Review of the Thetford Cassette Toilet

Review of the Thetford Cassette Toilet title image

We love our Thetford cassette toilet, well, as much as a human can possibly love a toilet… love is probably to strong a word. 🙂 It does the job and we think it is far better than the alternatives. Let’s be honest, black tanks (the holding tank for toilet wastewater) are nasty and are probably the worst thing about life on the road. However, bodily functions are necessary to survival, therefore, a toilet is a necessity of a life of full-time travel.

Traditional Black Tanks

Who wants to queue up in a line at a black water dump site and then use a dirty hose to dispose of weeks old excrement? Oh, and you have to carry around that dirty hose after. Plus, you will normally have to pay for the privilege to use these dump sites. Any takers? Not me.

Alternatives to the Traditional Black Tank

When it comes to alternatives to the standard black tank toilets there are composting toilets and cassette toilets. Composting toilets tend to be heavy and the maintenance on them can be challenging and far more nasty than the dump sites.

The Functionality of the Thetford Cassette Toilet

The Thetford cassette toilet buttons and indicators.
The indicator on the left is green meaning the cassette tank is fairly empty. As it approaches full the indicator will begin to turn red. The blue button on top is the electronic flush.

The design of the Thetford cassette toilet is simple. The toilet looks like any other and has a water flush system. Other than the fresh water for flushing, which needs a pump, the toilet’s operation is based entirely on gravity. The contents of the bowl empty straight down into the cartridge housed below. There is a mechanical flapper operated via a leaver at the base of the bowl. The flapper closes the holding tank off from the bowl. When the cassette starts to get full there is an indicator located on the top of the toilet that gradually turns red from green. This indicates that it is time to empty the cassette.

The Lockable Hatch

The cassette toilet door hatch with keys.
The cassette’s access hatch door is lockable keeping your expensive cassette safe from all those would be thieves.

The cassette is housed under the toilet and accessible via a hatch on the outside of the camper. This allows for it to be easily removed and keeps it out of the living space. The hatch has a door lock on it to keep creepy people from stealing your excrement. The lock itself serves as a button that when pushed in simultaneously with the other button above opens the hatch. This does take some skill but once you get the hang of it, it becomes second nature. I guess Thetford designed it this way to keep the hatch as flush as possible to the wall.

Emptying the Cassette

Cassette toilet foldable handle and twist spout.
The foldable handle and wheels make transport of the cassette easy. The twistable spout really helps with emptying the contents.

The cassette toilet is nice because it allows users to empty the cartridge almost anywhere and often keeping the weight on the rig to a minimum. We tend to empty ours about once every seven to nine days.  The cassette has wheels and a foldable handle making it easy to roll into any location. To onlookers it looks like an odd piece of luggage. It can literally be emptied into any conventional toilet system weather it is a flushing toilet or a pit toilet/outhouse. Once you get over the initial drawback of having to roll the cassette into public facilities emptying the cartridge is easy. 

Cassette Design

The blackwater container of the cassette toilet being removed from the RV.
Removing the Cassette from the holding area at the base of the toilet is simple.

The drawback of thi device is fairly obvious. It requires you to pour out the contents into another toilet. This, of course, puts the contents in plain sight or worse smell. It can be unpleasant but the cassette has a large twistable pour spout giving you full control over the pouring angle. The cassette also has an air release button on the top of the device allowing for equalization of the pressure within the tank allowing for a smooth pour. These two features make it quick to fully empty the contents of the cassette.

Tips for Emptying the Cassette

I find that emptying the cassette into a pit toilet is the best as the contents quickly disappear deep into the earth and the smell doesn’t have time to permeate the space like in a traditional flush toilet. For a flushing toilet, I like to flush the toilet and pour at the same time. This gets things started. Flush toilets if working properly will in a way continue to flush as the contents flow in. The pressure keeps things flowing. So no need to worry about overflowing the system.

Toilet Smells

The second concern of any toilet is the potential smell in the camper/RV. I am shocked at how well the Thetford cassette contains the odors. When the flap at the base of the toilet is opened it obviously allows for smells to escape the cassette but when it is closed no odors are present. For this reason, I recommend keeping this closed even when using the toilet.

Using the Thetford Cassette Toilet

Using the Thetford cassette toilet for urine is easy. You do your business and then open the flap via the lever on the outside of the toilet. The contents pour into the cartridge below. You push the blue button on the back of the toilet to flush the bowl with a bit of water and then close the flap. Easy.

The Thetford cassette toilet prepped with paper.
X-ing the bowl with toilet paper keeps it clean.

Flushing solids can take a bit more creativity. I will first say that we limit our use of the toilet for pooping as much as possible and instead prefer to use public facilities. However, when nature calls the cartridge might be our only option.

Our deal is that we take turns emptying the cartridge but if one of us uses it for #2 then that person gets to empty it. Trying to keep the romance alive in tight living spaces can be tough. In reality, emptying the cassette of these contents isn’t as bad as one might imagine. The creative solution we have found for actual use is to keep the flap closed and, for #2s, place toilet paper over the flap in an X or star pattern. When the flap is then opened the contents slide into the cartridge atop the toilet paper. This keeps the bowl clean. Flush a small amount of water into the toilet, close the flap and no smells linger.

Keeping the Thetford Cassette Toilet Clean

Cleaning the toilet is essential. We keep Camco toilet treatment in the cartridge making sure to add the recommended amount each time after emptying the device. We also use Clorox wipes to clean the bowl and flapper each time we empty the cartridge as well. There are fancy expensive (non-abrasive) Thetford chemicals available for this but we have found a few Clorox wipes to be adequate.

The flange on the cassette toilet tank
Don’t forget to clean the flange on the cassette. It is hidden underneath that removable piece of plastic.

The Thetford’s 4.75 Gallon Cassette

The Thetford cassette.
The 4.75 gallon Thetford cassette is the black tank reimagined.

When we bought the Thetford cassette toilet our primary hesitation was the small size of the 4.75-gallon holding tank. This is actually a very nice size for two people. Emptying the toilet relatively often keeps the smells down and excess weight off the truck. Plus 4.75 gallons can be heavy, I don’t think I would want to pick up anything larger.

Toilet Bowl Design

The Thetford C223-CS toilet bowl set at an odd angle.
The Thetford C223-CS toilet has a bowl that rotates freely allowing it to be better utilized in tight spaces.

The design of the bowl on the Thetford C223-CS is very convenient. It freely swivels more than 180 degrees allowing the toilet to be mounted in any orientation. This is convenient when it comes to installation.

Conclusion

Arial view of our restroom with the Thetford cassette toilet installed.
Our renovated restroom area was designed around the Thetford cassette toilet.

While the reality of carrying around black water isn’t what most people who dream about a life of full-time travel think about, it is a required necessity. The Thetford Cassette toilet is the best solution for those who wish to skip the dump sites and stick to traveling. Click here for more details on the Thetford cassette systems.

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Purchasing

  • Thetford C223-CS
  • Thetford 32144 Access Door – Don’t forget to order the access door as it doesn’t ship with one. The link is for the correct product but for some reason, the image isn’t correct on Amazon. I have requested that they replace the image.

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