It’s said that your sense of smell is our strongest reminder of memories, so it’s no wonder we enjoy things like certain meals baking in the oven and specific scented candles (to name a few). These smells put us at ease and remind us of the comforts of home. When you’re travelling in your RV, you want that same sense of home even when you might be hundreds of miles away. An no one wants to remember the smell of the black tank as their association with their camping experience!
But is it safe to burn candles in your RV? Though it’s not illegal and it can be done, burning candles in your RV isn’t a great idea. Open flames in your rig can easily be bumped or tipped over, making them a fire hazard for you and your guests, and the results of an RV fire can be devastating. But not to fear! There are lots of different ways you can fight back odors and make your RV feel like home without striking a match.
What’s that smell?
RVs can start to smell if odors aren’t controlled right away. Being proactive and taking steps to reduce odors in your rig can be a big help as you prepare for a trip or ready your RV for storage. Typical places that start to noticeable smell are the black water tank (and toilet) and gray water tank (with sinks and showers). These systems are necessary for your RV experience, and you can fight back odors with candle warmers, Febreze and other similar odor eliminators.
Warm up your scent.
Unlike their true candle counterparts, candle warmers plug into an outlet and don’t require an open flame. This makes them nearly pet and child proof. One thing to watch out for with these — though there’s no flame, the wax can still get really hot and burn a pet or child that wanders too close, so it should be kept within your line of sight at all times.
Careful with the chemicals.
The way black tanks are set up, ventilation happens on the roof of your RV. If it’s windy, or especially if you’re driving, air is forced through the ventilation chambers and pushes the smell back through your toilet instead of the vents meant for them. This circulation is what makes the odor you’ve probably been smelling in your RV. An easy fix for this is to install an aftermarket system made specifically for RV black tanks to force these odors through the system like they were meant to in the first place. Rerouting the air helps get rid of that yucky smell you’ve noticed.
Prevent unpleasant odors in your black tank by adding chemicals to help break down the contents of the holding tank. Any chemicals you place in the tank should be septic-system safe, and you should be wary that the product you selected could have a strong odor, which will compound your problem and make your RV smell worse. Plus, it could also damage the septic tank you’re emptying your black water into and the surrounding environment.
Setting basic house rules.
Making sure you always clean up dirty dishes is a quick and easy way to keep your kitchen from smelling. Bacteria builds up quickly; especially in small spaces that aren’t well ventilated. You can always add a few drops of your favorite grease-fighting dish soap to your gray tank too. This breaks down build-up in your tank where bacteria might be growing.
Your RV should always be dry inside to keep mold and mildew from accumulating and stinking up your place. Check the seals and vents to make sure they’re in good condition and keep water out. Another tips is to run the exhaust fan in your kitchen to help keep cooking smells at bay. That fish you caught was great for dinner, but you don’t want to be smelling it for the next week!
Another notorious place for odors is your refrigerator. It’s easy to shove things around that eventually get lost in the back, never to be seen again. Until it’s time to clean it out. While wearing your hazmat suit. Clean out your fridge at least once per week to keep spoiled food away. You can also put an open box or bowl of baking soda in the fridge or freezer to soak up any gross smells and leave your kitchen smelling fresh.
Air fresheners can help on a short-term basis to mask smells in your RV, but our RVers have had the best luck with Febreze, which not only eliminates the smell, but destroys the bacteria causing it. It’s a cleaner and odor eater all in one! Picking up on some of these tips and tricks will help you keep your RV fresh so you can enjoy your Good Life (without that black water tank smell).