A porta potty rental has countless benefits for your outdoor event or construction site such as providing convenience and cost savings. However, there’s also one drawback: these units sure can be smelly. 

Is this just the way it has to be? Must your guests and staff hold their noses when they use the bathroom? Thankfully, there are several ways to freshen up a stinky porta potty between servicing, keeping it clean for guests and workers. 

Read on to learn more about how to keep your porta potty rental fresh and ready between service visits. 

Why Does My Porta Potty Smell?

If you’ve ever been brave enough to look down the toilet bowl in a porta potty, you likely saw a deep blue liquid. This is a deodorizer used to prevent the growth of odour-causing bacteria and mask the toilet contents. 

If this liquid is present, and if portable toilets are serviced regularly, why do so many of them smell? There are actually several reasons this can happen:

  • ​​High usage: Either a large construction site team or an event with hundreds or thousands of people, waste can accumulate rather quickly and overwhelm the deodorizing capacity of the chemicals. 
  • Not enough ventilation: Portable toilets are private, which often means they have a lack of ventilation. This traps odour inside.
  • Heat and sunlight: Often made of PVC, a thick, durable plastic, portable toilets trap heat which can accelerate the breakdown of waste and amplify toilet smells.
  • Inconsistent servicing: Though it’s typically part of a portable restroom rental agreement that the rental company will service the units, this isn’t always the case. A lack of servicing will often lead to smelly washrooms.
  • Chemical breakdown: Deodorizing chemicals, while powerful, have their limits. They break down over time and can be diluted by heavy use. 
  • User habits: How users treat the portable washroom matters. Excessive use of toilet paper or the improper disposal of non-biodegradable items can affect the overall smell. 
Handwashing station between porta pottys at a construction site

5 Ways to Keep Your Porta Potty Rental Fresh

Preparing for outdoor events can be exciting! Whether you are planning for a special occasion or the promise of a construction site, including outdoor toilets in your plan is essential to the success of your event or project.

But how do you clean a portable toilet? All the logistics can become a bit overwhelming, so let us help. Here are 5 essential steps to keeping your portable toilets fresh:

  • Be Ready for Your Guests & Staff

Order enough units! Knowing the number of people needing to access as well as the duration of guests’ stay is critical to the success of the unit. The typical rule for the accommodations is that, for 4 hours, you need 1 portable toilet per 50 individuals. If there is food and/ or alcohol at the event, this number may need to increase slightly.  

Additionally, more portable toilets are needed if there are significantly more women than men and the total should increase by 10%-20%. If the portable toilets are being used for a work site, a good number is one toilet per 10 workers.

Use our free portable toilet calculator to find out how many toilets you need for your event or job site.

  • Ensure Your Portable Toilet Receives Serviced

Bad smells in a portable toilet indicate a lack of cleanliness, health, and safety. Depending on the usage, a portable toilet should be cleaned once a week. When choosing FenceLine Rentals Ltd. for your porta potty rental, our team will service your toilet weekly.

Here’s what the process looks like:

  • The unit will be completely pumped and the hose should be all of the way at the bottom and to the side to prevent debris from being sucked and clogged in the hose. 
  • The waste tank is refilled with an additive that breaks down and cleans the waste. 
  • The door to the unit will be kept open, allowing the odors and air to circulate. Fresh air is also important to provide between cleanings. 
  • We’ll clean surfaces with warm, soapy water to remove germs, dirt, and grime.

Routine cleaning and maintenance ensure the health, safety, and integrity of the toilet. The waste can be hazardous if not disposed of carefully and properly. Therefore, waste management should be performed by a certified and regulated company for the best maintenance and safety of the toilets.

  • Maintain a Sufficient Supply of Hygiene Products

Don’t leave your guests or staff guessing. Make sure all of your portable washrooms are well stocked. 

Handwashing stations, soap, paper towels, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and disinfectant wipes are all fundamental in keeping portable toilets fully functioning. When your toilets are supplied and clear expectations are set, it is easier for those using them to maintain proper hygiene habits.

  • Deodorize!

Cleaning portable toilets and keeping them supplied is important, but don’t forget that having products to control odours is also helpful. Most professionals rely on products with the deepest blue colors to control and mask odors and sights. 

These products should contain 4 main components: biocides, dyes, fragrances, and surfactants. Just like you, showering and scrubbing are crucial but deodorant is key for the times in-between.

  • Be Prepared for the Weather

Everyone knows that portable toilets get a bad rap for being smelly. This doesn’t have to be the case though, if chemistry and some knowledge are involved in preparation. 

During the warmer seasons, a portable toilet’s temperature can far exceed that of the outdoors. This is an excellent condition for growing bacteria. The right balance of chemicals can substantially reduce the unpleasant odours created. 

Likewise, in the extreme cold, the chemicals in the septic tank can freeze, creating unique and smelly challenges. Adding a salty brine will reduce the freezing point and allow the chemicals to perform more effectively.

Row of porta potties

Keep Porta Potty Rentals Fresh with FenceLine Rentals Ltd.

At FenceLine Rentals Ltd., our portable toilets and services are available to help make your event or project the best experience possible for your guests or workers. We offer many portable services, including handwashing stations, portable toilet rentals, waste management, and temporary fence rentals and sales.

Our team of experts can help you make your next gathering or project the most successful! Contact us today to learn about our many equipment rentals in Edmonton and Calgary.


How do portable toilets work?

Portable toilets are self-contained units made of durable plastic. Beneath the toilet seat is a holding tank to collect waste. The tank contains a blue deodorizing chemical that breaks down waste and reduces odours. Vents at the top of the unit let gases escape, helping to minimize smells. 

These units are serviced weekly, which includes pumping out the waste, cleaning the unit, and replenishing the deodorizer. 

How much waste can a portable toilet hold?

A standard-size portable toilet can hold around 227 to 265 litres of waste. This equates to about 100 uses before it needs to be serviced.