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Why Does the General Public Perceive Portable Restrooms as Gross?

Updated: Sep 1, 2020

Silhouette of a man holding his nose

This is an honest question and I’ll give you honest answers based on my 18 years of experience in the portable sanitation industry. The main reason is because of stigma. In case you've never heard the of the word, it means "a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person." Porta potties carry the stigma of stinking and being dirty.

Porta potties are not everyone's first choice to do their business, but they are a necessity when there are no restroom facilities on site. Trust me, I get it. But my goal is to ensure that you (the end user) has a clean, functioning, and safe place to go when nature calls. In fact, it has become the main mission in my career.

My colleagues in the portable sanitation industry are manufacturers of porta johns and rental/service company owners. Together, we work hard to create a better end user experience in an effort to shake this stigma that has plagued us for decades. Unfortunately, stigma remains an uphill battle for us. But it comes with the territory.

So instead of focusing on the end user's negative perceptions about portable toilets, we'd rather focus our time, energy, and resources on educating event planners and construction managers on how to improve their chances of keeping their porta potty rentals clean. Proper planning is HUGE!

If you're an event planner, I realize securing portable restrooms probably isn't the highlight of your job. But they are just as important as the venue, the entertainment, and food & beverage.

Event goers want to stay and have fun! But what goes in must come out. So if there aren't enough portable toilets, the few that are present will become yucky very fast. That's going to put a major damper on your event and may even lead to some people urinating or defecating wherever they can (which is illegal in some states/locales).

Imagine attending the very first Woodstock. Consumer Reports says:

It turns out that there were only 600 toilets available for the estimated 500,000 people who attended the festival on August 15-17, 1969, at Max Yasgur's farm in upstate New York. Granted, far fewer folks were expected and certainly many in the crowd likely went the alfresco route, but can you imagine the bathroom mayhem with only one toilet for every 833 attendees?

Our friends in construction don't get a pass on today's lesson either. Sorry guys. Proper planning is important for you too. Deadlines are vital in your daily routines. So having the correct number of restrooms & services per worker, per hour, is just as important as time and materials for your specific project. Again, when there is a shortage of needed restroom facilities, this leads to unwanted, costly, and sometimes illegal behaviors (ugh).

So what's the answer? Well, here's a little cheat sheet to help event planners and construction managers properly plan for the amount of portable toilets needed. You're welcome. ;)

Renting the best porta potty depends on what it's intended for. There are SO MANY options out there. I'm serious!

For example, a porta potty that's going to be left on a construction site for months has to be a work horse. It must be sturdy and it must be serviced often to replenish its deodorizing liquid and maintain its freshness. I like the PJN3 because of its aluminum door jam, built to withstand frequent use. I'm also a big fan of the Aspen and the Wave as durable portalets for any occasion. The Maxim 3000 is another one I'm fond of because it has no ledges to collect dust, debris, or waste and keeps a clean appearance long after a service call.

Are you throwing an outdoor party with many ladies in attendance? Rent the Hergo.

  • Do you have limited space at your event? Then the Global will allow you to fit more toilets than other models.

  • If you have the budget, flushing portable toilets provide a superior end user experience. I like the PJP3. You can also get these with sinks installed.

  • Working on a high-rise? Can't have your men wasting time running down to the ground floor to use the loo? The Handy is your best bet. It has integrated wheels on the back for mobility and a removable tank that you can swap out for a fresh one.

So how do we enjoy our events, create a healthy work environment, and reduce the yucky stigma of porta potties? Don't worry… I'm not here to lead you into renting more portable toilets than what you need. We value our relationships and our integrity more than the almighty dollar.

Knowledge is Power. No matter which portable restroom provider you choose, I highly recommend choosing one that is a PSAI member. Would you let your hairstylist or barber do open heart surgery if you needed it? Ok, that was a little dramatic analogy. But there is a lot involved in our industry and you really should have an educated portable sanitation provider on your event or job site. It’s ok to demand better. We all work hard so don’t settle for yucky.

Until next time..


About the author

Jennifer Corrigan is the vice president of JW Craft, a portable toilet rental company serving South Florida. She is also the president of Sanitation Solutions, Inc., a Naples, FL based company that sells portable sanitation equipment internationally.

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Unknown member
Oct 08, 2022

The only porta poddies I've used that aren't absolutely disgusting and horrifying are the expensive ones they use on motion picture sets. They look and function almost like real, decent rest rooms. The men's Porta poddies have sealed-off water flush toilets inside, there are urinals, faux wood paneling, separate private compartments to poop, large sinks and counter with paper towel dispensers.

But those outhouse type things with a tub directly under the toilet seat that has everyone's poop and pee in it. Yes, those are dramatically disgusting and grotesque. I'd rather go in the bushes.


Unknown member
May 04, 2021

This is all fine and true, you must request the proper number of units, combined with an appropriate service schedule, you also must account for time of year and location. 10 portables for 100 people with once a week service in 60 degree weather might do, but in 100 degree weather no way. That is really basic, however you must look at the users, we strive to put out the cleanest, freshest units we can, we pressure wash and disinfect all units before they deliver from our yard, we use the best chemical on the market, however you would think that workers would appreciate a clean facility, then you go to service the units and wow, piss on the floor,…

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