RVs allow us the freedom of the open road and the comforts of home. However, one downside is dealing with gray water tank odors. Gray water from sinks and showers can start smelling foul fast. Don’t let stinky gray water ruin your RVing experience! Follow this guide to deodorize your RV’s gray water tank and keep it smelling fresh.
How to Prevent Odors in Your Gray Water Tank
The best defense is a good offense when it comes to avoiding gray water odors. It’s easier to prevent smells than eliminate them after the fact. Here are some tips to keep your gray water from getting stinky in the first place:
Use Biodegradable Soaps and Detergents
Harsh chemicals from soaps and detergents can accumulate in your gray tank and cause noxious odors. Choose biodegradable, environmentally friendly products instead. Look for soaps and detergents labeled phosphate-free, biodegradable, and septic-safe.
Don’t Put Food Waste Down Sinks and Drains
It’s tempting to scrape dinner leftovers down the sink, but this is a surefire way to make your gray tank stink. Food particles will rot in the tank and cause foul odors. Always dispose of food waste in the trash or compost bin.
Drain the Tank Fully Between Uses
Letting gray water sit for long periods allows odors to build up. Make sure to drain the tank completely each time you empty it. Open the black tank valve for a few minutes after draining to rinse any particles down.
Clean the Tank Regularly
No matter how careful you are, some gunk will build up. Periodically flush and clean the tank with baking soda and vinegar to keep odors at bay. A clean tank is a happy, sweet-smelling tank!
How to Remove Existing Odors from the Gray Water Tank
Even if you follow all the odor prevention tips, sometimes a stinky gray tank happens. When that dreaded smell strikes, use these methods to deodorize the tank:
Supplies You’ll Need
- Gloves – so you don’t have to get your hands dirty
- Scrub brush – to help scour the tank
- Garden hose – for rinsing
- Baking soda – a natural deodorizer and abrasive
- White vinegar – cuts grease and disinfects
- Lemon juice – an extra boost of deodorizing power
Step-By-Step Deodorizing Process
Follow these steps to thoroughly deodorize your RV gray tank:
First, drain the gray tank completely. Then, mix a paste of baking soda and water. Unscrew the tank cap and use a scrub brush to coat the interior surfaces of the tank with the paste. This abrasive mixture will help clean grime and buildup. Let the paste sit for 30 minutes before draining and rinsing the tank.
Next, make a cleaning solution of 1 part white vinegar to 5 parts water. Pour this solution into the tank, filling about halfway. Add some lemon juice for extra deodorizing power. Let this mixture soak for 2-4 hours before draining again.
Finally, rinse the tank thoroughly with the garden hose. The baking soda scrub followed by the vinegar/lemon juice soak should leave your tank fresh and odor-free. It may take 2-3 treatments to fully eliminate stubborn gray tank smells.
How to Prevent Odors Long-Term
Once you’ve deodorized your gray tank, keep it smelling sweet by:
- Adding baking soda or RV holding tank deodorizer down drains and sinks periodically
- Using enzyme-based tank treatments to break down waste
- Keeping the tank drained when not in use
- Rinsing with the black tank valve open
And of course, keep cleaning and sanitizing the tank regularly. A thorough scrub every few months will keep odors away.
When to Call in a Professional
Sometimes no amount of cleaning can banish gray tank odors. Signs it’s time to bring in an RV pro include:
- Very strong, persistent odors that won’t quit
- Visible mold or sludge buildup in tank
- Clogged drains or pipes
- Sewage leaks
A technician has specialized tools and chemicals to thoroughly sanitize the tank, clear clogs, and inspect for any damage letting odors leak into the RV. They can also assess if the tank needs more extreme measures like replacing seals or installing vent filters.
Breathe Easy With a Fresh Gray Tank
Keeping your RV gray tank deodorized takes a little effort, but yields big rewards. You’ll be able to enjoy the freedom of RV life without unpleasant odors ruining the fun. Follow these tips and you’ll be breathing easy, knowing your gray tank is clean and fresh.
The key is preventing buildup in the first place through careful use of soaps, regular draining and frequent cleaning. But even the best maintained tank sometimes needs deodorizing. Baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice and elbow grease will get your gray tank smelling sweet again.
With proper maintenance, you can have the off-grid convenience of RV living without the downside of stinky gray water. Don’t let foul odors dampen your camping trips! Keep your gray tank deodorized so you can enjoy the open road in comfort and style.