How poop wipes almost ruined our camping trip

How poop wipes almost ruined our camping trip

Yes, I just used the word poop in a blog title.

But that’s what the kiddos call them–and if it weren’t for having kiddos, I never would have paid any attention to the advent of “moist flushable wipes.” In theory they are a great idea–and super helpful for potty-training toddlers. But apparently they have caused a lot of problems with regular sanitation systems. And in our ignorance, “flushable” poop wipes almost ruined our camping trip.

At the time we were still in the midst of potty training, so I threw a pack of flushable wipes into the camper bathroom without a second thought. Over the course of the trip the kiddos pulled out a few–or perhaps several–of those wipes to take care of business.

When it was time to head home Jarrett did the normal steps for flushing out the grey and black water tanks–but the sensor panel indicated the black tank was still 2/3 full. “Hmmm. That’s strange. Something must be stuck–let’s try dumping some extra water down.” So we filled up a bucket and let her rip. Nothing.

With flashlight in hand, peering down into the toilet bowl, we could see there was some toilet debris still in the tank. “I’ll go find a stick and see if we can break it up and flush it with more water.” A few moments later I hear: “ARE YOU KIDDING ME! Honey, the stick broke off in the tank and my hand won’t fit through the bowl hole. I’m going to need you to … um, retrieve it.”

“You want me to stick my hand and arm where?!”

That day I took one for the team and went where I never thought I would have to go. From the toilet pit I rescued the stick, which before breaking apparently managed to dislodge the clog, as another dump of water successfully pushed the blockage out. The sensor panel finally read “empty.” After repeatedly scrubbing my hand and arm with a soap bar at a nearby water spigot, we were on our way home.

From that day forward we never again took flushable wipes camping … and I became a lot more paranoid about the toilet paper going down the RV drain. But what kind of TP should you be using in your camper? Over at Gone With The Wynns they highlight a good way to test toilet paper brands to find which are acceptable for your RV system. We have typically stocked our camper with whatever toilet paper we have on hand–like Costco’s Kirkland brand, Charmin, regular Scott, or Angel Soft. Before our big trip I’m going to do some testing to see what we will take with us–and I’ll post an update on my findings.

In the meantime, what type of toilet paper do you use in your camper bathroom? Have you had any problems with TP blockages? You can share over on the Facebook page.

12 thoughts on “How poop wipes almost ruined our camping trip

  1. Jeanne

    You can also do as they do in Mexico: put the used toilet paper in a bin by the toilet and change the bin bag every day.

    1. Kristin Post author

      Hi Jeanne–thanks for stopping by and reading! Yes, that’s true. Definitely would take a bit of getting used to though. 🙂 Happy camping!

  2. Darin

    Anytime you have a blocked sensor you can fill the tank half full of water and 20# of ice. Drive home like that. The movement of driving will cause the water and ice to slosh around and clean the inside of the tank.

    1. Kristin Post author

      Hi Darin! Thanks for stopping by and reading. And thanks for the tip! We’ve tried it just with ice before, but not with ice and water. We’ll have to keep that in mind. 🙂 Happy camping!

  3. newfnstitches

    Regarding tissue for the camper, we use any single ply that is septic safe. Only dirty tissue gets flushed, the rest in the covered garbage can. No moist wipes or feminine products ( I keep paper lunch bags for disposal ). Also make sure there is at least 12-16 litres of water in tank after flushing. Hubby also made of an angled sprayer about two feet long to insert through toilet that enables him to spray down the tank when the gauges stick.

    1. Kristin Post author

      Thanks so much for stopping by and reading! All great tips–and that angled sprayer sounds like a handy modification! Happy camping!

  4. Nancy

    I do a combination of US and Mexico. Real dirty paper goes in the toilet. TeeTee paper or final wipe paper goes in a bin next to toilet. I really love the baby wipes, you can take a pretty good bath with them. Even if they say flushable they go in the bin.
    The tests I did, Marathon paper from Costco dissolves as well as RV paper. We empty black then gray, somehow, there is always a tenacious shred of paper hanging on for dear life at the end of poopy hose, taunting us.

    1. Kristin Post author

      Hi Nancy! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your tips! We do the same: always black and then the grey. Dumping is not our favorite part of camping! 🙂

  5. Nancy

    I have always had a “no dumping” policy especially with the boys. They had to walk to the nearest bath house. For the bathroom we have always used a plastic waste basket for the toilet paper. The trick is each trip I put a few grocery bags inside the basket on the bottom and then cover the basket. Each morning or when needed we pull the old bag out throw it out and grab a clean one. Repeat as needed. Now with it just being the mr and I going out alone, the “no dumping” policy may get changed and it is good to see what kind works the best.

    1. Kristin Post author

      Hi Nancy–thanks for stopping by and reading! And thanks for sharing your tips for what has worked for you all. Happy camping! 🙂

  6. Katie Newell

    We use septic safe TP and make sure there’s enough water in the tank to cover the bottom along with the enzymes you can buy at Walmart or camping world. One note about the tip regarding driving with water & ice in the tank…make sure you get a good look at the straps holding your tank in place. Seems like a good idea to let the drive home clean things off, until you lose a tank because the strapping gave way!! Also – there is a stick you can buy for this specific purpose, to flush your black tank. Our travel trailer has an external fitting for the tank flush, but we have friends who purchased the stick and it has been successful for them.

    1. Kristin Post author

      Hi Katie–thanks so much for stopping by and reading! And thanks for sharing the great tips! I’ve heard about that special wand–maybe I need to look into it more. 🙂 Happy camping!

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