Even the most experienced RV camping set up person may find something new and helpful from reading this post. Don’t hesitate to forward a link to someone who you feel will benefit from the information within.
Gray and Black Water (sewer items) are an important part of recreational vehicle camping (RVing).
Detailed in this post are 10 very important things needed before you go on that RV trip. This doesn’t mean this is all you need but this is a great beginning. If there is something more you feel you should get or something better out there that you can purchase (other than what I have listed in this post), get it.
One more thing, read the instructions that come with anything you buy, before you use it.
You May Ask, “What is Meant By Gray and Black Water for a RV”?
Gray water is water that comes from RV sinks and showers. This water may have food particles, soaps and other residue in it. Black water is water, solid waste and chemicals that come from RV toilet cassettes and black water holding tanks in RVs.
Gray and Black Holding Tank Configurations on RVs
There are many types of RVs with different gray and black holding tank configurations. We owned an A frame RV for a while. It had a fresh water holding tank and a gray water holding tank, but there wasn’t a black water holding tank (as it had a cassette style toilet). We simply needed a 20 foot sewer hose with a transparent elbow. We also had one 10 foot sewer hose extension (in case more length was needed).
Our current RV has 3 separate tanks each with their own port. There is one gray water kitchen holding tank, one gray water shower and bathroom sink holding tank and a separate black water holding tank.
I’m sure there are other configurations out there. You simply need to get the sewer hoses and attachments that work for your specific RV configuration.
(1) Black Water Toilet Treatment
It is very important to use black water RV toilet treatment in your RV toilet. If your black water goes into a holding tank, you will need to use the chemical to help break down waste and tissue. It also helps ensure a clean smelling toilet.
Camco supplies cassette toilet treatment chemicals too.
(2) RV Toilet Paper
When you are in a RV, any toilet paper that goes down the toilet needs to be of a type that is designed to breakdown quickly. Scott makes toilet paper specifically for this purpose.
Remember when there was a toilet paper shortage. Don’t get caught in a mess like that and not have RV toilet paper. For this reason, I like to stalk up. Also, in most cases, buying in larger quantities should save you money over time. Scott sells a large package of rapid dissolve toilet paper for RVs and boats.
I am also providing you with a link for a small package of Scott brand rapid dissolve toilet paper for RVs and boats.
(3) Nitrile Protective Gloves
You need to keep your hands protected as best as you can when working with gray and black water. I’m allergic to rubber. Many people are allergic to natural rubber latex. The gloves I am recommending are nitrile.
These come in 3 different sizes.
(4) Sewer Hoses
Most RVs have one or more holding tank each typically with a port to allow you to offload gray or black water from the holding tank.
There are special hoses designed to help you do this. They are called sewer hoses.
Camco makes a great 20 foot reinforced sewer hose. It is sited to be reinforced with steel wire plus it’s sited to be abrasion and crush resistant. It features a swivel locking bayonet for connecting to a RV sewer port or to another sewer hose, (as an extension). It also has a transparent elbow so you can see when your tank is finished emptying into the dump port at your campsite.
You may find some campsite sewer dump sites are too far to reach with a 20 foot sewer hose. It is a good idea to have an extension to help you when this is the case.
Here is a link to Camco’s 10 foot sewer hose extension.
If your trailer has 2 or more dump ports you may want to use a RhinoFlex Wye sewer hose fitting. It allows you to combine 2 sewer hoses together for dumping.
Pertaining to Dumping Tanks
Always dump black water first. Gray water is dumped second because it helps to clean out the sewer hose from holding any heavier black water materials.
RV dump port bayonets should remain closed until you are ready to dump a tank. Most RV tanks do not have any kind of assist system to force sewer water through a sewer hose. They rely on gravity. Because of this, it is necessary for the tank to be fairly full when the bayonet is opened The force of the water and gravity will be more able to move the sewage water swiftly down the hose and into the campsite port.
Some RVs do have a black water flush system. With this kind of system, you would have your gray water hose hooked up to the spigot. You attach the other end of the gray water hose to the RV water -in dump port. You open the black water bayonet and turn on the campsite water spigot. This will help you to flush out any heavy solids that are in the tank and the sewer hose.
Typically this is done after you have dumped your gray then your black tank.
(5) Sewer Hose Supports
It is important that your sewer hose should be positioned in a way that allows gravity to help drain any gray or black water into the campsite sewer port.
To help this happen, you will need to have the hose supported (lifted up), so it doesn’t slump down onto the ground. If the hose slumps to the ground, it will be below the level of most campsite dump ports, which would cause the hose to build a backup of sewer water waste.
Camco makes an excellent sewer hose support. This one expands to support a twenty foot section of sewer hose.
(6) Small Bungee Cords
When you lay a sewer hose along the hose support, sometimes the hose may fight you (it may not lay down and stay in the support). You may notice at the top of each loop of the sewer support, there are loop holes. You can use small bungee cords to hold the sewer hose in place on the sewer hose support.
(7) Standard Garden Hose and Nozzle
At some point in time, you may want to hose down something dirty (or very dirty). Never use your clean water hose for this.
You should go read my post “9 RV Camping Things You Must Have for Clean Water“.
When you RV camp, you should bring and use an expandable garden hose and nozzle for the dirty work. Doing this helps you prevent cross contamination (bacteria and germs), getting into your drinking quality, “clean water hose”.
My husband recommends you use one of the expandable hoses. They expand with water (inflate), when attached to a water spigot and the spigot is turned on. They contract (deflate), when the water spigot is turned off and the water is released from the hose. These hoses make for easy storage because they don’t take up much room at all when empty of water. On top of that, my husband says, the one he recommends is primarily black (helping you to remember it is only to be used with gray and black water related items). I found a great deal on Amazon for a hose and nozzle combination deal. They come in 3 different lengths for you to choose from.
- 25 foot expandable hose and nozzle combination
- 50 foot expandable hose and nozzle combination
- 100 foot expandable hose and nozzle combination
This hose (with it’s and nozzle), should not ever be stored with your clean water drinking quality hose. Keep them separate.
(8) Spare, Hose Washers and What’s a Y shaped splitter?
Well, you arrived at your campsite. You attached your garden water hose to one side of the Y shaped brass splitter, (that hose has a nozzle on the other end).
You can read about the Y shaped splitter in my post titled “9 RV Camping Things You Must Have for Clean Water“.
You attach your clean water hose to the other side of the splitter (the other end of that hose is attached to your RV clean water-in port). You turn on the water. Even though you attached the hoses tightly, water is spraying out at both Ys of the brass splitter.
You turn off the water and remove the hoses. Both of your washers fell out of the hoses at some point. Lucky thing that you are smart and had purchased a packet of spare hose washers, just in case something like this happened.
Turn off the spigot, remove the hoses, put a new washer in the end of each hose. Reattach each hose and turn the spigot back on. This should stop the leaks.
(9) Storage Bags for Gray and Black Water Hoses
If you have done or seen RV set up or tear down, you may have seen someone struggling with the hoses. Hoses don’t like to stay coiled up when you put them into a storage container. They can be like a snake in a basket (always trying to get out and not wanting to be coiled at all).
As the outside guy, my husband does about 95% of the set up, tear down and trouble shooting for our RV. He has asked for a couple of things to make RV set up and tear down a little easier for him. One of those things is a set of hose storage bags.
Ristow is a vendor of RV supplies. They really thought into what makes for a good bag for the process of handling and storing heavy and often wet hoses. The bags they sell are designed to carry and store hoses and electrical lines. They come with tags to help you identify the item stored inside.
They are made of 600DPVC waterproof material. Each bag has 2 grab handles on the sides. They have what looks like sturdy semi-solid sides half way up from the bottom of the bag. The top half of each bag is made of a breathable mesh. The mesh allows for evaporation of excess water to prevent mold.
Guess what my husband is getting to make our next trip so much easier during set up and tear down!
(10) A Dedicated Container for Gray and Black Water Items – (aka Sewer Items)
One of the most important things you will do while RV camping, is protecting yourself and/or friends/ family from contamination through contact with gray and black water.
It is very important to have one or more container that is dedicated to the storage of sewer related items. This kind of container should be labeled, “SEWER or BLACK WATER”, so you don’t accidentally put other kinds of items in it.
My husband is a wonderful man. He is the outside guy. In our family, that means he primarily deals with the set up of our RV. Over time he has had various containers, but he says the best containers he has ever used are the black and gold stackable storage containers. These containers are the 27 gallon size.
Can You Think Of Anything Else That Is A Must Have for Gray and Black Water, Pertaining to RV Set Up?
There is something else you should consider bringing for yourself. You should consider wearing some waterproof, protective coverings for your clothing and maybe even some muck boots.
Well, this is all I have to say about gray and black water during campsite set up. If you think of something else, drop me a line and I’ll check it out.
I hope you have safe and joyful adventures when you are out and about in your RV.
If you haven’t already read them, make sure you go read my posts titled, “5 RV Camping Things You Must Have “Electrical or Electronic” and “9 RV Camping Things You Must Have For Clean Water“.