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11 Fascinating Portable Toilet Facts

Is it possible for portable toilets to be fascinating? We think so. While it is true that many people don’t have much respect for portable toilets, we, at Nisly Brothers, are confronting stereotypes by providing portable toilets that are neat and clean. All of our models are cleaned regularly and have hand sanitizer. Before you decide that “neat” and “clean” should not be used to describe portable toilets, go check out our Elite toilets. With 24% more floor space than our classic toilets, they add a touch of class with an on-board water supply, soap, paper towels, and a sink for clean hands. Also, take a look at our luxury restroom trailer with heat, A/C, and running water for your elegant party or wedding. You’ll be impressed!

Since we are so intrigued by portable toilets, we’ve dug into the history and current global statistics of these portable units. If you are a person with a love-hate relationship with portable toilets, their history will show you the benefits of them. We also provide a tip for you on how to choose the cleanest toilet within a row of toilets. Here are the fascinating facts about portable toilets that we have chosen just for you:

1. The Portable Toilet industry began for shipyard employees in the 1940s

The portable toilet story begins during World War II, when the owners of the shipyards in Long Beach, New Jersey, realized that the employees were losing a lot of valuable work time in the long trek from the ships back to the docks to answer nature’s call. According to the Minneapolis Porta Potty Pros, they decided to construct small, portable cubicles that were made with wood or metal and contained a small holding tank. As a result, workers were happier and more productive, and this invention marked the start of the portable toilet industry.

2. Portable Toilets Have Many Different Names

The following are a few examples:

  • Portable restroom (our preferred term)
  • Porta-potty
  • Porta-john
  • Honey bucket
  • WC (water closet; used in Europe)
  • Porta-loo
  • Johnny-on-the-spot
  • Jon

3. How the industry has evolved to meet the customer’s needs and wants

The portable toilet industry started as a solution to a problem on ships and has now grown and evolved into something much broader. Portable toilets started out as structures made of wood and metal. This made them incredibly heavy and extremely difficult to empty once the ships docked. Eventually, they began to use lighter building materials, which made them a lot easier to clean.

One of the ways that we are evolving to match the needs of our customers is our U-Tow units.  These are on specifically-designed trailers for tOne of the ways that we are evolving to match the needs of our customers is our U-Tow units. These are on specifically-designed trailers for transporting toilets from one location to another. The toilets are bolted onto a trailer. The customers pick them up in our yard and bring them back after they are finished with it. They can be ordered with one or two classic or elite toilets on the trailer. These towable units are especially nice for construction companies that are repaving a road, building a gas line, or simply need a toilet on wheels to transport between locations.

old portable toilet in a mine 300x225

We also have portable toilets that are specifically designed to be in mines.  Currently, we have four units that we service weekly for a salt mine. Pictured above is an old toilet that they used in the mine years ago. It is currently on display at the Underground Salt Museum in Hutchinson, Kansas.

Another giant hurdle for the portable toilet industry to overcome has been the smell.  The invention of deodorizers set up the portable toilet industry for a huge leap in being accepted in the public eye.  The first deodorizers were made of formaldehyde-based chemicals that helped mask the odor. The industry has progressed to using a non-formaldehyde-based deodorizer since the older models were harder to break down in a wastewater plant. The new deodorizers also contain biocides that keep the odor-causing bacteria from multiplying, which keeps the smell down.  Therefore, the toilet is also cleaner and more sanitary, since the odor-causing bacteria is eliminated.

4. Luxury Portable Restrooms are invented

We are excited to be a participant in the story of the luxury restroom trailers! Luxury trailers are another way that the portable restroom trailer industry has upgraded. What started out as a bulky solution to a problem on ships has now evolved into a trailer that has all the modern conveniences.

Our luxury restroom trailers come with full amenities. Just like a regular bathroom in your home, they come with air conditioning, running water, a full-sized mirror, lights, inside décor, and other home-like features.

Just like a regular bathroom in your home, they come with air conditioning, running water, a full-sized mirror, lights, inside décor, and other home-like features.

They are also fully stocked with toilet paper, soap, and paper towels. These luxury restrooms are a giant upgrade from the common portable toilets and are designed to make your event easy and elegant.

5. The first toilet in the row is the cleanest

According to Gotugo, “The first portable toilet is usually used least. This makes it the cleanest toilet in a row.” Everybody assumes that everyone else is going to the first toilet they come to, and so they go further down the line. The next time that you use a portable toilet, take advantage of crowd psychology and use the first toilet in the row for a more sanitary experience.

6People are not the only crowd at presidential inaugurations

Gutogo reports that for Obama’s inauguration, there were 5,000 portable toilets on site. Although this seems like a large number, a bit of math reveals that even with this many toilets on site, they had their work cut out for them. With a crowd of 1.8 million people, each toilet could have been used by 360 people. Our applause goes out to the men and women who supply portable toilets for huge events like this!

7Portable toilets save lots of water and protect the environment

psai decal final 300x171

Providing portable toilet rentals is one way that we show our desire to care for and protect God’s world through environmentally friendly and sustainable services (see our Recycling program.) The Portable Sanitation Association International reports the following facts:

  • 45 billion gallons of fresh water are saved annually through the use of portable restrooms.
  • Americans use more water each day by flushing the toilet than they do by showering or any other activity.
  • Americans use about 100 gallons of water per day. Europeans use about 50 gallons of water per day. Residents of sub-Saharan Africa use only two to five gallons of water per day.
  • A running toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water per day.
  • A portable toilet uses 90% less water than a conventional toilet.

Photo Credits: PSAI

8. Realtors use portable toilets at open house events

Why go to the bother of renting a portable toilet when the house you are showing has bathroom facilities? Real estate agents and homeowners have their reasons. Sometimes the home being shown does not have plumbing connected, making the home’s bathrooms unusable.

Another common reason agents or owners rent a portable restroom is to ensure that the homestays are in pristine condition. One thoughtless client could ruin another client’s impression of a home. 

The next time you are asked to use a portable restroom at a real estate event, don’t take it personally. Agents are only doing their job well when they order a portable toilet for an open house. If they rented a portable toilet from Nisly Brothers, then it shows that they are doing their job really well. However, we might be biased.

9. Over or Under? The toilet paper flap debate

According to List Verse, a study that cost more than $100,000 revealed that 3 out of 4 people put the flap in the front of a toilet paper roll. People on both sides of this debate feel so strongly that their way is best, that when they see toilet paper with the flap going the wrong direction, they can’t just leave it.

portable toilets and the toilet paper flap debate 300x169

They take the roll off, and turn it around, so that the roll is going the “correct” direction. Next time you are using one of our portable toilets, take note of the toilet paper flap to see if your service person is part the majority or part of the stubborn minority that still insists “under” is the proper way.

10. Ancient portable toilets were put in tombs for use in the afterlife.

Made How reports that the first evidence we have of portable toilets dates back to the mid-fourteenth century B.C. in Egypt. The excavation of the tomb of Kha, a senior Egyption official, revealed a wooden stool with a slot in the middle and a pottery vessel beneath it to catch the waste.

11. Sanitary toilet facilities save lives

List Verse says that a lack of suitable toilet conditions and the unsanitary environment caused by this results in 1.8 million deaths each year. Many of these deaths are children. Sanitation matters!


As a member of the Portable Sanitation Association International, we are committed to excellence. Your portable restroom will be delivered to you in pristine condition. It will have undergone a thorough cleaning and sanitizing. As a team, we take pride in offering professional and clean toilets. We are committed to running a business with integrity so that you can always rely on us to provide clean portable restrooms! 

This is only one of the many reasons that we are so passionate about keeping our toilet units in pristine condition through frequent, top-notch servicing. We will keep you happy with our fresh and clean portable toilet units!

nisly brothers portable toilets comply with the psai requirements


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