Portable toilets have evolved a lot since their inception, with their history going back as far as the 14th Century B.C. To truly appreciate the portable toilets we have now, we think it’s important to take a look at their earliest forms and understand how they evolved through history.
14th Century B.C.: The Earliest Portable Toilet
In 1906, a team of archaeologists discovered the undisturbed tomb of ancient Egyptian foreman Kha and his wife. Much like in many other ancient tombs, the team found furniture, trunks of clothes, food, and tools. Through their collection of personal artifacts, they also found the earliest example of a portable toilet. The Egyptians made this toilet out of wood with a hole in the center, positioned over a pottery jar. While the design wasn’t the simplest, it was easier to transport from room to room for members of ancient Egypt to use.
6th Century: The Chamber Pot In Ancient Greece
Discovered in ancient Greek ruins by archaeologists and dating back as early as the 6th century, the use of chamber pots began. The Greeks created these toilets for women to use in the comfort of their homes. These ancient chamber pots were made of lead, clay, or glass and wouldn’t fall out of use for over a thousand years.
15th Century: Outhouses
In the 15th century, outhouses became popular across Europe. At higher-end inns across the continent, inn owners would install two outhouses, one for men and one for women, using a moon or sun made of wood to signify which outhouse was for each. The upkeep of two outhouses became too time-consuming, and inn owners combined the outhouses to create one universal outhouse.
While these early outhouses were not portable, their proportions are similar to that of current day porta-potties. Outhouses of the time were traditionally 3 to 4 feet wide and 7 feet tall. Today, standard porta-potties are almost 4 feet wide and over 7 feet tall.
The early 1900s: Introducing Indoor Plumbing
In the late 1800s, illness, including cholera, had run rampant in large cities. As these problems continued in places like Chicago and New York, many realized how vital proper sanitation was for avoiding illness. As the century turned, running water became more common in homes, and by the 1930s, running water and indoor plumbing were widely available to homeowners.
1940: George Harding’s Idea
While working in a shipyard for the U.S. War Department, George Harding realized how long it took for sailors to return to work from the restroom at the end of the dock. With this, he created his first portable toilet. These original toilets were relatively simple and made of steel or wood. While they did what they needed to, these original porta-potties quickly dealt with complaints of unpleasant odors, which seeped into the wood.
1960: The First Patent
Taking the complaints he’d heard to heart, George continued to evolve his portable toilet. He began working on a prototype to replace the wooden predecessors. These prototypes, however, still held odor. Deodorizers were created in the 1950s, helping push George’s innovation. On June 3, 1960, he received his first patent for “the portable toilet cabana.” His portable toilets were made of polyethylene and were much more durable. This patent and the durable portable toilets that it created sparked the start of an industry.
1984: The Portable Toilet Trailer
In the couple of decades following the patent of the portable toilet, it continued to evolve with each company that entered the market. By 1984, portable toilet trailers entered the market, followed soon after by luxury portable toilets, which featured running water and flushing toilets.
1990: The ADA Compliant Portable Toilet
On July 26, 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law at the White House. With the passing of this new law came a need for more accessible portable toilets. These new ADA-compliant toilets featured grab bars, more floor space to accommodate mobility aids, and outward-opening doors that can fit a wheelchair.
Rent A Portable Toilet For Your Next Event
We’ve come a long way from outhouses and chamber pots, and we believe we should celebrate this. Next time you throw an outdoor party, consider renting a portable toilet for your guests and celebrate their evolution. Your guests will appreciate having a clean restroom to use.
Whether you’re throwing a barbeque this summer or a small backyard birthday party, every guest deserves a clean restroom. And, as a bonus, renting a portable toilet means you don’t have to worry about a mess in your home. Canyon View Dumpsters & Toilets has a wide variety of portable restrooms for your next event, including restroom trailers and ADA-compliant restrooms. If you’re looking to rent a portable toilet, contact us today.