The Interesting Facts and History of Porta-Potties

history of porta potty

What is a Porta-Potty?

A porta-potty is a temporary restroom that is frequently used at outdoor gatherings, building sites, and other places without access to permanent restrooms. A toilet bowl and a holding tank for waste are contained in a compact enclosure constructed of plastic or another material. For short-term use, porta potties are frequently rented or bought. They are made to be portable and simple to set up in various areas. In places where the installation of permanent toilets is not practical or cost-effective, they are frequently utilized as a temporary solution to sanitary needs.

Porta potties have become such an essential part of the modern world. They are used everywhere, from events, festivals, disaster relief operations, and construction sites. But did you know that they have been around for thousands of years? In this article, let's look back on how this humble commodity has become what it is today.

You see it everywhere - in public places and private events. But what exactly is a porta-potty?

A porta-potty, also called a porta-john, portable toilet, or chemical toilet is a temporary and portable structure that contains a urinal, toilet seat, and a holding tank. Some potties have a flushing mechanism and some don't. But almost all units today are made of plastic, which is either aluminum or polyethylene.

So what makes it different from outhouses? Well, a porta-potty is mobile and it's not connected to the sewage or plumbing. So you can move it around either by a person or mechanical equipment. Overall, its main purpose is to temporarily hold waste until a professional sanitation team disposes of it.

Who invented the porta-potty?

A porta-potty is an alternative to using public restrooms.

The porta-potty was invented in the US by George A. Kraus of Bolingbrook, Illinois in 1965. The porta potty is mainly used at construction sites and outdoor events where there are no toilets available.

A port-a-potty is an alternative to using public restrooms because it is usually found at construction sites and outdoor events where there are no toilets available.


Facts and a Brief History

As mentioned earlier, porta-potties have been around for a very long time. Here are the important facts about the history of the porta-potty.

First Discoveries

  • 14th Century BC

According to historians, the first porta-potties can be dated back to ancient Egypt during the 14th century BC. Upon the discovery of Kha's tomb, a royal architect in the mid-18th Dynasty, a wooden stool with a hole carved in the middle was discovered. Attached to it was a vase-like device that was used to hold urine and feces.

  • 6th Century BC

Records also show that the use of portable restrooms can be dated back as far as the 6th century BC in Greece. During that time, toilets were made of lead, clay, tin, stone, ceramic, and ironstone. Some were also delftware. They were commonly used in bedrooms or chambers. Thus, earning the name chamber pots. While old, the practice of using such items is still present to this day. In particular, people in North Korea, China, and the Philippines still use chamber pots.

Birth of the Modern Porta-Potty

  • The 1940s

The history of the porta-potty goes back to the 1940s, particularly in Longbeach, California. It is said that a dock manager observed that his men were wasting time going to and from the docks to the nearest restrooms. So to save work time and help the crew, he created temporary toilets on the ships. These portable restrooms were made of wood and metal with small holding tanks.

Now, these portable toilets were heavy, hard to move around, and a bit difficult to empty. Furthermore, since they didn't have the luxuries modern portable restrooms have, they were hard to maintain and clean. The smell was also a major issue. But while they are purely utilitarian, they did prove to be very useful. More importantly, they were effective in helping crew members stay a long time in the ships without going back to the shore to relieve themselves.

  • The 1950s to 1960s

Since the first modern portable toilets proved to be very effective, many industries took interest in them and the need for portable restrooms increased significantly. As a result, a lot of companies started making their portable toilet models. These were sold to event organizers and construction workers.

  • The 1960s

Around this time, companies were looking for ways on how to make portable restrooms easier to move and transport. So George Harding, co-founder of PolyJohn Enterprises Corporation, designed a unit that uses a lighter material instead of wood or metal. This was a success and he was issued the first U.S patent for a polyethylene plastic portable restroom.

  • The 1970s

Other companies tried using other lighter materials as well, such as fiberglass. However, while it did help in cleanliness and transportation, this had some serious issues. First, fiberglass was fragile, which made the restrooms prone to breaking and harder to build. This material also absorbed odors and bad smells. Thus, making the experience quite unpleasant.

  • The 1980s

By the 1980s, plastic has completely replaced fiberglass as the material for porta-potties. It's no surprise since they were lighter, more durable, and easier to move around. Furthermore, they were quicker to build and assemble. This also made it easier to swap or change damaged parts.

  • Modern Day

In the modern portable restroom industry, polyethylene plastic remains to be the best and most common building material available. This made the porta-potties of today light and mobile. Moreover, this made them easy to construct, clean, and maintain. And that's not all. Companies have also added "luxury porta-potties" or upgrades to their units, including chemicals that help in biodegrading solid waste. There are also those with sanitizers and tissue paper. All these ensure a better smelling portable toilet and a more comfortable experience.


Use of Porta-Potty

A porta-potty is required whenever there are no single or adequate restroom options nearby. This is why whenever you are hosting an event, either outdoors or partially outdoors, renting one or more is essential. But when exactly does a porta-potty should be used?

Here's a list of the most common events or circumstances when you'll need a porta-potty:

  • Fairs and carnivals
  • Farmer's markets
  • Corporate events
  • Concerts
  • Sporting events and tournaments
  • Festivals
  • Fundraisers
  • Disaster relief operations
  • Construction

Now, a porta-potty isn't just for occasions with large crowds. It can also be used for private events like weddings, birthdays, or anytime you need to keep indoor traffic down. And if you are looking for a porta-potty for rent, you can trust Island Restroom Suites. We offer modern event porta-potties that are not only convenient but guaranteed clean and comfortable too.

How to Keep a Porta Potty from Smelling?


A porta potty is a toilet that is erected for temporary use. They are often installed at construction sites or outdoor events where there is no access to a regular toilet. It needs to be emptied and cleaned out regularly.

Porta potties tend to smell bad because the water doesn't drain as well as it should, and the smell from any waste matter can linger. In order to keep a porta potty from smelling, make sure it's emptied regularly, and keep all chemicals for cleaning for cleanliness away from it.

A porta potty is designed to let you go when you need to go. The problem is that there are times when the smell lingers for hours after usage.

You can keep your porta potty free of odors by following these three steps:

1) Clean out the potty before use

2) Spray with a disinfectant or leave an air freshener in it

3) Keep the lid closed

There are many ways to keep a porta potty from smelling. One of the most effective ways is to use an odor-absorbing gel that will trap the smell in the gel, preventing it from getting into the air. You can also try spraying down your toilet with bleach or another disinfectant, before using it.

You can choose from our standard portable toilets, which features a urinal, toilet, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper rolls. We also have a Handi event portable toilets, which are perfect for those with special needs. They are larger with a more spacious interior, providing wheelchair access. To learn more about our services or if you are wondering about how much is a porta-potty rental, you can call us at 786-766-1076. You can also email us today with your portable restroom trailer needs and concerns.

Leave a Comment