Hey folks! So if you have read the guide on the best composting toilets, you’ve taken the plunge and bought got yourself a composting toilet! 

But now comes the part we secretly dread. You have to clean and maintain it. Luckily, I compiled this guide to composting toilet cleaning and maintenance. 

We will also talk about period blood, vomit, and diarrhea. So don’t make that face. 🤢

The good news is the cleaning part is pretty straightforward and doesn’t have to be complicated or gross if you have the right supplies!

This guide will walk you through everything you need to know to keep your composting toilet smelling fresh and working like a charm.

So grab your gloves, and let’s get to it!

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I can earn commissions. If you decide to purchase through my links, it is at no cost to you.

What to use to clean your composting toilet?

Keep it simple and use environmentally friendly methods to clean your composting toilet and bathroom in general.

  • H20: Good old-fashioned warm water should be used.
  • White Vinegar: Great for cleaning and disinfecting. You can put a 1:1 ratio of vinegar and water in a cleaning bottle to keep nearby for regular use.
  • Baking Soda: Good for scrubbing and odor control.
  • Lemon Juice: Natural cleaner with a fresh scent.
  • Castile Soap: Gentle, plant-based soap.
  • Essential oil like Thieves or Tea Tree Oil: Natural antiseptic and smells good.

What should you not use to clean the composting toilet?

Don’t use bleach! Bleach and other harsh chemicals will destroy the bacteria in the solids compartment. There is also no need for harsh chemical cleaners.

Keep it natural, and you should be alright.  

How to Empty the Waste from a Composting Toilet

Some toilets are a little different.

Some have a solids container that can come out to be emptied like the Separett or OGO, and others do not like the Nature’s Head or Air Head.

The same goes for the liquids container.  

Emptying the Solids Container

  1. Glove Up: Always wear gloves and grab paper towels. You don’t want direct contact with the waste.
  2. Scoop It or Dump it: Dump the solids in a bag, compost pile, or bury it in the ground. Use a small shovel to remove any solid waste from the bowl.
  3. Flush and Scrub: Flush the bowl with water and clean it with a brush.
  4. Air Dry: Let the bowl air dry completely while you wipe down the other toilet components.
  5. Add Fresh Medium: A new batch of medium should be added to the solids container to reinstall the container. 

Pro-Tip: If you have the right mixture of medium, most of the solids will fall out easily. 

Emptying the Urine Canister

  1. Separate Container if you don’t have a urine diverter: Use a separate container for liquid waste unless you are lucky enough to have a urine diverter. 
  2. Disposal: Empty the liquid waste into a designated area or use it as a diluted fertilizer for non-edible plants. Some choose to empty in a public bathroom or other similar drain.
  3. Cleaning: Rinse the urine container with natural cleaners to prevent smells and reinstall. 

Pro-Tip: If you are more remote or off-grid, don’t empty your urine in a stream or too close to your RV or camper van. 

Maintaining and Cleaning the Accessories of the Toilet

Keeping the accessories of your composting toilet in top shape is crucial for its overall performance. Here’s what may also need to be cleaned:

  • Vent Fan: Aerobic bacteria help break down waste in a composting toilet. They need air to work well. Make sure to dust off the fan regularly. 
  • Filters: Replace any filters as the manufacturer recommends to ensure effective odor control.
  • Seals and Gaskets: Check for wear and tear and replace as needed to prevent leaks.
  • Handles and Levers: Wipe down with a damp cloth and mild cleaner to keep them germ-free.

How often should I empty and clean my composting toilet?

The toilet seat and main part of the toilet should be wiped down when cleaning the other parts.

Depending on their usage, many people do a quick wipe-down weekly or when it makes sense. 

Here is a chart on how often the most common toilet containers must be emptied. 

You may be on a different emptying schedule because it will depend on how many people use the toilet and what your regular bathroom cleaning schedule is.

How often do I empty a composting toilet
  • If the toilet is used for regular use or occasional use. If you use it occasionally and won’t use it for a while, you want to empty it even if it is not full.
  • The number of people using the toilet. The more use, the faster it fills up.
  • The capacity of the containers.
  • The amount of toilet paper you put in the solids container (it may slow the composting process down).
  • Consider how much weight you can carry. You should empty it more often if you can’t carry a lot. 

What Supplies Are Necessary for Composting Toilet Cleaning and Maintenance?

Having the right composting toilet supplies on hand can make the process much easier when it comes to maintaining the toilet.

You may not need all of these items especially if you living in a small space like a tiny house where space is precious.

Here’s a quick rundown of what you’ll need:

  • Gloves: Please wear gloves. 
  • A small cleaning bottle: Fill it with vinegar and essential oils like Thieves or a Lemon scent to cut down on smelly situations. 
  • A Shovel or Spade: You’ll need this for scooping out the solid waste. A small hand shovel should do the trick.
  • A Bucket: This is for carrying the solid waste to your composting area. Make sure it has a lid to contain odors and pests. It may surprise you how fast these suckers will find you while you are carrying your solids. 
  • Composting bags: You can empty solid waste in these if you have to dispose of them in a regular trash bin. 
  • Composting Bin: This is where the magic happens. Your solid waste will become compost-ready for your garden in about 6-12 months. Make sure it’s a sturdy one. 
  • Cover for the composting bin: Whether it’s a tarp or a lid, you’ll need something to cover your composting bin. This keeps out flies and helps retain heat, speeding up decomposition. The fresh waste won’t be immediately ready for use. The composting process needs some time to continue. 
buying a toilet

The Medium, Enzymes, and Other Supplies You May Need

You may not need all these items, but here are some you may need to help keep your composting toilet clean, depending on your toilet brand. Check your user manual to be sure. 

  • Liner: Your toilet may need a bag liner for the solids. The instructions will let you know. 
  • Medium materials: Your toilet will likely use a medium to mix with the solids.
    • Coconut coir – tried and true choice!
    • Sawdust – not too fine, or it won’t absorb well
    • Kitty Litter – could get expensive
    • Peat Moss – could mold quickly, so keep an eye on it.
  • Composting Accelerator: These can speed up the composting process, but use them sparingly.
  • Enzyme Cleaner: Breaks down waste and controls odor.
  • Microbial Inoculants: Adds beneficial bacteria for faster composting.
  • Moisture Absorbers: Can soak up moisture, like silica gel, to keep the compost dry.
  • Compost Accelerators: These can speed up the composting process, but use them sparingly.
  • Odor Neutralizers: Consider natural options like baking soda or activated charcoal.

Some Composting Toilet questions people are embarrassed to ask – Diaherra, Period, Vomit

Think about it

Managing Menstruation Matters 🩸🩸

Ladies, let’s talk. Periods are a fact of life, and your composting toilet is up for the challenge. Here’s how to handle it:

  • Use Biodegradable Products: Some brands say you can put eco-friendly pads or tampons in the solids bins, while others advise not to put them there. I always throw period products in a separate trash bin whether or not I use a composting toilet.  
  • Dispose of non-biodegradable Properly: If you’re not using biodegradable stuff, don’t chance to dispose of it in the solids bin. Use a separate disposal bin. 
  • Period Blood: If you use a menstrual cup, the contents can be dumped into the solids container. Cover it with a medium material so that it can be dried out. It is not the world’s end if you get some blood in the urine container. It’s best to empty it more often, as anything mixed with urine could create an odor. If your liquid container is see-through, like Nature’s Head, any blood in the liquids could be visible. 
  • Clean Regularly: A little extra TLC during that month won’t hurt.
  • Cleaning Bottle: Use your handy cleaning bottle with vinegar to keep the toilet seat areas clean. 

Handling Vomit Situations 🤮

Hey, accidents happen. Ideally, you want to avoid vomiting in this type of toilet. But whether it’s a bad burrito or a wild night, here’s how to deal with it:

  • Pre-Clean: Try to remove as much of the mess as possible. A spatula can be your best friend here. Seriously.
  • Use Extra Sawdust or Kitty Litter: Sawdust and kitty litter are like the superhero sidekicks that swoop in to save the day. Load up.
  • Ventilate: Open a window or turn on a fan. Trust me, you’ll want to air things out.
  • Empty the containers:  Depending on where the vomit went, the solids and liquids containers could need emptying more often. Be sure to wipe or rinse the containers. 
  • Cleaning Bottle: Use your handy cleaning bottle with vinegar to keep the toilet seat areas clean.  

Dealing with Diarrhea 💧💩

Okay, let’s get real. Diarrhea is no one’s idea of a good time, but your composting toilet can handle it. Here’s how:

  • Double Up on Cover Material: Think of it as adding an extra layer of armor.
  • Stir the Pile: Use the compost crank to mix things up. It helps with the composting process.
  • Check Moisture Levels: Too wet can be a problem. Add more dry material if needed.
  • Cleaning Bottle: Use your handy cleaning bottle with vinegar to keep the toilet seat areas clean.  

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Even the best systems run into issues. Here’s how to troubleshoot:

Man in White Crew Neck Shirt Holding 2 White Tissue Rolls
  • Bad Odor: Add more composting material if there’s a bad smell. If it persists, check for leaks or cracks in the system. More than likely, 80% of the time, the urine canister needs to be dumped more often. Also, use your handy spray bottle with vinegar to spray the urine section down after each use, and sprinkle some baking soda on the solids. 
  • Pests: If you notice flies or other pests, dump the solids bucket immediately. It could mean eggs are in the waste, and these suckers are multiplying. Do a thorough clean and start with a fresh medium. 
  • Too wet or too dry: Moisture levels must be just right for effective composting. You must ensure boys sit on the toilet so the urine goes in the right place. 
  • Slow Decomposition: If things aren’t breaking down, try turning the compost more frequently or adding more composting material. You may have to change mediums to see if that makes a difference. 
  • Mold Growth: Excess moisture can lead to mold. Sometimes, Peat Moss tends to mold.
  • Clogs: Often from putting in items that don’t break down easily. You may need to get a little dirty and try flushing the clog. 
  • Overflow: Not emptying the compost in time can lead to spills.
little boy sitting on the toilet

Composting Toilet Tips and Tricks to Cut Down on Cleaning and frequent emptying

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  • There should be no issue keeping your toilet in the wet bath. 
  • Don’t put anything in the unit that doesn’t decompose, like plastic or metal.
  • Add carbon-rich material, like sawdust, to the toilet each time you use it. This will help absorb odors and keep the compost from getting too wet.
  • Don’t throw food in the solids container. 
  • Don’t use too much tissue paper. A couple of sheets should be plenty.
  • It is not recommended to keep your toilet outside if you are in extreme weather. 
  • Don’t put Baby Wipes in the solids container: They don’t break down quickly.
  • Certain medications can affect your urine, so you may need to research to see if your urine may be affected. One of those medications could be birth control. 

Final Thoughts

Alright, we’ve covered the good, the bad, and the kinda gross when composting toilets. Whether it’s your period, a stomach bug, or just a regular Taco Tuesday, your composting toilet’s got you. 

Keep it clean, use the right additives, and you’re golden. You totally got this! I promise!  

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to add anything to the composting toilet to make it work? 

You don’t need to add anything to the composting toilet to make it work. The bacteria that break down the waste will do all the work for you.

Is there anything I shouldn’t put in my composting toilet?

You can put anything in your composting toilet that will decompose. That includes human waste, food scraps, paper, and cardboard.

How long does it take poop to decompose in a composting toilet?

Your poop solids won’t completely compost in the toilet because you will need to dump it before it will fully compost, which takes about 4- 6 months. 

Author
  • Erin Hybart

    Meet Erin, a real estate enthusiast with a wealth of knowledge and an insatiable curiosity for all things Real Estate and living with intention. She passionately advocates for alternative, affordable, and eco-friendly housing solutions. She believes in pushing the industry's innovation boundaries and thinking outside the box. As a licensed real estate agent in Louisiana, Erin dedicates herself to assisting clients in buying and selling properties and mentoring fellow agents to succeed in their own Real Estate businesses. In addition to her professional pursuits, Erin channels her expertise into captivating house-flipping adventures.

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