Whats The Right Toilet for a Van Conversion / Motorhome.

Would you prefer a campervan with a toilet??

My guess is…… yes!

There is a massive range of options for campervan toilets,

And selecting the best toilet for your RV / of Van Conversion can be damn confusing!


Lets try get to the bottom of this dirty mess,

shall we!

There are 5 main types of toiltet solutions for Campervans and R/V’s.

Gravity flush toilet:

The gravity flush toilet is the most widely used toilet in motorhomes.

And for a good reason,

It uses the simplest flushing method, the toilet contents drop directly into a large holding tank, simple as!

Heres the Dometic 310 gravity flush toilet.

They operate the same way as a domestic toilet and come with a pedal or electric flush.

the biggest decision to make is the size of the tank you will install for the gravity flush toilet.

A simple example: Two people will fill a 20-litre tank in about three days.

You can opt for an electric flush toilet which includes a “full tank” shut-down option.

This cuts off power to the toilet and stops the holding tank from overfilling and causing damage.


Vacuum Flush toilet:

When the flush is pressed, the waste is pulled from the bowl using a vacuum in the holding tank.

and pumped to a holding tank.

This system can also come with a built in macerating vacuum pump.

This system uses less water and allows for the toilet and the tank to be positioned away from each other.

Above you can see a Vacuum flush RV toilet setup.

Because the effluent is pumped to a holding tank, which can be placed anywhere in the RV, this can offer a lot of design freedom in a campervan build.

Macerating flush toilet:

In a macerating flush RV toilet, an electric powered blades system

chops up the waste into slurry before pumping it into a holding tank.

Again, this technology allows the toilet and waste tank to be positioned apart from each other.

The holding tank effluent is also more fluid.

And does not form clumps in the waste tank which makes discharge from the tank easier and cleaner.

The Cassette toilet:

The cassette toilet is the most common toilet in motorhomes, and is designed for caravans, campervans and van conversions.

The cassette toilet unit comes with a compact toilet bowl that’s sits over a small, removable waste tank cassette.

When flushed, the bowl contents drop down into the waste cassette.

The cassette  is removed through a hatch at the outside, and emptied into a waste disposal station,

After cleaning, the cassette is re-installed under the toilet bowl.

Portable Toilet:

Portable toilets are made up of a plastic toilet bowl and seat, and small waste tank.

The two can be separated like the cassette toilet.

When the portable toilet is full,

you remove the lower tank from the upper bowl, and dump into a waste disposal point.

You can see above that my dometic portable toilet come with a few different tank capacities.


Swivel Toilets:

Motorhomes and van conversions have very little room to play with when it comes to mod-cons.

So a small campervan swivel seat toilet might be the solution.

A toilet is one of those essentials for a comfortable life!

A swivel cassette toilet will usually have a 180 degree bowl rotation,

This allows you to move into a comfortable position when using, but you can fit the toilet unit in an unusual location.

That gives you good positioning options in small spaces.

These toilets are generally made by one of two manufacturers, Thetford or Dometic.

They have a cassette waste holding tank just as before.

Some models are electrically powered from the leisure battery or using the site’s electric hook-up.

Chemical Toilets for Campervan conversions:

Smaller campervans can use a portable potty toilet, instead of a cassette type toilet.

These work reasonably well but they do of course need emptying,

The smell of the chemicals can take some getting used to!

Example of chemical toilet:

Kampa Khazi portable toilet


Best Toilet For Less Mobile Users?


High-profile toilets are your best bet here.

Above you can see the thetford high profile electric flush cassette toilet.

They are similar in size to household toilets.

And are easier to sit down on, and lift yourself off.

Go for an electric toilet with a traditional flush handle or wall switch to allow easy operation while on the toilet.

Check out the latest prices.

Low Power Camper van Toilets?

Gravity flush toilets and Foot-pedal toilets do not require any power, so they are zero energy.

Cassette toilets usually come with a flush pump,

so they do use power from the leisure battery when flushing.

Are campervan toilets kind to the environment?

If you use environmentally friendly tank treatment liquids, drop-in packets or dissoluble tabs then these toilets are very environmentally friendly.

You can also conserve water by choosing a low-volume flush in some models.

Gravity, cassette and portable toilets, which do not rely on electricity, are also good.

Toilet chemicals to use in a campervan toilet:

Campervan toilet chemicals come in two types, the liquid type and the tab type.

Toilet chemicals work in two ways.

Some kill the bacteria in the waste.

While others use a biological action to break down waste material.

They all use perfume to mask the smell.

The main toilet chemical goes in the unit’s waste storage tank or cassette.

If you use a flushing toilet you canalso add a chemical to the cistern tank as you would at home.

Toilet fluids and tablets or tea bags, will lose their effectiveness after about three days

so it is best to either empty or top up regularly.


Tips on How To Avoid Bad Smells From your Toilet:

If the waste holding tank is directly under the toilet bowl, then you will have an odour from time to time.

For example:

The waste valve of a cassette toilet will open the waste cassette and odor will drift into the toilet simply due to flushing.

You can avoid this by closing the lid before flushing, which will trap the smell slightly.

Top tip!

Allow some water into the bowl after flushing to create a water seal over the valve.

A macerator toilet or vacuum toilet do not have a direct path from the tank to the toilet bowl, which keeps the smell in the tank.

With a macerator or vacuum toilet, make sure the waste line drains properly into the tank after flushing to clean sewage from the sanitation hose completely.

In gravity-flush toilets, the water in the bowl will act as an seal between the bowl and the tank.

Make sure the seal and valve remain clean and operate smooth so that water stays in the bowl.

Remember, all toilets benefit from liquid or drop-in tabs, so keep using them.


Which Campervan Toilet uses the least amount of water?

Foot-pedal toilets use the least water when flushing

while electric flush toilets use more but not much, it really depends on how heavy your finger is when flushing!

Electric flush toilets offer “Normal” and “Low” flush settings lower water use.

Gravity-flush toilets are easy on water if used correctly, because they don’t need a great volume of water to flush waste down to the tank.

Which Campervan toilet is the easiest to Empty?

A  macerator or vacuum toilet is easier to empty because the tank is usually emptied by a hose from the lower a part of the holding tank.

Nothing will remain inside the tank after emptying usually, unlike other toilets.

And the job does not require you to carry the waste to a disposal point.

Just drive up and dump out!

Fixing A Broken Campervan Toilet, questions answered.

My toilet has started to smell. What can I do?

First check that you’ve added fluid to the tank and placed a tab or blue bag in the tank.

Then test that the shutter valve is closing correctly and lubricate the valve door.

Remove the cassette to see if it’s leaking.

If the unit is leaking, wash it very thoroughly, inside and out,

then lubricate the shutter valve with silicone spray lube and see if that cures the problem.

I can’t get the shutter valve to close. Can it be fixed?

The valve may have been stopped by a build up of waste material..


wash and check the cassette valve door.

Clean it and spray the valve with a little silicone lubricant, and then refit the shutter valve and test.

Check out a replacemet parts here.

My manual flush pump has stopped working?

The problem is usually a failed valve or a failed bellows,

the parts are easily available on EBAY,

but your local campervan dealer should have the parts also.

My cassette doesn’t seem to want to empty out?

It may be just an airlock inside the cassette,

make sure you are pressing the air release button at the top of the cassette,

Give the cassette a good shake, to break up any solids in the cassette.

Use the hose at the waste disposal and put it directly into the drainage pipe,

Spray it,

and then try shaking it again to mix up the solids.

This should cure the blockage.

You can get replacement thetford cassettes on ebay.


Some FAQ’s!

Can you poop in a caravan toilet?


Do I need to go deeper on this one?

Do you put the chemical directly into the cassette?

Yes you pour it down the toilet, or you drop in the tab, into an emptied cassette along with a good flush of water.

This will create a coating of fluid on the bottom og the tank and will mask any smell when the toilet is used.

What chemicals are used in a campervan toilet, and where do you get them?

There are sachets or tablets or a luquid chemicals for cassette toilets that you can dropped into your cassette from above.

They can be can be purchased at any camping supply shop, motorhome dealers and also campsite shops.

Why put chemicals into your cassette at all?

Two reasons really.

1) to suppress the smell and

2) to aid breakdown and prevent stickieness

While on campsites, are there any facilities to empty the cassettes?

Yes, there is always a waste disposal point on site, they will usually provide a hose with a good water pressure to wash the cassette also.

Can a Campervan chemical toilet be emptied down a domestic sewer drain to a septic tank?

Yes, but be careful not to spill it!

The onsite facilities are always separated from the main toilets because of this reason.

And they have a hose for cleaning the area around the toilet and the ground if there is a spill.

You can use your own toilet at home for sure, because you will be the one cleaning up any mess!

Can a portable toilet work in a camper conversion?


In fact I use one myself!

I have a small toilet tent that I place in the awning area and we have never had a problem.

The portable toilet empties with a cassette also,

So the facilities are already onsite to deal with it.

Do you rinse the cassette toilet after dumping it?


Always rinse the cassette at the waste disposal area before inserting it back into your van.

A good rinse will get rid of most of the odour in the cassette and will lead to a longer lasting and better working toilet also.

It’s a win all round!

Do you add chemicals to the cassette toilet?

Yes I do,

I always put in a single soluble bag of blue toilet chemical after every empty.

Do you have any issues with the weight of the cassette toilet when dumping?


If you are lazy like me,

Then you always be carrying around a heavy cassette to the disposal point!

Ideally you should empty the cassette when it reaches about 3/4 full.

That way it is not too heavy and it should not leak when walking over to the disposal point.

Its just better in the long run to empty often.

Some brands will be equipped with wheels that make moving the cassette easier.

ALWAYS press the air release button when emptying the cassette,

This will allow air to enter the cassette as you pour out the waste, it will prevent splashback of waste due to the ‘glugging’ effect.

Here are some Basic maintenance tips for Campervan Toilets:

Maintain the rubber seals on the cassette toilet regularly,

This will ensure a watertight fit.

If you don’t, the cassette cavity will start to leak.

To clean the seal:

Wash the lip seal surrounding the entry hole into the cassette.

This is beneath a sliding door of the cassette, lubricate with a silicone lubrication spray.

Lubricate the cassette emptying nozzle where it meets the cassette body.
Clean it thoroughly and grease it with silicone lube.

That about covers the subject of camprevan toilets for van conversions or R/V’s.

Enjoy your build!

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