When going on a road trip or living in your RV full-time, it’s important not to block up your black water tanks. They must be allowed to collect the waste, break it down over time, and then be emptied at an RV waste dump.
Black tanks aren’t that expansive. They aren’t complicated either, so they don’t support anything and everything being flushed down there. Avoiding getting the black tank blocked up is crucial when you’re on a trip because it’ll be inconvenient and if it happens, it’ll fill the coach area with an unpleasant odor.
Can you flush tampons down in an RV or camper toilet? You could, but it’s not advisable. Any feminine-related health products including tampons in RV toilet or absorbant pads shouldn’t be flushed down. Unlike RV toilet paper, they do not deteriorate quickly. Instead, they’re designed to absorb moisture and expand, which makes them likelier to block the tank with just one or 2 of them. Unpleasant bathroom odors and dealing with the tank blockage is the likely result.
Reasons to Not Flush Tampons Down in an RV or Camper Toilet
The design of a tampon is excellent for absorbing bodily fluids. To do so, they grow in size as they absorb more and that’s why they’re so useful to women.
Anyone woman who has ever dropped an unused tampon into a filled sink will see first-hand how quickly it sucks up the surrounding water.
Unfortunately, the RV or camper’s septic tank (black tank) needs to receive human waste and break it down from solid matter to something smaller. This way, when it comes time to find an RV dump station near you, the black water can be sucked out of the tank successfully.
The camper or RV toilet is designed to receive feces, urine, water, and RV toilet paper (that dissolves faster than regular toilet paper), and nothing else.
The RV septic tank isn’t much different from a regular one, except it’s more sensitive and harder to resolve should it get blocked up. Any sewage system comes with the general advice to not flush tampons into the toilet because it’s never a good idea!
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How to Remove a Tampon from an RV or camper toilet
There are different methods to removing a flushed tampon from an RV toilet.
Removing existing water in the toilet bowl and then grasping the tampon to pull it back out is the best idea. The video below explains how to do it:
What to Do with Tampons in RV?
How do you dispose of tampons in a camper or RV?
A tampon is made from rayon and cotton to be highly absorbent. Once they’ve been used and removed, don’t flush the tampon down the RV toilet. Instead, use a plastic bag or a woman’s hygienic bag to store it and dispose of it safely as soon as possible. This includes any plastic applicators as well; this shouldn’t be dropped into the RV’s toilet either.
Disposing of the waste in the trash is normal. It won’t break down, so it’ll go to the landfill eventually.
While one or 2 tampons accidentally falling into the camper toilet and getting flush down into the black waste tank is not a total disaster, it does risk a blockage every time. So, it should be avoided whenever possible.
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Also Read: RV Toilet Leaking at Foot Pedal
Can You Flush Plastic Tampon Applicators?
It is never a good idea to drop the plastic tampon applicators into the RV toilet.
It can break into small pieces and scratch the inside of the black water holding tank. It’s also possible it might damage the black water hose used to empty the RV holding tanks too.
Can You Flush the Cotton Part of a Tampon?
The cotton is not designed to get into the black water holding tanks. So, it shouldn’t be dropped into the RV toilet either.
If it accidentally comes off, falls in, and cannot be retrieved, then it’s usually not a total disaster. But as a rule, all parts including the cotton part of a tampon should be disposed of using a female sanitary bag.
RV Holding Tanks
The RV holding tanks and the septic system works in a way that separates different uses for campers. Understanding the process is clarifying.
The majority of RVs will have three tanks making up the RV plumbing system. They are as follows:
Freshwater tank – The drinking water that is refilled at RV campgrounds and parks is stored here. It can be safely used for drinking but also for washing too.
Greywater tank – Whenever water is used inside the RV or camp, it funnels down from the shower, sinks, or elsewhere to the grey water tank. Because it’s been used to clean yourself, to wash vegetables, and for other purposes, it’s unclean at that point. This is why it’s referred to as greywater, even though visually it’s probably still fairly clear. Not all RVs come with a grey water tank, but most of the newer models will do.
Blackwater tank – This is the tank where your toilet waste product feeds. That includes RV toilet paper (but not regular toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, and more). Solids are broken down, so nothing irregular must be put into the black water tank that can prevent that. Doing so will undoubtedly block it up making it harder to empty and leading to a bad smell inside the living area.
RV toilet cleaners added to the black tank help to accelerate the breakdown of waste products. However, RV toilet paper is also designed to dissolve quicker than the regular type. Look at the sensors for tank fill levels to avoid their reaching their limit leaving you to hurriedly ask another RVer, “Where to empty RV tanks nearby?” Don’t leave it that long as you’re unlikely to be near an RV dump station when you need one.
How to Keep Your RV Toilet Running Well
Here are some basic suggestions for people new to RVs or campers who need to keep their RV toilet performing reliably (the same goes for a regular toilet in the RV too):
- Use chemicals: The black water tank can be sanitized by using approved toilet chemicals designed to break down the waste product and RV toilet paper too.
- RV toilet paper: Use only special toilet paper designed for RV plumbing systems. They’re thinner and made from materials that don’t block up the black tank. Don’t use regular toilet paper ever.
- Avoid blockages: Do not flush anything down into the RV toilet that shouldn’t go there. So, no regular toilet paper, plastic tampon applicators, or used (or unused) tampons either.
- Don’t forget to flush: The more water that reaches the black tank, the less likely that a mountain of waste will mesh together and become solid. Completely flush out the tank semi-regularly to remove long-term solids.
When you find that your old toilet has seen better days, it’s time for a replacement RV toilet.
RV Black Tank Clogged with Tampon
When it’s confirmed that the RV black tank is clogged with a tampon or three, then it’s not easy to retrieve it at that point.
You’ll need to use a gallon or more of boiling water and pour it into the toilet. Give it 12-24 hours to mix in with the waste and help to reduce it down. That may assist in dislodging any stuck items including tampons. Then go to an RV dump station to dump the tank the next day. While it’s an imperfect solution, done repeatedly it can clear some of the most stubborn clogs in an RV black tank.