How to Use & Clean a Compost Toilet for a Tiny House on Wheels

That Hippie Family
by That Hippie Family

I'm going to tell you how our composting toilet works, how we use it, and maintain it. We love our composting toilet and would never go back to a flushing toilet! Let's get into it.

How does a composting toilet work in a tiny house?

I love this toilet. But, it’s a toilet made for a boat to be used for a few nights rather than on a daily basis, so I find that it’s a bit small. It isn’t too bad because we empty it frequently, so it never smells. We actually clean our toilet top to bottom, scrubbing the whole thing down every five days. 

Let me show you inside the toilet, a few features, and the process of how we empty it and keep it clean.

Using reusable cloths instead of toilet paper

1. We don’t use toilet paper, we use cloths and a wet bag

First, it’s important to know that our composting toilet is clean and tidy because it doesn't have any toilet paper in it. We don’t use toilet paper and honestly, I don’t know how it would be using toilet paper in a composting toilet—it may be a hassle. Instead, we use cloth toilet paper and we use a wet bag to put our dirty toilet paper in, and then we just wash what’s in it. 

Urine diverter for a composting toilet

2. We use a urine diverter

Let me show you the inside of the toilet. Another important feature is our urine diverter. It’s really a cleanable plastic funnel. We plumbed it so that our urine goes right into our gray water system. Urine is gray water so it works and it also means that we don't have to empty a jug.

It's a very simple design. There’s a pipe that hooks right into our gray water system. When you put down the toilet seat, the funnel sits on top of the pipe. 

Composting toilet for a tiny house on wheels

We want to build our own toilet and design the diverter so it sits further down. You can see that it’s very high up so sometimes we feel it when we sit on the toilet. We are going to eventually build a bigger composting toilet with a porcelain urine inverter.

How does a composting toilet work?

3. Here’s the compartment where you poo

The larger compartment behind the diverter towards the back of the toilet is a bucket where you go number two. It’s where we put the sawdust and peat moss mixture. 

What to do with composting toilet waste

4. We remove the bucket for cleaning

The bucket is filled about three-quarters with sawdust and about a quarter of peat moss. You can't see anything in there because it's dirt and it doesn't look or smell like poo. It smells like pine or cedar.  

How often do you empty a composting toilet?

5. We empty and rinse the bucket outside 

We empty the bucket into a compost bin where we put our kitchen scraps.

How to clean a composting toilet

We keep this plastic laundry sink outside where we spray the bucket clean with a hose. This sink makes it so much easier to wash it out.

Cleaning the composting toilet

6. We clean the inside of the toilet

While the bucket is being cleaned outside, I’ll usually clean the toilet inside. I give everything a wipe down and I clean it all out. 

Bag of peat moss

7. I mix the peat moss and sawdust

Now we'll take our bucket outside and fill it with some more peat moss and sawdust. We have a giant bag of peat moss housed in one of our outdoor storage boxes. The bag lasts at least six months. 

Barrel of sawdust

Right now we use sawdust that we house in this big barrel but sometimes we use hardwood chips. This usually lasts about six months, too. 

Mixing peat and sawdust

I mix the sawdust and the peat moss in a Tupperware container. I mix about three-quarters sawdust to one-quarter inch peat moss. 

How to use a composting toilet

Do composting toilets smell?

8. We put the clean bucket back in the toilet

All clean!

Scooping peat moss and sawdust

9. Add peat moss and sawdust mixture

We add some mixture into the box of the toilet. It’s the storage box that we use when we need to scoop the mixture out after we poo. 

Cranking the handle on the side

Then we add it to the toilet bowl area. I fill it up to the bar so we can mix it with the crank on the side of the toilet.

Using the compost toilet for a tiny house

10. Here’s how we use the toilet

After I pee, I take my toilet spray (which is just vinegar, lemon, and some essential oils) and I give the urine diverter a spray. 

How to flush a composting toilet

Then I fill up a little cup with water and pour it into the bowl. This is a way to flush the toilet.

Covering waste with peat moss and sawdust

After you poo, you put a scoop of peat moss and sawdust mixture into the toilet to cover the poo.

Compost toilet for a tiny house

Then you give the crank a whirl to cover it up. That's what keeps the smell down.

Compost toilet for a tiny house

That’s it! I hope this helped you understand how we use and clean our composting toilet. I have zero complaints about our composting toilet. We love using it. Our baby isn't old enough yet, but it's going to be really interesting to teach a baby how to use a composting toilet during potty training!

Let us know in the comments if you have a composting toilet or are interested in getting one and why.

Join the conversation
 1 comment
  • Vikki Decker Vikki Decker on Aug 14, 2022

    Sure seems like a lot of work. But if that is what you need to use, I guess you just do it and not think about it. I had heard about these toilets but never knew how they worked. In a lot of ways it's like a kitty litter box. So you do your business and cover it. Each day you scoop out what was done from the day/night before adding more "litter" when needed.