Just the idea of a compost (or waterless toilet) is a bit foreign to most. Whoever heard of a toilet that doesn’t use water? What happens when you flush? Oh, the mystery of it all! Truth is, each composting toilet is different and so there isn’t just a “one size fits all” approach to maintaining your composter. The size of the system, the make/model, and the frequency of use will determine how often you need to change the waste chamber. I first want to clear something up.
There is nothing magical about a composting toilet. If you pee on the floor (guys, you know you are guilty!), the bathroom will smell like urine. If you let urine sit in the tank for 2 weeks, it will smell like stale pee. If you poop and don’t use composting matter to cover it and to activate the composting, it will smell like a pile of poop, more than likely start to attract, ahem, things, and it will look simply gross when others go to use your commode. A composting toilet doesn’t empty itself or clean up after the user. It is an appliance of sorts that requires maintenance to function properly and with longevity. That said, here we go…
As with any toilet pedestal, a composting toilet pedestal will need to be cleaned over time. Poop drops, plain and simple. If it doesn’t hit the pedestal walls, you don’t have to clean as much. But if it hits the pedestal, it will need more regular cleaning than a conventional flush toilet.
Speaking of cleaning though, it is important to not use any harsh or toxic cleaning products that will offset the microbes working within your compost. Try to use ‘all-natural’ or ‘eco-friendly’ products to clean. Don’t skimp on effectiveness. You have to scrub no matter what cleaning agent you use!
Waste chutes (as they are formally called) – the holes your pee and poo goes through – are often cleaning just by wiping the surface clean with a rag and warm water. You can go a step further and use a rag, warm water, and diluted lemon juice. For harder to reach spots or really dirty spots, just put on an elbow deep glove, grab an abrasive sponge, and clean! Provided you thoroughly wash your hands and arms afterward, there is nothing harmful about scrubbing human waste.
When it comes to the urine container, you should dump when the tinkle line is at 2/3 full. The speed at which this height is reached depends on the number of people using the toilet. When you dump, you should rinse the tank with a little water (enough to cover the bottom of the container), swirl a bit, and dump again. You may even want to put a small amount (maybe 16oz.) of water in the container when you place it back in the toilet so that the urine can be diluted some as it accrues again. What you don’t want is for a build-up to occur on the bottom and sides of the plastic container.
There is nothing scary about a composting toilet (other than the smell of 2-week old tinkle) and they are quite natural to use when living in a tiny house. But they do require maintenance and it is important for such to be practiced.
What do you think? Do you currently use a composting toilet? Would you use one? Let us know in the comments below or join us for one of our discussions on our Facebook page!