs or a backed-up system.

Plus, it's septic-safe making it a friendlier choice for your RV's system, dump stations, and the environment. So, remember, when stocking up for your trip, grabbing the right RV-safe toilet

paper is a small step that makes a big difference.


Water consumption and conservation

When you’re travelling by motorhome, every drop of water counts. Saving water in your RV toilet is not just eco-friendly; it's your ticket to longer, uninterrupted adventures.

Here's the lowdown on keeping your water use in check without cramping your style:

  1. Opt for low-flow flushing: If your toilet has a dual-flush system, use the low-flow option whenever possible. It gets the job done with less water.
  2. Be mindful of flush frequency: Sometimes, a full flush isn't always necessary. Being conscious of how often and how much you flush can save a significant amount of water.
  3. Regular maintenance: Keeping an eye on leaks and fixing them promptly ensures that not a drop is wasted.
  4. Educate everyone on board: Make sure everyone in your motorhome understands the importance of water conservation. A little awareness goes a long way!

By following these simple steps, you can make a big difference in how much water you use, helping both the planet and your travel plans.


Dumping and cleaning procedures

Alright, let's get down to the nitty-gritty of keeping your motorhome toilet spick and span. It's not the most glamorous part of motorhome life, but it's super important for a happy, hygienic journey. Here's a quick and easy guide to dumping and cleaning, keeping everything fresh and fuss-free:

  1. Wear protective gear: Always wear gloves (and even a face mask) for hygiene.
  2. Locate a designated dump station: It’s important to only empty your waste tank at an approved location.
  3. Ensure cassette is closed and remove from your RV. Release the pressure valve and empty contents into the dump station carefully.
  4. Rinse the tank: After emptying, rinse the waste tank with clean water to remove any remaining debris.
  5. Add fresh water and chemicals: Refill the tank with a little fresh water and the appropriate chemicals for the next use.
  6. Clean the toilet bowl: Regularly clean the bowl with suitable cleaning agents to keep it hygienic and odour-free.

For more detailed information on keeping your loo in tip-top shape, check out this helpful article on Cleaning Your Loo with Cassette Toilet Chemicals.

Check out our handy step-by-step video on emptying and cleaning your toilet and toilet cassette.


Maintenance tips to make your RV toilet last longer

Maintaining your RV toilet means it will serve you well throughout your travels. Regular upkeep not only extends its lifespan but also ensures a comfortable and hygienic environment in your motorhome. Let’s go through some key maintenance tips to keep your toilet in top condition.


Use RV-friendly products only

When it comes to cleaning your motorhome toilet, it's tempting to reach for the same products you use at home. However, standard household cleaners, especially those containing bleach, can be harsh on the plastic components of your RV toilet. Over time, these chemicals can cause discolouration and damage. Stick to products specifically designed for RV use to keep your toilet looking and functioning at its best.


Check the seals and gaskets

One of the most important aspects of RV toilet maintenance is regularly checking the seals and gaskets. These components are important for preventing leaks and ensuring everything operates smoothly. A small leak or a worn gasket can lead to bigger problems down the road, so it’s worth keeping an eye on them and replacing them as needed. Regular inspections and timely maintenance can save you from inconvenient and potentially costly repairs.


Think about ventilation

Proper ventilation is important for keeping your motorhome toilet area fresh and odour-free (and generally more pleasant!). Consider installing a vent fan or regularly airing out the bathroom area to maintain a fresh environment.


What you need to know about self-containment

Navigating the self-containment rules for motorhomes, especially regarding toilets, is more important than ever with recent changes in regulations.

These regulations are not just about following the rules; they're about preserving our beautiful environment and making sure you can enjoy the freedom of the road responsibly. Here's what's new and what you need to know when it comes to your motorhome toilet:

  1. Fixed toilet requirement: To hit the mark with the new standards, your motorhome needs a permanently installed RV toilet. You can no longer be certified if you only have a portable toilet.
  2. Toilet tank capacity: Your motorhome toilet needs a tank that can hold at least 3L per person. This capacity is important for managing waste efficiently and reducing the frequency of emptying the tank.
  3. Evacuation hose: Make sure you have an evacuation hose that's either three metres long for fitted tanks or long enough for sealed portable tanks. This is a must-have for clean and easy waste disposal.
  4. Waste storage capacity: Along with having a fixed toilet, your motorhome must have a minimum capacity to hold 12L per person of greywater (sinks and showers) and blackwater (toilet) storage capacity to prevent any discharge into the environment.
  5. Responsible waste disposal: With the new regulations in place, it’s more important than ever to dispose of waste responsibly at designated dump stations. This practice is crucial for protecting New Zealand's natural beauty and maintaining public health standards.


Choose the right RV toilet accessories with RVSC 

For all your RV toilet needs, from eco-friendly chemicals to the latest in toilet technology, your local RV Super Centre is your go-to destination.

Not only do we stock a wide range of toilet essentials, but our team is also on hand to offer expert advice and tips. Whether you're upgrading your current setup or kitting out a new motorhome, we've got everything you need to make your RV toilet efficient, hygienic, and compliant with the latest regulations.

Check out your nearest RV Super Centre for all your motorhome toilet essentials and more. Our friendly staff are always ready to help you choose the right products and accessories to enhance your motorhome experience.

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