This post may contain affiliate links. Exploring new sights is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases linking to Amazon.com and affiliated links.
Let’s be real… Living in an RV or traveling even part-time on the weekends with family, your grey and black tanks will hold a lot of gross things and can develop a horrible stench.
There I said it!
It can get extremely stinky when you open those valves to dump both the black and grey tanks.
If you RV, you probably already know this. If you’re new, like we were at one point, you will soon find out.
We have found two reasons why your Black and Grey tanks wastewater can smell when the valves are released.
- The vents system is improper and instead of the air being forced out of the pipes, it is getting trapped and seeping through the walls when another source of air or valve is open.
- The holding tanks have deposits from either dishes or human waste that needs to be treated and cleaned/flushed.
We are going to discuss number 2. There are many methods on the internet that guarantee to break up the deposits in the tanks to prevent backups and smells. We have tried a multitude of them and will be comparing the two common types many RVer’s turn too.
First, what are your Grey and Black tanks used for?
When we first moved into our RV, we were a bit confused about how things worked. So, don’t worry! It’s a great question to ask especially when you’re new at RVing.
In a nutshell, the Grey Tank(s) holds the water that is used by cleaning dishes, hands, clothes (if you have a washer), and showers. You may think; ‘oh, it’s just the water you clean stuff with, it shouldn’t develop a stench’…..Wrong!
The oils, soaps, and food that drops down the sink from doing dishes and taking showers accumulate and it’s not the greatest smell. These tanks usually hold 35 to 40 gallons before having to release them.
The Black Tank is for human waste from your toilet(s). This is the nasty one. Usually holds 35 to 40 gallons of waste before having to dump.
In case you’re wondering about your City/Clean Water tank, this tank holds usually 40 gallons of fresh clean water that can be used to shower, drink, and flush toilets.
This is only used usually when you want to clean out your water system or you plan on being somewhere that does not have the option to hook a hose up to your RV aka ‘Boondocking’ or ‘Dry Camping’.
We have lived in our RV for a year now. I remember the first time we dumped our tanks and the smell fumigated the entire RV. It was the kind of smell that made you gag and even Febreze didn’t cover it up. We only get this smell when the tank valves are open! Once they close the smells begins to go away.
After the second time dumping our tanks, I just couldn’t handle it. I didn’t want to deal with this smell every time we open our tank valves. Therefore, I went to the internet and found that there are actually ‘tank treatments’ that will help break things down and help the horrible smells. Who knew? We were newbies at the time.
Through my research, I found out that Walmart carried a couple of brands specifically for treating your tanks wastewater. These treatments came in nice citrus smells which I enjoyed. However, after using them completely as directed, they did not work. I was frustrated and thought “why are there products that say they “help” but do not actually work?”
Trying the GEO Method …
So I took to the internet once again and found the GEO Method for RV tank treatments. If you don’t know what the GEO method is, it is Dawn Dish soap and Calgon Water Softener. Some choose to include Bleach or Borax with the Dawn and Water Softener.
I would be cautious with bleach in the black tank because urine holds a chemical called Ammonia. When the chemical of Ammonia is mixed with Bleach it will cause a toxic gas. Be Careful mixing any chemicals!
Now, this method is doable and it did kind of work to help combat the smell but I found that it took a lot for it to cover the smells when we dumped the tanks.
Also, we had to place the mixture in every single time we dumped. Now, this is still a great option and I would still use it if I had to. It’s better than the cheap RV tank treatments by TSP and other brands at Walmart.
Although the GEO method seemed to work ok, there were still times the smell just wouldn’t fully go away. So again, I was frustrated.
I did more research, checked out other Full-time RVers blogs and social media to find out what they used. I found the GEO method again and again until I came across one couple that used “Happy Camper”.
Truth be told, I was skeptical! Why wouldn’t I be? I had tried all the “recommended” store bought treatments and the DIY treatments; so what was so special about this one?
I did more research, read all the reviews for “Happy Camper” tank treatment on Amazon, but I still wasn’t convinced. It took me months of using the GEO method until I just couldn’t take it anymore. The smell when dumping was still horrible, I was tired of using so much Dish Soap and Calgon that my patience was running thin.
Trying Happy Camper…
So, finally caved and made my purchase of “Happy Camper” on Amazon. I felt like I had nothing to lose at this point, and if it didn’t work, I would just send it back.
It only took two days to come in the mail, because we have Amazon Prime. I’m glad it only took two days because I was excited to use the product to see what all the hype was about.
When we received it our tanks were full, so I decided to go ahead and release them, close them, and pour one scoop in the black tank and one scoop in the grey tank, as instructed, with about ½ a gallon of water.
We went on like normal then after about a week, we repeated the process.
Of course, I knew I needed to give it some time to see if it would work. I decided I would use this product for a month to test it out and see if it was everything it says it was on the Amazon description.
(Just so you know, in a months’ time we usually release our tanks once a week, grey tank sometimes twice depending on how many dishes and showers we take. On average it was 6-7 dumps and retreats.)
Did it work?
Now that we have used the “Happy Camper” tank treatment for a month now, I can truly say I am a ‘Happy Camper’. The horrible smell is now under control. I can go into my bathroom and not hold my breath. I can release the tanks without having to worry about the smell fumigating the entire RV. Truly I am amazed that it works.
Not only has it eliminated the smell in our tanks from fumigating our RV when we release them but it’s also all organic.
The highly concentrated mineral blend neutralizes the toxic smells in the black and grey tanks without a heavy perfume smell. The treatment works in hot and cold temperatures, is biodegradable, environmentally friendly, and completely odor free.
The only negative is it does take a couple of treatments for it to fully start working to combat the smells.
After a couple of times of emptying the tanks and placing a treatment after every dump, it really does make a huge difference. Although it takes a few times to begin combating that smell, once it does, you don’t have to treat the tank after every dump. We now only treat the tanks every other dump.
What is the price? Is it a good value?
As I mentioned, I was hesitant to purchase Happy Camper because of my previous experience with tank treatments and also the price compared to other treatments. It’s not $5 or $10 like the stuff you get from Walmart or Camping world.
The smallest tub is about $22 and can go up to a larger tub of $79.
But…. Let me tell you, IT IS WORTH IT!!!
We will never go back to another tank treatment.
If you live fulltime in an RV or even RV on the weekends and holidays during the summertime, this tank treatment is a life changer. It keeps your RV from smelling like disgusting sewage and after using the product for a long period of time it will begin to save you money.
You can try it out yourself here!
Comment below let us know which you prefer! Have you tried either the GEO method or Happy Camper? Love to hear your response! Thanks for stopping by! Remember Sharing is Caring!
Glad you are happy with the product you choose. That is what is most important. I do have to say though, you really shouldn’t smell anything inside the RV when you are dumping your tanks regardless of what you use–even if you use nothing. Your sinks have p-traps and your toilet should have water in the bowl to stop any smells coming in. However, I do know a lot of people who like things like Happy Camper to avoid any smells when flushing. The best thing you can do to avoid odors is back flush the black tank to clean it out good each time for you dump.
I do have to say that it does depend on the actual tank vent sometimes. Some RV’s don’t use a venting product that pushes the fumes out. Our’s doesn’t have that type of vent, however, we will be replacing it at some point. Ours currently has a vent that pushes the air back down and causes it to smell up the RV. It’s unfortunate but the Happy Camper has helped tremendously when we dump since we haven’t replaced the vent. 🙂 Also our black tank has a flush built in that we use every time we dump to clean it all out, this helps a lot too!
We aren’t full timers but we were snowbirds for the winter of 2014-2015. I was using several different treatments, but wasn’t impressed. When we got home and got back to summertime camping for one or two weeks at a time, I decided to try Happy Camper, also ordered from Amazon. What a difference! Just one small scoop, which I use to clean the toilet before flushing. No fuss, no muss, no smell! I’m sold.
Yes, Patty! It truly makes such a difference! Thank you for your input and review! 🙂