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Explorer II
Explorer II

HELP! My RV has a very unique odor that doesn't smell like anything in particular, although it is still offensive...but it permeates everything evenly... Even inside the cabinets.   I've been trying to get rid of it for weeks now.  It hasn't gotten stronger and it hasn't waned. I have several problems here that could be contributing to this odor.

***It sat all summer long with a partially full black tank in the Tennessee heat... And partially full grey tank.***   It turns out he has never sanitized any of the tanks in the 2 years we have had it.

 At first, I gave happy camper a good chance to do it's thing.  I've aired it out & also closed it up with dehumidifier. Recently I used the 2 step Thetford system and cleaned and sanitized both the freshwater and Gray water tanks.  My ex says he cleaned the black water tank thoroughly, especially around the flapper and got rid of crusty stuff. He put the wand down there and cleaned it really well supposedly... But the smell really isn't coming from the toilet anyway. (I will be living in it full  time and am moving the camper to a year long campsite this weekend. I have purchased the happy camper cleaner,  Which I will put into the tank right before we move it so it can agitate.)

I  am flushing the hot water heater today, but it does not have an anode rod.

No matter what odor killer I use, it doesn't make any difference. 




Possible that there is at least one air gap device under the galley sink and in cabinet under the sink in head. They go bad and are easily replaced with replacement from local hardware stores.

USAF Retired
Pace Arrow

2003 Chev Ice Road Tracker

Thank you...I'll check it out!

Thank you! I'll check that out


how old is the RV?

2014 F350 6.7 Platinum
2016 Cougar 330RBK
1991 Slumberqueen WS100


You could rent an ozone generator. That will certainly get rid of most smells. Just follow the instructions carefully as ozone can be harmful to your health but dissipates really quickly. You can't be in the RV while it's running. They have timers, so just set the timer and don't enter the RV until about an hour after the time has expired.  All that said, getting rid of odors is one thing. Finding the source is really what you want to do.  There's also the risk of rodents/pests. They can get in walls or appliances, HVAC etc and leave waste and/or die somewhere. Hopefully your ex didn't hide some shrimp in the walls...:-)


Jeff - 2023 FR Sunseeker 2400B MBS

Good idea on the ozone cleaner! (I wish it was just a critter or his calling cards)

But I did have a slap-my-hand-on-my forehead epiphany!  I assumed because he SAID he cleaned the tank out really good, that ACTUALLY DID.  I have based EVERYTHING I've done on the assumption he was telling the truth...when will I  learn???  🤦‍♀️Anyway, I watched a video that explained the entire water system, focusing on the black tank & how to clean it. I got the honey pot and emptied the rv tank...dark brown.  Soooooo, I kept adding 5-8 gallons water using the hose jet and kept emptying it.  Well, I filled the honey pot & the water still wasn't clear.

So what I'm getting around to is that IT MIGHT ACTUALLY BE THE BLACK TANK. Easy fix, even tho the smell has permeated everything, but at least I know...I think.  I'll know more in the next couple days!

Well, Ozone should take care of that smell easily since it's organic and it should be able to be back to normal. You may want to consider adding a black tank flush kit. There are temporary versions that attach a hose to a clear outlet fitting, and then there are permanent versions that actually attach a hose directly to the inside tank wall. Almost all new RVs come with black tank flush now. 

Jeff - 2023 FR Sunseeker 2400B MBS


If you want to know if it's the gray tank pour a pint or so of Pinesol down the sink drain and then run some water to wash it all out of the trap in the drain. A the RV out completely then close the RV up for a day or so and see if you smell Pinesol when you open it back up.

Does the RV have an unused washer dryer hookup? If so the drain trap might have dried up and is letting gray tank smell into the RV

2001 Suburban 4x4. 6.0L, 4.10 3/4 ton **** 2005 Jayco Jay Flight 27BH **** 1986 Coleman Columbia Popup

It's 19ft, so no W/D.

Pi e Sol is an awesome idea. Ty!


Did you smell this odor in the past? If not, it could be mold formed during storage.

The cabinets are not solid wood. The pressed wood may have had Formaldehyde which has been used by some manufacturers.  

Mark & Jan "Old age & treachery win over youth & enthusiasm"
2003 Fleetwood Jamboree 29

Never smelled it until opening it up after the summer. I'm quite sensitive to mold, and I don't think that's it. It's been in our driveway the whole time. 

Keep on bringing this advice...I'm checking into all of it!


When we bought our current home, the previous owners were heavy smokers and the house reeked of smoke and other weird odors.  We found that placing bowls of vinegar all around the house for about a week got rid of them, then we repainted the entire house.  I would think vinegar would remove the odors for you, and it's inexpensive to try.    

2014 Wolf Creek 850SB
2012 GMC Sierra SLT 2500HD 7,220# Truck/10,400# Camper Fully Loaded

It's not cigarette smoke.  I tried the vinegar for 3 days but I'll do it for longer Thanks! Painting is also an option!