How long does a portable toilet last?

If you are heading away with a portable toilet, and want to know how long you might get before it needs emptying, this post covers the topic of poo, wee and toilet paper!

We’ve been using a Thetford Porta Potti with a 21L holding tank for many years now, and wouldn’t go back to digging a hole (and in many places you aren’t allowed to do this anyway), so we use the toilet, and empty it when needed, or when we know there won’t be a dump point for some time.

Dump point use
How long does a portable toilet last?

So, how long does a portable toilet last?

The answer is simple; it depends, and on a huge number of factors which we go into below, and then give some real life examples.

How many people are using it?

Obviously, the more people using a toilet, the faster its going to fill up. This means if you let your mates use it, you’ll be emptying your toilet more often. Adults will fill it faster than kids, and limiting the number of people using your toilet will make it go much further.

Ferguson Gorge Family photo
There’s 4 of us that use our portable toilet

Are you camping with males or females?

No, this is not a sexist remark.

In general, the more females you have camping with you, the faster your toilet will fill up. This is because males will often wee elsewhere, but females typically use the toilet. Sarah will bush pee without a toilet if she needs to (which is often when we are travelling long distances in the car and don’t have the toilet out), but when we are at camp she uses the toilet to wee, and myself and our two boys will wee near camp.

This makes a MASSIVE difference in terms of how long a portable toilet will last.

Where are you camping?

Where you camp plays a huge bearing on how quickly your toilet fills up. If you are camping close to others, in nice camp sites your ability to pee on the nearest tree is somewhat limited, and that means you use the toilet more often.

When this happens, we set our Quick Pitch ensuite up, and everyone in our family uses the toilet for everything. Obviously, if you are camping in a caravan park and have access to the facilities, then the preferred option is to use them, but even still with our little boys we’ll often have the toilet set up for them to use instead of risking accidents by walking 5 minutes to the nearest toilet.

At our Shark Bay Caravan Park stay recently I had the toilet set up for both kids to use, so they didn’t have to walk miles away and could go as needed. You wouldn’t pee on a tree in a caravan park, which means your toilet is going to fill up much, much faster.

Enjoying Denham Caravan Park
We still set our portable toilet up at Shark Bay to make it easier on us and the kids

What are you using it for?

Going on from the above, the more you pee in the toilet, the faster its going to fill up. When we bush camp the only pee that goes in is from Sarah, and a bit from us males when we use the toilet to do a number 2. 

How big is the holding tank?

If you can, I suggest you buy a portable toilet with the biggest holding tank you can find. I still chuckle when I think about the purchase my mate made many years ago, with a holding tank that is about half the size of the water flushing tank above it. I honestly don’t know why you’d want something like this, but get the biggest holding tank you can fit, and you’ll thank yourself later on.

Portable toilet for camping
Some portable toilets have tiny holding tanks, which are not helpful at all

How long does ours last?

Our 21L holding tank will generally buy us about 7 – 9 days when we are camping off grid, and have the freedom to pee in the bush. This means of a family of 4, everyone uses the toilets for number 2’s, and only Sarah uses it for wees.

If we are camping somewhere that requires everyone to use it for wees, we are lucky to get more than 5 days out of it, and even that is pushing the friendship.

Horse Rock Camping
We use the toilet as little as possible, but its there when needed

You can get a second cassette

With our lap of Australia coming up shortly, we purchased a complete, second portable toilet, so on the occasions that we aren’t able to get to a dump point we can just switch toilets. I was going to get a cassette only, but with the pricing of a new one it just didn’t make sense (and it means we can keep one in the Dmax for day trip use away from camp as needed).

We can survive nearly 3 weeks off grid without topping water up, infinitely for power and around 2 – 3 weeks with food (longer if we do without fresh produce), so the limiting factor at the moment is our toilet waste, which can be easily resolved by getting another cassette.

Isuzu Dmax loaded
We now carry a second toilet in the Dmax, which is kept empty and for emergencies and as a backup for more waste storage

How long do you get out of your portable toilet? We’ve heard of families filling it up in 2 days, which seems insane!

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