How Camping Toilets Work

Camping Toilet Sanitation

Camping toilets help you to remove human waste from the outdoors as safely and easily as possible. However, when packing out waste, it's important to be as sanitary as possible. Keep the following guidelines in mind when using a camping toilet:

  • Use a powder-coated gelling agent to neutralize solid waste and to convert liquid waste into an easy-to-manage gel. Most "wag bags" provide a substance such as "pooh powder" to achieve this effect. These bags are usually environmentally safe, biodegradable or land fill approved.
  • Deposit all waste directly into the bag or container. Don't urinate or defecate in one place and move it to the bag later.
  • Don't store toilet near food or food equipment. This will prevent cross contamination.
  • Use a disinfectant to kill germs on the toilet seat, especially if more than one person is using the camping toilet.
  • Use rubber gloves to set up, clean and disassemble the camping toilet.
  • Place soap or antibacterial lotion near the toilet. Always wash your hands after handling the toilet.
  • Always cover the lid of the toilet to discourage insects or other creatures from venturing near your campsite.
  • Store all toilet accessories, with the exception of the toilet brush, together. Put the toilet brush in a separate bag or container to prevent cross contamination.
  • To best empty the contents of your toilet, it's best to keep the waste in a semi-liquid state. You may need to add water to do this.
  • To accommodate all of the people on your campsite in a sanitary way, you'll want to be sure to have an adequate system for multiple uses. A general rule of thumb is that a container of 2,000 cubic inches can accommodate 50 uses.

For more information on camping and other outdoor activities, visit the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • Burgess, Seth. C. "How Does a Portable Toilet Work. Trails.
  • Thomas, Dean. "Buying a Camping Toilet. HubPages.\
  • "Camping Toilet." Camping Toilet Reviews.
  • "Camping Toilet." Camping Toilet Reviews.
  • "Camping Hygiene." Sonoma Outfitters.
  • "Camping Sanitation." Net Backpacking.
  • "Camping Tent Sanitation."
  • "Camping Toilet." Camping Toilet Reviews.
  • "The Camping Toilet." Outdoor Basecamp.
  • Camping Toilet Bags.
  • "Canyonlands National Park: Toilet Requirements." National Park Service.
  • Washable Toilet Systems.