Topping up, emptying and cleaning your toilet & toilet cassette


How to empty and clean a campervan toilet

Setting out on a motorhome adventure across New Zealand offers the ultimate in freedom and adventure. But it also involves practical responsibilities, like maintaining your RV's toilet system and keeping it hygienically clean. In this helpful guide, we’ll share essential tips on how to properly empty and clean your campervan toilet cassette, ensuring your motorhome bathroom remains fresh and inviting wherever your travels take you.


Understanding your RV toilet system

For many new motorhomers, getting to grips with the toilet system can initially seem daunting. However, the reality is quite the opposite – it’s surprisingly straightforward. By taking the time to understand the specifics of your setup, you'll find managing it to be a breeze.

Start by getting to know the basic operations of your toilet, such as the correct methods for opening and closing the unit for use and how to effectively flush. Each model might have slight variations, so understanding your particular system is key.


Most common system: The cassette toilet

In New Zealand, the majority of RV toilets operate using a cassette system. This popular choice among motorhome manufacturers and owners alike comprises a small, portable black water tank – the cassette – which collects waste directly below the toilet bowl.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about RV toilet cassettes


How a cassette toilet works

A cassette toilet is similar to a conventional home toilet in many ways but with a crucial difference in waste management. When you flush the toilet, the RV waste is not sent to a sewer but instead is collected in a sealed, removable blackwater waste tank or a toilet cassette – essentially a portable septic tank. A blackwater tank is larger than a cassette and is emptied via a waste hose. A toilet cassette, however, is smaller and portable. You remove the entire cassette – usually accessible via an external storage locker – and tip out the contents into a dump station.


How often should you empty and clean your toilet cassette?

Figuring out how often to empty and clean your RV's toilet cassette depends on a few factors, like how many people are using it and how long you're on the road. A good rule of thumb is to manage this every 3 to 5 days to keep everything running smoothly and smelling fresh.

To keep your cassette in tip-top condition, deep clean it with suitable chemicals every few weeks. This routine not only controls odours but also ensures that your RV toilet system is sanitary.

By maintaining a regular cleaning schedule, you’ll keep your RV experience pleasant and hassle-free, making sure you’re ready for wherever the road takes you next.


Managing waste in your RV

In New Zealand, it’s your legal obligation to empty your cassette toilet at a designated dump station. Dump stations can be found at most campsites. Look out for the dump station symbol.

To help you find dump points, refuse stations, recycling depots and more, it’s a great idea to download the thl Roadtrip app for Android or iPhone. This handy, easy-to-use app is the perfect travel companion for motorhome and campervan travellers. It’s packed full of great information for your New Zealand road trip.


A step-by-step guide on how to empty a campervan toilet cassette

Here’s a simple guide to keeping your toilet cassette hygienically clean.


  1. Get prepared with the right gear

    Because you’ll be getting close to the RV waste in your toilet cassette, it’s important to put safety first. Proper preparation is key to ensure the process is smooth and hygienic. Here’s what you’ll need:

    • Protective gloves and mask: Always wear gloves and a mask to protect yourself from germs and bacteria. Disposable items are best as they can be easily discarded after use.
    • Designated hose: Have a separate hose dedicated exclusively to rinsing the toilet cassette. This prevents contamination of your RV's fresh water system.
    • Sanitation chemicals: Prepare the appropriate chemicals needed for cleaning and maintaining your cassette. These chemicals help break down waste and control odours effectively.


  2. Take out the cassette

    Before you begin the process of emptying and cleaning your cassette, you’ll need to be parked at an approved dump station.

    Ensuring the cassette is removed properly is key to a mess-free cleaning process. Before you begin, make sure the toilet lever is securely in the closed position. This step is crucial to prevent any accidental spills or leaks while handling the cassette.

    If you encounter difficulty in removing the cassette, it's important to pause and double-check that everything is properly closed and secured. Sometimes, a cassette may not slide out easily if it is not correctly aligned or if the sealing mechanism is still engaged. Gently pull the cassette straight out to avoid jostling the contents. Taking your time during this step will help prevent any rush that might lead to mishandling.


  3. Empty the contents

    Next, it’s time to dispose of the waste. Many toilet cassettes have a handle and wheels to make them easier to carry. If not, you might want to consider parking as close as possible to the dump point.

    Straighten the nozzle of the cassette and carefully unscrew the cap. This setup is designed to facilitate easy and controlled dumping of the waste contents. Pour the contents into the designated area of the dump station, making sure to exercise proper waste disposal practices. Handling this process with care ensures that waste disposal is done efficiently and hygienically, safeguarding both personal and environmental health.


  4. Clean the toilet cassette

    Once the cassette is empty, pour some water inside, give it a swish around, then empty again. Most dump stations have a water hose for this purpose.

    When it’s time to give the cassette a thorough clean, you’ll need to have your cleaning gear on standby. You may need to prepare the cleaning chemicals to the correct ratio with warm water in a bucket. Other chemical types can be used without mixing with water.

    Unlock the seal to the top of the cassette itself and twist it off. Use a small toilet brush to apply and scrub within the cassette. You'll then want to leave the chemicals to sit for a while, usually around 15 minutes.Finally, give the cassette another good rinse out with clean water and empty into the dump point.


  5. Apply toilet treatment

    Now that the toilet cassette is clean, it’s a good idea to use a toilet treatment to help keep your toilet fresh and to break down future waste. RV Super Centre has a range of products for this purpose. Many motorhome travellers like the ease of using a ‘porta pak’. These soluble sachets can be dropped into the cassette and will slowly dissolve over a week.


Topping up the flush water

Keeping an eye on the flush water level in your RV water tank is crucial for maintaining a functioning toilet system. Thankfully, many models include a clear pipe indicator, which makes it easy to see when it’s time for a refill.

When you notice the levels getting low, here’s how to top up the flush water:

  1. Prepare the equipment: Grab a clean hose that is suitable for fresh water.
  2. Access the tank: Locate the fill nozzle, usually found on the outside of the RV, and remove the cap.
  3. Fill the tank: Insert the hose into the nozzle and carefully fill the tank, watching the clear pipe indicator to avoid overfilling.

It's important not to add any chemicals directly into the flush water tank. Doing so can damage the system's components, leading to expensive repairs. Keep in mind, not all RV toilets have a separate flush water tank. Some systems are integrated directly into the main RV fresh water tank.


A word about RV toilet paper

Choosing the right toilet paper is important for maintaining your RV's toilet system. Unlike standard household toilet paper, RV toilet paper is made to break down rapidly, which helps protect the mechanics of your RV waste system and the portable septic tank. Using regular toilet paper can lead to buildups that block pipes and interfere with the RV water pump, leading to costly repairs.

RV toilet paper is not only fast-dissolving but also septic safe, preventing the accumulation of un-dissolved materials that could harm your system. Despite its quick-dissolving nature, it does not sacrifice comfort, offering a soft texture that is also strong enough for effective use.


Get what you need to empty and clean your camper’s toilet cassette at RV Super Centre

From cassettes and parts to cleaning chemicals and treatments, RV Super Centre has all the motorhome accessories you need to keep your camper toilet in good condition. We also have lots of other great RV accessories to help you make the most of your motorhome travels. Check out our great range online or at your nearest RV Super Centre one-stop-shop.