Last updated on May 23rd, 2023 at 06:43 am
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An RV’s plumbing system isn’t very complicated overall. The holding tanks on your rig even have convenient tank monitoring sensors, designed to tell you the levels of liquid found in these tanks.
However, what do you do when these sensors aren’t working, or consistently malfunction? It may be time to invest in a reliable RV tank sensor cleaner, something that works to get your tank sensors back up and running properly!
What specifically are these cleaners good for? And what else should you consider when it comes time to commit to one of these products?
Let’s take a deeper look at RV tank sensor cleaners, and then I’ll show you my top picks for cleaning your RV’s tank sensors! But if you just want to skip ahead and see what made the list you can check it out here:
- Easy-to-follow instructions with a compact bottle for storage
- Specifically formulated for sensor cleaning
- Easy on the budget with a reliable brand behind it
- Biodegradable for extra eco-friendliness
What Is RV Tank Sensor Cleaner Used For?
RV tank sensor cleaning products are used for exactly what they sound like they would be used for: these products are built to clean the interior sensors of your black and even gray holding tanks.
These cleaners are often highly concentrated and powerful, capable of removing buildup and toilet paper from your black tank sensors. These cleaning products are built primarily for your tank’s interior sensors; if you have exterior tank sensors, then you don’t need to worry about these products.
RV tank sensor cleaner isn’t a necessity for many RVers, but it can help extend the life of your tank sensors. Tank probes often need replacing, especially if you own your RV for more than a decade. Using sensor cleaners can be a great way to keep these probes working correctly, saving you money in the long run.
Types Of RV Tank Sensor Cleaners
There are a few different types of tank sensor cleaners. Much like black tank treatments, these different types range in price and ease of use. Let’s take a look at them now.
The most common type of RV tank sensor cleaner is found in liquid form. This solution is often mixed with water and dumped into your black or gray holding tank, and left to sit overnight if not longer.
Liquid treatments are usually easy to find and are more affordable than other options. However, carrying around a bulky and heavy bottle of liquid may not be ideal for every RVer, and these liquid chemicals are often harmful to the skin and eyes.
Just like black tank treatments, tank sensor cleaners can be found in powder form. These packets are similar to the liquid treatments, in that you dump a specific amount of powder into the water of your holding tank and allow it to sit for some time.
Powder treatments can be easier to measure, more lightweight, and may suit some RVers better than liquid treatment. However, the cost and effectiveness vary when it comes to powdered tank sensor cleaners.
The easiest-to-use tank sensor cleaning option comes in the form of a capsule or tablet treatment. These little pods are dosed out, one treatment per capsule, and you simply toss them into the tank of your choice- no mess or fuss!
However, with less cleanup comes a higher cost, and capsule black tank cleaners are among some of the most expensive options out there. This is something to think about when you begin shopping for your new RV tank sensor cleaner.
What’s The Difference Between Tank Sensor Cleaners And Black Tank Treatments?
If you haven’t heard of RV tank sensor cleaners before, it may be a good time to learn. Tank sensor cleaners operate similarly to black or gray tank cleaners and treatments in general, but there are a few key differences.
While black tank treatments have the possibility of cleaning the sensors found inside of your black tank, that is not their primary function. Black tank treatments are built to break down solid waste found inside of your black tank, as well as deodorize.
Sensor cleaners are made to clean any buildup of gunk found on the interior sensors of your black tank. These cleaners don’t necessarily deodorize your black tank, but they can. Their primary function is to clean, and restore normal operation to your tank sensors!
While these two products are similar, it is important to not mix them up. If you are struggling with accurate readings from your tank sensors, consider purchasing a tank sensor cleaner.
If you are dealing with consistent clogging and odors inside your black tank, consider purchasing a black tank treatment instead. These treatments are far better than sensor cleaners at unclogging your RV toilet!
How Often Should I Clean My Tank Sensors?
If you are relatively new to RV ownership, you may be wondering how often you need to clean your RV tank sensors. This can be a tricky question and may depend on the age of your existing tank sensors.
Your tank sensors should be cleaned regularly to prevent inaccurate readings or unnecessary buildup. Regular draining and performing treatment on your black water tank will usually get your sensors cleaned too, but you may need to treat them separately from time to time.
If you ever receive a false reading from your tank sensors, chances are it is time to clean them. Consider using a portable waste tank if you are camping for an extended time! But what should you consider in a tank sensor cleaner before you make your final purchase?
What To Consider In An RV Tank Sensor Cleaner
RV tank sensor cleaners are fairly straightforward- as with all cleaning products, it is important to follow the instructions from the manufacturer. But what else should you consider?
Type Of Cleaner
Since we have already gone over the different types of cleaners, you may already have a favorite style in mind. Choosing between powder, liquid, or capsule treatments can be tricky, but they each have their own benefits and negatives.
Liquid treatment is the most common type of treatment, and it is an affordable solution. However, the dosing can be complicated, and the bottles are often heavy and may take up more storage space than you care for.
Powder treatment is also affordable, but it can be cumbersome and messy. However, many RVers enjoy powder treatment for cleaning their tank and tank sensors because they can choose the amount needed for both the size of their tank and the strength needed to clear up gunk.
Capsule or individual treatments are the most expensive tank sensor cleaner options out there. However, the exact dosing makes cleaning your sensors easy, and you won’t have to worry about getting chemicals on your hands.
The type of treatment that you ultimately choose should be determined by your storage needs and how easy the treatment is to use. Once you determine that, choosing the right type of cleaner will be a breeze!
Your budget should be a consideration when you are making any RV purchases. RV maintenance can add up quickly, but regularly maintaining your black tank and tank sensors can be a less costly expense in the long run.
Most tank sensors are relatively affordable, though capsule treatments are pricey. You may want to consider buying whatever product you decide on in bulk, but this will affect your overall storage capacity.
Amount Of Cleaner Needed
Are you hoping to treat all of your tank sensors, not just your black tank probes? And what about buying your cleaner in bulk to help save some money? The amount of cleaner you need will affect what product that you ultimately decide on.
Many tank sensor cleaners come in smaller amounts, and you may need to consider a larger initial supply, especially if you haven’t treated your tank sensors yet. The buildup may require a few extra doses!
Use In Fresh And Gray Water Tanks
Do you have tank sensors in all of your tanks, not just your black tank? While your black tank sensors are the most likely to malfunction, your gray and freshwater tanks could also have sensor issues if they haven’t been cleaned in some time.
Some tank sensor cleaners are safe for use across all of your tanks, but others should never be put in your freshwater tank. Keep this in mind when making a final decision on a product- you don’t have to buy a product made for all of your tanks, but it could come in handy!
Eco-Friendliness Of The Tank Cleaner
As an RVer, it is important to try and purchase eco-friendly products whenever possible. RV chemicals can often damage local natural environments, whether it be from runoff or just leaving products outside for wildlife to interfere with.
Choosing an eco-friendly tank sensor cleaner is a good idea, and most of them are nowadays. This should definitely be a top priority for those of you with kids and pets as well to improve the overall safety of your rig.
Strength Of The Product
The strength of the product can make a huge difference in the efficiency and overall effectiveness of a single dose. If you know you have a lot of buildups or gunk inside of your tank, you may be on the hunt for a strong sensor cleaner.
However, most products are capable of cleaning sensors when used regularly, so you won’t have to worry should you be performing regular maintenance. A higher-strength product has the potential of costing more as well, which is something to consider.
What Are The Pros And Cons Of Tank Sensor Cleaners
Tank sensor cleaning products can be very beneficial to many RVers. But, like everything, there are some cons as well. Let’s take a look at some of them now.
Pro: Tank Sensor Cleaners Target RV Tank Sensors
The main benefit of tank sensor cleaners is that they target your sensors specifically. If you know you are experiencing inaccurate readings from your sensors, then this product is made for you.
While these cleaners are often capable of cleaning your tank and the walls as well, having a product that is built for cleaning the regular buildup that occurs on your tank sensors can be a game changer.
Con: Not All Sensor Cleaners Are Miracle Workers
Given that sensor cleaners are made specifically for cleaning your tank sensors, it should be a safe bet that not every sensor cleaner is going to be capable of unclogging your black tanks. They are not among the most powerful chemicals that you can buy for your black tank.
Sensor cleaners have been known to help when you have a clogged RV toilet, but don’t expect this of these products. They are made primarily for cleaning your tank sensors, not for troubleshooting why your RV toilet bubbles when you flush it.
Pro: Consistently Accurate Sensor Readings
If you regularly use tank sensor cleaner, you will most likely experience more accurate readings than if you didn’t use tank sensor cleaner. Regularly maintaining your sensors will help extend the life of these probes.
It can be highly inconvenient for these sensors to malfunction, especially if they do so while you are camping. Using tank sensor cleaning solutions will make this worry a thing of the past.
Con: May Not Fully Clean Or Deodorize The Rest Of Your Tank
Given that sensor cleaners are designed to maintain your sensors almost exclusively, some of these products may not help with other issues found in your black tank. Some sensor cleaners do have deodorizing and liquifying capabilities, but this is not something that you should expect.
This can be disappointing for many RVers to hear, as having yet another product around can be overwhelming. Storage is always at a premium in RVs too, so you may not want to have a tank sensor cleaner taking up space in your rig.
Pro: Clear Cleaning Instructions
Almost all sensor cleaners have very clear and easy-to-follow instructions included with their product. This can be convenient, especially for busy families and those of you trying out various RV products for the first time.
While measuring is usually required with these products, the instructions should be very easy to figure out. You should always pay attention to the amount of time that sensor cleaners need to properly clean- they may need to sit overnight, or even longer!
Con: May Be Able To Accomplish The Same Thing With Black Tank Cleaners
Many RVers may not have ever used tank sensor cleaning products, given that a lot of black tank treatments have sensor cleaning capabilities as well. You may not even need to use sensor cleaner if you regularly use black tank treatments.
However, sensor cleaners are still something to consider, especially if you have malfunctioning probes in your gray or freshwater tanks. Black tank treatments should never be placed in either of these tanks, but some sensor cleaning products can be used in other tanks.
If you are looking for waste liquefaction and odor elimination, then choosing a black tank treatment over a sensor cleaner should be a priority. Many of these black tank treatment products can also clean the gunk from your sensors, so having two products may be redundant.
Are There Tank Sensor Cleaner Alternatives?
If you are on the fence about tank sensor cleaners in general, you may be wondering if there are any alternatives. You may find something else that works better for you, or you may be looking for as many options as possible. Let’s take a look at some other RVer favorites.
Black Tank Treatments
There are countless black tank treatments on the market today, and if your black tank sensors are giving you trouble, you may need some help cleaning your entire tank, not just the probes. That’s where black tank treatments come into play.
My top black tank treatment recommendation can be purchased via Amazon here– this product is perfect for regular maintenance as well as long-term buildup if you do a couple of doses. It can also clean your tank’s sensors and may help with any inaccurate readings.
RV Friendly Toilet Paper
Most black tank sensors experience troubles or malfunction because of toilet paper buildup on the nodes. This can be easily prevented by purchasing RV-friendly toilet paper. While the cost can be high, these products have been known to make a difference with many probes.
I recommend this product, which can be purchased on Amazon. It dissolves quickly, which means that you are less likely to experience sensor malfunctions. However, you may be able to use septic-safe toilet paper in conjunction with a black tank treatment product instead.
There are a few home remedies that could help clean your tank sensors. These remedies can include:
- Boiling water and running it down your sink or toilet
- Placing ice in your tanks and taking a drive
- Baking soda and vinegar can dissolve some solid waste products
- Dish soap can help lubricate your tank sensors and tank walls
While a chemical-based sensor cleaner works better than most home remedies, you may want to try these methods out, especially if you are in a pinch. No one wants an overfilled black tank on a camping trip!
New Tank Sensors
My final recommendation, especially if you have already experienced difficulties with your tank sensors, is simply to install new probes. While changing these out can be a bit hands-on, it may be worth considering, especially if you aren’t sure how old your current sensors are.
You can either replace your interior sensors (I recommend these, available on Amazon) or install exterior sensors. These exterior probes are less prone to malfunctioning, given that they are stored on the outside of your tanks. Try these out, also available on Amazon.
No matter the solution, your existing tank sensors need occasional maintenance and cleaning, so keep this in mind the next time your sensors seem to be malfunctioning! A simple tank sensor cleaner may be just what the doctor ordered.
6 Best Tank Sensor Cleaners For Your RV
If you are ready to begin shopping for a reliable tank sensor cleaner, it’s time to check out some of my top picks. Let’s get started!
Best Overall: Unique Sensor Cleaner Liquid
- Easy-to-follow instructions with a compact bottle for storage
- Specifically formulated for sensor cleaning
The leading brand for cleaning and restoring black tank sensor probes, Unique has created a 32-ounce liquid product, perfect for storing onboard RVs. I love that this product breaks down and removes waste clinging to sensor probes, even if they are pretty grimy, as discussed in the video below:
Unique Sensor Cleaner’s liquid formula delivers a powerful blend of bio-enzymatic cleaners into my holding tank, wasting no time breaking down the large debris covering my sensors. As the product gets to work immediately, I feel confident my sensors can get a thorough clean.
The activated enzymes break down the waste so the activated cleaners can liquify it, preventing that waste from being able to cover my sensors ever again. This is the long-term effectiveness I look for in RV products as I don’t want to be buying more products every few months to do the same job! This sensor cleaner also works to break down waste in tanks that have been neglected for many years, having the power to leave even the most abused sensors restored and reading properly.
The fact that this liquid formula can work its magic without me even needing to worry about driving my rig around is impressive, saving me time, and fuel! It takes between 12 and 72 hours to get the job done, allowing me to carry on with my everyday activities. I would advise leaving the product in the tank for a while if there’s a particularly large volume of waste build-up, otherwise, you may have to repeat the process, using more product than necessary.
I’m proud to use a US-made product in my rig, and as it has no hidden chemicals, I feel safe with my dog and partner in my rig, as there are no nasty chemicals hidden nearby. Plus, it’s safe to use in both my black and gray water tanks, so I don’t need to worry about buying a different product – this Unique Sensor Cleaner can get two jobs done in my RV for the price of one!
You can read more reviews and check today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
Best On A Budget: Camco 41146 TST Probe Cleaner
- Easy-to-follow instructions with a compact bottle for storage
- Specifically formulated for sensor cleaning
Camco makes quality products for RVing, boating, camping, towing, tailgating, grilling, and more. You can’t own an RV and never own a Camco brand product, as they are one of the top brands in the RV business! This sensor cleaner is ideal for me, as driving across the country is expensive, so I like to stay on a budget!
I love that it’s a powerful liquid solution at a much lower price than many other brands, and as Camco is known for its affordability and reliability, I trust this product to get to work on my dirty sensors! This liquid treatment is safe to use in both my black and gray water tanks and has up to four solutions in one 32-ounce bottle, so I know I’m covered for future tank sensor cleaning if need be.
It’s also completely biodegradable, which is vital in my eyes as it means I am avoiding causing harm to the environment and I feel comfortable using it in my rig, even when the family visits! I still recommend keeping it out of the sight and reach of pets and children to avoid any accidents. This Camco sensor cleaner is capable of removing built-up sludge and restoring sensors to their full, original capabilities.
Although I find the instructions clear and easy to follow, particularly dirty sensors may need more than one dose. This can be frustrating, as it means using extra product and giving tank sensors even more attention. It’s simple to overcome this issue, though, and as this tank sensor cleaner is affordable, it won’t break the bank to buy an extra bottle if needed!
You can learn more and see the latest price on Amazon by clicking here.
Most Concentrated Formula: Thetford RV Level Gauge Cleaner
- Super simple to use
- Made for long-term buildup situations with a space-friendly bottle size
Thetford’s Level Gauge Cleaner is specially formulated to dissolve tissue waste sludge and soap scum build-up. Another well-known brand in the RV world, Thetford manufactures many products, including toilets, portable waste tanks, cleaning products, and even stovetops.
Their sensor cleaner is just another in a long line of reliable products, and that’s why I think this 100% biodegradable liquid deserves a spot on this list! As it works with both black and grey water tanks, on RVs or boats, I find this cleaner convenient and effective. The Level Gauge Cleaner prevents build-ups and restores level sensor operation fast, ideal for me as I would rather not sit around and wait days for my sensors to be cleaned – I’ve got too much RVing and boondocking to do!
The formula being concentrated is a big bonus, as it means the product will likely last longer, as a smaller amount is needed. Storing the 19-ounce bottle is easy, as it’s small enough to tuck away into one of the units in my trailer, with no problem. It is designed to be used regularly, and if used correctly can help prevent buildup on my probes and tanks.
I enjoy that this Level Gauge Cleaner is 100% biodegradable, as it means the delicate ecosystems found while I’m camping are safe while I use the product. While this concentrated formula is reliable, dirtier sensors may need more than just one dose, so keep this in mind when trying this product out, especially on gunked-up sensors.
You can read more reviews and check the latest price on Amazon by clicking here.
Most Eco-Friendly: Caravan RV Sensor And Tank Cleaner
- Extra eco-friendly and easy to use
- You can expect results within 12 hours or so
Safety is my top priority, so I always prefer to use products that are completely safe around my partner, friends, family, dog, and anyone else who can fit in my rig! Caravan’s unique plant-based formula is effective, yet safe for people, pets, waterways, septic tanks, and the environment.
I just fill my black or gray holding tank with water, shake the Caravan product, pour 16 ounces of the product into my toilet or sink, flush it down, and let the product soak! I can even travel and use your toilet as normal while the sensor and tank cleaner work their magic which is super helpful as I would rather not have to head out into the wild!
This proprietary formula begins breaking down bacteria immediately, with most sensors cleaned overnight! I particularly enjoy this as it means I can use the product before bed, and wake up in the morning to sensors that have been cleaned and are working optimally again.
While it’s not necessary to let this product soak for an extended period, I find extremely dirty sensors would benefit from a longer soaking, and maybe even a drive with the product on the sensors. This can be a bit annoying as the process may take longer, but I think it’s worth it to have clean sensors that perform well and give me accurate readings.
Having my sensors working correctly gives me the confidence I need to continue living life, without worrying if the tank will be backed up. If I can achieve this in an environmentally safe way, with no harsh chemicals, it’s a win-win for me!
You can read more and check today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
Most Deodorizing: Valterra V22011 Sensor Power Tank Gauge Cleaner
- Deodorizes on top of cleaning your tank
- Concentrated formula with easy-to-store bottle
Another recognized brand in the RV world, Valterra is a popular sewer valve and other plumbing fixture manufacturer. They have their own brand of sensor cleaner as well, and it’s ideal for cleaning and deodorizing both my black and gray tanks!
This product is designed to break down even the heaviest accumulations of waste, tissue, soap, and grease to restore normal sensor function in both gray and black water tanks. This is ideal for me, as I love cooking in my rig, but this can often lead to clogs and build-ups. The Valterra Sensor Power Tank Gauge Cleaner is a game-changer product, as it’s non-toxic, uses no harsh chemicals, and is safe for the environment too.
Not all instructions are created equal, and I get disheartened when a product has poor instructions that are hard to understand. Valterra has this covered, as the instructions found with this bottle make it easy to use and follow. This cleaner also doesn’t harm my valves, piping, or tanks like some other harsh, chemical products can.
It is safe for septic systems, dump stations, and treatment facilities, making it convenient to use while I’m traveling full-time on the road.
This product contains 2 treatments per bottle, allowing me to treat both my black and gray water tanks at one time. This saves me time and money, as I don’t need to purchase a different product or use it at a different time. For the best results, I would suggest leaving the product to soak for 24 hours, and maybe even drive around for a while with the cleaner in the tank.
I know this isn’t ideal, but it does mean the tank and sensors get a thorough clean, and the chances of needing to repeat the cleaning process are pretty low!
You can read more and check the latest price on Amazon by clicking here.
Easiest To Use: Walex CMDOBG Commando Black Holding Tank Cleaner Drop-Ins
- Cleans both black tank and sensors
- Easy to use capsule
Dealing with a clogged black water vent or dirty tank sensors may not be my idea of a good time, but unfortunately, these things are a necessity of RV life. Making things easier, though, is this capsule sensor cleaner that can also clean my black holding tank. I know Walex isn’t as popular of a brand as Thetford or Camco, but this Commando Black Holding Tank Cleaner Drop-In has been taking RVers by storm because of its cleaning capabilities.
False readings from my RV sensors aren’t ideal, as it means I can’t trust the sensors to tell me if my tanks are full, or getting close. This is often caused by residual waste that has amalgamated over time and is now causing a stink and bloggage. But that’s where this Walex cleaner comes in.
I’m able to use this Commando Black Holding Tank Cleaner to remove the odors and sensor buildup in as little as 12 hours. The concentrated, scientifically developed formula is filled with natural enzymes to penetrate the walls and sensors to break down waste and paper buildup in my tank.
Commando’s powerful enzymes liquefy waste as well as paper, cleaning residual waste and paper caked to my tank walls. This is important for me as I don’t want a product that will just mask the problem instead of breaking down the blockages and clogs.
All it takes is one packet of Commando to restore my tank to its original state! Both my sensors and tank receive a thorough clean after the product works its magic. Similar to many other cleaners, including some I’ve mentioned above, leaving the cleaner in the tank for a longer period may lead to better results, especially for tanks that haven’t received much attention in a while!
Check out more reviews and see today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
Choosing a reliable and effective tank sensor cleaner doesn’t have to be frustrating or difficult. You can get your tank sensors working again with any one of these products. Just remember that regular maintenance is key to these devices working optimally in the long run!