How to Combat Odors in your RV

Don’t get us wrong, we think RVing is a wonderful way to travel… but it isn’t perfect.

Part of the reality of living in such a small space is dealing with odors. And, let’s be completely frank: in an RV, you’re literally toting your own waste along with you for the ride. Add in a little bit of heat and time, and it’s no wonder you could be dealing with a smelly situation!

But fortunately, there are lots of ways to minimize obnoxious RV odors, and even to eliminate them completely.

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In fact, if you’re a little scrappy, you can even forego buying commercial RV odor eliminator gels and drops that are sold in camping stores. Yes, DIY RV odor eliminator is a thing, and it’s not even that difficult. Don’t worry — we’re gonna show you exactly how it works.

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So, ready to get a little fresh(er)? Here’s what you need to know.

RV Holding Tank

RVs can accumulate bad odors for a whole host of reasons, from food spilled on carpet and upholstery to pet accidents.

If you keep your motorhome in storage for a long time, you might also notice your camper smells musty when you’re getting it ready for your next big vacation.

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These types of odors are best fought the same way you would in your home or regular automobile — a combination of deep cleaning, air fresheners, and plain, old-fashioned opening the windows and letting the space air out. You’d be surprised at the wonders a little bit of air circulation can work!

But RVs do have another component not found in other vehicles that can cause some very smelly situations.

Yes, we’re talking about camper toilets, and your RV’s black waste water septic tank.

Keep in mind that being able to “go” on the go is a wonderful aspect of the RVing lifestyle. Having toilet facilities on board makes everything about travel that much easier and more convenient.

But when you notice your camper smells like sewage, it can be easy to lose sight of how wonderful you thought it was to have a bathroom on board when you first bought your rig.

Don’t worry. If you’re wondering how to get rid of holding tank odor, you’re in luck. There are lots of ways to keep your rig smelling fresh and clean, even between tank dumps.

RV Air Freshener

First of all, there are a few simple steps you can follow in the bathroom that can really help eliminate RV toilet odor.

For instance, pay attention to your camper roof vents. Although they’re great at eliminating odors in general, it’s a good idea to close the rooftop vent when you’re actually flushing the toilet. Think about it: you’re opening up the valve and exposing the tank below, and the vent will pull all those fumes straight up and into your RV’s atmosphere like a vacuum!

Also, be sure to use an appropriate amount of water when you’re flushing your RV’s toilet, as water helps activate any odor eliminator chemicals and also naturally helps to block waste odors on its own.

Another thing that can really help minimize RV toilet tank odors is simply keeping the tanks as clean as possible between dumps. This can also help regulate your RV’s holding tank sensors, so you’ll be able to tell for sure how full your tanks are — here’s an article we wrote on how to keep them nice and clean.

But when it comes to the heavy lifting of RV odor elimination, you’re going to have to add some extra items to the tank itself.

Best Odor Eliminator for RV

With so many RV holding tank treatments to choose from, which is the best? When staring down all the options in the store aisle, it can be difficult to know which RV odor eliminator kit will take care of the job most efficiently.

Commercial RV odor eliminators come in lots of different styles and types, from gels and liquids to powders. No matter which kind or brand you choose, the idea behind why they work is similar: The chemicals, when combined with water, not only help combat unpleasant smells but also help to break down solid waste and toilet tissue, which makes flushing your rig’s tank much easier.

Happy Campers offers an all natural and organic cleaning and deodorizing product that is easy to use and just plain works. We like their product because it’s a natural formula that is Environmentally friendly, 100% Biodegradable, 100% Organic, and with no formaldehyde.

RV Odor Eliminator Ingredients

That’s right: you can make your own, homemade RV tank deodorizer. In fact, it’s pretty darn simple to do!

There are many different recipes available online for homemade RV odor eliminators. All of them are designed with the same purpose in mind: to combat odors and also to help break down solid waste to keep your RV’s holding tank and pipes in good, working order.

Many campers like making their own toilet tank odor eliminators because it’s more natural and they have complete control over the ingredients. (This is especially relevant if you have small children on board, who might think those brightly-colored commercial chemicals look good to drink — not good!)

For others, the decision to concoct their own odor eliminating potion is a simple one: It’s cheaper!

But either way, you’ll have to experiment with different ingredients and recipes and figure out which one works best for you.

Here are a few DIY RV odor eliminator ideas from campers around the web:

You’ll notice that all of these homemade concoctions generally call for the same basic components — some sort of mild soap, which cleans the tank and keeps down odor, and a water softener, which helps liquefy solids.

Play around with a few different versions, or maybe even come up with your own!  Then, sit back and enjoy the fresh scent of a well-cared-for camper.

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What do you think?