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5 Mistakes to avoid when building your DIY composting toilet

Building your own DIY composting toilet may seem daunting, but by doing a little bit of research and avoiding these 5 mistakes you are set up for success!

One of the most important factors in the success of a composting toilet is simplicity; the trifecta of using, emptying, and cleaning. As long as you keep these three steps convenient and working smoothly, your toilet will be a success.

However, if you make the 5 following mistakes, you likely won’t be a fan of composting toilets.

Mistake 1: Make it hard to empty

Nobody want’s to carry a toilet out of their bathroom every time they have to empty it. 

Make sure you plan ahead for emptying your toilet, and optimize that step. Build the solids and liquids departments effortless to reach. Maybe easy to open the top, a drawer to slide out, or a combination of both. Whatever works best for your toilet space and (this is an important one) for your physical capabilities.

Some might struggle to lift a 6 gal bag from top and need an alternative, others might not have the space for a drawer. What works for one person and their space might not work for you. 

Mistake 2: Not moisture proofing it

Even if you have the perfect schedule, and the genius overflow alarm, accidents are going to happen. Even if it’s just a particularly rough dirt road that you didn’t expect, or your guests thought that red light was a cool feature.

If accidents happen, you don’t want to clean them off untreated wood, or fabric or, worse yet, realize too late that it’s already been soaking into the material and your bathroom floor. 

Moisture proofing is as easy as applying a couple layers of polyurethane, or using waterproof materials like metal and plastic. In preparation for the worst-case scenario, make sure you know where the pee is going if/when it overflows so you are prepared for the cleanup.

Mistake 3: Too little capacity

We won’t sugarcoat it, emptying your toilet is a chore. Not necessarily one you have to dread (if you’ve taken care of mistakes #1 and #2), but a chore nonetheless. You don’t want to empty the pee jug multiple times a day, and you’ll want to expect the solids bucket to last at least couple days before it needs emptying. Build accordingly! An adult produces 1-2 liters of urine a day. Multiply that by the number of people using your toilet on a daily basis.

1-3 weeks is about average for emptying a solids bucket in a compost toilet but it will depend on many factors such as bucket size, number of people, and amount of toilet paper used.The bigger your solids bucket the longer you can go between emptying (and with the right covering material and adequate separation of liquids and solids you can easily stretch that time without noticing any smells). 

The Throne DIY setup uses a deluxe 6-gallon bucket for even more time between emptying.


Mistake 4: Building in lots of nooks and crannies

Nooks and crannies, hard to reach spots, and edges aren’t a problem when using your composting toilet, however, when it comes to cleaning you’ll learn soon how to dread every crevice that you can’t reach with a sponge or wipe. Trust us, don’t build Q-tip only ledges, or even worse, spots where dirt can get to, but you can’t.

The simpler a composting toilet setup, the easier it is to clean. Use whole sheets of plywood instead of several smaller pieces, use easily cleanable materials wherever possible (as in metal, plastic sheets, plastic containers), and plan your cleaning procedure ahead of time. 

Mistake 5: Spending too much money on it

We can all agree that we don’t need to spend a grand to poop into a bucket. That is – next to versatility – one of the main reasons for going the DIY route in terms of composting toilets.

Quality DIY components don’t need to be expensive. The Throne DIY components are inexpensive, USA made products that make building your composting toilet not only easy but also affordable. And that’s without skimping on the quality. 

Now that you know the 5 biggest mistakes to avoid, grab your plywood and your Throne diverter and get building! Check out the free DIY Throne plans for an easy to follow tutorial, or come up with your own design. Questions! Feel free to contact our team with a combined 34 years of experience with composting toilets. 





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