Monday, July 19, 2010

Toilet Tissue Issue

Dear Joe and Vicki: What kind of toilet paper should we use in our RV?

Joe: When we were RVing novices we never gave a thought to the toilet tissue issue. Then we heard someone say they disposed of their used toilet paper in a plastic trash bag rather than flush it down their RV's commode. Seems they were concerned the toilet paper would clog their holding tank. I haven't gone dumpster diving in a campground ever since.

When campfire conversation gets around to toilet paper (as it occasionally does), someone is bound to mention the "toilet paper test". You re not considered a "real" RVer until you have conducted , or at least witnessed, a toilet paper test. The test is conducted by placing a couple of squares of toilet paper in a container of water to see how long it takes for them to dissolve. Generally, two or more brands or types of toilet tissue are placed in separate containers and submitted to the same treatment at the same time. One of the brands in the comparison test is usually one that is advertised as "RV safe" and has been purchased at an RV accessory store. A lot of "RV safe" toilet paper gets sold just for comparison test purposes.

There are no scientific controls or guidelines for conducting the toilet tissue test. You just put the squares in a container of water and see how long it takes them to dissolve, if ever.

Some folks will try to simulate actual RVing conditions. They put the toilet tissue in secure containers and shake them for a minute or so. These folks apparently drive over a lot of rough roads (I-10 across Louisiana, for example). Others will just let the containers sit for a given amount of time. Their RVs, I suppose, have a tendency not to go anywhere. Our RV lifestyle keeps us on the go. We placed our test containers on the shower floor of our RV and drove from one campground to another. That was as close as I wanted to come to simulating actual holding tank conditions.

The results of our toilet tissue tests (yes, we've done more than one) indicated that the relatively inexpensive toilet tissue we normally use dissolves just as quickly as the one advertised as "RV safe". So, you can imagine our joy when, some time ago, Scott Toilet Tissue (our single-ply tissue of choice) not only advertised itself as acceptable for RV use but put money-saving coupons in the RV magazines. Now, we take a lot of RV magazines and Vicki is an avid coupon clipper; it didn't take long before our supply of toilet tissue far exceeded the demand.

We have never had a problem with toilet paper (or anything else) clogging the outlet of our RV's holding tank. After flushing the toilet our habit is to fill the bowl with water and flush again. The valve of our black-water holding tank remains closed until the tank is at least half full. After dumping the black-water holding tank and closing the valve, we add a few gallons of water to the tank. My guess is that all that liquid combined with the agitation of our frequent travels has a tendency to liquify the contents of our holding tank and prevent clogs from occurring. Or maybe we have just been lucky.

In any case, we will continue to flush our toilet tissue down the commode and if the "right" toilet paper is not available, we'll use whatever is handy. But that's us.

How you handle the toilet tissue issue in your RV is a judgment call. And if you choose to dispose of your used toilet paper in the campground dumpster – well, I don't want to go there.

Vicki: Please notice that I did not contribute one word to this answer.