This portable DIY camping toilet means saying goodbye to digging holes, and/or having to explain poison ivy in strange places.
There are many reasons that camping is considered “roughing it,” but there’s one particular reason that seems to rank high on everyone’s list: questionable or nonexistent restrooms. Most campgrounds—and state and national parks—have toilets and showers. But if you prefer to camp off the grid or want to make sure you have a dependable toilet no matter what, it’s easy to create your own. All you need is a 5-gallon plastic bucket and a few supplies. (If you don’t want to make your own, there are some ready-made options on the market. We’re sharing a few of those options at the end of the post.)
But first, here’s how to make a DIY portable camping toilet.
Camping Toilet Instructions
- Plastic 5-gallon bucket with tight-fitting lid
- Foam pool noodle
- Utility knife
- Toilet paper rolls (biodegradable is best)
- Biodegradable trash bag
- Sawdust or coffee grounds (at least a few pounds)
- Make sure the plastic bucket is sturdy enough to hold a person’s weight. Place the cover on the bucket and sit down on top of it to test it out. Then remove the bucket cover and set it aside.
- Use the foam pool noodle to make a seat. Wrap it around the bucket rim to see where you should cut it. The pool noodle can wrap all the way around the rim or you can leave a gap. Make a mark to indicate where you’ll need to cut it.
- Use a utility knife to cut the pool noodle to the correct length. Then use the utility knife to cut a slit down one side of it. (Your cut should go all the way through to the hole that’s in the center of the pool noodle.)
- Attach the pool noodle to the bucket rim by pressing it into place. Make sure it’s secure.
- Detach one end of the bucket’s wire handle by pulling it out of the bucket. Slide a roll of toilet paper onto the handle and reattach the handle to the bucket. Now it’s ready to use—as long as you read the waste disposal instructions first.
With a DIY camping toilet, you have two waste disposal options. Which one you choose depends on where you’re camping, the type of waste disposal facilities that are available, and local regulations.
The easiest—and most scent-free option—is to line the bucket with a biodegradable trash bag. Place the bag inside the bucket and make sure at least a few inches of the bag hangs over the bucket rim. You can either line the bag first and then place the foam seat on top (to hold the bag in place), or place the foam seat on the bucket first and then put the bag on. (With the latter method, the bag will cover the foam seat. It’s the more sanitary option if more than one person will be using it.)
After each use, sprinkle a generous amount of sawdust or coffee grounds in the bag with the waste. This will help cut down on the smell. (If you don’t have sawdust or coffee grounds, you can also use dirt.) Then replace the bucket’s cover until its next use. When the bag is full, securely close it, remove it from the bucket, and dispose of it according to local regulations. Depending on where you are, you may be able to dispose of it in a waste receptacle or bury it.
If the DIY toilet will get limited use (either it’s a short camping trip or there are only a couple people using it), you can use the bagless method. (With this method, the toilet will be emptied and the contents buried after each use.) Before each use, toss some sawdust or coffee grounds inside the bucket. After each use, put some more sawdust or coffee grounds in the bucket and shake it a little. Then bury the bucket’s contents following the guidelines below.
Burying Waste 101
No matter which option you choose, you’ll need to deal with waste disposal. If you use Option #1, you may be able to dispose of the bag in a waste receptacle. If you have to bury it, here’s how:
- First, make sure the bag you used is a biodegradable bag, not a standard plastic bag. The toilet paper should be biodegradable toilet paper designed for backpacking or RV septic systems. (It breaks down four times faster than standard toilet paper.)
- Choose a location that’s at least 200 feet (about 70 steps) away from water, trails, and any campsites. Make sure it’s also in a location that other people are not likely to use.
- Dig a hole that’s at least 6-8 inches deep and 4-6 inches in diameter. It should be large enough that you can bury the waste and completely cover it with several inches of dirt.
- Place the waste inside and cover the hole completely.
DIY Camping Toilet Accessories
A few accessories can make an outdoor restroom just a bit more comfortable and convenient.
- Coghlan's Backpacker's Trowel: This simple, inexpensive shovel makes waste disposal a lot easier.
- Biodegradable Trash Bags: These durable 13-gallon bags come in a pack of 50. They’re made from plant starches instead of plastic so they’ll decompose over time.
- Biodegradable Toilet Paper: Quick-dissolve toilet paper works well for DIY toilets and RV septic systems.
- Pop-Up Privacy Tent: This pop-up privacy tent is a must-have for outdoor toilets. Just set it up and place the camping toilet inside. This tent can also be used as shower tent or changing room.
- Instant Toilet Seat: If you’d like a more sturdy seat than our homemade option, this plastic toilet sit with lid can be attached to any 5-gallon bucket.
And if making a DIY camping toilet isn’t for you, but you still want a reliable restroom, here are some options:
1. Luggable Loo: This toilet is the ready-made version of the DIY camping toilet. Bags and toilet paper are sold separately.
- Compatible with reliance's standard Double doodle bag
- Weight: 3.00lbs
- Economically priced portable toilet
- 5-gallon (20-liter) capacity
- Simple bucket style design; traditional snap-on lid
2. Portable Toilet: This lightweight portable toilet comes with a removable bucket for easy disposal and a built-in toilet paper holder.
- Make the Journey Worry-free: This compact toilet can be used indoors and outdoors without taking up much space. It's perfect for camping, hiking, boating and road trips and can provide all the comforts of a real home toilet. It can meet your emergency needs and let you enjoy nature with peace of mind.
- Detachable Toilet Paper Holder: There is a paper holder on one side of the toilet, allowing you to put paper towels on it for convenience. The detachable design allows the paper towel to be hung on either side according to your usage habits. It can bring great convenience to your trip.
- Humanized Design: The light weight and hidden handles on both sides of the toilet make the toilet easy to move and carry. The large-capacity inner bucket allows you to use it multiple times without having to empty it frequently. Thoughtful design can meet your outing needs.
- High-quality Materials & Stable Structure: Made from premium PP materials, the portable toilet is smooth, burr-free, comfortable and skin-friendly. The sturdy structure makes it have strong bearing capacity and good stability without slipping. The right height is ergonomically designed to provide maximum comfort, so it can also be used as a stool.
- Easy to Clean & Prevent Odor: The toilet comes with a removable inner bucket so you can use it with trash bags for no cleaning. The inner bucket has a firm handle for easy carrying and cleaning. The inner and outer lids can effectively seal off odors and keep the air fresh.
3. Portable Camping Toilet: If you’d prefer an option that flushes, this portable toilet comes with a freshwater and wastewater tank.
- THE ULTIMATE PORTABLE TOILET – No More Emergency Potty Runs While Camping, Boating or Traveling on the Road! Compact, Fully Functional Latrine Provides Anytime, Anywhere Bathroom Relief with All the Comforts of a Real Home Toilet
- AMAZING 50+ FLUSH CAPACITY – Built-In Piston Pump Flusher Provides Powerful Cleaning Action, No Plumbing or External Hookups Required – Features Extra Large 5.3 Gallon Waste Tank & 3.2 Gallon Water Tank for Fewer Emptying Trips
- SUPER COMFORTABLE SETUP – Unit is Made of Durable, Heavy Duty Material That Naturally Minimizes Odors & Resists Rust & Corrosion – Lightweight Yet Sturdy Seat Supports the Entire Family Including Toddlers, Kids, Teenagers, Adults & the Elderly
- EASY CLEAN CONVENIENCE – Sprayer Keeps Bowl Clean a Full 360°, While the Rotating Spout Lets You Safely & Hygienically Dispose of Contents When Full – Includes Waste Level Indicator & Anti-Leak Drain Valve to Lock In Liquid & Odors
- TRAVEL-FRIENDLY. ECO-FRIENDLY. – Complete Kit Also Features a Handy Case for Toting & Storing Your Toilet Anywhere – Green System Saves You Money on Energy & Water & Cuts Out Wasteful Disposable Liners, Inserts, Pills & Chemicals
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- DURABLE, STURDY & COMFORTABLE: This portable toilet for camping and emergencies has an ergonomic design which means you can feel almost right at home, even in the middle of nowhere. This portable toilet seat is strong and will not bend or buckle. Our bucket seat lid 5 gallon toilet top is portable and light-weight yet sturdy enough to be comfortable. This camping toilet seat for bucket securely snaps onto the pail making it more comfortable and safer to use. Perfect as a camping toilet and more!
- WORKS W/ MOST 5 GALLON BUCKETS (NOT INCLUDED): The rugged design of our toilet seat for 5 gal bucket has you ready for outdoor adventures and emergencies alike. Simply line your bucket with the included toilet bags and snap on our camp toilet top. Bucket not Included. When done, discard composting toilet bags in a trash receptacle. This portable travel toilet works great as an emergency zone toilet seat , portable potty for adults , portapotty for camping , outdoor toilet , camp potty and more!
- INCLUDES 45 BIODEGRADABLE BAGS: Our toilet seat 5 gallon bucket top set comes with 3 rolls of 15ct 8gallon biodegradable waste bags. Our portable toilet set includes earth-friendly bags that break down safely making this set ideal as a camping toilet seat , portable travel toilet , portable bathroom , camping potty for adults and more. Our portable toilet seat set contains everything that you need to dispose of waste safely and discreetly. Perfect outdoor toilet for camping or emergency toilet.
- COMES W/ CONVENIENT & DISCREET CARRYING CASE: Our toilet seat for bucket comes with a zippered nylon carrying case that keeps all items stored neatly together and away from your other gear. This snap on toilet seat for 5 gallon bucket cleans up in a snap! Simply wash with soap and water after each trip and store along with the included camp toilet bags in the carrying case. Can be used as a marine toilet seat or 5 gallon portable toilet. Works great with our Better Boat camping toilet paper!
- WHY CHOOSE BETTER BOAT PRODUCTS: A family owned American business committed to making premium quality products and our customers happiness. Our products are made to strict, tested, trade-secret standards and you will find this premium camping toilet seat for 5 gallon bucket is no exception. We are here to offer support if you have any questions on this camp toilet seat or any of our products. We stand behind the quality of our products and will provide you with exceptional customer service.
- ✔ [GO IN COMFORT ANYWHERE]: Lightweight, detachable, compact and foldable. Built-in handles and carrying bag (bag is only for toilet) make the transportation much easier. No installation is needed for the toilet. No tools is needed for the installation of sink.
- ✔ [WATER FLUSHING]: Sink - Foot pump supports a stream of water with manually controlled switch. No plumbing required when used in garden connected with garden pipe. Toilet – Piston pump flushes the bowl with fresh water. T-type 3-way flushing removes the waste easier.
- ✔ [EXTRA-LARGE CAPACITY]: Sink – 5 gallon self-contained tank provides fresh water for washing hands and food. Made of eco-friendly food grade material, drinking water is allowed for storage. Toilet – 3 gallon flushing tank and 5.3 gallon waste tank; provide 95 to 98 times effective flushes in a flat state; allows to empty or refill it less often. Both can be supported by extra water tank.
- ✔[EASIER-TO-EMPTY]: Toilet - Slippery surface of the bowl refuses attachment of waste and prevent you from washing. Rotating pour spout allows you to dump it quickly without splashing. There’s a vent for release the bottom pressure; a level indicator for showing the inner waste amount. When the indicator turns red, it reminds you of the time to empty the waste tank.
- ✔ [ODORLESS & LEAK-PROOF]: Made of high density polyethylene, it features anti-leakage and anti-crackable. Sealing value prevents the waste from leaking and giving off smell. Liquid chemicals can be put into fresh water tank for aromatic air.
- HOW IT WORKS: Transforms a bucket into a portable toilet. Fits most 5 gallon buckets. Seat snaps securely to pail. Lid snaps to seat when not in use.
- STRONG AND DURABLE: This portable toilet seat is strong, durable and will not bend or buckle.
- COMFORT: The Dunny Seat is portable and lightweight yet sturdy and comfortable enough to handle a heavy load. Your bum never had it so good!
- FOR USE: Perfect for outdoor hunting, camping and fishing trips. Keep as an emergency toilet for disaster preparedness or simply when nature calls.
- NOTES: Compact design for easy storage. Easily washable for reuse. Toilet seat only. Bucket not included.