The RV Cassette Toilet Debate
Guide to “cassettiquette” and top concerns.
By: Noel Fleming & Chris Miller

Several years ago, having had no previous RVing or camping experience, we bought a Winnebago camper van. We had much to learn, especially about one of the most discussed topics— the black tank. During the ensuing 80,000+ miles in our 2019 Travato GL we learned how to use, manage, clean, and repair our toilet set up.

Then, in November of 2020, Winnebago announced an entirely new product called the EKKO. The design incorporates a multitude of features that enticed us to consider it for our next rolling home. We were impressed with its four-season capability, full insulation, ducted air conditioning, indoor garage, 50-gallon fresh tank, 51-gallon gray tank, and instant hot water. 

The EKKO held such allure, all while maintaining a small footprint similar to that of a camper van. Though the list of valued features was lengthy, there was one big “however.” 

However … the EKKO has a cassette toilet. A five-gallon cassette toilet. What? What is that? How do you use that? Why is the capacity so small? Would we choose to have a cassette toilet, while living full time in an RV? 

The time had come to explore this option and school ourselves in all things cassette. We couldn’t imagine that a type of toilet might preclude us from buying a rig that we really wanted to call home. Thus began our version of the RV Cassette Toilet Debate. Perhaps you’ve had similar deliberations.

We hope that some of our thoughts and experiences prompt your number 1 and number 2 reasons to consider the cassette toilet as a viable option in your future journeys. ;-)

Our Initial Concerns

#1: Enough Capacity?

At first, the capacity threw us for a loop. I mean, c’mon, a five-gallon tank? For two adults? All we could think about was how often we might need to dump it. We weren’t terribly thrilled locating dump sites for our 11-gallon black tank in the Travato. The cassette would hold less than half of that capacity.

#2: How to Dump?

Next, we started envisioning what the “handling” would be like in terms of actually dumping, and cleaning. This would be quite different from the traditional black tank hose hook up and sani-flush system which kept the contents more removed and not so up close and personal.

Guide to “Cassettiquette”

Parts and Procedures

#1: Cassette Toilet Parts
First, we familiarized ourselves with the anatomy of the cassette toilet. 

The three basic parts include:

 A) the toilet, which is permanently secured to the outer wall of the RV
 B) the flush button, which is connected to the RV’s water tank
 C) the portable waste tank, which sits below the toilet
 

#2: How to Use the Cassette Toilet

Then, we familiarized ourselves with the use of the toilet. I thought it would be so different from using an RV with a black tank. It wasn’t. 

Many of the same tricks and tips are employed in both scenarios:

A) mind your toilet paper use
B) add water to the bowl before adding solid waste
C) close the lid before flushing

Dumping and Cleaning

#1: Dumping

 Now to the part that seems to make a number of people say: “Ew!” … the dumping. When we first started considering getting a rig with a cassette toilet, I was one of those people. Fortunately, we have friends who travel in a Winnebago Revel and a Winnebago Solis. They helped show me the way and even let me dump their cassettes! Can you imagine friends like that?! Haha! 

First, I was floored by how easy it was to dump. There was no waiting in a dump line, aligning the vehicle, or pulling out extra parts like the “stinky slinky” and connectors. I simply removed the portable waste tank from the outside of the rig, extended the spout by twisting it, removed the spout cap, and poured the contents into the dump area while depressing the vent button. Voila! Never did I imagine that I would ever say “Voila” when discussing toilet contents. 

If you prefer to use a dump hose and maintain a mental distance between you and the contents, a handy tool called 'The Americanizer' has been created by Winnebago Ambassador James Adinaro; it secures to the holding tank spout and enables you to attach a dump hose to the cassette. So, you can choose to hose or not to hose!

#2: Cleaning

After dumping, comes the cleaning. This is also an easy job. Simply add some water to the holding tank, swish it around, and use the same pouring method to empty the tank into the location where you just dumped. Since the tank is small, both the dumping and cleaning take little time to complete. Another plus!

Odor Management

#1: Odor Elimination

There is a lot of chatter regarding the negative odor potential with cassette toilets. Since we have had our EKKO, we have talked to experienced cassette toilet owners, read a lot of discussions on best practices, and tried a variety of methods. Some RVers prefer to use vinegar instead of products manufactured for RV toilets. 

Our go-tos have been liquid tank digesters and products that break down toilet tissue and solids, and neutralize odors. If you happen to find yourself using any of these products, be sure to read the directions carefully as cassette toilets may require a different method of treatment due to the lack of oxygen in the holding tank. 

#2: Odor Ventilation

Instead of adding products inside the tank to manage odors, some consumers elect to install a SOG system. This is an electrical ventilation system that draws odors outside of the rig.

Why the EKKO with Cassette Toilet Works for Us

#1: The Cassette Toilet is Simple! 

We love that there are very few moving parts, and the parts are easily accessible for cleaning or replacement. If you wanted to, you could even carry a second portable waste tank. 

Additionally, the elimination of exterior dump lines decreases the risk of contents freezing, thereby increasing opportunities for cold-weather adventures.
 

#2: Plenty of Dumping Options!

A tank level indicator, located next to the flush button, will creep from green to red as the capacity fills. When it is time to empty the cassette, there are a plethora of places to dump. The rig does not need to be right next to any of them! 

The portable waste tank is accessed from a lockable door on the outside of the rig. Once the safety catch is released, pull out the tank, and carry or roll it, using the folding handle and luggage-style wheels, to your dumping destination. 

We have dumped at campgrounds, waste treatment centers, porta-potties, vault toilets, local parks, highway rest stop bathrooms, marina dump stations, and even our friends’ home toilets. We count it a plus to have so many options, and we get to avoid the dump line. Win, win. 

Important to note: read signs and follow posted regulations.
 

Is a Cassette Toilet a Match for You?

If you are still unsure, here are a few ways to double-check if this type of RV toilet would work for you and your travel style.

#1: If you have an RVing friend who uses a cassette toilet system, ask them about their experiences. It may be an option for you to empty their cassette (even if it only contains clean water).

#2: If you don’t yet know an RVer with a cassette, check with your local RV dealer or RV parts supplier. They may allow you to remove and replace a portable holding tank from a rig on their premises. Ask if you could feel the weight of a holding tank filled, or partially filled, with water. You could even try dumping it into a targeted area.

We understand that the cassette toilet may not be everyone’s choice when RVing. We invite you to join the discussion. Share your thoughts or experiences regarding the benefits of the cassette toilet. Feel free to expound on your number 1 and number 2 reasons why a cassette may or may not work for you.

Comments

Comments on this post are moderated, so they will not appear instantly. All relevant questions and helpful notes are welcome! If you have a service inquiry or question related to your RV, please reach out to the customer care team directly using the phone numbers or contact form on this page .

User commented on November 12, 2021 8:49 AM
The cassette toilet is way better than than the "bucket with a seat" that was the height of luxury in the 60's when I started camping with my parents. The plus and minus of black tank v cassette comes, as you say, in the end to personal preference. For me the biggest plus is the variety of places you can dump.
User commented on November 12, 2021 5:57 PM
excellent article, very simply explained, and we agree with everything...!! We had a Solis, now have a EKKO...it's easy, ... the only thing I do, which my husband says is overkill, is put a little bleach in the tank and wash it out one last time....otherwise , we've used the powdered chemicals and the liquid....
User commented on November 12, 2021 9:36 PM
Chris & Noel - You guys are the greatest. We EKKO-owners, Waitabees, and Wannabees are ALL very interested in the how-to of the cassette. And we thank you for taking the time to elaborate on the the hows, whys, and wherefores of the cassette toilet by writing the fantastic course entitled: Introduction to Cassetting—aka Cassette 101. Our EKKO is still months away, but having spent most of our lives with boats, we know that experience in dealing with the "head," as a toilet on a boat is called, is followed by knowledge and confidence just as problems that need to be solved are followed by knowledge and confidence. Sooner or later, all RVers or boaters become experts out of necessity on everything having to do with using, treating, dumping, cleaning, repeat. And believe it or not, you will have countless conversations about this subject around the campfire with others who share your enthusiasm for traveling with a self-contained home. Will a cassette work for you? You won't know for sure til you've tried it. But I can tell you this: Although we haven't used a cassette toilet—yet—it seems to be a no-brainer that we'll like it. Why? Because it's the least complicated of all possible arrangements with the least number of things that can go wrong. Ask me how I know this. The only thing simpler would be a bucket. And lastly, think about this: If your cassette cracks and springs a leak, toss it and buy a new one—try doing that with a black tank! Yes, the cassette is probably the simplest way to go (pun intended!). — Ruth Jansson & Bette Conner & Rocinante, their eventual EKKO.
User commented on November 12, 2021 9:52 PM
It’s cute that they changed the time ordered “porta potti” to cassette toilet. How polite of them, and hysterical.
User commented on November 19, 2021 10:16 AM
The cassette toilet is easier to maintain in terms of maintenance. Simply discard the garbage when it's full, and the tank and toilet bowl will be cleaned at the same time. Simply fill the tank with water and your preferred cleaning solution. You can find more information here https://www.rvzone.com/cassette-toilet-vs-black-tank/