Portable Camp Toilets: Common Questions And Answers

Portable Camp Toilets: Common Questions And Answers

If you’re in the market for portable camp toilets, you might have some questions, especially if you haven’t owned one before.

In this article, I will provide some in-depth answers to people’s most common questions about portable camping toilets. If you are at the buying stage, you might want to check out the review article I put together for the team to see the top 10 units that they recommend.

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So, here are the questions you may have and their answers.

How Do You Clean Portable Camp Toilets?

For an in-depth answer to this question, check out the article I wrote which gives you step-by-step instructions on how to clean your portable camping toilet and keep it sanitary.

Here’s a video from Thetford which shows you how to empty the waste tank from your RV portable toilet.

How Do You Choose The Right Size Portable Toilet For Your RV Or Camping Trip?

The size that you need will depend on the number of people who will be using it on a regular basis and the amount of space you have, especially in an RV or other type of camping vehicle.

In general, if you’re the only user or there are two of you, you can get away with a portable toilet that has a smaller waste tank – 3 to 4 gallons (10 to 12 litres). However, if the toilet will be used by a family, you want to consider a larger waste tank of around 5.5 gallons (21 litres).

Your next consideration is the amount of space you have. This applies if your portable toilet will be permanently positioned in an RV or campervan. For this, you need to take the measurements of the space and select a portable camping toilet that will fit into that particular space.

How Do You Maintain Portable Camp Toilets To Keep Them In Good Condition?

The most important part of maintaining a portable camping toilet is to keep it as clean as possible. This involves emptying the waste tank regularly and also cleaning the plastic parts of the toilet.

You should also lubricate the seals to keep them moist and stop them from cracking.

And, always use the recommended chemicals in the waste tank to effectively break down the waste and eliminate odors.

How Do You Dispose Of Waste From Portable Camp Toilets?

dump station at a campsite with both flushing and potable water

Most campsites should have a designated disposal or dumpsite that you can empty the waste tank into. These dumpsites are usually away from campers and will be marked. 

Therefore, after you’ve set up camp, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with where the waste disposal area is so that you don’t need to hunt for it while carrying a heavy waste tank.

The type of disposal point may vary from campsite to campsite. Some will have a lid that you need to remove while others may just have an open grid that you pour your waste into.

If your portable camping toilet uses chemicals to break down the waste, it’s important that you don’t empty it into a septic tank or system. This is because these systems rely on bacteria to operate effectively and the chemicals used in your portable toilet are likely to kill these bacteria.

However, there are certain chemicals that are safe to use in septic systems so choose one of these for your portable toilet if you want to empty your waste tank into a septic system.

Apart from camping areas, dumping stations can also often be found at truck stops or even public rest stops, so keep an eye out for them when you’re driving along.

How Do You Winterize Portable Camp Toilets?

If you are planning a camping or road trip during winter, there are various maintenance tasks that you should do to keep your portable toilet well-maintained during the colder weather.

One thing you should do is add some anti-freeze to both the clean water and waste tanks. This is vitally important because you don’t want the contents of these tanks freezing. Generally, if the liquids freeze, they will expand and cause damage to your portable toilet.

You can buy an anti-freeze that’s specially designed for portable camping toilets such as the Champion Marine and RV Antifreeze.

You also want to spray the seals with a special lubricant to keep them moist. This will prevent cracking and stop them from seizing up. You might like to consider the RV Seal Lube and Conditioner from Thetford for this.

How Do You Troubleshoot Common Problems With Portable Camp Toilets?

If you have a manual flush unit and it’s not flushing, check the hose that connects to the freshwater tank as this may have come loose. Also, check the water valves to see if they’re open or closed. And, don’t forget to check the bellows as they may have a crack or split in them.

How Do You Prevent Odors In Portable Camp Toilets?

One of the best ways to reduce the odors coming from a portable camping toilet is to ensure that you add a quality chemical to the waste tank. There are many available on the market that not only reduces the odor but also help to break down the waste so the toilet is easier to empty.

Another thing that you should remember to do is to close the flap between the bowl and the holding tank after you’ve finished using and flushing the toilet. 

Of course, it goes without saying that you must empty the waste tank regularly but you should also pay attention to giving all the surfaces a clean too. You can even use deodorized wipes to wipe down the seat and other surfaces. However, don’t throw these down the toilet because they won’t break down.

Alternatively, fill a spray bottle with some water and a little scented cleanser and use this to clean the toilet surfaces on a daily basis.

Also, make sure that you use just enough water when you flush. Keeping moisture in the waste tank helps to keep the odors down.

These are the most common questions people have about portable camping toilets, but here are a few more.

More Frequently Asked Questions

How often do you empty portable camp toilets?

This will depend on how often you use it and also how many people are using the toilet. Most cassette-style toilets will have an indicator that tells you when the waste tank is full. However, it’s a good idea to empty the tank before it reaches capacity. Try to empty your portable toilet at least every 3 days.

Can you use normal toilet paper in a portable toilet?

Although portable toilet manufacturers recommend that you use special quick-dissolving toilet paper, as long as you don’t use much, regular toilet paper is fine. In fact, consider buying the cheaper toilet that is thinner and will dissolve fairly quickly.

Can you use vinegar to clean your portable toilet?

It’s absolutely fine to use vinegar to clean the bowl and other surfaces of your portable toilet. However, if you have a composting-type toilet or one that uses chemicals in the waste tank, avoid getting the vinegar into the tank. It may destroy the beneficial bacteria that help to break down the waste. Just use a spray bottle and wipe down with a cloth or paper towel.

How often should you add chemicals to your holding tank?

You should add more chemicals to your holding tank after emptying it each time.

Final Thoughts

I hope this has answered some of your questions about portable camping toilets and that this has given you enough confidence that you know how to maintain and use your portable toilet.