Do those RV toilet paper shake tests really tell anything?

You’ve doubtless seen those videos. A sheet or two of different types of toilet paper are put into jars of water and shook up. A comparison happens as to which one dissolves more in the water, indicating that one type of TP is the best and should be used religiously in your RV. The problem is, these tests are flawed.

First, you don’t wipe with one or even a few sheets of toilet paper. You have a wad or, at the very least, a length of it folded back and forth into a sort of pad. So any sort of test needs to have the actual amount of toilet paper — in the right configuration (pad vs. wad) to approach accuracy.

Next, you really don’t just flush the toilet paper into a tank full of clean water. There’s other “stuff” down there and things start to mix together and stick to one another. And if you’re using a tank additive that dissolves waste (like enzymes, biological agents, or harsh chemicals), then what you are flushing that TP into is a thick, sticky slurry, not a jar of clean, freshwater.

Also, that section or two of toilet paper you put into the jar of water is a fairly low ratio of TP-to-water when compared to what you are putting in the black tank. With smart and proper water use, your holding tank has a much higher amount of liquid in the tank than your test jar.

Finally, you know all that vigorous shaking you see in the videos? There is absolutely no way you could mimic that amount of agitation in your holding tank unless you drove over a tall cliff or got into such a horrific traffic accident that there’s nothing left of your RV – or you, for that matter!

So what type of toilet paper should you be using in your RV? The answer is…any kind that you want, as long as you are using enough water in your holding tanks and follow proper use guidelines when using the toilet:

  • Prime your holding tanks after each empty by adding one to three gallons of freshwater to them
  • When using the toilet for #2, start with a half-bowlful of water, do your “business,” flush down, follow with at least another half-bowlful of water, flush that down, then add a final half-bowlful of water to serve as a seal and get you ready for next time
  • Never use any tank additive that dissolves what is your holding tanks. The enzymes, biological agents, or harsh chemicals only cause everything to turn into a thick, sticky, pancake batter-like slurry.

Jim & Debbie Tome, Owners

Hi, we're Jim and Debbie Tome and we're the owners of Kleen Tank LLC, the nationally-recognized and largest professional network of RV tank cleaning service provider.

We've been RVers like you since 2004 and have traveled all over the U.S. in our Airstream travel trailer. We started the business about twelve years ago and have cleaned tens of thousands holding tanks in thousands of RVs. From tiny weekend travel trailers to monstrous fifth wheels to luxurious motorhomes, we've seen just about every situation there is with RV holding tanks and waste systems.

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