8 Interesting Facts About Portable Toilets That You Might Not Know

Rohan Mathew

Updated on:

As much as the human race has evolved, there are still certain subjects that we regard as taboo and don’t like to chat about. One such topic is toilets.

As taboo as we consider the subject, we’ll definitely have a lot to say about it if we’re at a large outdoor function and there are none to be seen. Thankfully, if you’re the organiser of a music festival or an outdoor market, it’s a lot easier to hire portable toilets than it once was. Educate yourself about them and you may find even more solutions during your next event.

Portable Loos—Interesting Facts

‘Interesting’ might not be a term typically used to discuss anything in a normal conversation about portable toilets. However, there are actually a few little known, but still interesting facts surrounding the history, use and manufacture of portable toilets. Some of these include the following.

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When Did Portable Toilets Make an Appearance?

Portable toilets made their first appearance in World War II. The owners of shipyards in New Jersey realised that employees were wasting a lot of time walking from the job site to the designated bathrooms across the docks.

They then decided to design small, wooden cubicles with a small wooden tank inside. This resulted in a higher productivity rate and the portable toilet concept was born.

But, it didn’t stop there. The wooden structures were difficult to lift and empty. Manufacturers started looking at lighter materials which would make transport and cleaning easier and more sanitary.

Portable Toilets Save Water

According to research, portable restrooms save a considerable amount of water. In general, a day’s worth of flushing the toilet uses a lot more water than any other activity, including showering. So, a music festival making use of a row or two of portable toilets would save water compared to when real toilets are being flushed. Experts suggest portable toilets use at least 90% less water than a traditional toilet.

The First Toilet in the Row

Contrary to popular belief, when there’s a row of toilets at a venue, the first one is usually used the least. This is because people have a general opinion that the first unit will be used the most. Instead of going into that cubicle, they move further down the row and settle on a toilet somewhere in the middle.

Why Blue Liquid?

You might think the water in a portable toilet is blue to match the idea of water. Actually, the reasoning behind it is a little more specific. The deoderised, blue tint is created to cover up any unwanted sights that might be in the unit’s tank. The blue liquid also contains biocides that destroy bacteria.

Different Names for Portable Toilets

Like everything else the human race deems taboo, portable toilets have a whole array of different names. People have the strangest terms for these devices:

  • Portable restroom: For most people, this is the preferred term.
  • Dunny: A common name used in Australia.
  • Porta-loo: Since loo is a common name for the toilet, this makes some sense.
  • Jon: An old name for the toilet in general. But, if you’re not familiar with old terms, you might be left wondering who Jon is!
  • Johnny-on-the-spot: I suppose if you know who Jon is, you’ll also know why he’s on the spot!
  • Honey bucket: I shudder to think why!
  • Water closet: Used primarily in Europe.
  • The bog: Also an old name, common in some UK places.

Portable Toilets and Germs

A common misconception that people have is that a portable toilet must have more germs and bacteria than just about anything in the world. This is totally incorrect. Scientists have shown that sinks, door handles and toilet paper dispensers are actually the bacteria culprits and not the actual toilets.

Portable toilets are actually cleaned several times a day by using specialised chemicals. Part of the hiring process includes regular cleaning etc.

A little known fact: your computer keyboard probably has more germs on it than your average portable toilet seat!

Luxury Portable Restrooms

Portable toilet companies have started producing luxury portable restrooms. These units have portable hand washing stations, dispensable soap, hand sanitiser and disposable towels. These types of portable toilets are used for high-end functions like weddings.

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How do You Determine the Number of Portable Toilets to Hire?

As a general rule of thumb, to have enough portable toilets available for any event, use the ‘four units per every one hundred people’ rule. If you’re expecting a huge crowd, rather be prepared than have angry or dissatisifed guests. Some hiring companies offer trailers that have a few bathroom stalls and basins, which is an alternative if you don’t want rows of toilets spoiling the look of your event.


It doesn’t matter what you call them, portable toilets make ‘using the facilities’ a lot easier when you’re at a large function. The queues are shorter and usually closer than the nearest traditional restrooms. With the advancement in the portaloo industry, portable toilets hire has become easier and more sanitary than ever before. There’s no need to stress about your next bathroom break at your favourite music festival again!