How to Service a Portable Restroom

In this lesson, we'll review the proper ways to clean and service a portable restroom when on route.

HubSpot Video


Keeping a portable restroom clean and odor-free is an essential part of any service technician's job and contrary to what you may believe, it's not as difficult (or dirty) as it may seem. To begin, there are two different types of services, a full service and a partial service.
The full service consists of 8 easy steps, including: Disinfect, Prewash, Pump, Prime, Dry, Restock, Date, and Review. Please note, this type of service should always be performed in proper PPE, including rubber gloves and safety glasses.

Step 1: Disinfect

To begin, it’s important to spray disinfectant on key points of contact before servicing and cleaning the unit. We’ll begin by spraying the outside door handle first and then continuing to spray the inside door panels, walls, toilet paper holder, supply dispensers, toilet, and tank. Once the unit is sprayed with disinfectant, close the door and let it rest for 1 min.

Step 2: Prewash

Once the unit is disinfected, it’s time to get started on the cleaning process. With our proper PPE still on, we’ll grab the urinal cleaner and graffiti blaster solution from the side of our truck. Using these products, we’ll spray down the urinal with the urinal cleaner and any graffiti on the inside or outside of the unit using the graffiti blaster solution. These chemicals will take a few minutes to penetrate, so we’ll let them sit and head back to the truck to get ready for the next step.

Step 3: Pump

While the urinal cleaner and graffiti blaster work their magic, it’s time to evacuate the waste tank. This is done by utilizing the PTO powered suction hose located on the side of our truck.  When activated, we’ll need to remove all debris from inside the tank including rocks, bottles, cans, clothing, and other garbage.  If it’s small enough, it can often be vacuumed up; however, if it’s too big or looks like something that could clog the hoses, we’ll need to dispose of it by using our gloves and a garbage can on our truck.  It’s also important to remove any floor debris including loose toilet paper, chunks of mud, or even wrappers.

Step 4: Prime

Once the waste tank has been evacuated, it’s time to prime the unit and get it ready for new usage. For jobsites or events where there are only 1-2 units on site, we’ll need use the bucket fill method.  This is done by filling a 5-gallon bucket of water with the bucket fill valve located on the side of our truck.  We’ll then proceed to fill the bucket about 3/4 of the way up and add soap as it will be used to scrub the inside of the unit and fill the waste tank. We’ll also grab a scrub brush and a container of blue to prime the inside of the waste tank.

When returning to the restroom, we’ll start by adding 6-8 ounces of liquid blue to the waste tank.  Then, we’ll begin scrubbing the side walls, top of tank, interior shelves, floors, and urinal, occasionally dipping the brush into the bucket of soapy water as we do each one.  This will cut down on cross contamination and eliminate bacteria. Upon finishing, we’ll then pour the remaining water from the bucket into the waste tank and the unit is officially primed.

If there are more than 2 units on site, you'll need to use the hose fill method to prime the unit. While this method may seem like a faster way to service units, it can lead to significant water usage and exhaust your water supply faster. To use this method, you'll need to unroll the water hose on the side of your truck to fill the waste tank. You'll start by rinsing the walls with a quick blast of water and then scrub with a brush and soap. After scrubbing you'll want to pour in 5-6 ounces of liquid blue and fill the waste tank with approximately 5 gallons of water.

Step 5: Dry

Now that we’ve properly washed and primed the unit, it’s important to towel-dry the top of the waste tank, toilet paper dispenser, and the toilet seat as a courtesy to the patrons who can (and often) will use the unit right after service.  Don’t worry about drying the floors or walls. As an additional courtesy, we encourage all technicians to spray a few squirts of cabana spray, also known as liquid spray freshener, behind the stack and on to the upper ventilation areas.

Step 6: Restock

Now that we’ve cleaned the unit, it’s time to restock the supplies as needed.  This includes toilet paper for basic restrooms, with the addition of soap and paper towels for deluxe or standard units.  A simple 2 roll TP dispenser must have minimum of 1.5 rolls, while a 3 roll TP dispenser must have minimum of 2.5 full rolls.  Sometimes a work order may also specify that you fill the hand sanitizer dispenser.  Please note, you will only need to fill the hand sanitizer if it’s specified on the work order. This is primarily because hand sanitizer comes as an additional charge to our customer.  With each service, you should inspect the hand sanitizer dispenser bag and change when it’s less than a quarter of the way full.

Step 7: Sign & Date

After the unit is cleaned and restocked, it’s important that we confirm that we were onsite.  This proof comes by signing the date sticker. If there is no sticker, one must be added. Date stickers can be overlaid no more than three times. Without this simple signature, there’s a good chance the customer will call back and request that we return to reservice the unit. As you can imagine, can be quite frustrating after we’ve already done the work.

Step 8: Review

Finally, we’ll inspect and repair any non-functioning equipment such as urinals, sinks, dispensers, and/or doors. Before leaving, we’ll also make sure to inspect decals on all four sides, as they should be clear and easy to read.

Partial Service

On occasion, you may not be able to perform a full service because of a unit is blocked, locked, or too far to reach with a standard truck hose. If this arises, you should first look to see if you can find someone onsite who can resolve the issue. If not, a partial service would then be required.

Get an Authorization #: Before performing a partial service, you’ll first need to contact dispatch to get an authorization number. They'll then attempt to contact the customer to get help or simply notify them that you will be performing a partial service on one (or all) of the units that you're unable to reach.

A partial service will then include all the same procedures of a full service with the exception of pumping. You'll still disinfect, rinse the walls with a bucket of soapy water, restock the supplies, and confirm you were there by signing the restroom date sticker.

Upon completion of a full service or partial service, it's important that you note your paperwork with anything that would make your job, or your co-workers jobs easier the next time around including: over usage notes, authorization numbers, tip overs, or exchanges. Then at the end of each day, your dispatch will review your notes and put them into the computer as a way to improve service for next around.