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Drano in RV plumbing is something most people don’t think about until they experience a clog. In fact, most beginner RVers don’t have any drain cleaning products on hand at all. Yet, when a drain clog happens, first-time RVers reach for Drano in RV plumbing clog situations, as they do at home.
This article shows you why pouring Drano down RV plumbing is a bad idea. You’ll learn about safe alternatives and other tips along the way.
Before we get started, let’s get your questions out of the way by answering the most commonly asked drain-unclogging questions specific to using harsh chemicals like Drano in RVs.
Can I Use Drano in an RV? FAQs
Drano is a caustic chemical cleaner. It works by creating heat to eat away at any obstruction in its path. This means that Drano will not only destroy a clog but it can also destroy the rubber seals, plumbing piping, and holding tanks in your RV plumbing.
1. Can I Use Drano in My RV Toilet?
No, you can’t use Drano in your RV Toilet. Pouring Draino down your RV toilet isn’t a good idea because you risk damaging the black tank, the dump valve, or any rubber seal or pipe along the way.
2. Can I Use Drano in My RV Sinks?
No, you can’t use Drano in your RV Sink because, like your RV toilet, it can damage essential components. Drano can damage the water holding tanks as well as any rubber seals found in your RV plumbing. Therefore it’s never a good idea to use it in any of your RV drains
3. Is It Safe to Use Drano in My RV Shower?
No, it’s not safe to use Drano in your RV shower. Like your toilet and sink, the shower drains into a holding tank. Avoiding chemicals that can damage the tank and the rest of your RV plumbing is important to maintaining and preserving your camper.
4. Can You Use Liquid Plumber in an RV?
While some RVers will tell you that Liquid Plumber is safer to use in your RV than Drano, we don’t recommend it. Liquid Plumber is still a chemical cleaner. As such, it can damage your camper’s rubber seals or PEX pipes. Today’s motorhomes and travel trailers still have rubber plumbing components, so Liquid Plumber is just not a good idea.
5. Will Drano Damage My RV Black and Gray Tanks?
Drano is a caustic cleaner, which could damage the RV black and gray tanks themselves. Not only that, but Drano could cause the dump valves to wear down and erode more quickly. It can also destroy the good bacteria used to break down waste in your black tank.
Also, the vast majority of RV dump stations that use septic tanks, won’t allow you to empty holding tanks with Drano or other harsh chemicals in it.
4 Drain Cleaners That Are Safe to Use in Your RV
If your RV drain won’t drain, never fear; there are safe methods to unclog your RV plumbing.
1. Vinegar and Baking Soda
Using vinegar and baking soda is an inexpensive and safe way to clear a clogged RV drain. Since vinegar is an acid and baking soda is a base, combining the two creates a grade-school science-fair-like chemical reaction. The pressure from this reaction is often enough to dislodge a clog.
First, pour a half cup of baking soda down the clogged drain. After about 15-20 minutes, add half a cup of white vinegar. Once the fizzing has stopped, pour approximately half a gallon of boiling water down the drain to flush it clean.
2. Boiling Water
Boiling water is another easy way to unclog RV drains. The hot water helps solids in both your tanks and pipes break down more quickly. Take care to pour just a gallon at a time down the clogged drain.
If the clog doesn’t break free the first time you use boiling water, you can repeat this method several times. Be careful not to overdo it because too much boiling water could potentially damage any plastic tanks or aging RV pipes.
If the boiling water method doesn’t work at first, it’s best to move on to another RV drain-approved declogging method.
3. Enzyme-Based Drain Cleaner
An enzyme-based drain cleaner, like Green Gobbler, is a great option for RV drains. This type of cleaner works to break down oil and grease without damaging RV plumbing. An added bonus is that many of these enzyme-based cleaners release fatty acids lowering the pH level and eliminating odors and clogs.
4. Drainbo Drain Cleaner
Drainbo is a biological holding tank treatment designed for use in RVs and boats. It penetrates, degrades, and digests biological waste, grease, and detergents. It also eliminates odors and cleans your holding tank sensors as an added bonus.
How Do You Unclog an RV Drain Without Cleaner?
As you can see, there are many non-chemical-based cleaners that you can use to clear a clogged RV drain. If boiling water, baking soda, and vinegar don’t work, you can always try Drainbo or an enzyme-based cleaner to get your RV drain flowing again.
If you have a rudimentary understanding of basic plumbing, you can also try to remove the trap from under the drain to remove the clog manually. Keep in mind that traps under RV sinks may be more accessible than those on showers or toilet drains.
Is It Ever Okay to Pour Drano Down Your RV Drains?
Pouring Drano down your RV drains is never a good idea. The damage Drano can cause to your RV’s plumbing system isn’t worth the risk. After trying the various methods above, if your drains are still clogged, you or an RV technician will have to open up the pipes to remove the clog.
How to Prevent RV Drain Clogs
The most effective way to keep your RV drains functioning properly is to avoid clogs in the first place. You can take a few simple steps to reduce your risk of experiencing a clogged RV drain.
1. Throw Away Food Particles
Many of us have garbage disposals in our bricks-and-sticks homes that break down food waste before flushing it down the drain. This isn’t a luxury that most have while RVing.
To avoid kitchen sink clogs, be sure to dispose of any food waste directly into the garbage. Once you’ve wiped your plates clean, you can proceed to wash your dishes in your RV sink without fear of a clog.
2. Use a Sink Strainer
A sink strainer can help you keep food particles out of your drain while preparing food. Strainers prevent food particles from rinsing produce or meat going down the drain. Therefore, they’re RV preventive maintenance tools to avoid drain clogs.
3. Keep Oils Out of Drains
Keeping oils out of your kitchen and bathroom drains will also help prevent clogs. Oil and grease go down the drain in liquid form, but over time they can solidify, causing a clog.
In the kitchen, wipe oily residue with a paper towel and dispose of it in the trash. I like to rinse the fat off my ground beef after I’ve cooked it, but I learned that doing so over a bowl catches the grease before it goes down the drain.
4. Avoid Bar Soaps and Waxy Hair Conditioners
Bar soaps and some waxy or clay-based conditioners can also clog drains. Avoid using these types of products in your RV bathroom because once they are rinsed down the drain, they can solidify and cause clogs.
5. Catch Hair Going Down Drains
Hair is a huge culprit when it comes to clogged RV plumbing. Use a hair catcher to trap hairs before they slip down the drain. Don’t forget to place one in the bathroom sink and the shower as hair can get trapped easily in any drain.
6. Don’t Dump Coffee Grounds
It may seem obvious to some, but if you’re not used to RV living, you may forget that something as simple as coffee grounds can clog up an RV drain. As a best practice, any foreign object other than RV-approved toilet paper should be thrown in the garbage. This is also true for feminine hygiene products.
RVBlogger Tip on Babyproofing Drains: If you camp with toddlers, be sure to babyproof, so they don’t have access to any drains. Nothing clogs an RV toilet faster than an action figure going for a swim.
Keep Up With RV Plumbing Maintenance
If you practice routine RV plumbing maintenance, you can prevent clogs from occurring in the first place. We’ve already discussed the importance of preventing foreign objects from entering your RV tanks and drains. Some other things you need to keep in mind to maintain your RV plumbing are:
- Dump tanks regularly and properly
- Clean drains when needed
- Flush black and gray water tanks regularly
- Avoid harsh chemical cleaners
- Keep the RV toilet clean with the proper cleaning products
The Bottom Line on Using Drano in Your RV Drains
The bottom line regarding Drano and your RV drains is just don’t use it!
Drano is too harsh and corrosive to use in RV plumbing. Instead, practice regular RV plumbing maintenance to avoid clogs whenever possible. If a clog arises, try non-chemical cleaners like boiling water or baking soda and vinegar to resolve the issue.
Don’t put Drano down your RV drains, or you’ll risk even bigger plumbing problems than a clogged drain.
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About the Author
Laura Tyrell – Author and Part Time RVer
Laura is a part-time RVer and a full-time mom of three. Long-time campers and RVers before children, Laura, and her husband have fallen even more in love with the RV lifestyle since becoming parents to a child with food allergies.
Having her own kitchen on wheels makes her RV trips amazing. Laura is passionate about finding ways to make traveling with young children fun, easy, and attainable.