Emergency Toilet

What is an emergency toilet and why do you need one? That is an excellent question! I strongly recommend this be added to any preppers supply list, especially if there are more than one or two people in your household. It really is essential for any prepper to have the capability of making an emergency toilet.

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If the water stops working in your home for whatever reason or emergency, a portable emergency toilet is essential. A pipe can burst, the water has to be shut off for repairs, or the grid goes down. It can be quite a variety of reasons, up to and including any sort of disaster. But, Murphy’s law always says as soon as you realize the water isn’t working, everybody has to use the bathroom. This could also become a long-term problem in the event of some sort of wide spread catastrophe.

Well, running down the road to McDonald’s or a gas station may not be feasible, and it’s beyond inconvenient. But, pooping in the toilet without the ability to flush is a problem as well. It’s unsanitary, it smells, and it can fill up quickly. Plus, once the water is back on, if it is full and you flush, it may very well back up and overflow. Nobody wants that mess on their hands!

This is where a portable emergency toilet comes in, and they aren’t terribly expensive, most of the necessary supplies needed, you probably already have in your home. I’ve stocked up on these items and keep them around the house so I always have them.

If this is a wide-spread emergency, even running to a store or gas station to use their facilities may not even be an option because nobody has the ability to flush their toilets. That is when this comes in very handy!

Let’s start with a 5 gallon bucket. I buy mine here. They’re cheap, lightweight, portable, and can be used for a billion other things around the house when they aren’t in use for this purpose. I personally pull mine out when my husband wants to wash the car and use it for the soap and water. I keep several around the house at all times. They usually have a lid that comes with them, so they can be used for storage as well. I also store things in them because they are stackable.

Then we need trash bags. Nobody wants to clean out a bucket of poop, right? That screams illness to me. Trash bags keep it contained. Many preppers recommend the big black contractor bags, which can be found here. I personally am not a fan of them in this instance. Simply because they are hard to tie off for me. My hands are small. Given the size of my hands, this requires more touching of the bag to mess with trying to tie it off. Not a good thing for me.

With a standard trash bag, it has the pull ties in them, and that’s my preference, found here. Black contractor bags are more sturdy and durable, therefore you can put more waste in them before you need to change it out. So it’s a preference thing. I buy Glad trash bags with Febreeze in them. I use these in my daily life as well. So I did not have to purchase anything extra or special for myself. Bonus points there, in my book.

There are also specific trash bags for the purpose of an emergency toilet. These waste-specific trash bags are more pricey and take up space. That is the one drawback, in my opinion, . But the bags can be found here.

Next, I purchased cat litter. If you already have a cat, even better! Because you already have a vital supply on this list. If not, you can buy it in many forms, from cheap to expensive, small bags to large. It’s all up to you, really. I buy this for both my cat and the emergency toilet. They stack beautifully in a small space. Some of you may prefer to buy it in a bucket or several and stack them in a corner of the garage. Totally up to you on that one.

After the cat litter, well… you need a toilet seat. I purchased a Luggable Loo here. It can be fastened securely to the bucket and you are free to do your business comfortably. I place a trash bag inside of my bucket, draping it over the outside of the bucket. The Luggable Loo fastens over the top of it, and off you go. Sprinkle some cat litter into the bottom of the bag to start with. Then, your business goes into the trash bag where it belongs, no worrying if the bag will fall down or make a mess. The cat litter absorbs the waste and clumps it up.

Once business is done, sprinkle a little cornstarch over the waste. This will cause the liquid waste to gel up and remove any odors. You could also line the bottom of the bag with newspaper, which is also cheap and readily available. When the bag is ready to be taken out, just pop the Luggable Loo off the bucket, tie the bag off, and done! It is a very simple process, really.

I also keep hand sanitizer stocked up around the house for this purpose as well. Because disease and illness come from waste and improper sanitization, which can make you very sick, and even kill you. This is why I keep emergency toilet supplies as part of my prepping. I like keeping things sanitary and safe, especially in an emergency.

Here is my favorite toilet paper and baby wipes, that I keep right along with all the other emergency toilet supplies.

Please also note that garbage services may not be running in a true emergency situation or when the grid is down, and throwing human waste into the trash can is a biohazard. Yes, I spoke of disposing of it into the trash in my last paragraph. Because that may honestly be the only option, and you want it out of your house as quickly as possible.

But you really want to be looking at other methods of disposal. If the garbage services are running, there should be a local site where you can dispose of biohazards. Which is also true if someone is diabetic and needs to dispose of a sharps container.

You could also dig holes if you have property and bury the waste. Some people suggest burning it, although I’m not sure I would recommend this disposal method. If you are preparing for this, you want to have a disposal plan ready for when you need it.

Another option would be compost, but you will want to research exactly how to do this. Because it is not a simple process and human waste requires specific guidelines on how to do so safely. Please, please do your research on this if it is an option you are considering.

If this is a simple short-term emergency, please dispose of these biohazards appropriately. If it is a long-term emergency and that option simply isn’t available, you will want to think about alternative ways to dispose of the waste.

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    • Tinka

      Such an interesting and great post!
      It really isn’t something you’d think of and didn’t know, but it’s extremely helpful.
      Thank you so so much for sharing this x

      – Littletinkablee

  • Nyxie

    This was a brilliant read. Not something I would have thought of in an emergency but it totally makes sense. If the water stops running we don’t consider how many areas of our life are affected!

    – Nyxie

  • Scott J DeNicola

    This is something I have never thought of in the past but I can see it being a possible necessity. You may laugh but I have seen on construction sites something similar but for a seat, you can use a pool noodle that has been cut to size for the bucket and then down the middle so it can slide on top of the rim. Now you have a cushion. I learn so much on your site. Excellent food recipes and how to make a portable toilet. But helpful!

  • Lindsay Brown

    Great post and so useful! An emergency toilet isn’t something I would have thought about but as you mentioned it’s a pretty important piece of daily equipment!

    I didn’t realize how easy it would be to construct one. I basically have all of the items I would need right in my house!

    A great informative post, thanks for sharing your knowledge!

  • Sarah

    Never thought about having an emergency toilet, but this is something I need to consider in the future. I’ve heard of something similar before, the only difference is they used a pool noodle to line the top of the bucket to make it a bit more comfortable to use. I love the fact that it’s a cheap and easy thing to put together and a bucket has so many other uses as well. Will have to make sure I get one and add it to our emergency kit.

  • Sharon Wu

    I honestly never thought of making an emergency toilet (or even knew it was a thing, really)! Thank you for sharing the importance of having one. My brother really could have used one of these a month ago when his house was having some water leak issue and he had to shut down the water for a few days to get it fixed!

  • Tracy @ Cleland Clan

    This is such a great post. You never know when you might lose power for several days and need an emergency toilet. It would also be helpful to take tent camping, even with kids who can’t always make it all the way to the restrooms in developed campgrounds.

    • Snehal

      The concept of emergency toilet was new to me. Now it seems like one needs to have one. I would like to check out your suggested toilet paper. Gotta buy some new ones!

  • Thuy

    I would never have known how to even start making an emergency toilet until I read this. Now I’ll know what to do if the need arises. I don’t have a cat, but I know that where I live sometimes people stock up on sand or kitty litter to de-ice their driveways

  • Doris Jean

    You always make me realize how unprepared I am lol. Not many people can do that! I have never thought about having an emergency toilet although I have experienced not being able to use the toilet. The thought just never crossed my mind. Great article!

  • Luna S

    Never thought about using kitty litter in a camping toilet! Usually my father-in-law brings his camping toilet and we just use pine needles to line the bottom a little and then cover any mess left behind.

  • Melanie williams

    Wow what an interesting read and who knew that you could make one so easy. Perfect for camping if someone has not been prepared x

  • Morgan Paxton

    I never considered an emergency toilet before. This seems like it would be a really helpful post for those in Texas right now. I know so many are suffering from frozen pipes, power outages and more. I hope they recover quickly but something like this might help families get by while waiting for the snow to melt and repairs to be made.

  • Stella

    Awesome! A wealth of information! I actually wondered about this when I watched The Walking Dead. How did they dispose of their waste in all these run-down buildings they ended up using. They never show you exactly. I mean, it is easy on the go, but when you live somewhere, a hole in the ground won’t cut it long term.
    Love these ideas. Cat litter, of course! And cornstarch to liquify it. I wonder why it would be different with human waste compost, I buy animal waste compost for my garden! Like you said, more research required, but we should all definitely know this. I am aware of how unprepared I would be for camping, let alone a real emergency!

  • Britt K

    We use a toilet like this in a small tent when car camping. The only difference is that we have swapped the litter (that’s what we used at first) for wood shavings. They are lighter weight for when you have to move them around (like emptying the toilet) and I like the woody smell that you get when you open the toilet with them better than the smell of the litter lol

  • Lisa

    Depending on where you live and how much property you have burying your waste can infect the local water systems. It’s best to check with you municipality to see how to dispose of your waste products in a clean and safe way.

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