How Do I Empty My Camping Toilet?

How Do I Empty My Camping Toilet?
Camping toilets come in a variety of forms but typically involve either a bucket- or bag-storage system. They can make camping in the outdoors a more pleasant experience by recreating the privacy and sanitary comforts of home. Maintaining this illusion, however, typically takes a little more hands-on work than most people would expect or prefer. Here's how to make the time with your toilet as painless as possible.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Camp toilet
  • Plastic bag
  • Duct tape
  • Toilet bags
  • Deodorant
  • Sawdust
  • Coffee can
  • Trowel
  • Toilet paper
Step 1
Build a dark bag. A dark bag is the bag you use to store other toilet bags. They are called dark bags because they should be completely opaque, preventing you from having to see inside of them. To make a dark bag, line both sides of a gallon plastic bag with duct tape. This will also give your dark bag a texture that will help it stand out from other bags in your backpack or camping equipment.
Step 2
After using the bathroom, add deodorant and a scoop of sawdust. Sawdust can be brought along in a coffee can and is great at aiding in neutralizing odors and kick-starting the degradation process. Deodorant should be a camping variety that is biodegradable. If it's not biodegradable, you will not be able to dispose of waste in the outdoors.
Step 3
Tie off toilet bags with an overhand knot. Toilet bags are designed to be biodegradable on their own, allowing you to bury the bag directly. If you are just using plastic bags you will have to later retie them, so its worth it to seek out the biodegradable or waste treatment approved bags. Toilet bags are long enough that you should be able to twist the top closed and form a single overhand knot in the neck without coming into contact with the interior of the bag.
Step 4
Compost or throw out toilet bags if you are able to pack them out. If you are only camping for a few days you typically won't have to bury your waste near the campground. Take your dark bag home with you and either throw out the bags of waste (only if they are biodegradable, otherwise they will be inappropriate for a landfill) or add them to your home compost.
Step 5
If you must bury your waste, begin 200 feet from trails, campsites and water sources. Use your hand trowel to dig a 5-to-8 inch deep hole. Digging a hole too deep can actually be counterproductive because only the first few inches of soil have the active organisms necessary to break down human waste. Cat holes should be covered over and disguised and should never contain more than one waste bag per hole.
Step 6
Only bury toilet paper if it is non-perfumed and non-dyed. Toilet paper decomposes quickly, but if it is not white or scented you will have to pack it out rather than burying it in the wilderness. This means that inappropriate toilet paper cannot be placed directly in a camping toilet bag. Instead, it must be placed inside a separate dark bag that can be thrown out later.

Tips & Warnings

Wash your hands after using the camp toilet, burying waste or handling the dark bag.


Article Written By Louie Doverspike

Based in Seattle, Louie Doverspike has been a professional writer since 2004. His work has appeared in various publications, including "AntiqueWeek" magazine, the "Prague Post" and "Seattle Represent!" Doverspike holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Hamilton College.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.