Magazine, Travel

How Does a Camping Toilet Work?

Traveling in a caravan has many advantages, such as the fact that you always have your camping toilet. Most commonly found in trailers and mobile homes, the so-called cassette toilet. The most widely used brand is likely to be Thetford. The cassette toilet is a camping toilet that works with chemical odor inhibitors and water flushing.

There are other systems, but these are rarely in use, we will focus on the most common cassette toilet. Other camping toilets are eg decent fuel toilets and dry toilets.

Camping toilet operation

The significant advantage of the chemical camping toilet is that you do not need a power connection or a water connection. The rinse water is namely flushed with a mechanical pump (usually a piston pump) in the toilet bowl through the open slide. How to use the camping toilet I’ll explain later. But before the first use, it needs some preparation.

How to prepare a camping toilet?

It usually takes two different chemical additives and special, easily decomposable, toilet paper for the cassette toilet before first use. The chemical additives are needed above all from a hygienic point of view and to avoid unpleasant odors.

The fecal matter begins to “ferment” almost immediately and develop stinking fumes if one does not encounter this with chemistry. This is also the reason why many campers do not use their camping toilet, or only in an emergency. Especially in midsummer, it can still come to smells, if the camping toilet is not emptied frequently enough and is also heavily frequented. But more on that below.

How and where to fill your cassettes Campingklo is at every caravan near the camping toilet. Sometimes like inside the service flap, sometimes directly in the toilet lid …

1. Sanitary liquid for the rinse water

The first chemical additive is a sanitary liquid for the rinse water from the fresh water tank. This uncontaminated fluid is usually filled at the caravan from the outside via a connecting piece together with the clean water. The toilet new water tank is to be found separately from the drinking water tank, near the toilet. At the caravan or mobile home, there is a service flap on the outside. When you open it, you will usually see the sewage tank and the fresh water tank directly behind it. Most of the upper, fold-out nozzle is for the rinse water.

The sanitary liquid should be well mixed with the fresh water before the first rinse. Then later use the toilet flushing water, it has a purifying effect for the pelvis and the slider. It prevents water and urine stones and has a germicidal effect. Also, the toilet bowl is easier to keep clean with a light film that is placed over the plastic at each rinse. Some refrain from adding rinse water, but I recommend giving it to you.

In what concentration the sanitary liquid is added is on the packaging. Check the amount of water in the fresh water tank of the camping toilet and then calculate the required amount of sanitary liquid.

2. Chemical additive for the sewage tank

Indispensable for a camping toilet without smell is, in any case, the chemical camping toilet additive for the wastewater tank/sewage tank. This chemical additive for the camping toilet accelerates the decomposition of the feces and prevents odors. The chemical addition also reduces gas formation.

The addition of the chemistry also takes place from the outside after opening the service flap. Pull out the waste tank, open the container and add the chemistry. Then add a little water, but not more than 0,5-1,0l. Very practical, we find the Dometic Power Care Tabs. You can not dose wrong, just put a tab in the waste tank and you’re done.

The chemicals for the camping toilet should always be handled with due care. Please observe the information provided by the manufacturer. Wear Gummin gloves for filling and emptying. Sometimes goggles are recommended.

Is camping toilet additive biodegradable?

In trade, there are also many more environmentally friendly variants of camping toilet additives. Unfortunately, my attempts failed miserably. The customer reviews at the various online retailers do not bode well.

Have you already found an environmentally friendly and biodegradable sanitary liquid? Let us know. We will gladly carry out our test for this sterile liquid or Sanitärabs and report on it.

3. A fast-decomposing toilet paper

The third accessory for your camping toilet is a toilet paper that decomposes quickly. A toilet paper specially developed for mobile toilets dissolves very soon in the sewage tank. This prevents obstructions when emptying and there is no damage or malfunction.

Of course, this special toilet paper is also more expensive than regular toilet paper. Therefore, many use commercial toilet paper from the supermarket. But who once had to empty a clogged sewage tank will then quickly resort to the more expensive camping toilet paper.

An alternative is toilet paper from 100% pulp. This dissolves quite well in the tank, but it takes a few hours longer. One usually does not have any blockages with the cassette emptying.

You can also read our Best RV Cover for The Money guide to buying the best one.

How does a camping toilet work?

After all the preparations have been made, you can already use the Porta Potti. If you have never used or seen a mobile toilet, you may well wonder how it works?

But that’s not much different than a standard toilet. However, a few small things should be noted.

  1. Fold up the toilet lid 
  2. Check that the level indicator is still in the green area
  3. Open slide before use. Most Thetford toilets open the toilet slider by turning a dedicated plastic part. In front of a more extensive shop, I rinse the toilet briefly with rinse water and put toilet paper all around in the bowl (release hole). This facilitates cleaning afterward immensely.
  4. After completing the “business,” flush the toilet. Mostly by pressing a pump next to the toilet seat.
  5. If necessary, remove residual traces (with brush or toilet paper)
  6. Close the slide again

That’s it. Quite simple, but I know that many do not dare to ask that question 

Camping toilet disposal

If the level indicator above changes from green/red to red, it is time to empty the sewage tank at the latest. But it may also be necessary to do this sooner. In southern countries or even in summer when the outside temperature is above 30 ° C, you can not wait for a less frequented camping toilet until the display has changed to red. Due to the heat, even the best chemistry will fail at some point and when you open the gate, it will give you an unpleasant smell.

Since the sewage tank is located on the outside of the caravan, the sun can shine with full force on the outer skin and the tank heats up strongly.

For outside temperatures above 30 ° C, you should empty the waste water tank every 2-3 days.

Empty camping toilet – instructions

  1. Please inform Mitcamper that you should empty the tank and not use the bathroom
  2. Make sure that the slide is closed
  3. Wear rubber gloves
  4. Remove the container from outside via the service flap (instructions usually in the door of the service flap)
  5. Go to the disposal station of the campsite. The disposal station is often clearly marked.
  6. Open the disposal nozzle. Hold the sewage tank firmly with both hands.
  7. Press the existing ventilation button with one hand. This is important so that it does not splash accidentally.
  8. Hold breath. Empty the contents of the tank. Then continue breathing …
  9. Rinse the tank well. Mostly a hose is available with which this can be done well.
  10. Leave the drainage station clean and, if necessary, clean it with the flushing hose.
  11. Add chemicals before installing the tank in the caravan
Please make sure that the disposal takes place only at the locations specially marked! Never drain in gullies or nature.


Are you winter, camper? Then there is a risk that your camping toilet will freeze. You should then absolutely add an antifreeze additive. The simple car windshield frost protection is perfect here. Expensive special agents are not necessary.

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