How to Clean a Portable Camping Toilet

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When gearing up for a typical camping trip, we usually have several items on our checklist, some of which are a top priority compared to others.  For most, figuring out how to clean a portable camping toilet is pretty low down. For most camping trips it's still one of those needed items.

Obviously, the days of digs and squats are rapidly phasing out, and portable camping toilets are more rapidly overtaking them. These pieces of innovation have made it more convenient for campers to ease themselves whenever the call of nature comes.

Portable camping toilets have been the game changers in the history of camping and road trips. Apart from being light and easy to use, they bring convenience, freedom, and an overall improved camping experience by removing the limitations that come with using nearby forests, public restrooms, and generic camping facilities.

Caring for your Portable Camping Toilet

One of the key features of a portable camping toilet is its detachable wastewater tank. Unlike the regular water closets found in most homes, portable camping toilets are not connected to any stationary sewage system.

This means that, despite the size of the wastewater tank, a portable camping toilet requires manual emptying from time to time. To facilitate easy emptying, some portable camping toilets come with anti-splash spouts.

It is a good idea to throw in some deodorant and water into the waste tank to help control unwanted odor.

Also, it is good practice to never leave water in the freshwater tank when the toilet is not in use, especially in very cold conditions to prevent freezing.

Needless to say, the toilet has to be kept clean, all the time.

How to Clean a Portable Camping Toilet

Just like fixed flush toilets found at most homes, a portable toilet requires proper, regular cleaning, and maintenance. This is to ensure that it remains hygienic, clean, and long-lasting for the owner.

Below, we offer some valuable tips on how to clean a portable camping toilet.

What you'll need:

  • A pair of rubber gloves
  • Detergent and liquid toilet cleaner/ all-purpose cleaner
  • Water
  • Disinfectant
  • Toilet brush and out-of-use toothbrush
  • Paper towel or sanitary wipes

Step 1: Empty the Waste Tank and Clean

Emptying the waste tank should be the first step in cleaning your portable camping toilet.

To begin the actual cleaning, you need to detach the waste tank from the system, unscrew the cap, and empty it at a safe dumping location. Ensure you keep the valve open while releasing the contents to reduce the chances of splashbacks. You will want to wear a pair of rubber gloves the whole time.

After emptying the waste tank, add some water and a suitable washing chemical to it. If you do not have any porta-potty washing chemicals, you can make use of regular bleach.

With the cap and valve closed, shake the waste tank vigorously; shaking it will ensure that the water and bleach get to as many parts of the waste tank as possible. The bleach in the tank will help to break down the hard-to-leave stains, and also deal with the odor-producing bacteria. Leave the tank for a couple of minutes before emptying it again.

Step 2: Do Proper Cleaning of the Whole Set

Having emptied the waste tank and cleaned its interior, it is now time to clean the exterior part, as well as the whole portable camping toilet set.

Firstly, pour a mixture of water, bleach, and detergent into the top tank and shake it well to get rid of any stains. Ensure the top tank is connected to the waste tank and then flush the contents into the waste tank. Add some clean water into the top tank and flush a few times for a good rinse.

Apply a liquid toilet cleaner inside the toilet bowl of the top tank, just like what you'd do with a regular toilet. Leave it for a couple of minutes. While it is advisable to have a liquid toilet cleaner, if you don't have one at the moment, the right amount of detergent will suffice.

Using a toilet brush, scrub the toilet bowl and press the flush button. Be sure to apply pressure on hard-to-leave stains.

Using your paper towel or sponge, along with water and detergent or just your all-purpose cleaner, clean the toilet's lid and the entire body. Using a toothbrush will help you scrub the hard-to-reach areas.

When you're sure it's clean, you can now properly rinse the body.

Ensure that the top tank is empty by pressing the flusher a few times. Separate it and keep it upside down to dry.

Shake the waste tank to get any stains that may have escaped the first wash. Get rid of the water inside and rinse properly. You can now allow it to dry.

Your portable toilet is now clean and ready to be assembled.

Assemble the portable toilet and add the necessary chemicals and deodorants, along with the required amount of water, to prepare it for further usage.


If you do not plan on using your portable toilet anytime soon, ensure it is stored in a dark place to prevent the possibility of algae growth.

Also, ensure you properly sanitize every tool you have used for your cleaning, so they remain clean and safe for future use.

It is also good practice to buy and use only the chemicals provided by the manufacturer of your portable toilet. It is fine to use other types only when you are unable to find the ones provided by the manufacturer.

It is also not advisable to leave wastewater in the tank for too long; this leads to a buildup of foul smell due to increased bacterial activities. Always empty it when necessary, and if you intend not to use it for some time, ensure it is empty.

In extremely cold conditions, you can make use of a toilet anti-freeze product to prevent freezing of water within the tanks. Leaving water to freeze in the tanks will cause damage to your portable toilet.