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Recreational Vehicles—Is Special Toilet Paper Really Needed?

Published on September 20th, 2018 by Nancy Ferri

Toilet Paper for RVs

Does RV-friendly toilet paper have its place in the world of RV bathrooms?  If you are new to the RVing community you probably figured you might as well play it safe and purchase the specialty toilet paper to be on the safe side.  Even if you’re a long-timer, you may be on a roll with purchasing the stuff and figure it’s worked for you all these years.

Well, for the inquiring mind as to whether specific RV toilet paper is a necessity, the answer is generally NO, but as personal preference for you and your RV, the answer can be YES.  Let’s clarify that a bit.

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First and foremost, toilet paper for any RV is supposed to disintegrate quickly.  This helps avoid the problems that many people encounter with clogs in the black tank and/or causing your sensors to give you wrong, whacky readings.

Naturally anything that seems “special” generally costs more, which includes even toilet paper.  Some RV experts still suggest using toilet paper specifically made and advertised for RVs.  If you’d rather play it safe, your answer is YES.  You can find RV toilet paper in camping supply stores, many online sites or places like Target and Walmart.  Go for it!

Remember the sole purpose is for RV toilet paper to dissolve quickly and be biodegradable.  Look for statements such as “Safe for RV Use,” “RV/Marine Toilet Tissue” or “Safe for Septic Systems.”  If it’s safe for your septic system, it will be safe for your RV.

RV Sewer Systems

We’ll take a minute to review why picking out a toilet paper should be compatible with your RV’s black holding tank. 

The black tank normally is located directly underneath the toilet except in the case of rear bathrooms.  These RVs are generally manufactured with a “pumping-type” toilet.  The toilet has to pump the waste horizontally a short distance to the tank.  In this case, it is called a “macerator” toilet which will also use more water to pump waste to the tank.

The RV black tank is similar to a septic tank you may have in your home.  A home septic tank is not hooked to a municipal sewer system and must be drained after so much use.  Most folks with septic systems at their home are extremely careful as to what they put down their drains and toilets.

Therefore, the use of toilet paper becomes an issue in the case of an RV black tank or a septic system.  If you have a macerator toilet, you will especially want to ensure your paper dissolves easily and rapidly to move it along and take precautions to avoid paper residue in the tank or on the sensors.

If you are new to RVing, never leave your black tank valve open while parked and hooked up to the campground’s sewer or septic system.  The liquids will drain and you’ll be left with solids drying out and building up in the tank.  Keep the valve closed and dump the black holding tank when it is at least 1/2 full – 2/3 to full is even better. 

You can keep the gray tank open if you wish while hooked up since this is simply all liquids.

Toilet Paper Breakdown Test (TPBT)

This is a most interesting concept and a fun experiment all at the same time.  It’s something like Science 101.  You might even want to involve your kids or grandchildren in this one.

Use approximately a 10 oz. clear glass jar or cup, preferably with a lid.  Fill it half-way with water.  Drop in a couple sheets of clean toilet paper.  Put the lid on the jar or hold your hand over the top and shake vigorously TWO times – no more.  Set the glass down.  Within a few seconds to a minute, see if the toilet paper starts to dissolve.

If you still see large pieces of toilet paper, do not use this brand of paper in your RV.  Note that if you shake vigorously more than 2 times, any paper will more than likely start dissolving.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again, with another brand of toilet paper.

Toilet Paper Possibilities

In researching results on toilet paper, Angel Soft, Scott’s Septic Safe, Scott’s 1-ply toilet tissue and environmentally-friendly Seventh Generation 2-ply all passed the toilet paper breakdown test.  I, personally, would still test these brands on my own for peace of mind.

If you wish to stay with an RV-approved toilet paper, Thetford Quick Dissolve, Camco RV, Thetford Aqua-Soft and Scott’s Rapidly Dissolving (with claims that it breaks down 4X faster than other brands) are well-known for dissolving and moving quickly through the RV black tank.

Two toilet papers to mention that should not be flushed into RV black tanks are Northern Quilted and Charmin’.  It is recommended that you steer clear of any tissue that may appear “thick” even as cushy as it may feel.  Check your RV owner’s manual in the event they make mention of any particular taboos on toilet paper.

Disposing of Toilet Paper

Believe it or not, there are RVers out there who never want to flush “used” toilet paper down the toilet!  When attending RV show vendor booths, seminars or rallies, at some point or another, toilet paper and black tanks become a discussion item. 

It’s been reported by vendors that RVers have stated they distrust putting any type paper down the toilet, they do not trust their black tanks or their friends told them to bag the used paper and toss it in the trash.  Really?!

Folks, make your life a little easier and let it go!  Don’t bag it, burn it, save it or travel with it – flush it!  The black tank is made for that purpose.  We may occasionally have an issue here or there with a clog or sensitivity with the accuracy of our monitor readings, but use plenty of flush water and clean your RV black tank from time to time (check that topic here on and things will work as they should. 


Hopefully this has clarified why the answer to this lingering question is, well, YES and NO.  It’s honestly a personal choice, once you do your own research, and one that you have to feel comfortable with.

You do need paper that dissolves quickly and completely.  This prevents any potential clogs and helps keep an accurate reading of the monitors.  Nothing is more frustrating than having the tank read 1/2 full when you just dumped it 10 minutes ago. 

Keep in mind it is best to use the least amount of toilet paper you can when a visit to the bathroom calls.  This simply makes sense. Certainly, don’t skimp to an extreme, but the least amount of paper that needs to be flushed, makes it easier on your black tank and sensors.  Just make a mental note about how much your rolling off at the time. (Women, you understand this and yes, I’m talking to you.)

If you happen to get a great deal on a large supply of toilet paper while on the road, remember it’s lightweight.  You can always use the extra rolls to hold things in place in your cabinets so items are not rolling around banging into each other. 

Ensure you pick up a quality black holding tank treatment to use each time you empty the tank.  This is another assurance in helping solids and paper break down and in keeping things running through the hose and into the dump station or campsite septic just as it should. 

Here’s to RVing worry-free and being a bit more toilet paper saavy!

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