What Is a Dry Flush Toilet?

When camping, living in a campervan, or in a tiny home, it’s typically not possible to have a regular toilet that you find in the home. For this reason, many people have come up with creative ways to go to the bathroom both easily, and without odors. One such is a dry flush toilet, today I will explain exactly what one is.

In general, a dry flush toilet collects what you put in it into a bag, and doesn’t use any water at all. When you ‘flush’ it, it inflates air around what you put in it and spins the special bag multiple times to seal it off from the rest of the bag so it can be reused.

Many people wonder whether a dry flush toilet has an odor. Below, I will explain whether dry flush toilets smell, how they receive power to flush, and how many times they can be used before they need emptying.

How Does a Dry Flush Toilet Work

A dry flush toilet uses a special watertight bag, that is housed inside a bigger trash bag. A dry flush toilet can be used up to about 15 times before you tie the trash bag, and throw it away into the trash. 

a dry flush toilet with watertight bag inside
Image from AlumaIce

It has a rechargeable battery, that powers the engine and the fan. The fan inflates the bag around what you put in it. It then rotates the bag quite a few times which seals it off from the rest of the bag. It then deflates the bag, and the bag returns to being pushed up against the sides of the bowl.

The entire toilet is movable. And has a very sturdy lid, almost identical to a regular toilet seat. It has a range of advantages over other ways of going to the bathroom when your toilet doesn’t have access to plumbing.

  • It doesn’t smell.
  • When you use it, it’s virtually identical to a real toilet – apart from the way it flushes.
  • When you empty it, you can throw the bag into the trash – everything is perfectly sealed.

Here’s a video that shows how a dry flush toilet works by pouring water into it:

Other common methods of going to the bathroom when you don’t have access to the plumbing are to:

  • Use a regular bucket and fill it with sawdust, or similar
  • Dig a hole and bury it
  • Construct a reusable outdoor toilet
  • Go in the bush or somewhere where no one will go

Each of these methods aren’t overly bad. But, can present a few problems. The main one is the smell, and finding a suitable place. A dry flush toilet is ideally suited for campervans, tiny houses, and vans. As well as, anywhere remote where you don’t have a flush toilet. However, the battery does need to get charged from time to time. 

If you can poop in a dry flush toilet

It’s possible to poop in a dry flush toilet. A dry flush toilet is designed in a way that poop is completely sealed off from the rest of the bag, according to dry flush toilet manufacturers like Laveo

This is because the bag is completely watertight. And after you flush it the bag is spun multiple times to create a water and air-tight seal. This leaves the remainder of the bag to be used many more times. On average, about 15 times total.

a dry flush toilet in a bus
Image from WoodyBus

Whether a dry flush toilet bad for the environment

A dry flush toilet is somewhat bad for the environment. It’s about the same as throwing out a bag of garbage with organic waste in it. Poop and pee are biodegradable and are good for the soil. But, when you empty a dry flush toilet it’s thrown out in a black plastic bag. 

Plastic in general takes a long time to decompose. The special water-tight metallic bag inside the garbage bag also takes a long time to decompose. A compostable toilet or an outhouse-type toilet that has a hole dug into the ground is more environmentally friendly than a dry flush toilet.

The reason is after you dump out a compostable toilet, or cover up an outhouse-type toilet with soil it will begin to break down without the use of a plastic bag. This means it breaks down a lot faster than a dry flush toilet bag.

Do Dry Flush Toilets Smell

A common issue with non-conventional toilets is they can develop quite an odor. This makes it somewhat uncomfortable to use, as you need to hold your nose or only breath through your mouth. So, do dry flush toilets smell?

As a general rule, dry flush toilets do not smell. Companies such as Laveo have created a bag and technology that completely seals off the odor and the waste. However, check with a specific dry flush toilet manufacturer to see that it is indeed odorless, as it can vary by brand.

It will typically be listed on their frequently asked question page (FAQ). Or, you will need to contact them directly over email if it’s not explained on their website.

How Do You Empty a Dry Flush Toilet

A dry flush toilet will eventually need to be emptied. Unlike a conventional toilet, the waste is stored in a bag. Here’s how you empty a dry flush toilet.

As a general rule, a dry flush toilet empties automatically when you press the button. It can be used around 15 times before it needs to be emptied manually. To empty it manually you pull out the black trash bag around the inner bag and dispose of it in the trash.

One issue many people have with a dry flush toilet is that the refill bags are reasonably expensive. A typical person goes to the bathroom anywhere from 1 to 3 times a day. Especially to urinate. 

When using a dry flush toilet, it’s best not to use it if you need to go pee. That way it will cut the costs of buying a new bag by a lot. But, in some cases it’s impractical, and you will need to use it to pee.

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