Are Porta Potties Sanitary?
Before you rent or purchase a porta potty or portable restroom, a concern you might have is whether porta potties are sanitary. Many people think of porta potties as a gross treasure trove of waste, infected with germs and potential diseases.
Debunking Porta Potty Myths
In reality, when serviced and cleaned properly, portable restrooms aren’t any dirtier than the average public restroom. Depending on how often it’s serviced and how thoroughly it’s cleaned, it could potentially be even cleaner than those restrooms or even cleaner than your bathrooms at home because of how frequent it’s cleaned and the use of new specially engineered products and mechanisms to help keep them clean of germs and easy to maintain.
In short, the sanitation of a porta potty depends on its owners (the rental or manufacturing company and their customers) and its users. Most of the responsibilities lie on rental companies and their clients (since manufacturers should already have cleaned the unit before delivering it to you and most likely haven’t come across anybody waste yet) , but users can help improve sanitation by being careful about what they touch, using the restroom properly and as directed (as in making sure your body’s waste ends up in the toilet bowl and not anywhere else), and washing their hands thoroughly and frequently.
In fact, you are more likely to get sick from touching your cell phone or eating at a picnic rather than from just using a porta potty or any restroom in general (assuming you’re washing your hands and utilizing the bathroom properly). Ironically, because toilet seats and portable restrooms are feared to be so germ infested, they are serviced more often and touched cautiously, and as a result are cleaner than your cell phone or the bottom of your purse. Germs are most likely to come into contact with you from your hands, and since the average American will mostly use sanitizer and hand soap after using the bathroom or a porta potty than after using their phone, in comparison, you’re less likely to get sick from a porta potty. But it’s still recommended to be safe and wash accordingly.
Servicing keeps porta pottys sanitary.
Generally, porta potties are serviced (meaning all waste is removed and the unit is cleaned, disinfected, deodorized, and dried) before and after an event, then continuously serviced throughout an event.
How portable restrooms are serviced?
After an event, sanitation specialists will vacuum waste out of the portable restroom’s tank, into a vacuum truck and will transport it to a facility that will dispose of it properly and legally. Other alternatives to this are vacuum tanks and removable sealed tanks, which similarly hold the waste until it can be discarded properly.
Then, the tank of the portable restroom is filled with disinfectant, scrubbed away by the professionals, and deodorized of any lingering odors.
Porta potties are sanitized with cleaning supplies.
Nowadays, sanitation workers and portable restroom companies often use cleaning supplies engineered specifically for disinfecting and combating waste with products that are safe to use and environment friendly.
Deodorizers keep odors at bay.
Deodorizers are a blue liquid filled with various components, such as biocides, dye, fragrances, detergents, and metazene. The deodorizers are used both when cleaning and while the porta potty is still being used, so these effects also help eliminate odors and increase sanitation of the porta potty. The biocide eats the odor causing bacteria and reduces the growth of odor-causing bacteria. Other additives are used to help break down the waste and make its disposal easier, as well as help reduce the need to change waste tanks as often. Fragrances are used to mask the scent of odors and dye helps cover the waste, so your porta potty smells and looks more pleasant. The detergent in addition to disinfecting, helps fragrances dissolve more uniformly in liquids. There’s also metazenes that help eliminate odor in the molecular, vapor phase, so there is less odor in the air of the porta potty.
Flushing mechanisms give porta potties a traditional feel.
Unlike the outhouse-like portable restrooms of the past, newer portable restrooms often have the ability to flush. Some also use fresh flush and chemical flush, so waste can be washed away and disinfected/deodorized.
Some rental companies and manufacturers will give you the option to choose between portable restrooms with different flush options. For example, as earlier mentioned, there’s fresh flush, chemical flush, and the standard-level non-flush. With non-flush, your waste simply drops down to the waste tank. With freshwater flush, it is washed away with water. Newer models now utilize some sort of chemical flush, which has both water and a chemical component (typically a deodorizer or disinfectant) to neutralize the odor, sanitize the toilet bowl, and help break down the waste. Flushing models typically hide the waste tank from view.
Waste tanks can be easily cleaned.
Porta potty waste tanks are designed to be easily cleaned or removable. Typically, sanitation workers would vacuum out all the waste in the tank. Separate from vacuum trucks, some companies use removable tanks. With removable tanks, instead of transporting the waste from one container to another, you would simply remove the tank and give it directly to the disposal facility. This is ideal for collapsible or foldable units you transport yourself and if you are only using one or two porta potties, so you don’t need a sizable vacuum truck to dispose of your waste.
Different porta potties also have different waste capacities. A tank with larger waste capacities means they do not have to be serviced as much, so any risk of contamination from frequent servicing is reduced as well as any risk of overflow.
Plastic Material makes cleaning a breeze.
Plastic porta potties, usually made from polyurethane or polyethylene, are also really easy to clean. The plastic is smooth and is molded in a fashion that doesn’t have hard to clean areas, so can be quickly wiped down, disinfected, rinsed, and dried. The plastic is also resistant from damage and won’t absorb or hold bacteria. The bacteria, if any, is on the surface and could be easily washed away.
If you still have some doubts about the cleanliness of a portable restroom but are interested in renting some for an event or owning them, you can always maximize upon its sanitation and be extra safe with additional installments and products. Usually most rental companies and manufacturers will include or offer these with your portable restroom.
Accessories that can aid in sanitizing a porta potty.
To make sanitizing easier, companies usually manufacture or sell products to improve sanitation and decrease odor.
Some of these items are:
- Hanging deodorants
- Hand sanitizer dispenser and freestanding stations
- Hand soap dispensers
- Hand wash stations (to attach inside a portable restroom or as a freestanding unit)
- Cleansing sprays
- Paper towel and paper towel dispensers
- Toilet paper and toilet paper dispensers
- Seat covers and seat cover dispensers
- No-contact flush buttons or handles
- Storage like shelves or hooks so your belongings do not get dirty
- Urinals (so urine is less likely to touch the seat or surrounding areas)
Typically, you would have somebody service your porta potty by replacing depleted items and cleaning/disinfecting surfaces inside and out.
There are other alternatives, when it comes to sanitation.
If sanitation is still your concern, or perhaps you are worried about the impression your event attendees have on porta potties, consider using a no-contact squat toilet or luxury toilets. Squats toilets decrease contact and are the best way of reducing risk of spreading germs and diseases by decreasing contact (and even more so effective with additional servicing). Luxury toilets, like luxury portable restroom units or restroom trailers, also require servicing but usually have additional sanitary features installed or included with your rental, such as wash basins, flush, odorless tanks, and additional accessories. If you choose a standard plastic porta potty, consider a wider unit that allows for less contact and easy maneuverability. Since wider units are usually crafted to be accessible, make sure you also disinfect surfaces like handrails, buttons, and door handles often to assist those not able to avoid or disinfect them themselves.
At the end of the day, there is no reason to be afraid of having a portable restroom. If you plan on having some at your event, as long as you’re sufficiently keeping them serviced and cleaned, your portable restroom could be one of the cleanest things there. Make sure you use a reputable company, that the sanitation workers are professionals, and that the units you choose are the right ones for your event and that you have enough units to compensate for the amount of guests you’ll have and what they’ll be consuming. Not having enough restrooms could cause more sanitary problems than not having porta potties at your event.