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6 Ingenious (& Cheap) Motorhome Cleaning Hacks

September 16, 2014

Motorhoming is a liberating and hugely rewarding experience, with the freedom to travel wherever takes your fancy at a moment’s notice – that doesn’t mean maintenance isn’t an issue, though. Cleaning your motorhome can be a tricky and laborious ordeal without the tools for the job – but thanks to the Out & About Live community, we’ve compiled the ultimate expert resource on motorhome cleaning. Bursting with nifty little hacks and ingenious fixes, this guide has everything you’ll need to keep your lovely motorhome spick and span till death do you part.

Your motorhome’s waste tank is very different to your freshwater tank and typically with a lower capacity, as some water from the latter is either drunk or used for flushing the toilet. Grey waste in particular is an age-old motorhoming struggle, with the disposal proving pretty difficult without the tricks or tactics for the job.

Luckily for you, Out & About members had some suggestions for getting rid of pesky motorhome waste – and the best part is they’re inexpensive, they’re easy and they’re effective.

Motorhome Cleaning


Pour some cheap undiluted orange squash down the plug holes and this will clear the smell quite cheaply.


Other suggestions in the past have included:

  • Empty a bottle of Fairy Liquid – I know others are made as well, but it makes more bubbles
  • Biological detergent – whatever is the cheapest
  • Sodium bicarbonate

All of these are best done on a location where you have access to a drain but not on the highway. The method is same with all – empty the waste tank, go for a run, come back, empty again and flush out.

Personally, I find using bicarbonate of soda whenever I empty the tank keeps it smelling nice. For this, I’d just use half a small tub then a kettle full of boiling water just before you leave the site.

I personally wouldn’t use bleach as it is very harsh – additionally it’s a one-off effect and the source of the problem starts to build up again immediately. That’s why I stick with bicarbonate of soda – it’s an ongoing treatment regime which keeps the tank sweet smelling.


In my Autotrail, there was a smell coming from the overflow pipe, just under the toilet. I ran the hose into the kitchen sink and filled to the brim, adding 2 containers of Aldi’s flash type cleaning agent – and it works great. It comes in lots of different colours, and it doesn’t matter which one you choose.

  1. Completely fill the waste tank until foam or water comes out of the overflow pipe .
  2. Leave for as long as possible – a week would be best.
  3. Take the van for a run, then empty down a drain somewhere.
  4. If possible, do it again – I do this about three times a year now.
  5. Remember – filling the tank to the brim will help clear waste stuck up the sides.

Hope this helps!


Some motorhomes have a corrugated tube as the waste pipe, and this traps debris. I found that a using a sink plunger helped wash out some of the muck. (Not heavy handed, though, as the joints can blow)

I also found that my waste traps stopped working when mucky – but a quick unscrew and clean brought the water level up and stopped the odours rising from the tank.


I have found that the best solution to prevent smells is biological washing liquid; I put a half capful into the waste pipes using a rotation system every time we empty the waste tank, i.e. each waste is treated every 1 in 3 empties. Also, we use a ‘trap’ in the kitchen sink to prevent food bits getting into the system and where possible empty the washing up bowl elsewhere such as the aire service point drain or on site drain.

We try to get a fair amount into the waste tank before emptying and give it a ‘bit of a swill’ via braking en-route to the drain – hopefully creating better flow to prevent any deposit collecting in the bottom. It may be that all these measures are merely giving us a sense of positive action and do not actually make a difference – but we don’t now suffer any bad pongs emitting from the plugholes!

Apparently the ‘bio’ bit breaks down bacteria. I actually use Aldi bio detergent c/w softener but only because this saves me having to take another bottle for doing the washing as well. I wouldn’t like to use bleach unless I was flushing it straight out again – too harsh.


Fit waste traps in waste pipes from sinks – available from CAK Tanks for about £8 each.

If you can access the pipes, simply cut the pipe and insert the trap in the gap. It might also be worth fitting it with a Jubilee clip. Very easy, as long as you have the room.

Fitting waste traps in the pipes between sinks and the waste tank solves the problem completely – and without needing to clean the tank regularly. Mine have been fitted for 3 years, and no nasty smells – total cost is little more than a bottle of bio liquid.

Motorhome Cleaning

With the help of these simple and ingenious waste removal tips, you can keep your motorhome clean, shiny and fragrant – all thanks to the experts in the Out & About community. The most important thing to remember is that solutions don’t have to be expensive or obscure – so keep an eye out for those everyday life-savers with the power to solve your cleaning conundrums once and for all.

If you’re looking to upgrade to a shiny new motorhome, Pegasus Finance can help. We’re specialists in motorhome finance, and we can help get you inside the motorhome of your dreams without going outside your budget. Check out our online loan calculator now for an instant quote – or apply today if you’re ready to get this show on the road.

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