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How to Use a Composting Toilet

By Dale Yalanovsky ; Updated September 21, 2017

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.


Things You Will Need

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


  • In the United States, biological toilet compost has not been approved as fertilizer for edible fruits and vegetables. However, it can be used for flowers, trees and grass.
  • Always use 100 percent biodegradable toilet paper in a composting toilet.


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

About the Author


Dale Yalanovsky has been writing professionally since 1978. He has been published in "Woman's Day," "New Home Journal" and on many do-it-yourself websites. He specializes in do-it-yourself projects, household and auto maintenance and property management. Yalanovsky also writes a bimonthly column that provides home improvement advice.