Bucket Toilets: Advantages And Disadvantages

People around the world from all walks of life are looking for less wasteful alternatives to traditional toilet systems. 

Additionally, many people unfortunately do not have access to modern toilet facilities, meaning that they are forced to consider different ways of collecting and getting rid of human waste. 

Bucket Toilets Advantages And Disadvantages

In this article, we will be discussing a toilet system known as the bucket toilet. We’ll define this type of toilet before covering the advantages and disadvantages of such a system.

We will also be explaining how you can upgrade a bucket toilet for health and safety purposes.

What Is A Bucket Toilet? 

A bucket toilet is pretty much what it sounds like. It is a type of dry toilet system where urine and fecal matter are collected in a bucket. Bucket toilets might be located inside or outside of a home.

As you can imagine, a bucket toilet is not an ideal toilet situation, so they are typically used in situations where there is no access to modern toilet facilities.

They might be used in survival or emergency situations, and they may be found in developing countries or low-income housing. 

Bucket toilets can be upgraded in a variety of ways, which we will discuss later in this article. When a bucket toilet system has been improved, it may be referred to as a composting toilet or a container-based sanitation system. 

Advantages Of Bucket Toilets

If you have been accustomed to modernized sanitation and toilet systems, you might not immediately think that bucket toilets have advantages over flush toilets, but actually, there are several reasons why bucket toilets might be useful: 


The first and most obvious advantage of a bucket toilet over a flush toilet is that the former is portable, which means you can effectively take your bucket toilet with you if you’re on the move. 

In an emergency or survival situation, such as a natural disaster or if you’re stranded somewhere, the portability of a bucket toilet would prove very useful.

While such a situation obviously still isn’t ideal by any means, you wouldn’t have access to a flushing toilet in these circumstances, so a bucket toilet would be your best option. 

Less Water Usage 

If you’re willing to take drastic measures in order to save water, a bucket toilet is a possible solution because it doesn’t use water the way a flushing toilet does. 

If you have a compost system in place, you can take the waste from the bucket out to the composting area. However, this would most likely be referred to as a composting toilet, which is considered an upgrade on the basic bucket toilet. 

Still, given the fact that excessive water consumption has been linked to the destruction of ecosystems and water shortages, the fact that a bucket toilet doesn’t use water is definitely an advantage. 

Suitable For Cold Climates 

If you’ve never lived in a very cold climate, you may not have thought about this before, but using a flushing toilet can be problematic in areas where the temperatures are below freezing. 

That’s because the water in the flush system may freeze in the pipes, causing pipe breakages and incurring high costs of maintenance and repairs.

In very cold places like Alaska and Canada, bucket toilets might help to save on toilet maintenance costs and work as temporary sanitation systems when pipes break due to the cold.

Disadvantages Of Bucket Toilets 

Disadvantages Of Bucket Toilets 

While there are certainly a few advantages to using a bucket toilet, there are definitely disadvantages, particularly where the use of a bucket toilet is forced through economic circumstances. 

Less Sanitary 

First and most obviously, using a bucket toilet can lead to sanitation problems, especially if it is not properly maintained. 

There are pathogens contained in human feces that can spread and cause illness if the bucket toilet is not covered securely.

Spillages can occur if the toilet isn’t bolted or otherwise secured to the ground, and infrequent cleaning or not using liners can quickly cause a bucket toilet to become a health hazard due to the buildup of waste matter.

Odor Issues 

Another problem with bucket toilets is the odor. Unless the toilet is cleaned immediately and thoroughly after every use, odors are likely to build up and spread, even if a covering is used. 

This is especially true when using a single-bucket system as opposed to two buckets because urine and feces mix together. 


Because bucket toilets have to be emptied and cleaned after every use to maintain hygiene and prevent the spread of odors, using one of these toilets involves regular and thorough maintenance. 

Compared to a flush toilet where you just need to press down on a handle or button and clean with bleach a couple of times per week, a bucket toilet is much more high-maintenance.

It must be emptied somewhere and washed with detergent and warm water every time someone uses it.

How Can I Upgrade My Bucket Toilet System?

You can upgrade a single-bucket toilet system by adding a second bucket to separate urine and feces.

This will help to minimize odors and maintenance since the urine-only bucket only needs to be emptied and cleaned once daily provided that the urine is diluted with water. 

You could also upgrade to a compost toilet system by using biodegradable liners or absorbent materials such as sawdust. A composting toilet may have a separate composting chamber and waste is taken out to an external composting facility. 

Final Thoughts 

Bucket toilets use less water than flush toilets. They’re also portable, useful in emergency situations, and are suitable for use in cold climates where plumbing systems sustain damage due to freezing temperatures. 

However, bucket toilets also come with increased sanitation risks and odor problems, and they’re more effort to maintain since they need to be emptied and cleaned after each use. 

A two-bucket system may minimize odor and reduce maintenance due to the urine-only bucket, which needs cleaning just once daily. However, a more comfortable and sanitary upgrade is the composting toilet.

Joel Adams
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