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How To Clear a Clogged RV Toilet

Among the largest conveniences of owning an RV is having your own private facilities on the road. You can cook, sleep, and go to the bathroom wherever you are – meaning you are not at the mercy of public stops or cleanliness. That said, RV toilets can get clogged/

One of the grossest household or RV issues has to be a clogged toilet or a backed up sewer. Considering you are dealing with waste, both can produce some serious odors. You’ll want these to go away as soon as possible, so here’s how.

The two most common ways of clearing a clogged RV toilet involve a holding tank cleaner or a plunger. As far unclogging an RV toilet goes, the way is similar to unclogging a household toilet. Read below for more detail about how.

Unclogging an RV toilet holding tank

Here is where RV toilets can be different. You may already be aware of this, but RVs generally have a holding tank within the vehicle to hold waste from your toilet. Most homes have a septic system that brings waste out into the sewer system immediately after flushing or draining. Some homes do have a septic tank which does require emptying.

There is also a good chance that your RV toilet is clogged by something simple like a large amount of toilet paper.

Let’s start with a basic step by step with a couple prefaces

First, do this before you go to bed or if you have access to a different toilet for the next couple of days. Second, you are going to need to purchase an RV holding tank cleaner.

  1. Close the “black tank” on your RV where all the waste goes. Consult your RV manual to do this. You are doing this to force the RV holding cleaner to stay with the clog for a while and not simply flow into the tank right away.
  2. Try to add a few gallons of water to the black tank, if you have room for it. Adding more water can help, especially if it wasn’t very full.
  3. Open the RV toilet. Read the directions on the bottle of RV tank cleaner. It probably suggests using the entire bottle. If so, pour the entire bottle into the RV toilet.
  4. Let it sit for a while. This is why you should consider being near another restroom for the next day or two. The longer you wait, the better the process work.
  5. Once you’ve let enough time pass, you can open the black tank again. The hope is that the dissolved material and holding tank cleaner will flow into the tank.
  6. Attempt to flush the RV toilet again after using or just pour water down and see if it goes all the way through.

Unclogging RV toilet with a plunger

A plunger is a very common household and RV item. It can be used to unplug anything with a drain and sufficient space to use it, which isn’t really much.

Note that a plunger is really only effective if your clog is close to the front of the toilet. It’s unlikely effective if the clog is further down the line to your tank. It doesn’t hurt to try though!

  1. Get a plunger. Note that there are different kinds of plungers. One newer style looks like an accordion end and can be easier to push down.
  2. Put the plunger with the opening first into the toilet. Push the opening over the drain the toilet to create a good seal.
  3. Here is where some people don’t do this right: When pushing down on the plunger, use some rapid force – though not enough to fall or hurt yourself. A plunger works by creating air pressure within your plumbing lines, hopefully, enough to move any waste or objects in its path. Pushing harder can build up this pressure waster.
  4. If your toilet is really backed up and had water in the bowl in the first place, your first hope is that the water simply drains because of the clog was cleared. You might also heard the sound of pressure releasing in your toilet and the water could start to move.
  5. If there was no water or waste in your toilet, try pouring a good amount, like a gallon in and seeing if it goes all the way down. 
  6. Remove the plunger once you are done and keep it away from kids. They can be gross – the plungers, that is.

You likely won’t see any effect if the clog is further down the line. Plungers are mostly helpful when the clog is in the trap (if your RV has one) or is relatively close where the build up of pressure can move it.

Using a toilet snake to unclog your RV toilet

A snake is a bit more mechanical and can be found at a hardware store. Consider this like a fishing rod for your toilet, with a bigger fishing line.

While you should read the specific instructions for using your toilet snake, here are some general ones.


A manual toilet snake will involve rotating a crank that pushes the line into your toilet. Once you feel a “snag” you can start to pull it back out or attempt to tear it apart by grabbing it multiple times.


These have motors that automatically send the snake into the toilet. Some can also stop once they reach an obstacle. Otherwise, they perform the same function as a manual snake.


Unclogging your RV toilet shouldn’t be especially difficult. We hope that our suggestions help you free up the waste lines in your RV toilet without making a huge mess.

We suggest thoroughly evaluating the cause of your clog and trying some basic steps first before attempting to use cleaners. This is in part because your RV toilet will be out of action for a shorter time and things like plumbing require little expertise.

Good luck, and happy RVing.

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