How Do Porta-Potties Work? Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know

Have you ever been to a camping ground or a festival and seen portable toilets stationed everywhere? These are called porta-potties. They are essential in areas where there is no easy access to a clean toilet. Events that expect a big crowd often set up porta-potties to make sure there is enough toilet for people to use to relieve themselves.

Porta-Potties: Their Structure and Parts

Portable restroom

The construction of porta-potties is actually quite simple. These are usually made from a durable plastic material that is structured to look like cubicles in a restroom. There are also added features such as a hook for the toilet paper.


Don’t be surprised to find a different kind of toilet seat. What is used to catch human waste is actually a big basin-like material. The basins are attached to a base where they are locked to prevent toppling over.

How Do Porta Potties Work?


The bottom of these porta-potties has chemicals that are formulated to break down the components of human waste. These materials also help eliminate the odor that comes from the waste. There is no specific formula to the chemicals used. Manufacturers use their own special formulation but, in most cases, you can find biocide, some fragrances and dyes in these chemicals. Don’t worry because these bins are large enough to hold a large volume of waste.

An organized event will have professionals come in every morning to empty out these bins and then clean them out before they are used again for the day. Organizers usually contact sanitation companies. They have the equipment needed to suck out the collected waste using a kind of vacuum technology. It will go directly into their trucks with tanks.

After the waste is removed, these professionals will then restock the basins with fresh chemical solutions and then fill up the porta-potties with a fresh supply of toilet paper.

There is also a flushing mechanism in these porta potties to make sure that solid materials are flushed down. They have a pressure system that enables the solid wastes to get flushed down into the chemicals in the holding tank.[1]

Are Porta-Potties Sanitary?

Inside picture of portable comfort room with toilet paper

The idea of using a toilet that doesn’t go directly to a septic system might seem disgusting, but these porta-potties are actually safe and sanitary enough to use. Of course, you still need to practice proper hygiene techniques to make sure that you don’t spread germs everywhere.


With some types of porta-potties, you need to squat down to relieve yourself. Make sure you fold your clothes up, so liquid or solid wastes do not go anywhere near your clothes. Once you are done, use toilet paper to wipe yourself clean. It is better if you have wet wipes. This works better in getting rid of stool.


Many porta-potty companies also install a washing area. Once you are done using these porta-potties, make sure you wash your hands properly. Bring with you a soap that can get rid of germs and then follow it up with a disinfectant solution.


Can Porta-Potties Get Clogged Up?

If you have experienced walking in a porta-potty and then had the misfortune of seeing solid and liquid wastes overflowing, you might think they can get clogged up. But the truth is, they don’t. They are not installed to any plumbing fixtures, so they are not likely to get clogged up. However, they can overflow. The holding receptacles have a specific capacity and whey they go over the capacity, it overflows. That is one of the things that porta-potty companies should avoid.

Event organizers must know how many people are going in order to determine how many porta-potties are needed to accommodate the demands of the number of people going to the event. If there are more event-goers than porta-potties, they can get inundated fast and this can result to overflowing.

A standard potty-potty can accommodate up to 60 gallons of waste. However, for bigger events, organizers can rent porta-potties with bigger capacities or get a waste tank that is capable of holding up to 250 gallons of additional waste.

Debunking Common Porta-Potty Myths

Picture of well designed portable comfort room

Myth #1: Porta-Potties look disgusting. This isn’t true. Many porta-potties are well-designed and there are even companies that offer luxury porta-potties and portable restroom trailers. They are also well-maintained. Every day, someone comes in to get rid of the waste and freshen up the basins and fill them up with fresh chemicals.

Myth #2: They are not comfortable. Some might look at these cubicles and instantly feel claustrophobia. While it might not be the most excellent bathroom experience, certainly not a hotel-like experience, it isn’t that bad. And when you have to go, you will be glad to use one. Just consider the alternative. Rather than relieve yourself in the dense forest where people might see you, just to go to one of these toilets.

Myth #3: They are hard to use for little ones and for people with babies.  Porta-potties have actually come a long way. There are now companies that offer additional features such as a baby station where there are additional features like a changing station. You can safely and comfortably change your baby’s diapers here. Porta potties are also accessible to little ones. After all, many are potty-trained in the manner of which the porta-potties are used.

Myth #4: Porta-potties overflow easily.

They don’t if there are enough of these stationed at an event. This is why it is important for organizers to be careful about computing the number of porta-potties needed for the event. You don’t want to have a long line of people waiting to use a few porta-potties. Organizers can ask porta-potty companies how many are needed for the specific volume of people you are expecting.

Myth #5: Renting a porta-potty is expensive.

Do you need thee porta-potties for an event? Don’t be afraid to ask what the rates are. They are actually more affordable than you think. You can even arrange for an extended package if you have an event that will go on for days.

These are the things you should know about how porta-potties work.

You can visit our best portable camping toilet reviews to find out which product is suitable for your needs.

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