Portable toilet: What is it and how does it work?

Portable Site Toilet Hire by LetLoos

Put simply, a portable toilet is any type of toilet that can be moved around. Also known as a porta-potty or mobile toilet. They are self-contained, meaning they don’t need a connection to water or electric supplies. A favourite of campers, festival-goers, and construction workers, portable toilets are extremely convenient.

But you might be wondering “how does a portable toilet work?”. Or maybe you have questions about the parts involved. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at portable toilets and how they work.

What is a portable toilet?

Most portable toilets are single unisex units, made of moulded plastic or fiberglass. They offer privacy and hygiene with a lockable door and hand sanitiser.  A portable toilet can be used in a wide range of situations, including:

  • Festivals
  • Camping
  • Weddings
  • Construction sites
  • Large outdoor gatherings with no other facilities

They are a great solution when you need to provide flexible facilities. Whether it’s for a remote wedding location or extra campsite toilets – portable toilets are the way to go.

The technical components of a portable toilet

Portable toilets are made of 4 simple components:

  • Toilet seat – The size and style of the toilet seat will change depending on the type of unit. There are many high-quality and comfortable options.
  • Holding Tank – Also known as septic tanks, they store the wastewater and sewage coming from the toilet unit. Having a holding tank reduces the frequency of emptying the waste.
  • Flushing mechanism – This process happens when you flush waste away. Portable toilets also flush away water and the chemicals used to break the waste down. 
  • Pressure system – A pressure system is needed to help move the waste into the holding tank. The pressure is what pushes the water and chemicals through the pipe.

How do portable toilets work?

A portable toilet is simple to use. It flushes water from a tank that is hidden inside the toilet or chemicals from the holding tank nearby. Mixed with the waste and liquids, everything is broken down effectively. The simplicity comes from the fact that portable toilets are fully self-contained. They don’t need a connection to mains water supply or sewage systems. This makes it a flexible and feasible option for many different locations. 

Chemicals are used in portable toilets to provide a safe and hygienic environment. Harmless to people, they are very effective in dealing with all types of waste bacteria.

A dye (usually blue), is used in the toilet itself. This is to mask the waste, but also for another important reason. Blue dye changes colour when the tank needs emptying. When the blue turns to green, the limit has been reached and it’s time to empty it.

Biocides prevent bacteria from growing in the waste. They work to reduce bad odours and allow more than one person to use the toilet before needing to be cleaned.

Fragrances provide the pleasant smell needed in a sanitary environment. And surfactants (detergents), help the other chemicals to work much more effectively.

How to use a portable toilet?

Onto the most important aspect of a portable toilet. How does it work for the user? There are no hidden methods for using a portable toilet. LetLoos portable toilet units and urinals are simple and straightforward to use. Lock the door, sit (or stand), do your business, and flush. They offer privacy and provide high standards of cleanliness.

It makes sense to be careful about how much toilet roll you use. Portable toilets flush waste away into a nearby tank. This means there isn’t an unlimited amount of space available for waste storage. However, as our team provide a regular tank emptying service as standard, this isn’t a common issue.

What happens to the waste?

There’s no need to worry about whether portable toilets are just waste buckets. They flush and take waste away like a traditional toilet, the difference being where it ends up.

Conventional toilets are connected to a sewage system. When flushed, the waste is carried away through pipes to a sewage treatment centre.

Portable toilets are different because they aren’t connected to a central waste system. When you flush a portable toilet, waste is carried to a holding tank. This is kept underneath the toilet seat and holds chemicals that are able to break down waste. They also kill germs and smells, as well as reduce any toilet paper.

Portable toilets benefits

Portable toilets have a lot of advantages over traditional permanent toilet facilities.

These include:

  • Self-contained – They don’t need a connection to mains electricity or water to function. Portable toilets operate with only a flushing system and holding tank. This takes the hassle out of connecting pipes and electric costs.
  • Safety – Many portable toilet units have lighting. This makes them perfect for weddings and festivals to ensure safety for users at night.
  • Variety of units available – Portable toilets come in a range of forms. Whether you need standalone toilets or urinals, you will find a unit to suit you. There’s also the option of baby changing units and disabled access toilets as well. And if you want something a bit special, luxury toilet trailers are a great option. 
  • Suit any location – The best thing about portable toilets is that they can fit any location. Think of remote or outdoor weddings, campsites, construction sites, environmental areas, festivals, and parties. They can be positioned almost anywhere and provide backup to existing toilets.
  • Cost-effective – Portable toilets save you the cost and hassle of sourcing permanent toilets. Especially when your event is a one-off. And remember, you only pay for what you use.

How does portable toilet hiring work?

So, you’ve decided portable toilet hire is for you. Now let’s cover how to use portable toilet rental services.

LetLoos takes the hassle out of the ordering process. Simply contact us and let us know what you’re looking for. Our expert team has over 25 years of industry experience. We can advise you on the right facilities and the number of portable toilets for your needs.

You will be provided with a quote so you are clear on your order details. Then, once you confirm, we will perform installation, maintenance, and removal. Our portable toilets are steam-cleaned before delivery, ensuring the highest standards. It’s incredibly simple and straightforward. And the best part – you won’t have to lift a finger.


At LetLoos, we offer short and long-term options when hiring our portable toilet units. You can hire some for a few hours for a wedding reception. Or longer if you want to provide facilities for a remote campsite or workforce on a construction site.

Our teams work throughout London, Essex, and Liverpool. We are available 24/7 for help and are on hand to clean the units and empty the tank. And any order placed before 12 pm is guaranteed next-day delivery.

Leo Sharp
Content writer and researcher at LetLoos