How to Use a Composting Toilet


Composting toilets are called a number of names, from dry toilets to biological toilets and even the namesake of the inventor, a Clivus toilet. However, they all do the same thing; they turn human waste to compost instead of flushing it into a sewage system. There are two basic types: single chambered and double chambered, and they come in both active or passive modes. Active toilets produce compost quicker due to mechanical turning, but they both yield the same finished product, compost.

Step 1

Use a composting toilet like any other, except there is no flush.

Step 2

Solid waste can be deposited with no additive. If only liquid waste is added, a cup of peat moss needs to be sprinkled over the top.

Step 3

Active systems need to be tumbled monthly, and a handle will be provided with a tumbler inside. If they are electronically controlled, there will be no maintenance for this task.

Step 4

Many passive systems have dual chambers. When one chamber is filled, a handle is pulled to switch to the other chamber. This allows the filled chamber to biodegrade into compost.

Step 5

Depending upon which system you have, the chamber will take up to a year to turn into compost. This will need to be emptied by a shovel and a bucket and can be accessed by a door on the back of the chamber.

Tips and Warnings

  • As with any kind of compost, too much liquid will ruin it. Always add peat or sawdust when adding liquids.

Things You'll Need

  • Composting toilet
  • Bag of dried peat moss or sawdust
  • Shovel
  • 5-gallon bucket


  • Oikos: CompostingToilet Systems
  • City Farmer: We Have a Compost Toilet!
  • Low Impact Living Initiative: Compost Toilet Fact Sheet
Keywords: Clivus toilet, human waste to compost, compost toilet

About this Author

Dale Yelich, the Maintenance Guy, has been involved with do-it-yourself projects, home repair, household maintenance, and as a consultant with home and industries, for over 25 years. His work has appeared in the Lacrosse Tribune, Women's Day and New Home Journal, among others. Yelich has a Master of Science in zoology.