Caravan and motorhome waste water


Have you just bought or rented a caravan, campervan or motorhome? While it’s not the most pleasant thing to think about, before setting off on your first adventure it’s important to know how to properly dispose of waste while touring.Pitch up with confidence – learn how to properly dispose of your caravan or motorhome waste

Types of waste water

The different categories of waste water can be confusing for beginners – especially because most UK campsites use unfamiliar terms like grey and black water. In fact, it’s fairly simple, and there are only two categories that you need to know about:

  • Grey water is dirty water that has been used for washing, usually coming from the drains of your shower, bathroom sink and kitchen sink. It should be disposed of at a grey water disposal point (sometimes also called a waste water disposal point). If you are staying at a fully serviced pitch where one is available, you can also use a drainage hook-up. 

Some campsites will not mind if you pour a small amount of grey water over grass or a hedgerow, but unless you are invited to do this it is strongly discouraged, as the water still contains chemicals and residue that could damage the environment. 

  • Black water is waste from your onboard toilet. It should only be disposed of at an appropriate black water disposal point – also sometimes called a chemical disposal point, CPD or Elsan point. 

The chemicals used in onboard chemical toilets are not safe to flush into the sewer system and require treatment first – so you shouldn’t wait until you’re home and flush your black water down the household toilet either. 

What equipment do you need for waste water?

Each caravan, campervan or motorhome will have a different set-up. If you just have grey water stored onboard, you might be able to get away with just using a large bucket to dispose of your waste. 

However, this is not the most efficient or hygienic way of disposing of grey waste water.

Better options include:

  • A drainage hook-up, which might be available at fully serviced pitches. This can be plugged directly into your vehicle’s waste water outlet. A hose and nozzle to allow waste water to flow out of your vehicle may not be provided, so you will need to bring your own flexible pipe and attachments and make sure that these are positioned so the water flows downhill. Various kits are available to buy online for this purpose. 

  • A wheeled waste disposal tank, such as a Wastemaster, which you can roll across the site to the communal grey water disposal point. A Wastemaster can carry up to 38 litres, meaning you can probably empty your whole tank in one go. 

  • If you are using a Wastemaster or similar, you will also need an outlet hose pipe adapter to fill the tank without any spillages. These devices are generally small and inexpensive and can be found either online or in camping shops.

To dispose of black water, you will need:

  • A toilet cassette. This can be removed from the side of your caravan or motorhome. It may be on wheels to make it easier to move around. 

  • Either blue or green chemicals to treat the waste in the cassette. Blue chemicals ensure that all waste matter is fully broken down, making it easier to dispose of at a black water disposal point. Green chemicals work in the same way but do not contain harsh chemicals such as formaldehyde, making this the more environmentally friendly and sustainable option. Bear in mind that some campsites have rules about the kinds of chemicals used in their waste disposal points – ask if you are not sure.

  • Gloves are also recommended when handling the cassette.

How to empty your black water cassette

Emptying the black water cassette is generally one of the most intimidating things about starting out with a caravan or motorhome. Luckily, it’s actually quite a simple process that only takes a few minutes:

1. Wearing gloves, remove the cassette from your caravan or motorhome and take it to a black waste disposal point. 

2. There will be a button on your cassette to empty it. Holding the cassette so that the outflow is over the drain, press and hold this button until the cassette is empty. 

3. Use the water hose provided to rinse out the cassette carefully so that there is no residue. Pour this water down the drain. 

4. Add the recommended measure of the chemical treatment of your choice and insert the cassette back into the side of your campervan or motorhome.

How to find disposal points for grey and black water

If you require a campsite with a shared waste disposal point, you can use the tick-box filters on the Pitchup search page. All sites with chemical waste disposal in your desired location can be found under ‘Utilities’:

Use the Pitchup search page to find sites with chemical disposal

If you require a pitch with private waste disposal facilities, search Pitchup for fully serviced pitches. This means that your pitch will come equipped with water, electricity and waste disposal. As a result, fully serviced pitches may be more expensive – but many travellers appreciate their convenience. 

You can find all fully serviced pitches for a given area on the search page under ‘Pitch/unit information’.

Treat yourself to a fully-serviced pitch

But what if your site doesn’t have waste disposal facilities, or you’re wild camping? You could:

  • Find a public waste disposal point online – charges may apply. There are many apps, websites and community message boards available to help you.

  • If you are travelling in Europe, you could find an aire (although these may only accept campervans and motorhomes), which often allow non-residents to use their waste disposal facilities. Charges may apply. 

Do not pour waste down public drains such as storm drains unless they are specifically labelled as being suitable for grey waste.

It’s not as simple as just pouring it down the drain. Learn how to properly dispose of grey and black waste (Antranias/Pixabay)