Motorhome and Caravan Toilet Chemicals

Motorhome and Caravan Toilet Chemicals – which is best?

This is an age old question for almost all travelers, motorhomers and caravaners alike. At many gatherings and ‘happy hours’ the conversation invariably turns to “What toilet chemicals do you use?”

 There are two main types of toilet treatments for portable and inbuilt motorhome / caravan toilets:

  • Bio-Stimulants
  • Biocides


Bio-Stimulants (Eco-Friendly)

These products are designed to speed up the natural process of breaking down waste to a slurry aerobically (requiring oxygen). In most products this is achieved by adding an oxidizing agent or enzymes which aid bacteria to break down waste several times faster than normal. Aerobic decomposition also significantly reduces the production of odour producing gasses.

To successfully use these products you need to use your toilet for ‘number twos’. Urine is essentially sterile and contains no bacteria; these products require the naturally occurring bacteria in human solid waste to work successfully.

The majority of these products are 100% environmentally friendly, and safe to use in septic and environmental systems.

Brands that use the bio-stimulant method:

Odour-B-Gone –  Odour-B-Gone have fast release disks for portable systems and slow release disks for larger black water tanks. The active ingredient is an oxidizing agent and Odour-B-Gone claims its product to be environmentally friendly and able to be emptied into septic and long-drop systems.

Thetford – Thetford produce both Eco-friendly and Biocide products. Thetford states their AquaKem Green and Aqua Kem Rinse are safe for septic systems.

Bio-Magic – Bio-Magic state their toilet products are non-toxic and 100% environmentally friendly.

Biocides (Eco-Toxic)

These products are designed to kill all bacteria, essentially ‘sterilizing’ and in some cases preserving all waste and breaking it down into a slurry. These products are usually heavily perfumed in an attempt to cover smells that result from the production of Hydrogen Sulphide, a putrid smelling gas that results when waste is broken down anerobically (not requiring oxygen).

Because biocides are designed to kill organisms, unless they are used in strict accordance with the instructions,  they can pose a risk to health. Waist treated with a biocide can be hazardous to the environment, toxic, allergenic, and in some cases potentially carcinogenic. These products can not be used in septic systems or environmental systems.

Brands that use the biocide  method:

Thetford – Thetfords Aqua Kem Blue contains Formaldehyde which “preserves’ waste and is non-biodegradable.

Portasol – Portasol states it is an anti-bacterial, anti-germicidal product which would make it a biocide product, however product information states it is biodegradable and environmentally safe, despite being ammonia based.

Home-made Toilet Chemicals Recipe

                1 cup Borax dissolved in boiling water

                125mls MYO disinfectant

                1 cup cloudy ammonia

Make up to 2 liters with water; add approximately 100 mls per cassette change.

This recipe and others like it use strong disinfectants and ammonia, making it a biocide product and therefore not suitable for septic and eco-friendly systems.

So what do we use/recommend?

During our first 4 years on the road we used the homemade recipe above in our porta-potti as it was a very low-cost alternative to branded toilet chemicals. We found it to be only moderately effective; in warm temperatures the toilet would become quite odorous after 3 days and would need to be emptied.

We then tried Aqua Kem Green and Aqua Kem Rinse, and found these products to be no better than the homemade chemicals for odour control and we found the heavily perfumed chemical smell quite unpleasant; they were also very expensive in comparison.

Two years ago we switched to Odour-b-gone and have found the product to be awesome. It is very easy to use, only half a tablet in the bottom cassette every time it is emptied, and half a tab in the top tank with each fill. There is next to no odour from the toilet even in hot weather, and waste is broken down to a slurry. The product is inexpensive, approximately $45 for box of 40 tablets which lasts us for 6 months (emptying the toilet on average twice a week).

If you decide to give Odour-b-Gone a go and you have been using other chemicals in your toilet, it is critical that you remove all traces of previous chemicals from both the top and bottom tank to allow bacteria to survive, you must also use the toilet for solid wastes.

The type of product you choose will ultimately be based on what works best for you, but I recommend you choose a product that is biodegradable and environmentally friendly, and avoid chemicals containing formaldehyde and gluteraldehyde. Doing so you not only avoid contaminating the environment that we all love to explore but also leave yourself with many more options when it comes to disposing of waist from your toilet system.

Tags: ,


Has the information on this site been useful?

If it has, please consider using the donate button at the bottom of our home page. All donations are used to maintain and improve the website and we are very grateful for any support.


Do you offer a product or service that relates to caravanning or motorhoming?
Would like to tell the thousands of people that visit each week, about your product?

Every week attracts thousands of visitors. Like you, they are interested in motorhoming and caravanning in Australia. Some are building their motorhome, others are travelling in their caravan. If you have a product or service that relates to motorhomes, campervans or caravans and would like to advertise on our site, please
click here for more information.
We are also looking for new products to review.

7 Responses to “Motorhome and Caravan Toilet Chemicals”

  1. Claire Wieden Says:

    Very interesting and informative reading. Thank you!
    A question – do you use normal toilet paper with the Odour-B-Gone or special Portapotty toilet paper?

  2. Hobo Says:

    Hi Claire – Thanks for the comment. Yep – normal old toilet paper.

  3. Patricia Says:

    I’ve seen suggestions to use Napisan. What are your thoughts on this?

  4. Hobo Says:

    Never tried it – but after this article was written we got an email from the Odor-be-gone people explaining why Napisan was not a suitable substitute. They wanted us to publish it but we declined because we felt it was commercially motivated.
    In our opinion – the Odor-be-gone product is very good and cheap enough that an alternative is not really worth trying.

  5. Margaret Says:

    Good, informative article. We are off to Finland at the end of the month and hiring a campervan with a portable cassette toilet.

    After reading your article we have purchased fast Odour-b-gone tablets and intend to take some in our checked luggage (we have been told this is OK). We will be free camping as much as possible and in the countryside we may need to empty the cassette in septic or hole in the ground type public toilets from time-to-time. Odour-b-gone should be safe for this.

    According to their Material Safety Data Sheet it contains 10-30% sodium percarbonate and so acts as a source of hydrogen peroxide when it dissolves. The Odour-b-gone web-site also suggests putting slow release tablets in the grey water tank.

  6. Adrian moyes Says:

    Odour begone is not a bacteria. It’s main component is sodium peroxycarbonate Basically soap powder and definitely a chemical and harmful for aquatic life while causing skin irritation

  7. Hobo Says:

    If you read the article you will see that nowhere do we suggest the the product is a bacteria. The article (correctly) points out that these types of toilet chemicals “aid in the production of bacteria”. Just because a substance causes skin irritation does not make it bad for the environment. To make my point, even oxygen is toxic to humans in certain circumstances (oxygen is also a chemical).

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.