How To Make a Quick and Easy DIY Camping Toilet

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
  • Marker
  • Utility knife
  • Toilet paper rolls (biodegradable is best)
  • Biodegradable trash bag
  • Sawdust or coffee grounds (at least a few pounds)


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.)
  4. Attach the pool noodle to the bucket rim by pressing it into place. Make sure it’s secure.
  5. 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.

Waste Disposal

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.

Option #1

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.

Option #2:

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 - Outhouse

DIY Camping Toilet Accessories

A few accessories can make an outdoor restroom just a bit more comfortable and convenient.

  • : This simple, inexpensive shovel makes waste disposal a lot easier.
  • : 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.
  • : Quick-dissolve toilet paper works well for DIY toilets and RV septic systems.
  • : 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.
  • : 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. : This toilet is the ready-made version of the DIY camping toilet. Bags and toilet paper are sold separately.

2. : This lightweight portable toilet comes with a removable bucket for easy disposal and a built-in toilet paper holder.

3. : If you’d prefer an option that flushes, this portable toilet comes with a freshwater and wastewater tank.


Don’t like roughing it? Check out these 5 adorable cabins you can buy right on Amazon.