Some campsites in England plan to re-open in July but there might be limited access to onsite facilities after lockdown and caravanner and motorhomers will likely be encouraged to use their on-board washroom facilities, including your motorhome or caravan toilet.
For many, the thought of a number two in the loo might be an absolute no-no – but in the “new normal” world you might not have a choice. In a recent poll, only half of caravanners used their on-board facilities fully and a quarter just used their toilet and washbasin for liquids only!
In this video, we’ll show you how to prepare, use, empty and maintain your caravan or motorhome’s toilet cassette. If you’re about to start fully using your onboard facilities for the first time and are worried about smells and hygiene stay tuned…
What is a chemical toilet?
Unlike most toilets at home, chemical toilets do not flush into a sewer system, instead, toilets in caravans and motorhomes empty into a cassette which is then removed and emptied at a chemical waste point, also known as an Elsan point.
The toilet cassettes are prepared with chemicals, before use and if you visit a caravan accessory store, you’ll see many chemicals on the shelf for the toilet.
What do these different toilet chemicals do?
There are two common coloured motorhome and caravan toilet chemicals, these are blue and pink.
The blue chemical is used in the cassette to aid breaking any solids down and to neutralise any odours.
Pink chemicals are used in the flush tanks of some caravans. This helps keep the toilet fresh and smelling pleasant.
You will notice, however various other colours including green and purple. Green chemicals are an alternative to blue additives and are ideal for environmentally conscious campsites, or those that use septic tanks.
More and more campsites now specify the use of green toilet fluids as they try to limit their environmental impact on the surrounding areas. It’s worth checking with your campsite before you visit if they have any limitations on which chemicals to use.
SOG toilet kits
For those who don’t want to use chemicals at all, there’s a Sog toilet kit, which uses an extraction fan to push odours from the toilet cassette through a sealed pipe path via a charcoal filter to the outside of your leisure vehicle. Sog kits cost around £174. To find out more visit www.soguk.co.uk.
How to prepare your motorhome or caravan toilet
Each caravan toilet chemical will have instructions and guidance on the strength and dilution of the additive.
First, remove the toilet cassette from the housing and unscrew the cap. Inside the cap, there will be clear markings for measuring out the blue or green chemical. Once measured, pour in and add the correct amount of water to dilute. Then, simply replace the cap, and reinsert into the caravan.
On some caravans, you also can top up the flush tank too. Fill with water and add the pink flush additive here.
If your caravan doesn’t have a flush tank, but you’d still like to use the flush additive, simply mix up a small amount in an old shower gel bottle and keep next to the side of your toilet. (Make sure you keep out of reach of children and label that it’s for the toilet and DO NOT DRINK). Or, you can buy a ready-mixed spray bottle.
The toilet is now ready to use.
Top tips for using your motorhome or caravan toilet
- Start by opening the hatch lever on the side of the bowl.
- After using the toilet press the flush button on the top for about five to 10 seconds.
- Once all the water has flushed away, close the hatch and the toilet lid.
- When it comes to toilet paper, you can buy special paper that breaks down easily in the toilet cassette, however, cheaper brands from the supermarket will also breakdown just as fast.
- If you’re particularly worried about mess, there are things like toilet bowl liners, which fit onto the caravan toilet bowl and can be flushed into the cassette where they breakdown. These keep the toilet bowl clean and are ideal if you have children. Or you achieve a similar effect by crossing over a few sheets of toilet paper in the bowl
- To keep the caravan toilet clean, don’t be tempted to use bleach or harsh chemicals you find around the house. Over time these chemicals can make plastics brittle, perish rubber seals and can lose the shiny surface of the plastics. Instead, use cleaners specifically designed for plastic surfaces and caravan or motorhome bathrooms.
- Don’t flush anything like wet wipes, antiseptic wipes, kitchen towels or sanitary products into the toilet cassette. These items can clog up the insides when emptying the cassette and also the local drains.
When and how to empty the toilet cassette
How often you empty the toilet cassette depends on how much you use it. As a rough guide, for a family of four using the toilet regularly, at least every one-and-a-half days is probably to be expected.
Thankfully, there’s a handy indicator on the toilet that will show when the cassette needs emptying.
Here’s 10 easy steps to empty your caravan or motorhome toilet…
- Make sure the hatch lever is closed – you won’t be able to remove your toilet cassette without doing this.
2. Go outside and remove the cassette from the housing. It’s probably a good idea to wear some gloves to keep hands clean.
3. Take the cassette to the nearest service or chemical waste point.
4. Extend the neck of the cassette and remove the cap.
5. Place the cap in a safe place away from the drain – you’ll be amazed how many get lost at this point!
6. Press the small button that allows air into the cassette and gently pour out the contents into the waste point.
7. Once empty, re-fill with water (not directly from a drinking water tap of course!) and gently agitate the contents. Don’t be too aggressive.
8. Empty and repeat this process until the water is clear.
9. If the cassette feels heavy, it might be that you have toilet paper wrapped around the mechanism. This is common and very easy to resolve. Remove the slide cover and twist the knob to open the hatch. If you can see the issue, pour water into the cassette and try to dislodge the tangle.
10. Once done, close and replace the cap and the toilet cassette is now ready to be prepared as before.
After emptying your toilet cassette, always wash your hands (or gloves) thoroughly.
At the end of your holiday, empty the cassette as normal and also make sure the flush tank is emptied. Draining a flush tank can vary from one caravan to the next so look at your user manual for more information.
It’s important that the flush pump is run to remove any liquid from the pipework. This will also reduce any frost damage in the winter months.
If you have a lot of flush liquid in the tank, don’t waste it. Instead, empty the flush into an old water bottle and reuse on your next trip.
Maintaining your motorhome or caravan toilet
Periodically spray the rubber seal on the cassette with some silicone lubricant to keep it supple. Also, in winter, when the caravan is in storage, keep the hatch seal open to prevent the seal from sticking to the cassette lid.
Another maintenance job is occasionally cleaning the toilet cassette. Simply pour in the required amount of toilet cleaning product and fill with water, allowing the chemicals to do their job.
And that’s it. If you do feel squeamish about such things, don’t worry. By the time you empty the cassette, the contents have been broken down by the chemicals and it’s really not as unpleasant as you might think.
Over to you…
Got any tips for using your motorhome or caravan loo to share with others? Feel free to comment in the box below.