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What Are RV Toilet Treatment Drop-Ins & How Do They Work?

What Are RV Toilet Treatment Drop-Ins & How Do They Work?

RV toilet treatment drop-ins are a popular and convenient way to treat your black tank. But are RV toilet drop-ins the most effective means of treatment? Are drop-in pods economical? What are the pros and cons of using them?

Today we’re investigating RV toilet treatment drop-ins. We’ll look at how well (or not) they work and what other effects they may have.

What Is an RV Toilet Treatment Drop-In?

RV toilet drop-ins are small pods similar to laundry detergent pods. A concentrated formula inside the pods is simply dropped into the toilet. As with everything else that goes into an RV toilet, it flushes down into the black water tank. There it’s designed to reduce/stop odors and help break down toilet waste and tissue.

PRO TIP: Don’t waste your money on “RV” toilet paper!

Drop-ins are both RV and marine approved, as well as for use in portable camping toilets to help control unwanted odors and break down the contents of the cassettes that act as waste holding tanks.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Using RV Toilet Drop-Ins?

There are both advantages and disadvantages to using drop-ins to treat your RV’s black tank.

Pros

If RV toilet treatment drop-ins do their job of controlling odors and breaking down waste, what other advantages might there be to using them?

Convenient

As you might expect, RV toilet pods are very convenient to use. Just drop one into the toilet, open the toilet valve, flush to run the recommended amount of water into the tank, and you’re done. You don’t even have to open the little packet/pod, as it will dissolve in the water.

Pre-Measured and Contained

Because the small amount of ultra-concentrated formula inside each pod is pre-measured, there’s no guesswork, no spills, no mess, and no cleanup.

Cons

But while RV toilet drop-ins offer a convenient method of adding tank treatment to your black tank, they do have a few disadvantages.

Dosing Issues

because the amount is pre-measured, it’s easy to use too much or too little. So, if you can drop one into a little cassette camping toilet to eliminate odors, can you also drop one into a 40-gallon tank to stop odors there as well? If not, how many do you need to use for the larger tank?

The reverse is also true. If one RV toilet drop-in pod treats a 40-gallon tank (and we’re about to look at some that do just that), suppose you want to use it in your cassette toilet or a 20-gallon or smaller RV black tank.

Will the concentration in a single pod be too much? No one wants their entire RV to smell like a toilet tank treatment. And suppose you need to use 2-3 pods per treatment for larger tanks. How economical will that be?

Expense

Speaking of economics, another disadvantage is that, in general, pods are more expensive per dose than liquid or powder treatments.

Plastic

And finally, the casing that covers each pod is actually plastic (Polyvinyl Alcohol – PVA), so using pods is yet another source of environmental plastic that can end up in our drinking water and food supplies. Many consumers think pod casings are biodegradable, but they’re usually not. The contents may be biodegradable, but not the casings.

In the case of laundry detergent, people often mention that the plastic containers that liquid detergents come in are just as damaging. However, other RV black tank treatments often come in recyclable containers that contain multiple treatments, so we’re not so sure. Maybe it’s a wash? (pun intended ????)

Are All RV Toilet Drop-Ins Basically the Same?

Let’s take a look at several of the most popular RV toilet drop-ins to see how similar they are.

Camco TST Max

TST Max is a good example of a single pod that contains enough concentrated formula to treat a 40-gallon tank. However, TST advertises that their drop-ins help control odor in small cassette camping toilets.

So, we’re left wondering if one pod really contains enough treatment for a 40-gallon tank, and if so, might it be overwhelming in a rig with a small tank? This is typical of RV toilet drop-ins, though.

Camco says one pod will treat up to a 40-gallon tank for up to 7 days. They’re RV and marine-approved, safe for septic tanks, and come in various scents. TST does not contain formaldehyde, pesticides, or biocides.

Sale
Camco TST MAX RV Toilet Treatment Drop-INs | Control Unwanted Odors and Break Down Waste and Tissue | Septic Tank Safe | Lavender Scent | 30-pack (41553)
  • AN ESSENTIAL RV BLACK TANK TREATMENT: Eliminates odors and helps break down human waste and RV toilet paper in your RV or marine black water tank....
  • MULTI-PURPOSE: Multi-purpose RV accessory is great for boating, full-time/occasional camping, boondocking, and portable camping toilets. Be sure to...

Thetford Campa-Fresh

Thetford Campa-Fresh says it neutralizes odors and improves waste digestion to prevent clogging and the development of tank residue. These RV toilet treatment drop-ins are also formaldehyde- and bronopol-free. They’re septic system safe and treat up to a 40-gallon tank.

Thetford Campa-Fresh Ocean Breeze Scent RV Holding Tank Treatment, Formaldehyde Free, Waste Digester, Septic Tank Safe, 16 Count Toss-Ins (96698)
  • POWERFUL - Fast-acting, enzyme formula breaks down waste and tissue to prevent clumping, clogging, and tank residue.
  • SMELLS GREAT - Fresh Ocean Breeze scent eliminates RV holding tank odor

Unique RV Digest-It

RV Digest-It is an unscented TV toilet drop-in that eliminates odors. It also liquefies the contents of the black tank to prevent build-up and keep tank sensors working as they should. It contains no toxic formaldehyde-releasing ingredients or bronopol and gets excellent reviews.

Unique 41G Treatments RV Digest-It Holding Tank Treatment (20 Pack Tangerine)
  • Waste and RV tissue digester. RV Digest-It RV black tank treatment breaks down human waste and all brands of household and RV toilet paper, preventing...
  • The strongest complete RV tank treatment. Breaks down waste AND eliminates odor. Say goodbye to clogs in your tank, and porta potty smells in your...

Walex Bio-Pak

Walex Bio-Paks are a very popular option with really great reviews. This toilet treatment is a tank deodorizer and digester that’s made with natural enzymes. It breaks down waste and toilet paper, and Walex says there’s no need for special RV toilet paper.

On that last note… again… we’re really sick of hearing that our fellow RVers are STILL wasting their money on the WORST toilet paper out there. No matter which toilet treatment you use, specialized “RV toilet paper” isn’t required. It’s a dirty scam that we’ve gotten to the… ahem… bottom of… in our post all about how “RV” toilet paper is a waste of money!

What Are Some Alternative Black Tank Treatments?

There are a wide variety of RV black tank treatments on the market. The trick is to find the one that works best for you.

In 20+ years on the road full-time, we’ve found that the most effective bang for our buck is Happy Campers. This 100% biodegradable enzymatic tank cleaner works quickly to liquefy tank contents and keep odors away naturally rather than leaving a cover-up scent behind.

Happy Campers Powder

Happy Campers is one of the most effective RV black tank odor neutralizers we’ve used (and we’ve tried lots of them). It uses a concentrated water-activated mineral blend and micronutrients to eliminate odor without causing perfume smells throughout your RV.

Happy Campers is effective in both cold and hot temperatures. Just drop a scoop into the black tank and you’re all set. You can use the powder in your grey tank as well. (Gray water can smell, too!)

Happy Campers RV Toilet Treatment 18 - Extra Strength Odor Eliminator for Black and Gray Holding Tanks
  • Powerful Odor Control: Say goodbye to unpleasant odors with our powerful formula that neutralizes and eliminates foul smells, leaving your RV smelling...
  • Effective Waste Digestion: Happy Campers breaks down waste and toilet paper quickly and efficiently, preventing clogs and ensuring smooth tank...

Unique Digest-It+ Liquid

This is the very popular Digest-It product in liquid form, only it’s stronger than the classic Digest-It, (10 times stronger according to the manufacturer). It’s very easy to use in both the black and grey tanks. It has many excellent user reviews and is recommended by many RV techs, too.

Sale
Unique RV Digest-It+, Extra-Strength Black Tank Treatment for RVs - Stronger Liquid RV Toilet Treatment, Eliminates Odor, Liquefies Waste, Prevents Sensor Misreading, CA Compliant (32 oz.)
  • Faster and more effective waste and RV tissue digester. RV Digest-It+ RV black tank treatment breaks down waste and all brands of toilet paper,...
  • Our strongest complete RV tank treatment, significantly stronger than RV Digest-It Classic. Breaks down clog-causing waste and eliminates porta potty...

The Geo Method

We’re mentioning the Geo Method here because many RVers swear by it. It uses a combination of water softener, laundry detergent, water, and sometimes (but not always) chlorine bleach as a way to treat an RV’s black and gray water holding tanks.

There are pros and cons to this method of treating your RV waste tanks, but you can read much more about the Geo Method in our post “What Is the Geo Method for RV Tanks?

Is RV Toilet Treatment Necessary?

In short, RV toilet treatment is necessary to help break down or “digest” waste. This not only helps to keep odors at bay but also keeps the tank gunk-free so that your tank-level sensors continue to work properly.

But even with excellent maintenance, struvite slowly accumulates on the walls of holding tanks over time. So, yes – RV toilet treatment is necessary if you want to keep your sensors working and your holding tank from smelling. But resorting to additional measures is sometimes required. Want to see what we mean by struvite and “other measures” check out our video all about it:

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Jim

Monday 4th of September 2023

I love your articles and YouTube videos. Thanks for being such a great resource!

One thing, though, just as an FYI: In your article you state "In 20+ years on the road full-time, we’ve found that the most effective bang for our buck is Happy Campers. This 100% biodegradable enzymatic tank cleaner works quickly to liquefy tank contents and keep odors away naturally rather than leaving a cover-up scent behind."

But the Happy Camper's website states "Happy Camper works most like an enzyme or bioactive treatment but is not affected by residuals (previous tank treatment chemicals) and unlike enzyme treatments you do not need to regularly add more treatment." So it's not an enzymatic cleaner. The site also says "Our product uses some naturally occurring elements that are not biodegradable", which is the reason they give for their product not being shipped to or for sale in California.

I don't know.....maybe they've changed their formula?

But you're absolutely correct when you say "There are a wide variety of RV black tank treatments on the market. The trick is to find the one that works best for you."

Thanks, again, for sharing all your experiences and recommendations!

Linda

Saturday 15th of July 2023

We've been using Happy Camper for 4 years now and full timers. We initially tried others, but our sensors never cleared. With Happy Camper,our sensors are good. We have a 52 gallon black tank, so use almost 2 scoops. We fill our toilet with water and use the toilet brush to dissolve it, and clean the toilet, flush and add another toilet full of clean water and flush again. We do have the swivel power flusher just in case. We had to use that before Happy Camper came into our lives. Living the dream and safe travels.

William Moore

Wednesday 12th of July 2023

Downey fabric softener: I had to get my valves replaced a while back and the Tech said to use fabric softener. He said it not only assists in odor control, but it lubricates the seals on the valves (Bonus: it also lubricates the toilet seal too). One cap-full immediately after flushing the tank (first thing in the toilet) followed by ¾ bowel of water. It's heavier than water so it goes directly to the seals. I also use a Camco RV Holding Tank Swivel Stik Rinser down through the toilet about once a quarter to power wash the inside of the tank. To top it off, I use the Rotating Sewer Vent ($24 on Amazon), and that works very well and it's incredibly easy to install.

Bob Garbe

Saturday 8th of July 2023

Taking from the most challenging environment of all, the marine industry, the best treatment is both a mod and a treatment. Look up Peggy Hall and KO bioenzyme treatment. Problem universal to all RV's and many boats is insufficient air to the tank so that the waste can actually be biodegraded properly. NO enzyme based treatment works without air and the roof top single vent on RV's is very rarely sufficient to this task. The 3600 roof vent helps a bit but the real solution is it is better to have 2 vents and a small fan on one to pull air continuously through the tank. Wish any MFG would do this.

Kim

Saturday 8th of July 2023

We have not jumped on the Happy Campers bandwagon. One reason is because it cannot be sold in or shipped to California. Do you know what it is about this product that doesn’t meet CA’s environmental or other standards?

TheRVgeeks

Saturday 8th of July 2023

Hi Kim. We don't know 100% for sure this is the case, but from what we've heard/read, the reason is that California enacted a new law that prohibits the use of certain chemicals deemed to be hazardous in groundwater pollution, etc. Products that could potentially have the compounds had to have lab testing to prove whether or not they are safe... and Happy Campers decided that, instead of paying the cost of the testing, they would just stop selling the product in California. If you want an alternative, we'd suggest the Unique Products tank treatments like RV Digest It+.

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