Are There Camper Van Toilets?

Almost all vehicles that have been built for spending time in the outdoors in have some form of Camper Van Toilet in them. Camper Van Toilets are pretty much a necessity for anyone wishing to spend any reasonable amount of their time in nature sleeping in a vehicle.

In the next few short paragraphs we’ll explain what Camper Van Toilets are, what kind of Camper Van Toilets are available, take a look at how to keep them clean and odour free, how much water a Camper Van Toilet uses and even how to repair a broken one.

Motorhome and Camper Van Toilets Explained

I suppose we have to start with the often asked question ” Do I need a Camper Van Toilet”? In my opinion, and also in the opinion of pretty much everyone I have spoken to on the subject, the answer is Yes. I believe that all Camper Vans need a toilet, otherwise they are just a Van!

If you are travelling in a vehicle, especially with others, periodically you are all going to have to go to the toilet. Out bodies are rarely in sync, so the bigger your party, the more stops are going to be required. Remember too, that if you are travelling with children, little bladders are smaller and need emptying more often.

Parking for Camper Vans is not always readily on hand, and Public Conveniences are not always easy to find, nor are they always clean, so having your own Camper Van Toilet can be a real time and effort saver, especially if you are travelling with the family.

Modern Camper Van Toilets are also usually very well sealed and the contents are secure and prevented from spilling or releasing odours. It is not like it is a case of weeing in a bucket and trying not to knock it over in your precious Camper Van.

So now that we hopefully agree that there is a real need for one, let’s have a look at what Camper Van Toilets there are available to us.

What Kind Of Camper Van Toilets Are There?

Camper Van Toilets come in 3 main groups:

  • Flushing Camper Van Toilets
  • Cassette Camper Van Toilets
  • Portable Camper Van Toilets

Each of these 3 groups can be further subdivided, and each one has their merits. So before deciding which Camper Van Toilet is best for your Camper Van, Motorhome or Conversion, have a good read about what is available to you.

Flushing Camper Van Toilets

Camper Van Toilets that flush come in 3 distinct types. Gravity Flush, Vacuum Flush and Macerating. Each have different features which we will highlight below.

Gravity Flush Camper Van Toilets

Gravity Flush Camper Van Toilets are the most common Camper Van Toilets around. They generally have a small water tank attached which you use to flush away your waste which falls into a well sealed tank below when you move the floor of the pan.

The tank below can be detached for emptying into a restroom toilet or ablution facility at a campsite after numerous uses when it begins to fill up.

These Gravity Flushing Camper Van Toilets barely differ between what you would find in a super expensive, luxury Motorhome and a DIY Camper Van Conversion.

Gravity Flushing Camper Van Toilets are incredibly affordable and easy to use. They can be picked for something in the region of £150 – £200

Vacuum Flush Camper Van Toilets

Are There Camper Van Toilets - Vacuum Flush Toilet

Vacuum Flush Camper Van Toilets are less common and more likely to be found in the more expensive Camper Vans and Motorhomes due to their complexity.

However, as the waste holding tank and the seat are separate units that are joined by plumbing, they can be easier to fit into difficult to use, smaller spaces allowing them to be situated somewhere that could otherwise be a wasted space.

When the flush is pressed vacuum pulls any waste down into a holding tank. Using a vacuum flush toilet also takes less water than using a gravity flush toilet system. A Vacuum Flush Toilet costs anywhere from £300+

Macerating Camper Van Toilets

Macerating Camper Van Toilets work by using a set of sharp chopping blades to chop the waste into tiny pieces and pumps it using an electric motor to a holding tank, which can either attached to the toilet itself, or located elsewhere.

The only things to go into a macerating toilet are human waste and toilet paper. If you stick to this rule, all will be fine.

Macerating toilets are notorious for blocking up if anything else is put down there, and a macerating toilet that needs unblocking, or that backs up and returns it’s contents is not a desirable job to put right.

I came across a very informative post on Macerating Toilets in Motorhomes during my research which you can read here if you want to dig a bit deeper.

Macerating Toilets aren’t cheap and you can expect to pay in the region of £1000+

Cassette Camper Van Toilets

Cassette Camper Van Toilets come in 2 types. The traditional “Thetford Toilet” and the more modern Composting Toilet.

The Thetford Cassette Toilet

In a Thetford Toilet liquids and solids fall together by gravity into a removable cassette below for emptying elsewhere when full.

They generally have some form of water tank built into them and a means of mechanical flushing. A Thetford Cassette Toilet can be picked up on Amazon for around £120 – £250

The Composting Toilet

In a Composting Toilet the liquid is taken to one tank and stored so that they can be easily and frequently emptied.

The solids however are composted separately, can be stored and accumulated for longer, and can be either disposed of as waste or actually used as compost. Composting Toilets cost anything from £300+

Thetford Cassette Toilets are probably the most common Camper Van Toilets worldwide and have a proven track record over many, many years of use.

We had a Thetford Toilet in our Camper Van and it was easy to use, easy to empty and easy to keep clean. It was always odour free and we never had a spill with it of any sort.

Portable Camper Van Toilets

If you are converting your own Van into a Camper Van and you don’t have room for a dedicated toilet cubicle, or if you just have a Surf Van or Day Van and don’t want to get caught short, a portable toilet may be a better option for you.

However, in this day and age, there is no need to be sitting on a plastic bucket, with a plastic shopping bag in it, and with a pool noodle around the top for comfort like this:

Portable Camping Toilets are incredibly affordable, and the hassle of using a DIY Version simply isn’t worth it.

This Porta Potti is only £58 and could be stored almost anywhere, has a sealed cassette to stop odours and spills and is lightweight and ergonomically designed. It looks a lot safer and more inviting than the precarious bucket version above.

How Can I Prevent Camper Van Toilet Smells?

Are There Camper Van Toilets - Prevent Camper Van Toilet Smells

Preventing Camper Van Toilet smells is easy. All you have to do is to follow a few simple rules, such as:

  • Ensure your Camper Van Toilet always has water for flushing
  • Use a good, biodegradable Black Water Tank Chemical
  • Only put human waste and toilet paper down your Camper Van Toilet
  • Keep your Camper Van Toilet clean and free from blockages
  • Ensure that the sealing ring is clean, serviceable fitted correctly and makes an airtight seal
  • Check your Camper Van Toilet for damage or faults regularly and keep it in a serviceable condition

If you look after your Camper Van Toilet it will look after you. It will always be there, waiting to be called upon when needed.

How Do You Empty A Camper Van Thetford Toilet?

Are There Camper Van Toilets - How To Clean A Thetford Cassette Toilet

Emptying the waste cassette on a Thetford Toilet is simple. Most Thetford Toilets have a level indicator to tell you when they need emptying. However, common sense dictates that if you think it may need emptying, there is no harm in emptying it early and keeping it fresh and clean.

  • Remove the Cassette from the rest of the toilet
  • Remove the screw cap and put it in a safe place
  • Press the vacuum button
  • Empty the contents into the toilet or other facility
  • Rinse the Cassette with a little water, swirl it around to flush out and empty it again
  • Add a little water and the Bio solution
  • Replace the screw cap
  • Replace the Cassette into the toilet body
  • Fill the Flushing Water tank if you have one

I did manage to find a useful and short video showing exactly this once I had typed it up, so here it is if you prefer pictures to words:

Do Camper Van Toilets Use Much Water?

The simple answer is No. Camper Van Toilets are generally extremely economical with their water use. They have a very short mechanical or powered flush.

Using a Composting Toilet will reduce any water consumption even further.

Can A Broken Camper Van Toilet Be Repaired?

Thetford Camper Van Toilets are not very complex. Almost any competent DIY Enthusiast could chance a seal or replace a pipe, which is pretty much all that can go wrong with them other than breaking the Cassette by dropping it.

If you were to break something, most replacement parts can be procured online or from a Camper Van outlet.

If we are taking about the higher end Camper Van Toilets such as the Macerating Toilets or Vacuum Toilets, then it is highly likely that you are going to have to get a specialist in to do any repair work. I am guessing such specialists won’t come cheap, but to be fair, I wouldn’t know as I can’t afford such luxury.

Camper Van Toilets – Summary

As you can see, Camper Van Toilets come in all shapes and sizes, with varying levels of complexity as to how they work and prices to meet all budgets.

That being said, they all perform the same function, that is to alleviate our suffering when we need to relieve ourselves. Something that regularly pops up at the most inopportune times.

Providing that you look after your Camper Van Toilet, empty it regularly, keep it clean and serviceable, and of course obey the golden rule of only putting human waste and toilet paper down there, then it should last you the lifetime of your Camper Van or possibly longer.