Some people avoid getting a composting toilet because they worry it will smell bad. Do composting toilets smell? Composting toilets are very environmentally friendly. Regular flush toilets are a huge waste of water – they use about 30% of the total water households use! However, people avoid getting compost toilets because they worry about the smell.
Are composting toilets smelly?
Thankfully, a properly installed and maintained composting toilet doesn’t smell at all. If your composting toilet smells, that is a problem you can fix. A composting toilet doesn’t have to make your bathroom smell bad.
A composting toilet uses a system of vents and fans to prevent odors from entering your house. All of the odors will vent outside and not come out of your toilet bowl if the toilet is working properly.
I installed a composting toilet a few years ago and don’t have any problems with it. It doesn’t smell bad, attract insects, or cause other problems.
Why Do Composting Toilets Usually Not Smell?
Ideally, composting occurs without producing a lot of bad-smelling gases. Think about a compost pile in your garden.
It gives off a smell, but the smell is not that terrible, and you cannot smell it unless you are very near it. High-quality composting toilets are also designed to minimize odors.
You won’t smell anything in your bathroom, and you won’t smell much near the vent outside. If there is a strong smell, this usually means there is something wrong. Bad smells are not a normal or unavoidable part of having a composting toilet.
Will You Smell Anything Outside of Your Home?
Sometimes, a bad smell will come out of the vent outside of your home. Therefore, the vent should be in a part of your yard that you don’t use. Don’t put chairs and a table near the vent, keep it away from people.
While composting turns liquid waste into the earth without producing a lot of bad-smelling gas, some gas must be produced. The gas has to go somewhere, so the composting toilet vents it out in your yard to keep it out of your bathroom.
Most of the time, the odor that comes out of the vent is not strong enough to spread. If you are standing directly beside it, you may smell it, but the odor should be reasonably weak. If the odor is strong enough to smell at a distance or is worse than usual, something is probably wrong with your toilet.
Do Composting Toilets Attract Pests?
No, you won’t have any problems if your composting toilet is working properly. There has to be a problem before your composting toilet will attract insects or other pests.
The smell will attract insects. However, there is normally not any way for insects to get into your composting toilet. They cannot enter it through the outdoor vent.
Composting Toilets Don’t Require Septic Tanks
One advantage of composting toilets is that they break waste down naturally instead of storing it in a tank. Bacteria turn your waste into the earth and make it harmless.
Composting toilets don’t require water. Bacteria can turn your waste into the earth without water. With a septic tank, the sewage has to be treated with chemicals; this is worse for the environment.
You have to empty the soil from composting toilets once every few months. However, this is not a gross task. By then, the waste has turned into something much closer to the dirt in your garden.
What if Your Composting Toilet Smells Bad?
Compost isn’t supposed to smell more than a little bad, so it shouldn’t smell bad near the vent unless you are right beside it. A composting toilet is also supposed to block gases from coming up into your bathroom.
There might be something wrong with the vents, leading to the gases venting into your bathroom and not through the outdoor vent. Problems with your fan can also cause this. There could also be something wrong with the bacteria in your toilet, leading to them not breaking down your waste properly.
There could also be too much or too little moisture, which can lead to your composting toilet not working properly. A lot of the time, adding composting toilet enzymes to your tank will make it work properly again. Sometimes, you may need to hire a professional to inspect and fix your toilet.
Can You Use Toilet Paper Normally?
Yes, you can use toilet paper as you would with a regular toilet. Bacteria in your tank can break the paper down.
If you use toilet paper designed for RVs/Boats, the toilet paper will decompose faster. However, you do not have to use that kind of toilet paper at your home or RV composting toilet. Bacteria will also break regular toilet paper down.
Cleaning a Composting Toilet
A composting toilet requires more cleaning than a regular toilet, but it’s not a big deal. If you use a waterless system, you will need to use cleaning fluid to clean the bowl. Make sure not to put anything down your toilet that will kill the helpful bacteria.
You don’t need a powerful cleaning solution just to clean your bowl. In fact, a mix of water and vinegar is enough. Check with your manufacturer if you suspect that any product might kill too many bacteria.
Tips for People With Composting Toilets
One thing everyone should do is keep the bowl clean. The bowl may smell of urine if you don’t clean it as well as you should.
To clean it quickly, have a spray bottle that contains a mix of hydrogen peroxide and water. It should be about 3% peroxide and 97% water – very diluted is still strong enough. Use the spray bottle every time and occasionally use a Clorox wipe.
While you can put regular toilet paper in your composting toilet, using too much isn’t always the best idea. Sometimes, the toilet paper all breaks down with no problems. Other times, it doesn’t degrade quickly enough and causes problems unless you start using more biodegradable toilet paper.
Are Composting Toilets Expensive to Install and Repair?
No, composting toilets are cheaper. They both cost less to install and cost less to maintain than toilets with septic tanks. If you are interested in saving money by building a tiny house, you can save more with a composting toilet.
You can get a complete composting toilet installed for $1400. It costs $1100-$2000 just to install a septic tank, and not the toilet and pipes.
You also have to pay for water, electricity, and sewage treatment. You also won’t need to maintain a composting toilet nearly as often. Composting toilets are both more affordable and much better for the environment.
Regular Toilets Waste too Much Water
Again, a regular flush toilet wastes a huge amount of water. While water is a somewhat renewable resource, it is not infinite. Many people depend on water pumped up from underground reservoirs.
These underground reservoirs will eventually run out and require millions of people to relocate to places that still have a water source. People could significantly reduce the total amount of water they use by switching to dry toilets.
Unless something is wrong, composting toilets do not smell bad. The composting process often creates a wet earth smell. This does not smell all that bad even if you are near the vent.
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