Compost Toilet DIY

As everyone who follows this site knows, we are fairly fanatical about preserving water and composting anything that we can.

Let me ask you a question.

If you owned Chickens, or if you do, would you, or do you, compost their droppings?

You would?  You do?  So why don’t you compost your own poo and pee?

Urrghh!!  It’s nasty I hear you say!  Well, get over it.  Parents face much nastier things when they are bringing up children.  Quite a hands on approach to bodily wastes is involved.  So what is so nasty about simply emptying a sawdust covered, non smelling bucket on to the compost heap?


We all have to buy food.  We eat it and then, rather than treating the waste as a valuable addition to our soil fertility we give it to the sewage waste system.  It’s crazy.  We have paid good money for this valuable source of very rich compostable material.  Making a compost toilet is very easy and cheap to do.  I will not go in to the exact design, with measurements etc as it is so simple you can figure it out yourself.

I will, however cover what you will need and how it is easy to build compost toilets.

Compost Toilet Design

Stop flushing away that compostable goodness, let’s go Compost Toilet DIY crazy!  Keep your poo and pee for your compost heap.

compost-toiletWhat you will need:

  • A hinged Toilet Seat. Choose plain white, wooden, etc.
  • A sheet of ply-wood
  • A bin or bucket with a lid that can be securely fixed
  • A few screws
  • A few hours of your time!

That’s it.  I made ours in no time at all.

How To Build Compost Toilets

As you have seen, to build compost toilets does not need lots of materials.  The building of it is very straightforward as well.

Here is how to do it:

Firstly, the Bin that you have purchased should be roughly the same height as your Toilet.  You are building around it so it needs to be just below the natural height that you sit on the loo.

Next, depending on where you want it to be or how big you want the surface surrounding the seat to be, you will make a box, oblong etc, to enclose the bin.

Measure the height of the bin and cut the wood for the four sides so they are exactly the same height as the bin.  The depth should be just a fraction larger than the length of the Toilet Seat you have purchased.

Use a few odd pieces of wood to strengthen the internal angles of the four sides and screw the open box together.

Now you have an open box with your bucket inside.

Place a piece of wood large enough to cover the open box you have made on the top. Next place the Toilet Seat on top of this where you are going to fix it in place.  Lift the top lid of the seat and draw around the hole.  Draw again, this time 1 cm outside the line you have already drawn.  You want to cut this hole out.  Use a drill to make an opening and then use a Jigsaw to cut out the hole.

You now have your box with the bin inside and a lid with the hole in it.

It is now simply a matter of screwing the Toilet Seat on and you have your own Compost Toilet!

It can then be painted, varnished, tiled, or however you want it to look.  You may need to tweak a few things as you go but it is fairly straightforward to build.

How To Use Your DIY Compost Toilet

Here is how we use ours.  We line the bottom with sawdust but Grass, paper etc is just as good.

Keep a receptacle nearby containing the sawdust and a container that you can use to sprinkle it in to the bin after you have used it.

Some people even make a Compost Toilet that has two holes in the top.  One for your compostable poo and pee and the other for the sawdust.

Each time you use the Compost Toilet as you would a normal toilet, you simply sprinkle the sawdust inside to cover everything up.  This makes it odourless and you don’t see anything that will put you off going about your business!

When it is starting to get full you simply lift off the removable lid, or lift the hinged lid if you got adventurous, affix the lid to the bin and lift it out.

You then make a decent hole in your compost heap, empty the bin, clean it out with water initially, then with a bit of washing up liquid and water, using a brush specific for the purpose.  Sprinkle some sawdust in the bottom and you are good to go again.

I really can’t tell you how good for your soil this will be.  To all the men out there, you should be peeing on your Compost Heap anyway.  The Nitrogen in your wee is so good for speeding up the rate at which your Compost Heap will start working.

Just think how much water you will save by having spent a few minutes contemplating your Compost Toilet Plans and then putting the final result in to use.  Not only that, you will have more Veggies, as when you tell your friends what they grew in they won’t want them!  Trust me, people are very funny about this.

Here is what you can tell people who object to using Humanure:

You eat food grown in Horse Shit, Cow Shit, Chicken Shit so get over it!

Sorry about that!

Look, I advise you to read up about the dangers.  You can read a whole book about it for free at this address. It is a fantastic resource and if you are anything like me then you will buy the book as well.

I also recommend Liquid Gold.  A great book all about the benefits of pee!   Do a search on Amazon for it, it’s very cheap.  Don’t forget to use our Amazon links below though!

The Humanure Handbook is a total resource and includes proper plans if you can’t get your head around doing it by my instructions. I love the book and it will put your, and your Family’s mind at ease about any of the dangers of composting human poo and urine.

The bottom line about the dangers is this.  If your Compost Heap has done it’s job and turned everything to a nice crumbly consistency then it is safe.  Once the human poo has been broken down then there is no danger.  If you are worried simply leave it a few more months before you use it.

Or, simply wash your hands after you handle your soil.

I hope this has inspired everyone to stop flushing away such a valuable resource.  Not only are you wasting water, adding to the sewage problem, increasing your water and sewage rates but your are missing out on a perfect way to improve your soil quality.

One more thing, lets get the word out to everybody.  Please use the buttons below and submit it to Twitter and all your other favourite sites.  How great would it be if an article about poo was on the front page of Stumbleupon!  I am sure they would appreciate it!!!!

Happy pooing!

For a more self sufficient future

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18 Responses to “Compost Toilet DIY”

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  1. Bob Pickett says:

    Won’t the humanure need at least a year to decompose and disinfect? Will you need two compost piles then, one for the current year, and one for next year?

  2. Hi Bob, to be honest, if the pile heats up properly it should be fine if it is left for 3 months or so. We start a new pile every 3 to 6 months. We finish one, leave it to do its magic and start on the next.

    Some people would rather be extra cautious and leave it a lot longer. I think it is about personal judgement and how much you trust your compost heap!

    Are you going to build one?

  3. Bob Pickett says:

    My first one is only a few weeks old. I’m going to “fill” it until 1 May, then start a 2nd for the “post harvest” till. The first one will be used between 1st & 2nd grows on the 90 days veggies. 2nd grow stalks and then I put veggie remains will go back into the 1st compost barrel. Complicated, but I have it in my head!

  4. Luis says:

    How do you go about toilet paper? Any specific kind to use? or perhaps something else. Do you throw the paper in the bucket too? QUestions, questions

    • Hi Luis,

      We just make sure to have a 100% cellulose toilet paper and throw it in the compost toilet with everything else. So long as its plain old paper with no coatings or scent, there’s no problem.

  5. Is there a problem with flies, especially in summer, on the compost heap or in the toilet? Actually, would it be feasible to have an outhouse over a hole in the ground and have the outhouse move along whenever the hole fills up, and then plant the vegetables directly into the filled in holes?

    • Hi Derek, No problem with flies and there are lots of flies during the Spanish summertime. Using sawdust to cover the contents of the compost toilet provides a pretty good smell resistant seal. Burying the compost toilet contents in the middle of the compost heap is important or you would get flies for sure. We always make sure there is plenty more ‘ordinary’ garden waste to cover any new smellier additions to the heap.

      People do use the ‘hole in the ground’ method, but you’d need to leave it at least a year to break down before incorporating it into your vet plot and it sounds like an awful lot of extra digging to me! Manures of all types break down much more quickly as part of a hot compost heap.

  6. ginjeygirl says:

    instead of using paper, can you use a bidet with a compost toilet? would it ruin the compost if it gets too wet????

    • I guess you could use a bidet alongside a compost loo, but our main purpose (and I suspect many others) reason for using the sawdust toilet is that you don’t have to use any water. The sawdust will be enough of a match for the pee in the loo and wouldn’t need paper in it, but you wouldn’t want a bidet attached!

  7. NiGo says:

    Hi and thanks for the great compost toilet tips. I’m preparing to build one and was wondering what to do if I don’t have a compost pile. We live in house in Miami and have a small garden but most of the property is shaded. A compost pile needs sun right?

    My real question is about how long I can leave the humaneur in the enclosed receptacle (ie the 5ga bucket)??
    I heard that if you leave it alone for a year it will compost… but what about the oxygen factor??
    Thanks again…

    • Someone more wise than I may disagree, but I see no reason why you cannot have a compost pile in a shady spot. Of course sunlight helps but this is because of the heat, not the light. My guess is that in Miami you will find even the shadiest spot warm enough for your compost pile to work just fine.

      The humanure left in the bucket will ferment rather than compost down. It would still be great for feeding plants, as with manure tea. But honestly I really wouldn’t want 5 gallons of the stuff sitting around fermenting. Get a compost bin organised instead it will be quicker, safer and far easier too!

  8. amir says:

    hello mrs. dirty boots
    thanks for your great website.
    i am currently building a small strawbale house to live in, and, well obviously, compost toilets go hand in hand with these kinds of dwelling.
    my question is this: can i use earth instead of sawdust? and if sawdust is used, can it come from treated-wood source (ie ordinary carpentry) or does it have to be untreated sawdust from a timbermill?

    • Amir, you can indeed use earth instead of sawdust. We have used pine needles, soil, grass clippings and sawdust. Just remember that if you are using earth you could end up with a very heavy bucket since you will have to use enough soil each time to cover over the poo well!

      There are many that I am sure would disagree, and say that only organic trees harvested ethically should be used in the sawdust toilet. We use whatever is available I’m afraid to say – and no problems so far!

      I’m jealous – straw bale houses can be fantastic – so good luck with it!

  9. Thea says:


    I just started composting last summer so I’m new but when I was researching composting the advice always said NOT to use animal waste for compost. Is there some trick to it that they didn’t cover? Please let me know.


    • Hi Thea,

      The issue with composting waste from non vegetarian animals and humans is that it does contain some nasty pathogens. So most information about composting says simply avoid those so you keep things as safe and simple as possible. Composting humanure means taking extra care with regards to hygiene and ensuring the heap gets hot enough to kill those nasties.

      Hope that helps…

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