May 29 2023 0Comment
how do portable toilets work

How Do Portable Toilets Work? Your Comprehensive Guide


Ever wondered to yourself, “How do portable toilets work?”

You’re not alone in that.

Table of Contents

  1. To the thunderbox!
  2. How does a portable toilet work?
  3. How to choose the right portable toilet solution
  4. Need help choosing the right portable toilet?

The importance and utility of portable toilets cannot be overstated, but many people struggle to understand their functionality.

But that’s what we’re here for – to demystify portable toilets so that you know exactly what you’re getting, and know what to choose for your next event or work site project.

To the thunderbox!

The history of portable toilets is said to date back to the Middle Ages. The first versions were essentially small wooden cabanas with a small tank that was frequently serviced, referred to as a ‘close stool.’

Down Under, the early variations of portable toilets were known as a thunderbox. Aussies grew tired of having chamber pots in their homes but didn’t want to just chuck their waste into the streets – so the thunder box was born.

Luckily for us, portable toilets have evolved tremendously over the years, becoming a crucial component of outdoor events, construction sites and other scenarios requiring temporary sanitation solutions.

How does a portable toilet work?

There’s no one answer to this question – how a portable toilet works depends on the type you’ve got.

Most portable toilets start with the same four main components – a toilet seat, flushing mechanism and holding tank. 

There are two main types of portable toilets used within our industry in Australia – one being a chemical toilet and the other a sewer connect toilet.

1. Chemical toilets

Portable chemical toilets consist of a toilet seat and a waste holding tank filled with special sanitising chemicals. 

These units are fully self-contained so they store their own fresh water for hand washing and also flushing the toilet. 

Chemical toilets are most suited to situations where temporary use is required and it’s not practical or possible to connect a toilet to a sewer or mains pressure water. 

Instant Toilets & Showers uses carefully selected waste treatment chemicals designed to safely break down the solids and treat the waste whilst reducing the possibility of odours. The chemical mix minimises odours and makes disposal easier. However, they need to be emptied and cleaned regularly for effective operation.

2. Sewer connect toilets

Sewer-connect portable toilets are similar to conventional toilets used in your home but these require a connection to mains pressure water and a sewer point to operate. They don’t store waste nor do they use chemicals for treatment. 


How do you keep portable toilets hygienic


Understanding how to maintain portable toilets is equally important as understanding how they work.

Proper cleaning schedules and sanitation measures are key to maintaining hygiene in portable toilets. Instant Toilets & Showers takes sanitation and hygiene seriously which is why we have strict servicing schedules for our products.

Keeping portable toilets clean and hygienic is crucial to ensuring a comfortable experience for users. Here are some key tips:

  1. Service regularly: Regular and professional servicing is a must. This includes pumping out the toilet waste, cleaning and sanitising the unit, and replenishing toilet paper and hand sanitiser.
  2. Use deodorisers and disinfectants: These products help manage odours and kill bacteria and germs, contributing to a cleaner environment inside the portable toilet.
  3. Proper usage: Encourage users to throw waste only in designated bins and not to flush anything other than waste and toilet paper. This helps prevent clogs and keeps the unit clean.
  4. Ventilate: Good ventilation helps minimise odours and keeps the interior fresh. Ensure the vent pipes are clear and unblocked.
  5. Provide hand hygiene facilities: Providing handwashing stations with soap or hand sanitiser stands near the portable toilets promotes hygiene by encouraging users to clean their hands after use.

Remember, a well-maintained portable toilet not only enhances user comfort but also promotes public health and sanitation.


How to choose the right portable toilet solution

Selecting a portable toilet depends on various factors, including size, type, duration of use, and more. Tips for making the right choice often include considering the nature and size of your event, the number of attendees, and the event duration.

Here are a few tips.

1. Chemical toilets

These are the most common type, suitable for large events or construction sites requiring temporary toilet facilities with minimal setup requirements.

If you’re hosting a casual event or need a practical solution for a worksite, these cost-effective units are a good choice.

2. Sewer connect toilets

These units are ideally suited to situations where the unit will be located for long periods of time and where a mains pressure water and sewer connection is available. They must be connected by a licensed plumber to these services.  

3. Luxury or VIP portable toilets

When hosting an upscale event, consider luxury or VIP portable toilets. These offer amenities like lighting, sinks, mirrors, and even climate control, providing a high-end restroom experience for guests.

4. Wheelchair-accessible toilets

These are crucial if you’re expecting guests with mobility issues. Wheelchair-accessible toilets are larger, have no steps for easy access, and include handrails.

5. Family or baby-changing toilets

If your event is family-friendly, you might need portable toilets with baby-changing facilities. These are larger units that provide a clean, private space for parents to take care of their infants.

Remember, choosing a reliable portable toilet provider is just as important as choosing the right toilet.

How to choose the right portable toilet solution


Need help choosing the right portable toilet? 

Understanding the functionality of portable toilets enables you to appreciate the benefits and the convenience they offer, as well as make an informed decision about which portable toilet will work best for your needs.

With Instant Toilets & Showers, finding portable toilets for hire is a breeze, ensuring that your event, construction site, or camping trip has adequate and hygienic sanitation solutions. Choose wisely, and remember, an informed decision is always the best decision

For those in need of high-quality portable sanitation solutions, Instant Toilets & Showers offers a wide range of portable toilets for sale. Whether you’re looking to buy a portable toilet or explore various portable sanitation options, we provide top-quality products and services to ensure your needs are met. Visit us at 18 Rogers Way, Landsdale WA 6065 or contact us at 08 6325 4076 for 24/7 customer support.


Frequently Asked Questions

What are the main components of a portable toilet?

The main components include a toilet seat, flushing mechanism, holding tank, and often a handwashing station, depending on the model.

How do chemical toilets work?

Chemical toilets use a combination of water and sanitizing chemicals in the holding tank to break down waste and minimize odors, requiring regular servicing for waste removal and chemical replenishment.

What is a sewer connect portable toilet?

Sewer connect portable toilets are designed to be connected to a mains water supply and sewer system, functioning similarly to permanent toilets without the need for a holding tank or chemicals.

How often should portable toilets be serviced?

Service frequency depends on the level of use but typically includes regular pumping of the waste tank, cleaning, sanitizing, and restocking of supplies like toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

Can portable toilets be customized for different needs?

Yes, there are various types of portable toilets, including standard, wheelchair-accessible, luxury/VIP models, and those with baby-changing facilities, to cater to different event requirements and user needs.



Managing Director at Instant Sea Containers

Scott Rawson is the Managing Director of Instant Products Group, a specialist group of companies that offer portable building solutions, including sea containers, transportable offices, and portable sanitation products. With more than 20 years of experience in various management positions and a finalist in the WA Business News 40 under 40 awards in 2013, Scott is a highly motivated entrepreneur that has a passion for designing products to suit the needs of individual markets.

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