How to Remove the Composting Toilet Urine Smell?

How to Remove the Composting Toilet Urine Smell?

Composting toilets are gaining popularity because of their ability to operate in areas where plumbing isn’t an option. There’s also the added environmental benefit that appeals to people trying to lower their carbon footprint. As great as that is, many people complain about the composting toilet urine smell after using one.

Thankfully, there are ways to mitigate that smell issue. Hence, it’s essential to know what a composting toilet is, how to deal with the smell, and why this issue can happen. As overwhelming as learning about composting toilets seems it’s more straightforward than you might realize.

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What to Know About the Composting Toilet Urine Smell

The first step to eliminating the composting toilet smell is to get comfortable talking about it. It’s common for people to feel uncomfortable talking about using the bathroom. You must understand that this is a common question in the off-grid, minimalist, or environmentally conscious lifestyle.

When you own a composting toilet, you manage whoever uses the toilet’s waste. As icky as it seems, dealing with the urine smell comes down to knowing how the toilet operates. Once you get that done, there are some general tips to continue using through the long run.

What is a Composting Toilet?

A composting toilet is a toilet that doesn’t flush or use any water and turns waste into compost. The process creates an oxygen-rich environment that allows aerobic bacteria to break down the waste. Many people use composting toilets for environmental purposes or to live off the grid.

The toilets are safe to use indoors and have increased in popularity over the years as technology improves. Many options and types are available, but they all share the same function. Like anything else, some are better than others, meaning you must research to see what is best for you.

Why Does a Composting Toilet Smell?

Generally speaking, if your composting toilet is set up correctly and working properly, you shouldn’t have too strong of a smell. A strong urine or waste smell usually indicates something isn’t working right. Hence, it’s vital to pay attention in case something is wrong. Examples include:

  • Too much liquid in the pile
  • Broken exhaust fan
  • Slow-working exhaust fan
  • Pipe blockage
  • Reduction in bacteria and microorganisms because of long periods of no use, chemical cleaners, or foreign objects added.

How to Deal With the Urine Smell

No matter how you handle smells, the composting toilet urine smell is an issue that can happen even if there aren’t any issues with your toilet. Though some toilets are better than others for this purpose, there are a few things you can check or do to eliminate the urine smell you’re experiencing.

Try the Vinegar or Sugar Method

The vinegar and sugar method is a quick and easy method to eliminate the urine smell. First, try putting two tablespoons of raw sugar in the urine tank and leave a cup of vinegar in the tank after you dump it. Some companies offer cleaners for this purpose, but it’s worth trying this method first. That way, you don’t add any harmful chemicals to the environment. Remember to check for any issues with your toilet before trying it out.

Check Your Exhaust Fan

Most composting toilets utilize an exhaust fan, a part of their design, to keep airflow moving around the pile. It helps move smells away from bathrooms and evaporate any liquid build-up. It’s essential to reduce the liquid content of your compost, so the microorganisms, bacteria, and fungi can break it down okay.

Batteries or your power system powers the exhaust fan. Check to ensure the exhaust fan is working correctly. It should constantly rotate to keep air moving; if it’s not, you may need to replace the unit. Also, check for clogs that might be affecting the unit.

Use a Urine Diversion Toilet

If your toilet is giving you issues no matter what you do, use a urine diversion composting toilet. These toilets separate the urine into a container absorption trench. It keeps liquid away from the compost pile, which will help mitigate those urine smells from coming up. These toilets also make it easier for your system to have a lower-wattage fan.


As troublesome as bad smells from a composting toilet appear, try not to worry about it. It should be manageable if you can keep up with the maintenance and utilize the methods we recommended. Realize it’s common for compost toilets, but there are ways to address it.

Also, keep in mind that the quality of a composting toilet can affect how bad the smells are. Some toilets might advertise themselves as not having a composting toilet urine smell. It’s worth looking into, especially if you have a strong sense of smell. Remember to be aware of your budget since the higher-quality toilets will cost more.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why does my composting toilet smell like urine?

There are a few reasons why your composting toilet might smell like urine. You might have too much liquid in a pile, a broken exhaust fan, a pipe blockage, or a poorly sealed liquid bottle. Thus, it’s essential to check for all of these issues. You may need to clean the toilet if you don’t find anything.

What happens if you pee in a composting toilet?

Most of these toilets will have your urine go into the waste pile. The urine is evaporated thanks to the exhaust fan, which, as noted, eliminates the moisture in your toilet. There are also urine-diverting toilets, which separate the urine from the waste. Either way, it’s similar to a standard toilet besides where it keeps the pee.

What about toilet paper for a composting toilet?

Some people worry about throwing toilet paper down their composting toilet, fearing it might clog the unit. Almost all composting toilets can break down toilet paper like a solid waste. Obviously, be more conscious of how much toilet paper you’re using. It’s also recommended to go with a single-ply choice since it’s easier to break down. The thinner the toilet paper is, the better it’ll be for your toilet.