The #1 question we get about living in our Airstream fulltime is, of course, about the bathroom. More specifically the toilet and how THAT all works. And I totally get that… because that was one of my many questions when it came to living in a house on actual wheels. With that in mind, here’s what you need to know and what we’ve learned along the way!
All Things Airstream Tanks. The Grey. The Black. And the Straight Ugly.
The Difference Between Grey and Black Water
Let’s get to the nitty-gritty, shall we? Grey water is where all your soapy water from the sink and shower goes. And the black water is where your flushed toilet water goes. Each has its own, separate tank, that keeps those two less than clean water sources in their own holding area until the tanks are emptied.
The Set-Up + How your Airstream Toilet Works
There is no real set up when it comes to the grey water tank, other than to clean out your freshwater tank from time to time as that’s the source for the sink and shower. Set up for the black entails a little more effort but it’s actually super easy! Ensure you have a sewer house and stand (we use this hose and this stand) AND make sure your black tank is completely empty before you fiddle with the cap to the valve that releases the tank. To set up your black tank for operation, it’s a matter of connecting your sewer hose from your Airstream to the city sewage connection at your RV spot. Once that’s locked into place, you’re all set to safely empty your black tank after the tank is full. We typically empty ours every three to four days to make sure it doesn’t overfill. Because that’s just embarrassing (*refer to a personal story of embarrassment below after the personal horror story)!
Scent Control for your Airstream Tanks (trust me, you need it.)
There’s no way around it… from time to tank your bathroom will smell so bad. And it’s not just from the black (aka toilet water)… sometimes the grey water can just get grimmy (think about doing dishes and just everything that goes down the sink). But after a few weeks of just living with the here and there smell, because, for us, it wasn’t constant rather just sometimes, Mack did some research and we help was on the way. We use this solution for gray water and this solution for the black water. We also like to keep activated charcoal in our bathroom drawer because #humidity rises from that drawer anytime it opens. This is probably just because we live in Florida, but someone somewhere needed to hear that too!
Wondering what the straight ugly is? Well, click HERE for our own personal horror story!
*Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that my sweet 80-year-old neighbor knocked on my door one day to alert me that our black tank was leaking on the concrete. I mean, talk about an embarrassing and humbling moment. But that’s the glory of RV park living — the neighbors care and they want to help. Which thank goodness for that, because we have needed it. And turns out our tank was just FULL and needed to be emptied. So envision me outside with dish soap and hose in hand cleaning the concrete pad because it stunk. If anyone thought this life was the least bit glam, you’d be very incorrect as I lived that moment — not once but two times after forgetting to empty the tanks. We now do so on Thursdays and Sundays like straight clockwork.