Small Favors

Hosing out Were Lines


Keeping holding tanks clean and fresh smelling is easy with these effective products in petite packages


We all love to think about our next RV journey. Discovering new places, meeting friends, making memories that can last a lifetime. The one thing we don’t like to think about, however, are holding tanks. We don’t want to imagine what’s in them, and we certainly don’t relish the thought of emptying them. Unpleasant as they may seem, they are a necessary evil that allows us the freedom to travel anywhere and always have a bathroom along for the journey, which is a great convenience. And, the fact is, holding tanks really aren’t a big deal if you use the proper chemicals and practice the correct dumping and flushing procedures.

Most large travel trailers and fifth-wheels have commensurately sized holding tanks and storage compartments that can easily accommodate your dumping hardware and chemical of choice. But what about smaller trailers and campers? Sometimes exterior storage is at a premium, limiting the size of the sanitation products we can bring along. So, we’re presenting some of the most popular holding-tank products — described in each company’s own words — that are available in small bottles, packets and the latest development, the drop-in (aka toss-in). Of course, all of these companies offer larger containers for bigger trailers, so make sure to visit their websites to see what is available for your application.

How to Do It




Dumping Basics

Dumping an RV’s holding tanks seems like a pretty simple process — and it is, if you know how to do it properly. The trouble is, many new RVers aren’t shown the basics from the beginning, and some learn the hard way that incorrect practices can result in some rather unpleasant surprises. To prevent you from becoming another amusing story around the campfire, here are some helpful tips:

  • • Buy a box of disposable gloves and keep them, along with a bottle of hand sanitizer and some paper towels, in the utility bay.
  • • When using the toilet, it’s tempting to conserve water, but too little can cause buildup in the tank, making it hard to empty.
  • • When hooked up to the sewer, it’s OK to leave the gray valve open, but not the black. Wait until this tank is around half full, then go outside and pull the handle. Leaving the valve open allows liquids to drain away, leaving solids behind. Make sure the gray tank valve is closed before opening the black valve handle.
  • • If you don’t have a black-tank flush, keep a five-gallon bucket on hand. After dumping the black tank, open the toilet valve and dump a bucketful of water down — it’s a lot more sanitary than dragging the dump station hose through your rig or running it into a window. Repeat the process a couple of times if you have a larger holding tank. It doesn’t have to be full — just enough to rinse away leftover stuff at the bottom of the tank.
  • • When you’re finished, put about a gallon of water in the tank and add some toilet treatment.








1. Get yourself a good hose with a 90-degree, threaded fitting like this one from Valterra. It will work with a variety of sewer ports, and even if the one you’re using isn’t threaded, having this fitting will prevent the hose from coming out when you dump and keep odor to a minimum.

2. It doesn’t really matter which end of the sewer hose you connect first. For our purposes, we started at the sewer port. Before connecting the hose, make sure the fitting on the end is properly attached, then turn it clockwise into the elbow until the pegs on the hose fitting are completely seated in the barbs on the elbow. As you can see here, the hose is not completely locked into the fitting yet.

3. Remove the sewer cap from the RV and attach the other end of the hose. You’ll note that we use a clear fitting, which may sound gross, but it allows you to see when the tank is rinsed completely clean, as it is here. If you’re hooked up at an RV park, open the black-tank valve only after making sure the gray-water valve is closed. Once empty, close the black-tank valve and either dump your bucket(s) of water down the toilet, or attach the dump station hose to the black-tank flush port, and turn it on. It’s a good idea to leave the black-tank valve open during flushing to prevent the tank from getting full and possibly rupturing. However, as long as you stay with the rig while running the water, it’s OK to close the black-tank valve, and open it after a minute or so (depending on the size of your holding tank, of course). Repeat this step twice.

4. Close the black-tank valve, then open the gray-tank valve. Since gray water is primarily soapy water from the sinks and shower, it helps to further clean the inside of the sewer hose.

5. Some dump stations may have a curb around the sewer port, which can make dumping a challenge. Keep a sewer hose support like this one in your storage compartment.

6. When you’re all done, wash your sewer hose thoroughly, and don’t put the water hose inside — it’s bad form. Hold the sewer hose up straight after rinsing to make sure it has no more liquid in it, then pull it from the port and thoroughly rinse the dump station with water so it is clean and ready for the next person.



TST: Camco TST is available in a variety of sizes and delivery methods to suit every RVer — but for those of us with smaller rigs, TST Orange Power drop-ins fill the bill. The citrus-scented pouches treat up to 40 gallons and control odor for up to seven days, during any season. The product also breaks down waste and tissue, lubricates valves and cleans sensors. Environmentally sensitive RVers will appreciate that TST contains no formaldehyde and is 100 percent biodegradable. Camco also offers TST Tabs, and its Rhino RV Holding Tank Treatment comes in a pack of 4-ounce bottles.

Retail Cost: $10 to $12 for a pack of five TST Orange Power drop-ins
Camco Manufacturing | 800-334-2004 |


Century Chemical

Travel-JonTravel Jon: Travel Jon Holding Tank Deodorizer/Cleaner has a familiar blue color that is biodegradable and contains no formaldehyde. The highly concentrated formula (only 2 ounces per charge) helps break down waste and tissue, and the detergent component helps keep the holding tank clean. It’s available in a three-pack of 8-ounce bottles, making it convenient to keep on board. Meanwhile, the company’s Travel Jon Waste Digester is offered in a box of eight 2-ounce packages and can be used in black and gray tanks. Finally, Blue Max drop-in packets are sold in a bag of 10 and offer a powerful effervescent cleaning action in addition to odor-fighting power.

Retail Cost:
$6 to $8 for a pack of three 8-ounce Travel Jon Holding Tank Deodorizer/Cleaner bottles

Century Chemical | 800-348-3505 |



Dometic-premium-holding-tankD Premium Holding Tank Treatment: Dometic makes a lot of things for RVs, including toilets, so it makes sense that the company offers its own line of holding-tank products that go by the letter D. One of the most popular offerings is D Premium Holding Tank Treatment, available in liquid and dry formulas, as well as a 12-pack of drop-ins. Aside from providing long-lasting, formaldehyde-free odor control, even in hot weather, the product’s additives break down waste and help tanks rinse cleaner during pump-out.
Dometic-3-n-1D3 ’N 1 Bowl Cleaner and Tank Treatment: Another handy D-branded product is 3 ’N 1 Bowl Cleaner and Tank Treatment, which combines an air freshener, bowl cleaner and tank treatment all in one. The fast-dissolving drop-in packets release effervescent cleaning action along with a fresh lavender scent. Once in the holding tank, the 100 percent biodegradable product breaks down waste and keeps the tank interior clean. It’s available in a trial size of one packet or a 12-pack.

Retail Cost: $11 to $13 for a pack of 12 drop-ins (either product).
Dometic USA | 800-544-4881



Dry-Eco-SaveEco-Save Dry: Eco-Save Dry is a bacteria/enzyme-based product that works in black and gray tanks, and contains no perfume or surfactants — just friendly bacteria that actually enhances the digestion of waste in septic systems. The environmentally safe, non-staining product does not clean the holding tanks, but it does reduce solids and control odor. Plus, it is very economical — an 8-ounce jar treats 25 to 30 tanks (not gallons) of waste.

Retail Cost: $25 for an 8-ounce jar
Eco-Save | 800-950-9666 |



Kronen Premium Holding Tank Treatment: Using a potent combination of naturally occurring microorganisms that are specifically engineered to break down organic materials, Kronen reduces the holding-tank contents to liquid and leaves behind a subtle herbal scent. Kronen liquid is available in a six-pack of 4-ounce single-use bottles, as well as handy drop-ins.

Retail Cost:
$12.99 for the six-pack, $13.99 for a pack of 10 drop-ins

ProPack Packaging | 888-260-1288 |



T-5: Even if you haven’t used Monochem T-5, you’ve probably already experienced its benefits; this blue-powder toilet chemical has been used to neutralize waste odors in recirculating and portable toilets since the company’s inception more than 55 years ago. Moisture-resistant foil packets are simple to use — just pour the premeasured 2.25-ounce contents of one packet into the toilet, and T-5 immediately begins combating odor-causing bacteria.

Retail cost:
$15.95 for a box of six 2-ounce packets

Worldwide Monochem | 512-267-5190 |



TankTechs Rx: Developed by a family-owned business that specializes in the pumping, cleaning and sanitizing of RV and boat black and gray tanks, TankTechs Rx is a liquid tank treatment that uses probiotic organisms to remove odor and break down waste and paper to a liquid that contains antioxidants. TankTechs Rx also controls struvites (mineral crystals that form when sewage breaks down).

Retail Cost: $15.99 for an 8-ounce bottle (16 tank treatments)
TankTechs Rx | 800-625-7945 |



Aqua-Kem: Billed as the top-selling holding-tank deodorant of all time, Thetford’s Aqua-Kem liquefies waste and breaks down tissue fast to prevent clogs, while powerful detergents clean tank walls and drain lines. Aqua-Kem works around the clock in all weather conditions, and although it contains formaldehyde, it is biodegradable and environmentally safe when disposed of properly. Aqua-Kem is available in a three-pack of 8-ounce bottles or a six-pack of 8-ounce bottles, while Aqua-Kem DRI is available in a box of eight 2-ounce packets.

Retail Cost: $8 to $15
Thetford | 800-543-1219 |


Valterra_odorlosValterra Products

Odorlos: Recently added to the Valterra family of products, Odorlos uses a sophisticated natural technology developed in Scandinavia to be both effective and good for the environment. When added to holding tanks, Odorlos provides naturally occurring bacteria with a continuous supply of the best alternative energy source to pure oxygen: nitrates. This eliminates the need for bacteria to target sulfate for energy, and the result is no holding tank odor. All it takes is 1 ounce for every 10 gallons to prevent odor and break down waste and tissue. Scent-free, formaldehyde-free and 100 percent biodegradable, Odorlos is available in a nine-pack of 4-ounce bottles, a box of 10 4-ounce dry packets and a 10-pack of quick-dissolving drop-ins.

Retail Cost: $14.83 to $22.50

Valterra-pure-power-bluePure Power Blue: Pure Power Blue is Valterra’s chemical-free, bacterial-enzyme holding-tank treatment that performs in all temperature conditions. Its powerful BioBlastPlus technology provides odor control and keeps holding tanks clean with a fresh scent. Pure Power Blue liquefies waste and toilet paper, and just 2 ounces treats 40-gallon black or gray tanks.

Retail Cost: $1.98 for a 4-ounce bottle of liquid, $15.17 for eight dry packets, $15.43 for a pack of 12 Bio-Pouch toss-ins
Valterra Products | 818-898-1671 |


walex-new_porta_bagWalex Products Company

Bio-Pak and Porta-Pak: When you’re ready to leave on your next trip, just drop a single Bio-Pak into the holding tank and add water. The natural enzyme formula starts working immediately to control odor and break down solids. Packaged in a resealable slide-zipper bag containing 10 drop-ins, the formaldehyde-free formula also cleans sensors and lubricates valves. Porta-Pak offers similar benefits and is available in two fragrances: Original and Lavender Breeze.

Retail Cost:
$10 to $13 for a pack of 10 Bio-Pak drop-ins, $9 to $11 for a pack of 10 Porta-Pak drop-ins

Walex Products Company | 800-338-3155 |



nuGen: 3X: Chemistry’s nuGen is an advanced nanotechnology formula that creates a self-cleaning nano-shield on holding-tank walls, keeping waste in suspension while eliminating odors on contact. The fast-acting all-in-one system cleans the tank and walls, breaks down waste and tissue, lubricates valves and cleans sensors. The formaldehyde-free liquid requires just 2 ounces to treat a 40-gallon tank.

Retail Cost: $16 to $20 for a 20-ounce tip-and-pour bottle
3X:Chemistry | 866-773-6136 |




Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here