How to Clean a Composting Toilet

Composting toilet next to a fresh lake
Table of Contents

A Clean Machine

Every composting toilet is also a “dry toilet”. What makes the toilet dry is the separator which splits up number one and number two. The separators in our Trelino® composting toilets have been designed and tested to ensure the most dry, easy to clean mobile toilet for you! This means that you do not need to use water after each go. The use of water can be wasteful, heavy, and create the need for more frequent emptying. 

While the different sections may have different emptying cycles, which will be detailed later in the article, typically a composting toilet should be cleaned once a week or, at the latest, every 3-4 weeks. Less time cleaning equals more time to explore! 

The lack of water or chemicals used for the toilet is what makes cleaning and maintenance different from what you would be used to with your regular, flushing toilet at home. Regular emptying of both canisters is important to keep your toilet clean. Each piece included in a composting toilet has different qualities that need certain attention when cleaning. You’ll only need to clean the urine separator, the liquid canister, and the solids container. 

separation image

Even though the outdoors may be tough, here at Trelino®, we believe your mobile bathroom solution doesn’t have to be! To make your toilet even easier to clean than your one at home, we have compiled some tips to keep fresh. 

Standing Up to Smells: Cleaning the Separator  

One of the biggest concerns voiced by those looking into a mobile toilet option is the potential for smell. Any aroma that comes from regular cassette toilets (non-separating) is due to the combination of urine, poo, and chemicals. However, thanks to the separator in a composting toilet, you are able to avoid the stench and keep an overall, clean space. 

Urine Separator

While the smell issue has already been taken care of by the separator plus the litter material, there are several preventative measures you can take to upkeep the cleanliness of your Trelino®. We recommend wiping down the separating insert after each use. Just one swipe with some clean TP can keep urine residue away. This is in order to avoid any smells from the ammonia in your pee or lime build up that may occur if it is left too long. Additionally, spraying and wiping down this whole piece each time you empty the urine canister (2-3 days) would help to keep the seat clean and smelling fresh! 

The separator and seat can be sprayed with your solution, wiped down with a cloth, then dried out for further use. Its as easy as that! We also suggest more natural cleaning solutions. Bleach or any other artificial cleaners may break down the material of the toilet causing the seat to become bumpy or rough. 

Don’t Pee Afraid! Cleaning the Urine Canister

Urine CanisterWhile the size of each composting toilet and its waste canister differs, impacting the time needed between emptying and cleaning cycles, typically you would want to empty out your urine container every 2-3 days. This is in order to avoid any smells from the ammonia in your pee or lime build up that may occur if it is left too long. The canister can be cleaned after every second emptying. Some easy steps for cleaning are: 
  1. Empty the liquid canister in a way that complies with your local disposal regulations. In some cases, it can even be poured (in small amounts) into a planting area to provide nutrients. After you pour out the contents, the liquid canister can be cleaned easily. 
  2. When your canister is empty, you can spray or pour a vinegar/ citric acid solution into it and swish the liquid around. 
  3. If there is a lime buildup, a more concentrated solution can be used to wipe whichever area needs the extra care. For this you can use toilet paper or a soft rag.
  4. Finally, either air dry or wipe the canister with a dry cloth. 

No Nose Knows - Cleaning the Solids Container 

Solid Bucket

Dry toilets are made with the idea that the solids will be able to dry out, neutralizing the odor. The use of a bag to line the container will make the cleaning process much easier and is highly recommended. We suggest using bags made of a compostable material.

Typically, the solids container will need to be emptied when it gets full as scent is not as much of an issue here as it is in the liquids tank. Since you would be keeping the container clean by using a bag to line it, spraying and cleaning it are optional. If you would like to clean it, all you need to do is: 


  1. Tie up the bag that is lining the solids container.
  2. Dispose of the bag according to local regulations. If you would like to compost, make sure the bags, litter, and toilet paper used are made of compostable materials before tossing it in! 
  3. Give the container a rinse with the solution of your choice and allow it to dry completely before putting in a new bag and using it again!

Tools of the Trade

Each piece will need slightly different treatment, but here are some overall tips for what to use when cleaning your composting toilet: 

  • The smooth surfaces need to be cleaned with more gentle products so that you don’t scratch or corrode the toilet. Important: Water should not be used on its own.  Water only rinses and does not disinfect, get rid of any buildups, or eliminate smells that may linger. Additionally, using water when cleaning the urine canister, results in more smells instead of less.
  • We have found that a natural blend for a cleaning solution is best for the longevity of your toilet. We recommend a mixture of vinegar concentrate and water (1:7). Diluted citric acid can also be used in the same proportions. Either of these blends can easily be mixed in a spray bottle then applied to your toilet. 
  • A few things you should avoid when cleaning are the use of abrasive sponges or pads. Instead, a softer wash rag may be used.
  • Additionally, there are some drying tactics that will not work for a composting toilet. You cannot use a dishwasher, microwave, or oven to dry the individual parts out. Any of these may melt or damage the materials. 

Rinse and Repeat

With easy to disassemble parts, natural cleaning solutions, and a set up designed to fight odors, these Trelino® toilets should work for you and not the other way around! 


Origin M composting toilet at lake

1 comment

  • Jaqueline Biggs

    We lived with a composting loo for eight years. I found that in addition to the recommendations on your web site, giving the urine bottle a thorough soak with water and a denture tablet removes all build up, leaving the urine container like new.

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