RV Maintenance Tip #3: Keeping your RV Drains Clear

One of the most talked about topics amongst RVers is drain cloggage. I know, I know…that’s not a word but you get the gist of it. RV’s seemingly have more delicate plumbing with curvy elbows and connections. I’ve read countless claims of RVers trying everything under the sun to unclog crap from their systems only resulting in exasperating the issue or resulting in an expensive call to an RV tech.

So, I sat down to write this handy little guide to help mitigate these problems right from the start.

Here’s what we do to keep our drains clean and clear…

1)  Wipe Dishes

I know that sounds gross and unnecessary but its a huge mitigating factor. We use one paper towel to wipe off all of our crumby dishes. Not only does it keep debris from clogging the drains but also, keeps your gray tank from smelling something fierce; especially in warm weather when your gray tank ‘cooks’. (think broccoli, cabbage, meat crumbs and other food remnants.)

2)  No grease, butter or oils

That’s right! Treat your plumbing and pipes with high regard. We dump nothing  but water down the drain. Like I posted above, we wipe our oily dishes, fry pans and pots out with dirty napkins or paper towels.

3)  No coffee grounds

A big fat absolutely not!! A friend of mine is a plumber and he’s told me years ago, no no no no NO! Just do not do it. Grounds pack down and get heavy. They cause lots of problems. We simply dump them in the trash or outside. They’re biodegradable.

TIP: When we’re boondocking and water is a premium, we use these Caffi Paper Coffee Filters for 4 to 8 Cup French Press

4)  Use sink strainers

We got these in every drain inside our RV. They for those just-in-case moments that we forget to wipe a dish. In the shower, we have one that collects my hair (not Dan’s LOL)

We love kitchen sink strainer one because it has a sink stopper too. It collects debris and is easy to dump and clean.

5)  Use hair conditioner sparingly or go to the bathhouse

Most ladies don’t think about this but it’s true, there’s wax compounds in hair conditioner that harden when they get cold. They stick to the drains and pipes and build around openings. I only use a good conditioner once a week. Then if I need to do it more often, I’ll shower at a bathhouse.

6)  Brush your hair thoroughly before showering

Look at your hair brush, ladies. If you didn’t brush your hair at all, that would go down your drain, congregate into a knotted ball and boom, you set yourself up for a nasty gross looking blob of a clog. So, before hopping in the shower, brush your manes….and guys too!

This goes for washing your dogs too! Furminate them before putting them in the shower or tub!

7)  Use liquid soaps; no bars

Soap scum is formed into a solid substance when soap is being used in hard water. You’ve probably noticed at campgrounds and RV parks, their water is typically hard. On a scientific level, soap scum combines calcium and magnesium particles (ions) that are currently in the water with the soap, which forms into the soap scum substance. This formation is frequently caused by minerals in tap water that combine with soap and dirt to create a layer of scaliness over the surfaces in our bathrooms.

So, we opt for liquid hand soaps instead.

8)  No foo-foo oily salt or sugar scrubs

This is one of the things I miss by living in an RV with delicate plumbing. I loved to make my own using coconut and other oils. Well, I save that for when I go to hotels.

Like above, we opt for chemical-free hand soaps.

Still want to use oily scrubs? Make your own, put some in a tiny jar and keep in your purse. Then, pull it out when you’re in a public restroom. Voila

9)  No harsh chemicals

Harsh chemicals can etch and corrode the inside of your pipes and plumbing causing rough surfaces to collect God knows whatever is going down the drain. Caustic cleaners are just not good for the environment either. Think about it. Your gray tank contents are ‘going somewhere’. If you do any of those I’ve listed above, you won’t even need to use chemicals…period.


10)  Use lots of water

Its a no brainer, “the more you flush the better the rush” down the drain. The only time we’d be more manageable with our water is when we’re boondocking. But if you do all those above, you won’t need to use lots of water.


We hope all of these tips help mitigate potential drain clogs. Just be proactive about what goes down the drain, including your money!

If you enjoyed reading this, you may want to check out….

RV Maintenance Tip #2: Air Conditioning Vets and Filters

14 Tips on Keeping Your RV Cool in the Summer

20 RV and Camper Hacks on a Dime





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