How to Use a Composting Toilet: A Sustainable Living Guide


I’m going to tell you something that might surprise you – using a composting toilet is a lot easier than you think. In fact, once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty darn simple. 

But here’s the thing, most people have no idea how to use a composting toilet. They think it’s some kind of mysterious, complicated process that only hardcore environmentalists can handle. Well, I’m here to tell you that’s just not true.

Using a composting toilet is actually pretty straightforward. You just need to know a few key things, like what to put in it, what to keep out of it, and how to maintain it properly. 

And that’s exactly what I’m going to teach you in this post. So, if you’re ready to learn how to use a composting toilet like a pro, keep reading.

How Composting Toilets Work?


If you’ve never encountered a composting toilet before, you might be wondering – how do they actually work? How different is the experience from using a standard flushing toilet?

The biggest difference is that composting toilets are waterless (apart from a few micro-flush models). So, instead of flushing your waste away, composting toilets rely on an aerobic decomposition process to break down human waste into compost.

Through a completely natural process involving bacteria and fungi among others, waste material turns into rich compost full of nutrients. You can then safely return this compost to the earth.

How Different is the Experience From Using a Flushing Toilet?

For the most part, using a composting toilet is very similar to using a traditional toilet. The pedestals look just like a regular toilet, bar the flush button.

You do your business as normal and wipe up with toilet paper (yes, TP won’t harm the compost). Composting toilets handle both number ones and number twos.

Once you’re done, this is where the experience differs from what you might be used to – instead of hitting the flush button, simply add a handful of bulking agents to the chamber, and you’re done.

How to Use a Composting Toilet Correctly?


So, how exactly do you use a composting toilet? The process is actually pretty simple.

First, do your business as you would with any toilet. Toilet paper can be used and tossed in the toilet – it will compost along with the waste.

Adding Bulking Agents

Now that you’re done with the basics, you need to add a carbon-rich material. Options include coconut coir, sawdust, and also peat moss.

Just sprinkle a handful of this material on top of your waste pile. It helps by balancing the moisture and adding air, creating an ideal composting environment.

The bulking agent also helps mask any unpleasant smells from the waste. Some people find it handy to keep a small container of the agent right by the toilet for quick and easy use.

Materials to Avoid

While toilet paper is perfectly fine to toss in your composting toilet, there are some materials you’ll want to avoid.

Wet wipes are a big no-no. They don’t break down and can really gum up the work. Plus, the chemicals in them can harm the beneficial bacteria in your compost.

Other items to keep out include feminine hygiene products, diapers, cigarette butts, and anything plastic or non-biodegradable. Stick to human waste, toilet paper, and your bulking agent, and you’ll be golden.

Cleaning and Maintenance

To keep your composting toilet in top condition and ensure it’s hygienic, you need to maintain it regularly. Here’s what you’ll want to know.

Cleaning Solutions

When it comes to cleaning your composting toilet, skip the harsh chemicals. These can kill off the beneficial bacteria that are hard at work breaking down the waste.

Instead, opt for natural, enzyme-based cleaners. These work with the composting process rather than against it. A simple solution of vinegar and water can also do the trick for regular cleaning.

Regular Maintenance Tips

In addition to regular cleaning, there are a few maintenance tasks that will keep your composting toilet running smoothly.

First, make sure you’re always stocked up on your bulking agent. Running out can lead to some unpleasant odors and a too-wet compost pile.

You’ll also want to keep an eye on your moisture levels. If things are looking a bit dry, add a spritz of water. Too wet? Add some extra bulking material.

Stirring the compost pile occasionally can help speed up the decomposition process and prevent compaction. Some toilets come with a built-in stirring mechanism, but a long stick can also do the job.

Managing Waste in Composting Toilets

A composting toilet deals with both pee and poop in a smart way. Curious about the process? Here’s what happens.

Solid Waste Management

Solid waste collects in the main composting chamber. This is where the magic happens – microbes get to work breaking down the waste into compost.

Capacity varies by model, but most residential sized units can go several months to a year before needing to be emptied. High-capacity and commercial units can store waste even longer.

When it’s time to empty, the process is fairly straightforward. Finished compost can be buried outside, away from edible plants and water sources. Always check your local regulations first.

Liquid Waste Management

A urine separator diverts pee away from the solid waste, helping to keep your compost pile drier and less smelly.

The urine collects in a separate container or tank. Depending on the system, this may need to be emptied every few days to weeks.

Urine, when diluted with water, can be a fantastic fertilizer due to its sterility and high nitrogen content. However, remember to check local laws before using it in your garden.

Benefits of Composting Toilets

What makes choosing a composting toilet over a traditional flush one such an appealing option? Let’s explore some key benefits that might convince you.

Water Conservation

One of the coolest things about composting toilets is how much water they save. Traditional flush toilets can use up to 1.6 gallons per flush, but with a composting toilet, you don’t need any water at all.

Switching to composting can lead to huge water savings, especially in areas hit by drought or for those living off the grid. Think about how much we could save if every household made this change.

Environmental Impact

Apart from conserving water, composting toilets bring numerous environmental perks like reducing landfill use and enriching the soil with valuable nutrients.

No chemicals are needed for this method, which makes it an environmentally friendly choice. The composting process remains completely organic by relying on natural decomposition of waste.

Using humanure for compost returns valuable nutrients back into the earth. It’s an efficient cycle that minimizes waste while giving plants a nutrient boost.

For those who care about the environment, composting toilets make a smart choice. They’re perfect for reducing waste and living greener. Plus, with numerous designs on the market these days, there’s sure to be something that matches any household’s needs.

Key Takeaways:

Composting toilets use aerobic decomposition to break down waste without water. After using, add a carbon-based bulking agent like sawdust or coconut coir.

Avoid wet wipes and non-biodegradable items. Regular cleaning with natural solutions and occasional stirring keeps it efficient. This eco-friendly choice conserves water and returns nutrients to the soil.


So there you have it – everything you need to know about how to use a composting toilet. It’s not rocket science, but it does require a bit of know-how and some regular maintenance. The key things to remember are to use the right bulking agents, avoid putting the wrong things in the toilet, and clean it regularly with the right products.

Using a composting toilet might seem a little weird at first, but trust me – it’s totally worth it. Not only are you helping the environment by conserving water and reducing waste, but you’re also simplifying your life in a big way. No more worrying about septic tanks or sewer lines – just you, your toilet, and a whole lot of freedom.

So go ahead and give it a try. With a little practice and some patience, you’ll be a composting toilet pro in no time. And who knows – you might just find yourself wondering why you ever used a regular toilet in the first place.

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