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How to Dump RV Waste

Lakeshore RV Center


Most RVs have onboard holding tanks for their waste system. These tanks collect water from your sinks and shower as well as sewage from your toilets. When they fill up, you will need to empty them. This is a job no one really likes to do but as an RV owner, it is a task that must be done.

RV Tanks

RV tanks are separated into gray water tanks, balck water tanks and fresh water tanks. The gray tank holds shower and sink water and your black tank collects the RV toilet waste. The freshwater tank holds your clean water you use in your kitchen, bathroom and toilet. The gray tank accounts for around 60% of your freshwater capacity and the black tank is about 40%. If you have an 80 gallon freshwater tank, your gray tank should hold 48 gallons and your black tanks should hold 32 gallons.


Emptying your Tanks

Your RV waste tanks need to be emptied on a regular basis. Full service campsites have either a sewage connection or an RV dumpsite. You can use the same sewer hose connection to dispose of both your gray water and your black water. The full service sites that have a sewage connection hose, you can connect your sewer hose as soon as you arrive. Keep your tanks closed until they are at least ¾ full so the liquid can help flush the solids out when you open the handle. This will help you reduce the risk of getting a clog. You should never leave your black tank handle open continuously while camping. Make sure you use RV friendly toilet paper to keep your tanks draining smoothly. Before you start emptying your tanks, put rubber gloves on and make sure your sewer hose is in good condition.

Follow the these steps:

1. Find your sewer hook up

Before you pull into your campsite or dump station, locate your sewer hookup. This will guide you how to position your RV. Most campsites, the sewer hookup is on the right side of the parking area. Dump stations make it easy for you to pull up and park right next to the dump station.

2. Connect a water hose to fresh water

Connect one end of a water hose to a freshwater supply to have water available for clean up after your tanks are empty.

3. Put on gloves

Prior to handling any of the waste, put on a pair of disposable gloves. Reusable gloves are also environmentally friendly as long as they are sanitized between uses.

4. Get your sewer hose and check fittings

Retrieve your sewer hose from your storage compartment. Make sure the fittings are secure at either end. One end will have a 90 degree connector that attaches to the sewer hookup and the other end has a straight connector that attaches to your tanks. Make sure there are no holes or cracks in your hose.

5. Connect your sewer hose

Place the 90 connector in the sewer hookup. Some sites you may have to remove a cap first. At the other end, make sure your handles are completely closed and remove the cap on the septic tank outlet and install the fitting.

6. Use a sewer hose support

When you’re hooking up for multiple days, use a sewer hose support so your hose does not sit directly on the ground. This creates a natural gradient that improves the flow and reduces the chances of a clog. If you’re using a dump station, you do not need a sewer hose support.

7. Find your black handle and gray handles

Locate your two T shaped handles on your holding tank. These control the outflow of your gray water and black water. Some RVs have these color coded to identify which tank they control.

8. Dump your black handle first

Start with your black water so the gray water rinses the hose when you are emptying the gray tank.Open the handle slowly until you hear waste flowing through the hose. Don’t pull the handle all the way out first. COnfirm there are no leaks before you open the handle all of the way. It may take a few minutes to drain but do not leave the hose unattended.

9. Empty your gray handle next

When the black tank is empty, open the handle for the gray water tank. Just like the black tank, pull the handle slowly to relieve initial pressure then fully open it and wait for it to empty. You should leave your black tank handle open during this time.

10. Perform a freshwater flush

When you no longer hear black or gray water draining close both handles. Open the faucets in your kitchen and sink for 30-60 seconds. While the water is running out, press the handle on your toilet until your tank is full then empty the water in the black tank. Repeat this process four times.

11. Use your black water tank flush

Connect the other end of your garden hose to the black tank flush inlet. Open the black water tank handle and turn on the water to flush your black water tank.

12. Close handles and clear hose

When you no longer hear anything running through your sewer hose, close your handles. Remove the bayonet fitting and lift the hose to drain any remaining particles down the sewer drain.

13. Disconnect your sewer hose

Disconnect your bayonet fitting and replace your holding tank cap. Gently shake your sewer hose and walk it away from the trailer. Leave the 90 degree connector on for now.

14. Do a final rinse

Run your water hose in your sewer line to do one last flush. SHake and swirl your hose to drain it as much as possible.

15. Pack up and wash up

Once your sewer hose has drained, disconnect your 90 connector and coil up your sewer hose. Place it back in your storage area and remove your gloves. Rinse your reusable gloves with your hose or dispose of them if the are disposable. Wash your hands then remove and store your hose. Keep it in a separate storage container to avoid contaminating it.


Once you get the hang of emptying your sewer tanks, the process should take you around 15 minutes. Make sure you keep your tank handles closed until you’re ready to empty them. It’s okay to leave your sewer hose connected for multiple days. Installing a clear 90 degree adaptor is helpful to visually see when your tanks are fully emptied. If you need help with this process or need any supplies for your sewer waste system, the staff at Lakeshore RV in Muskegon, Michigan can help.

2024 Camping Season Kick-Off
2024 Camping Season Kick-Off