Sammy FairclothSee other Advice articles filed in ‘Showers and toilets’ written by Sammy Faircloth
My memories of camping as a child include the ‘bucket and chuck it’-style toilet.
It was better than having no loo, but it was not a particularly pleasant experience.
Fortunately, thanks to companies such as Dometic, Elsan and Thetford, toilets have progressed at such a pace that we are now lucky enough to have water-flushing toilet systems and holding tanks or removable cassettes, to conceal effluent and smells.
An external hatch allows the waste to be removed easily, without you needing to walk it through your ’van.
A plethora of products
Like your domestic loo, motorhome toilets also need cleaning.
However, you cannot use the same products as you do at home, because these can cause damage.
Fortunately, there is a range of products on the market, but they can be a little confusing.
So let’s take a look at what’s available.
The toilet waste tank can become dirty and a bit smelly if used regularly. Hard water also tends to leave a build-up of limescale.
For a full inspection of the holding tank, it is recommended to carefully remove the hatch on the top of the cassette – this can be quite stiff, but it needs to be a tight fit to prevent leakage.
Once removed, you can get a better view of the inside of your waste tank.
There are various types of cleaning chemicals on the market, from liquids to tablets. In this instance, I added one tablet to five litres of water.
The water was carefully swished around to ensure that it covered the surfaces and left to stand for a minimum of eight hours.
It is possible to leave the tank cleaner in the cassette while you drive along.
On completion, empty the waste down the toilet if you are at home, or at the waste-disposal point if you are at a site.
One final rinse with water and your tank should be much cleaner and a lot less pungent!
Without the use of waste-tank chemicals, there would be a build-up of gases and a very unpleasant smell.
Nowadays, treatment chemicals can be added directly into the tank rather than via the toilet bowl.
Their purpose is to break down waste matter quickly and eradicate unpleasant smells and gases.
It is important to use the recommended dose – Thetford toilets come with a handy measuring device in the spout cap.
You can also buy special toilet tissue that dissolves quickly, preventing the tank from clogging up.
If your motorhome has a built-in flush tank (as opposed to a supply from an on-board water tank), it is also possible to add flushing chemicals to keep the toilet bowl clean.
Space-saving toilet chemicals
Moreover, there are now some treatments that have a dual role, which can be added to both the waste tank and the flush-water supply.
This can save on space as you only need to take one bottle away with you.
Some sites insist on environmentally friendly products, so bear this in mind as well.
Some chemicals for cleaning the waste tank can be notoriously hard to remove if accidentally spilled on carpets or other materials.
It is always advisable to dispense the chemicals outdoors, wear disposable gloves and store products where they cannot stain upholstery or floors.
Granular- or tablet-format chemicals avoid the risk of leaking and can make it easier to measure the exact dosage required.
It is not advisable to use domestic cleaning products on the plastic furniture in motorhomes – they can sometimes be very abrasive.
For a sparkling shine to your toilet bowl and a fresh, clean smell, use a specific sanitation cleaner for motorhomes.
Most of these products are multifunctional and can be used to clean the sink and shower tray as well.
If your toilet has a built-in flush tank, it is important to empty it if you are leaving your motorhome in storage over the winter, to prevent frost damage – there should be a drain tube in the external locker.
It is recommended that you remove the waste tank and ensure it is empty.
Store over the winter with the emptying spout cap removed and the blade in the open position.
This prevents the seal sticking to the blade, which can happen if left in the closed position for a long period of time.
Now is the time to carry out maintenance on the rubber lip seal, either by spraying with Thetford lubricant or rubbing a little olive oil into it.
Manufacturers are always looking at ways to improve their products in order to offer a more comfortable, hygienic experience.
Thetford’s latest C220 cassette toilet, which is being fitted in Lunar and Auto-Trail motorhomes, features a bigger and deeper bowl, increased seat height for greater comfort, and a waste-holding tank indicator to let you know when to empty it.
Space saving is always at the back of motorhome manufacturers’ minds when designing toilets, because this is one of the most important features, along with hygiene and comfort.
Look after your toilet and it will serve you very well throughout the life of your motorhome.
There is a wide range of products available to keep it fresh, clean and functioning, but buying decisions will depend very much on your budget and personal preference, of course.