Keeping it clean - etiquette in the caravan park

Written by Beverly Hadgraft for Australian Seniors.  

On caravan forums everywhere, one of the most common discussions is: “Do you poo in your caravan loo?” Many travellers dread emptying their toilet cassettes, so the less that’s in them the better and they’ll use communal toilets whenever possible.

It’s something that many of us don’t think about when dreaming of a caravan with its own en suite facilities. The realisation probably hits you not long into your first journey on the road – you are going to have to empty the toilet before it gets full. In fact, depending on your unit’s capacity and the number of passengers using it, it’s recommended to do it at least once every two days, to avoid the build-up of unpleasant odours and the risk of spillage.

What is a toilet cassette?

Caravan toilets discharge into a big plastic box (called a cassette), and these are then emptied into the dump point, found at most large caravan parks and some rest stops. It’s not one of the most popular parts of caravanning – and reading through the online forum threads, it’s easy to see why.

“I once saw a bloke trying to empty his cassette and he poured a heap of the contents down his leg, and some dump points are left in a disgusting state,” one comment reads.

“It’s funny the number of people who want to start up a conversation at a dump point and even shake my hand when they leave!” reads another.

Bryan Foster, a retired teacher from the Gold Coast, and experienced caravanner, realised there were lots of beginners when it came to cleaning the toilet cassette, so he posted an instruction video as part of his Fozzie’s Views caravan tips series on his YouTube channel. It has had more than 300,000 views.

“Most of us don’t deal with toilets daily so I think we worry that something really strange will come out of our cassette,” he says. “But once you get the hang of it, it’s nothing.”

Bryan’s dumping tips

  1. Unscrew the cassette cap and put it somewhere safe to avoid knocking it down the dump point.
  2. Press the button on the top end of the cassette to let air in while tipping contents out.
  3. Clean up. A hose will be available to give your cassette a rinse and hose off any splashes. Don’t leave a mess – caravan parks are gossipy places and your ears will burn!
  4. Check the pressure on the hose. If it’s too fierce you’ll make the mess worse or splash that mess on yourself or other campers. For the same reason, don’t shoot the hose into the dump point. Aim it at the underneath of the lid.
  5. Be scrupulous about hygiene. Wear thongs, and wash your hands with soap and sanitiser afterwards.
  6. If there’s no dump point, don’t just empty your cassette down a public toilet. It’s not hygienic and conventional chemicals will wreck a septic tank.
  7. Never pour your contents out under a tree by the side of the road. It’s considered grubby.

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