Using bleach

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Oui1213

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Is it ok to use bleach in sink and toilet? Does it hurt your black tank?if so what do you use?
 

HueyPilotVN

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It should not be a problem. Most of us use bleach to sanitize our fresh water tank on a regular basis.

That water goes into both your grey and black water tank.
 

Ex-Calif

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I use it diluted although even pretty strong mixtures should be OK. Most bleach bottles have some diluting guidance on them for various cleaning tasks IIRC.

Edit to add - In the toilet I would not let it linger too long. Bleach can be drying of the rubber seal on the flap you see when not flushing. Being able to have some water in the toilet bowl is important to keep odors out.

I was using some pinesol in my toilet, like a cap full in the water. Nice smell but I noticed that the water started to drain out in like 4-5 hours and I realized I might be drying out that seal and stopped doing that.
 

Henry J Fate

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Bleach in the gray tank works very well especially when temps get hot. Do not add it to an empty tank let it fill partly then add the bleach flushing the waste line to the tank after adding. Best way without directly adding to the gray tank is as you shower. The shower water will flush the bleach to the tank. Use only what you need. Start out with less. Type of gray waste, temperature, and the length of time sitting in the tank are the 3 biggest factors.

Adding bleach to the black tank for odor control will not work well. There are products for that if it is needed.
 

Ray-IN

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I suspect you are talking about using bleach for cleaning the commode and wash basins. My wife does it daily. Yes that use is OK to go into either holding tank. Straight bleach should not be used in quantity because as ex-calif said it damages the seals.
 

Domo

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Simple Green is our goto unless we are purposefully sanitizing. No other additives are required in gray or black tanks. We've used most of the "RV Recommended" products... all of it is simply soap, emulsifiers and surfactants = no real magic. Dawn works well also as it cuts grease. Simple Green also kills mold and mildew and can be used on virtually any surface in the RV - so, we always have it on-hand (I mean; on a sponge - LOL).

We will use bleach to sanitize the fresh water tank once a year, as well as, all the fixtures and hot water heater -yes, with water filter removed when sanitizing - or if we smell sulphur from the sink taps which is most commonly bacteria from the hot water tank.

We've never had to resort to exotic cures, such as ice cubes, jet-dry, etc. etc. Maybe we're just lucky or have gotten ahead of the problems we read about.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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You can clean and sanitize with bleach just like you would at home. Just don't get carried away.

Bleach is not a odor or waste digester treatment for the black tank. Use plenty of water, or maybe add a biologic (yeast-based) product such as Rid-X or Roebic K57 once in awhile.
 

Domo

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Black and gray tanks are holding tanks, not septic tanks. Fermentation/digestion products should not be added.

As @Gary RV_Wizard did say - water is your friend... but I'd avoid starting something cooking ....
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Black and gray tanks are holding tanks, not septic tanks. Fermentation/digestion products should not be added.
It's not exactly a black & white situation (pun intended). :p Since the waste is sometimes in the tanks for several days, some natural digesting takes place, breaking up solids and paper and dissolving food wastes to some degree. It doesn't hurt to aid the natural bacteria and help get rid of the goo that clings to tank walls, sensor probes and valves.
 

Kirk

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Black and gray tanks are holding tanks, not septic tanks.
While that is true, the action of a septic system is a natural one that starts anywhere there is a mix of human waste and water, if allowed to do so. It actually begins to happen almost immediately but it is a factor of time. Even a septic tank system is only a series of 2 tanks(in them most common configuration) with the first one designed to allow early breakdown of solids and then that effluent moves out from the middle of the tank and flows into the second tank where it again waits for the activity to take place and it again has an exit from the middle of that tank and out into a drain field where the liquid then drains, as long as it is working well. Septic systems are sized to be able to retain the effluent from a residence for 3 or 4 days, based on theoretical amounts of use for the size of residence. The minimum acceptable time for retention of effluent is 48 hours. Since most of us do not dump our RV black tanks for longer than that, it does allow the natural activity to liquify most of what is in the tank, but since we use it on a regular basis, not all solids will be liquid but a great enough share that you should be able for the liquid to carry any remaining solids out when you dump.

That data, as well as a good explanation of how septic systems work can be found at the page Septic Tank/Absorption Field Systems: A Homeowner's Guide to Installation and Maintenance.
 

Domo

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It's not exactly a black & white situation (pun intended). :p Since the waste is sometimes in the tanks for several days, some natural digesting takes place, breaking up solids and paper and dissolving food wastes to some degree. It doesn't hurt to aid the natural bacteria and help get rid of the goo that clings to tank walls, sensor probes and valves.
Funny, many RV tank additives contain formaldehyde to suppress bacterial growth in the holding tanks since you don't want the gases to be generated.

And I do agree, there is always some activity in the tanks as a natural result of what we put in it.

Yes, age old discussion...
 

Domo

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While that is true, the action of a septic system is a natural one that starts anywhere there is a mix of human waste and water, if allowed to do so. It actually begins to happen almost immediately but it is a factor of time. Even a septic tank system is only a series of 2 tanks(in them most common configuration) with the first one designed to allow early breakdown of solids and then that effluent moves out from the middle of the tank and flows into the second tank where it again waits for the activity to take place and it again has an exit from the middle of that tank and out into a drain field where the liquid then drains, as long as it is working well. Septic systems are sized to be able to retain the effluent from a residence for 3 or 4 days, based on theoretical amounts of use for the size of residence. The minimum acceptable time for retention of effluent is 48 hours. Since most of us do not dump our RV black tanks for longer than that, it does allow the natural activity to liquify most of what is in the tank, but since we use it on a regular basis, not all solids will be liquid but a great enough share that you should be able for the liquid to carry any remaining solids out when you dump.

That data, as well as a good explanation of how septic systems work can be found at the page Septic Tank/Absorption Field Systems: A Homeowner's Guide to Installation and Maintenance.
Yup - natural activity in the tank, no need to supplements - heck you don't really need them at home either if your system is designed correctly and pumped per schedule.

Should we use septic tank additives and do they really work?

The key is that our poop provides the correct amount of bacteria.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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All true enough in the general case, but that doesn't explain why some tanks stink while others have no odor at all, or why the gray tank often out-stinks the black, or why some systems produce chunky fluids while others are a definite slurry. There is a wide variety of stuff and natural process in the RV holding tank world.
 

Ray-IN

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Generally the cause of black tank odors is insufficient use of water when flushing. If all solids are kept submerged, what little odor is generated escapes through the vent pipe.
That of course cannot be applied to extended dry-camping.
Liquid enzyme tank treatments are safe to use in both holding tanks, and work, if so desired.
 

Ex-Calif

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All true enough in the general case, but that doesn't explain why some tanks stink while others have no odor at all,

We are what we eat... and so are our tanks?

Seriously, though. I haven't ever put anything in the tank and never had odors. I lived in it full time for a year and dumped about every 2 weeks. The solids were always broken down pretty well - (clear adapter) so I reckon some tanks will go off and if so the chemicals might be warranted.

But if it's working fine, don't mess with success is my motto.
 

Ray-IN

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Simple Green is our goto unless we are purposefully sanitizing. No other additives are required in gray or black tanks. We've used most of the "RV Recommended" products... all of it is simply soap, emulsifiers and surfactants = no real magic. Dawn works well also as it cuts grease. Simple Green also kills mold and mildew and can be used on virtually any surface in the RV - so, we always have it on-hand (I mean; on a sponge - LOL).

We will use bleach to sanitize the fresh water tank once a year, as well as, all the fixtures and hot water heater -yes, with water filter removed when sanitizing - or if we smell sulphur from the sink taps which is most commonly bacteria from the hot water tank.

We've never had to resort to exotic cures, such as ice cubes, jet-dry, etc. etc. Maybe we're just lucky or have gotten ahead of the problems we read about.
Actually, Simple Green is corrosive to aluminum, that's why the company makes Simple Green Extreme for aircraft;it is safe to use on aluminum.
 

Domo

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Actually, Simple Green is corrosive to aluminum, that's why the company makes Simple Green Extreme for aircraft;it is safe to use on aluminum.
Glad you commented and glad there is very little aluminum in our waste path...

That's also why folks need to use the Green Extreme when flushing/cleaning their radiators, else they can cause damage to the delicate fins!
 

Mark_K5LXP

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Then why does everyone add the treatments to the black tank
Because it's the path of least resistance to attempt to solve a larger problem. There are many folks that use nothing but water and have zero odor or drainage issues. From that standpoint there is zero reason to buy something just to ultimately drain it away for no good reason. Some additives are more preemptive than prescriptive, such as the "bio geo" method of tossing in some dawn and borax. Whether it "helps" or not is debatable but it's inexpensive and can't "hurt". Then there are the tank adjuncts that can actually create problems, which I got to experience myself. The PO of my RV used something that created struvite in the black tank and I literally had to get elbow deep up the business end of the tank to chisel it out, and replace the damaged blade valve. (There are some good utoob videos about struvite.) So my take on it is to think carefully about why and what you'd add to either the gray or black tanks other than water and maybe a bit of surfactant.

Mark B.
Albuquerque, NM
 

Alan_Hepburn

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Phosgene gas, also known as mustard gas because of its color, is one of the most dangerous byproducts of bleach. It occurs when bleach comes into contact with ammonia. Ammonia is another common chemical used in cleaning; it is also a component of certain bodily fluids produced by the kidneys, including urine.
 
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