Vinegar In RV Black Tank: Does It Really Work?

As an RVgoer of many years, I have tried everything under the sun in my RV black tank to control odor. I have done all the popular brand tank treatments, laundry detergent, and vinegar. Anything to try to eliminate that unpleasant odor from the RV toilet.

Many people have RV tips to control that black water tank odor. Some work, and some really don’t do anything. One tip I heard that I wanted to see if it works is using vinegar, usually white vinegar. It sounded like a good idea. We usually all have white vinegar lying around the house or RV. And it is considered an all-natural cleaning agent. I have used it on my windows, and it has worked great!

But does vinegar in an RV black tank do anything to clean or cover up that unpleasant odor that we all have coming from the toilet? Ultimately, using vinegar in your RV black tank does not work for odor control.

In this post, we will review why vinegar is not a good product for your RV black tank, including:

  • Odor control
  • How difficult it is to clean your black tank
  • Uses where vinegar works in your RV
  • The best solution to clean RV black tank

Table of Contents

Black Tank

Your RV black water tank is the top place for odor in your RV; I think that is pretty obvious. And to take care of such a strong odor, you need a pretty strong solution to clean it.

The challenge in cleaning and deodorizing your RV’s black water tank lies in attempting to utilize cleaning methods on residual materials that are still present, contributing to the lingering odor. When you clean your toilet bowl at home, all the odor-causing bacteria get wiped away, leaving you with a pleasantly cleaned toilet with no odor.

When you are trying to clean your RV black tank odor, all that “stuff” is still in the holding tank, and you are not really cleaning it. All you are doing is adding in a small cleaning solution in hopes that it will clean several gallons of oder causing solids and liquid.

On top of that, your holding tank comprises several parts you can never get clean. For example, you have tank walls, an RV tank sensor, and even a black water tank valve that can never be cleaned. So to really get your tank cleaned and these components, using vinegar is a tough task.


Let’s start by saying that I love vinegar. I even make red wine vinegar at home that my family uses for salads. I also like using white vinegar to clean around the house and RV. It’s all-natural, inexpensive, and has a decent odor once everything is cleaned. It’s even pretty cool as a science experiment when you mix it with baking soda and make a volcano.

Vinegar is a good cleaning agent because it is acidic. It can cut through smudges, dirt, and even some grease. But it does have its limitations.

Using vinegar as a surface cleaner works because you mostly wipe away that dirt or grease with a cloth and clean water. What is left is a clean surface that was wiped down with vinegar to give it that final touch.

But what if you had rotting food on the table for several days? Do you think just squirting a little vinegar on it will start to make all the odor disappear? Isn’t it going to smell just as bad because the vinegar is not strong enough to clean all that rotten food? I think we know the answer to that question.

Your holding tank and black water are no different from the rotten food example we just reviewed. All that solid waste and toilet paper is not going anywhere. And that vinegar won’t be able to clean or cover the odor.

Grey Water Tank

As a side note and RV tip, vinegar can work for some mild cleaning in your gray tank. Since the gray water tank is mostly comprised of clean water that was just from hand washing or the sink, the need to cover odors is not as great as black water. Using vinegar in your gray tank will help cover up some of the smell coming from there.

Vinegar works better for grey water.

Visit my link on how to get rid of the rotten egg smell from your grey tank for more information on grey water odor.

Fresh Water Tank

Another good place to use vinegar is in your RV’s fresh water tank. Since your RV water tank is clean water that you will use for drinking and cooking, vinegar is a great option that is safe and will clean your tank. There is just enough acid in vinegar to help disinfect it.

Using vinegar in your freshwater tank throughout the season will help keep it clean and the bacteria away.

RV Water Heater

Water has minerals and calcium deposits that will stick to your anode rod. Vinegar in your water heater helps loosen and clean that hard water deposit in your tank and rods.

A quick RV tip is to simultaneously use that vinegar solution through your water heater and fresh water tank. Since vinegar is in your water tank, let your water heater fill up with that vinegar solution and sit for a few hours to loosen those hard water deposits.

Best Solution

The best solution to clean your RV black tank is clean it as much as possible when you dump it. Cleaning as much as possible when the tanks are empty will allow you to remove build-up and solids that could be sticking to your tank walls or RV sensors.

After you dump, do your best to flush out with clean water. Some people use several gallons of water, fill the tank and then flush. This method works somewhat, but it’s not the greatest and can be time-consuming.

Black Tank Flush

The next best option is to connect to your black tank flush. The exterior hose connection on your travel trailer uses hose water to spray inside your tank. This helps much more than just filling the tank with gallons of water with no pressure.

Deodorize Flush

And the best way to clean your RV black tank is to use a deodorizer while flushing. There is a new product called the TankBlast Pro. The TankBlast Pro uses a concentrated deodorizer that gives a fresh scent cleaner inside your black tank as you flush. So instead of using just water to power wash your tank, you can use the cleaner and deodorizer to give you a fresh scent. Simply dump your tank as usual, flush it with clean water, then do a final flush with the TankBlast Pro cleaner. It will leave the complete tank and your sewer hose clean and odor free.

TankBlast Pro flushes and deodorizes your black tank in one step.

RVgoer is currently offering an exclusive free deal to the first 10 people who request TankBlast Pro. It’s absolutely free, including shipping. RVgoer is trying out this product and wants your honest opinion on how this worked for you. Leave your shipping info on the contact us page to get your free offer. RVgoer will send you a TankBlast Pro kit absolutely free. This is for a limited time, so be one of the first ones to get it.

Final Thoughts

While vinegar’s natural cleaning properties are effective in many areas, using it to combat RV black tank odors falls short due to its complex waste mixture and inaccessible components. While it works for surface cleaning and mild odor issues in gray tanks, it can’t tackle the root causes of black tank odors. To truly address this challenge, a comprehensive approach is necessary. Regular, thorough cleaning during tank dumping, utilizing a black tank flush, and employing specialized deodorizing products like TankBlast Pro offer a more practical and effective solution.