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Published Oct. 19, 2021

There’s something about recreational vehicles (RVs) that is downright attractive. It could be the freedom offered by having a mobile home as it’s quite the step up from packing your belongings into a handkerchief and tying them to a stick. Or It could be the prospect of something more to do during your retirement than becoming a Walmart greeter. Whatever it is that draws us in, RVs have it. What’s not attractive though is the idea of hauling around your waste and gray water in plastic tanks under your bed. The last thing you want to do is think about it or worse, smell it.  Can you imagine driving from Cheyenne, WY to Lincoln, NE, and having to smell the aftermath of Taco Tuesday the whole way? The prospect of a smelly RV seems pretty bad, but without treating your holding tanks properly the pipes and tanks could become clogged or corroded. So while you’re planning that road trip to see the giant Blue Whale off Route 66, make sure to add “best tank treatment” to your list. You and your travel partners will be able to enjoy the trip a whole lot more.

Best RV Holding Tank Treatment Reviews & Recommendations

While this Bio-Pak looks similar to the Porta-Pak, it is much more — so don’t worry, your eyes are fine. Like others on this list, this treatment from the RV company Walex also comes in water-soluble pods for easy dosing of your tanks. That’s where the similarities to other offerings end, though.

The Bio-Pak doesn’t just mask odors — it removes them so there are no lingering scents. The special green pods digest waste thanks to proprietary enzymes in the formula. This also means you can use your favorite brand of doo-doo paper without fearing that your 3-ply tush-cush is going to clog up your pipes or fail to break down in a timely manner. Plus they are California safe and a bag of these in your RV will give you a more enjoyable experience for longer.

Specs
  • Brand Walex
  • Model BIO-11530
  • Weight 12 ounces
PROS

Works adequately in both cold and hot weather

Breaks down waste and prevents frequent dumping

Environmentally friendly and not harsh at all

CONS

Needs water to activate

Only 10 doses per container

Pods really do make treating waste tanks easy, which must be why Camco offers these TST Max treatment pods. Camco’s pods are water-soluble, which allows the right amount to hit your tanks without creating a new mess, and one pod treats 40 gallons easily. And this specific container has 30 pods, which should be perfect for at least a year’s worth of RVing.

The lavender fragrance has the added benefit of being a calming scent as well as masking any foul odors attempting to escape from under your RV. Packed in a hard container, this keeps the pods from accidentally getting wet, which would be quite messy. Just keep the kids away, as these are not for interweb challenges either. On the flip side, these don’t digest or break down your waste or TP, which isn’t great if you’re going on longer trips.

Specs
  • Brand Camco
  • Model 41553
  • Weight 3.55 pounds
PROS

Incredibly easy to use

Doesn’t cause any pressure buildup

Keeps the tank clean and pleasant-smelling

CONS

Hard container could be difficult to store

Doesn’t digest or breakdown waste and paper

Living in the 21st century, it’s become important to avoid harsh chemicals and find organic solutions to everyday problems as we’ve come to realize all those have adverse effects on our health. This tank treatment from Happy Campers meets that demand while performing better than most lab-created products. Add one, and only one, scoop to a gallon of water and drop it into your black or gray tanks and it’ll treat up to 40 gallons of waste, which sounds super simple to us.

The formaldehyde-free treatment eliminates odors, with no citrus after smell, and liquefies waste. And that works for toilet paper, too. It does all of this while also cleaning and inhibiting sludge and crystal buildup in either tank. That said, the powder can be messy to work with and for those with sensitive skin, a set of gloves is probably for the best. You’ll be a happy camper with clean and empty tanks.

Specs
  • Brand Happy Campers
  • Model HC-64-oz
  • Weight 4.44 pounds
PROS

Easy to use

Concentrated formula breaks down waste and paper

Eliminates odors

CONS

Powder can be messy

May need gloves to protect sensitive skin

Maybe pods aren’t your thing. If you have a teenager we understand, and you prefer measuring liquids when treating your tank. This treatment from Unique RV then, is worth your attention, as the liquid format ensures immediate results. Once the treatment is in your tank, it will attack and dissolve solids for easy dumping. Since it is a liquid, it will also clean the pipes leading to the tank.

This system also works for septic tanks, which can be good for those RVers who also have a septic tank at home. Despite the liquid’s benefits, there are some drawbacks. One of which is mess, as the liquid can be messy to use. And given that this is a larger container of treatment, measuring 32 ounces, it can be difficult to find a place to fit the bottle. Overall, however, it will eliminate foul odors and keep your RV in tip-top shape.

Specs
  • Brand Unique Camping & Marine
  • Model 413-az
  • Weight 2.4 pounds
PROS

Does wonders on clogs

Ensures that the tank drains faster and cleaner

Maintains the septic system and keeps it working well

CONS

Liquid format could be messy to use

Larger containers could pose storage issues

Name Brand Pick

If you’ve had to deal with septic tanks before, you’re probably familiar with Rid-X products. This liquid treatment from the name-brand manufacturer is specially designed, however, for RV tanks. The key to this treatment is that it adds natural bacteria and enzymes to your tank and pouring this treatment in is sure to keep it clean for at least 10 days. These attack and destroy the waste matter that could cause issues with your RV’s tank performance.

The fresh fragrance lets you know it is there and working and will actually clean both the tank and its sensors to ensure both are in perfect working order. There’s one big issue with Rid-X’s product, though, and that’s the need for consistent use. See, this toilet treatment only works to do all those things when you consistently use it and natural bacteria build up in your RV’s tanks. So once you start, you’re going to have to continue it for a long while.

Specs
  • Brand Rid-X
  • Model AX-AY-ABHI-55917
  • Weight 1.68 pounds
PROS

Fast-working formula

Cleans tank sensors perfectly

Dissolves and breaks down waste

CONS

Natural method requires consistency in treatment delivery

Liquid format could be messy to use

In many ways, your new RV is just a giant porta-potty and tossing in a Porta-Pak will greatly reduce the odor reminding you of this fact. It’s packaged in a neat water-soluble pod that makes dosage easy — just toss one in and let it work. The unbeatable odor prevention is complemented by its ability to break down waste and toilet paper, too.

While not a digester (i.e. complete and total dissolution), it will still work to make solids less solid so they easily flow out of your tank and into a proper dumping facility. That’ll really lighten your load. A few drawbacks are present, however. Firstly, if the pods get wet, they become unusable, so handle with care. And secondly, they need water to activate, which depending on what’s in your waste tanks, might not have liquids.

Specs
  • Brand Walex
  • Model TOI-91799
  • Weight 12 ounces
PROS

Work efficiently when it comes to eliminating odor and breaking down waste

Incredibly easy and straightforward to use

Offers up a pre-measured amount of formula

CONS

Needs water to activate

Can get messy if pods get wet

How We Selected RV Holding Tank Treatments

We carefully selected holding tank treatments based on performance criteria, price point, and their respective brand’s history of reliability. We looked at the delivery method for the treatment, evaluating its ease of use and effectiveness. We avoided treatments with harsh chemicals and those that would release formaldehyde and other toxic gases. The price point had to be affordable by the average RV owner, so we excluded extravagantly priced options. 

Our product selections, rankings, and awards for this story are based on research. While we haven’t conducted real-world testing on all of these products yet, we’ve looked at consumer testimonials and data, tutorials, and general discussions on social media and in forums. We also consider price and specification in the context of the segment. And, of course, we rely on our institutional knowledge of the automotive landscape to weed out weak products.

Buying Guide/What to Look For 

When you’re planning that cross-country retirement, or just the next adventure, you’ll need to know what to look for so you can keep that RV working properly along the trip. You could definitely stock up prior to departure, but with minimal storage, it might be better to know what to look for while you’re on the road. Here are some things to consider when looking to buy your next treatment. 

What to Consider When Buying RV Holding Tank Treatments

Effectiveness

These products are not used for the most glamorous of jobs. Their duties are plain disgusting. Based on this, users need to look out for a product that works speedily and efficiently. It should be able to dissolve or unclog as effectively as possible. In addition to this, it should be able to eliminate foul odors coming from the sewage. A product that can do all this is the one to stick to.

Biodegradability

It may not seem like a major issue but the best kind of holding tank treatments are biodegradable, environmentally friendly, formaldehyde-free. This is even more harmful than other chemicals as it is a known carcinogen, highly toxic, and also flammable. 

Price

They may not be the cheapest products out there, but they should not break the bank. Based on that, it should be within the right neighborhood price-wise. Before embarking on the journey of finding the best holding tank treatment, a budget should be established. With a little bit of effort, finding a product that ticks all the boxes should be easy without going above budget.

Types

Liquid

These treatments come in liquid form and require a bit of work to get them activated. There has to be some measuring and diluting, which can become tedious at times. Still, there’s an upside with them as they are just as effective as their tablet counterparts — sometimes even better.

Tablet/Pod

A handful of RV owners will agree that these are the more natural ones to use. Their main strong point is that they eliminate the need for measuring. Users just need to drop the assigned number of tablets in and the rest is history. The main setback for most people is that they have to be left to soak and dissolve before the tanks can be emptied.

Powder

This is a form of a tank holding treatment that many old-time RV users are conversant with. It goes to town on solid waste. This option normally involves adding bacteria into the tank, which includes the bacteria that help break down the waste.

FAQs

Q: Are pods better than liquid or powder treatments? 

This is just a matter of convenience. Pods are much more convenient than traditional treatment forms. Since they normally come in a bag or plastic container, they can be easier to store as well. 

Q: How do I use my RV holding tank treatment?

It is usually quite straightforward. First, drop or pour it in the bowl — this is dependent on the type of treatment being used. After that, it should be flushed and allowed to soak in the black or gray water tank until the refuse is disposed of in the proper place.

Q: How should I clean my RV holding tank?

Once it is emptied, the tank will be in need of some cleaning. RV owners should first fill the tank with fresh water and bleach. After that, the toilet lid should be closed to avoid the inhalation of toxic fumes. After about 10 minutes, the tank should be drained out, then filled with some more freshwater. The draining process should be repeated until the water comes out clear.

Final Thoughts

For all those adventurers out there in RV land, and all those considering getting one, you can have happy trails by treating your waste tanks regularly. Our favorite is the Walex Bio-Pak Natural Holding Tank Digester. These pods effectively break down waste and paper. They also eliminate odors and are environmentally friendly.

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