Outhouse Maintenance [The Complete Guide]

Outhouse maintenance is extremely important in ensuring that you can use your outdoor toilet hygienically and comfortably. This is one of the most important places to keep maintained properly as things can get messy quick. If not maintained properly, your outhouse can become a real unsanitary hazard.

When living off-grid, you may find that an outhouse is your only option. Even when you have other options, often an outhouse is the best option as it’s very inexpensive compared to installing your own septic system. Personally, I feel as though an outhouse is the best off-grid toilet solution when maintained properly.

When you’re desperate for the toilet, you don’t want to be frantically searching for the right tools. Using the restroom should always be as easy and comfortable as possible, for your own-sake as well as your family and guests.

Outhouses already have a bad reputation for being unhygienic as well as requiring a lot of maintenance to function properly. Truth is, if you know how to maintain your outhouse correctly then it really isn’t hard at all.

In this guide, I’ll be sharing with you exactly what you need and how you should maintain your outhouse. This is the complete guide to outhouse maintenance.

Items to Have in Your Outhouse

There are a handful of items you can keep in your outhouse to make it as comfortable as possible. Some of these items will also maintain the health and condition of your outhouse, thus prolonging its longevity and usefulness.

One way to make your outhouse more comfortable and homely is to decorate it. You don’t have to do anything too fancy, simply adding a few ornaments or wall hangings. These can give you and your guests something to admire whilst you’re on the toilet.


This is a nice wall plaque which I found for my cabin’s outhouse. It’s a cute little addition that provides a welcoming homely feel. This decoration screams ‘Cabin’. It’s also features my partners favorite animal, the bear. You can find plenty of another similar wall hangings on Amazon for just as cheap. Alternatively, you could also get a candle wall mount which would work as decoration as well as lighting when it gets dark.

Trash Can

Another item you’ll want in your outhouse is a trash can. Just like the bathroom in your home, a trash can should be available. Empty toilet rolls and other miscellaneous can be dumped into the trash can. When it’s filled you can empty the contents in your main garbage storage. I found a stylish and adorable trash can on Amazon, you can find it by Clicking Here. It’s finger-print resistant and features removable bucket liner which holds the trash bag sturdy in place.

Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor lighting will help you navigate to your outhouse in the dark.

Even if you can find your way to the outhouse in the dark, it can be dangerous walking around outdoors without being able to see.

You never know what can be lurking in the dark, there can be a variety of dangers waiting for you.

If you’re in an area where potentially dangerous wildlife roams around, you could be at risk of being attacked by an animal such as a bear. I have a guide in which I explain how to stay safe from dangerous wildlife at your cabin.

Also, you never know when you could step on something sharp or trip over and injure yourself.

If you’re in need of a lighting system then I suggest you check out my outdoor solar lighting setup. It’s completely solar powered and so works great for all off-grid homes.

Magazine Rack

A magazine rack filled with some interesting magazines is always a great idea. Having reading material available whist your using the outhouse is a blessing sometimes. Especially when you can’t get reception on your phone. Keep yourself occupied with something to read. Keep in mind that insects may find their way in your magazine rack so you may have to clean it out every now and then.

Hand Sanitizer

All forms of restroom should have hand sanitizer available. I’ve never been to anyone’s outhouse and not been able to find some sort of hand sanitizer. Though, I have heard stories of people not having any form of sanitation in their outhouse. A small bottle of hand sanitizer or baby wipes is the very least you could provide your guests.

Nowadays you can buy touch-free hand sanitizers dispensers from Amazon. You’d think they would cost more than they do. They’re very inexpensive, you’d be surprised for how little you can buy them now. Refills are also very cheap. I recently purchased one for my outhouse and I absolutely love it. Click Here to check it out on Amazon.

Coat Hook

When the weather conditions call for extra layers of clothing, you’ll be thankful for having a coat hook inside your outhouse. In the rain or cold you may want to bring a coat or jacket with you for the journey to your outhouse, therefore a hook that you can hang your clothing from would be a great addition. For those who want a quick fix or can’t purchase one, you could always hammer a nail through the wall – though I wouldn’t recommend it as it not only looks shabby, but it could also become a safety hazard.

I’d recommend this coat hook from amazon, It’s simple, cheap and gets the job done.


It’s always nice to have a mirror available when using the restroom. For my wife it was essential that we have a mirror in our outhouse as she likes to polish up her makeup and hair in-between trips. Not that I don’t use the mirror from time to time. The guests also appreciate having a mirror handy. Any old mirror will do really, though I did find a cool bear themed mirror on Amazon.

Toilet Paper Storage

You should keep your toilet paper safe inside some sort of storage container. You could use a sealed plastic bag or any other type of container that will protect your paper roll from insects. This will also prevent your toilet paper from getting wet and ruined too.

Air Freshener

Some may see this as an unnecessary expense, though for others it’s very important. It really depends on the type of owner you are. Personally, my family do use air fresheners in our outhouse mainly so that our guests disgusted when they must use the outhouse after someone else.

There are many different types of air fresheners available, you could have spray stored in the outhouse that you can spritz the outhouse with after use. You could also purchase an automatic fragrance dispenser, diffuser or a simple hanging air freshener like you would have in your car.

Portable Camping toilet

If you don’t already have some sort of toilet for your outhouse, then a camping toilet could be the perfect solution. These products have made living off-grid and traveling so much easier. This eliminates most of the work behind creating an outhouse. Instead you simply purchase a portable toilet and empty it out at the end of the day.

I’d recommend this Portable Toilet by Camco – you can find it on Amazon. You’d be surprised how little this toilet costs. The value for money is incredible. It features a sealing slide valve which locks in odors and prevents leakage. It is a very strong and sturdy built portable toilet.

How to Maintain Your Outhouse?


Firstly, if you don’t already have an outhouse built, you’ll want to decide on where you want it. This is one of the most important decisions you’ll have to make. This is because once you’ve set it up, it’s a lot of work to relocate. There are also a few factors you’ll want to take into consideration when choosing a location:

  • Aesthetic
  • Hygiene
  • Safety
  • Convenience

Safety should be your number 1 priority. In life, safety always comes first, and this also applies to living off-grid and your outhouse. Afterwards you can worry about less important factors such as the aesthetics.

The first step is to ensure your hole is deep enough. The recommended hole depth is 6 feet which is also the standard for burying bodies to combat disease and infection. Also, it’s believed that tapeworms can travel through soil around 5 feet. Therefore, if you’re hole is deeper than five feet, the tapeworms won’t be able to travel up to the surface and infect yourself, your family, guests and pets.

Another safety tip is to ensure that you’re building somewhere flat. You want the ground to be as level as possible to make sure you’re not using the toilet at an angle, also allowing for your outhouse to be flush with the floor without any gaps for rodents and insects to get into.

Now for safety as well as hygiene purposes, you want your outhouse to be far enough away from your cabin that you wouldn’t be exposed to the odors that escape from the outhouse when someone’s doing their business.

That wouldn’t be very pleasant, would it?

However, you also want the outhouse to be close enough that it’s convenient to use when you need it. You don’t want to have to walk a mile when you’re in dire need of the toilet.

It may be a good idea to find somewhere with a nice view if you have windows or do your business with the door open.

Outhouse Ventilation

It goes without saying that outhouse ventilation is a must-have. You don’t want to choke on the smell of your own excrement. Ventilation will release the odors, allowing them to disperse and fade into the atmosphere. I cannot imagine an outhouse with no ventilation.

Ventilation also help eliminate moisture.

You don’t need a complexed ventilation system to get the job done. All you simply need are a few holes or screen mesh over a window. The more ventilation, the better.

You’ll also want to ventilate the pit. A vent pipe should lead from the pit through the roof of the outhouse. This will allow the odors and moisture to escape through the pipe and out of the outhouse.

I’ve been to a few friend’s cabins and noticed that they haven’t ventilated their pit, which has also led to a funky smelling outhouse. In one case, because they hadn’t ventilation their pit, moisture had been soaking the wood of the outhouse and causing decay.

So, do yourself a favor and ventilate your outhouse properly for your own health as well as to maintain the longevity of your outhouse.

Regular Maintenance Tasks

Like any building, the structure of the outhouse should be maintained. Regularly inspect the interior and exterior of the outhouse, looking for any cracks, gaps or holes. Anything that insects can get into needs to be sealed and patched. Any material that has began rotting or appears to be chewed by critters should be completely replaced.

You can take tips from my ‘How to Keep Bugs and Rodents Out of Your Cabin’ guide and apply them to your outhouse. Most of the same principles apply.

Winter Outhouse Maintenance

If you already have an outhouse, you may know that it can be a challenge using the outhouse in the winter. Temperatures drop, leaving the outhouse freezing cold. This can be a very uncomfortable experience.

There are a few things we can do to make using the outhouse more comfortable during the winter.

Firstly, any type of portable heat source will work well, when the winter hits, you’ll find that your grateful for even the smallest source of heat. Propane is a good option for power considering you’re living off-grid.

I have a guide in which I review the best small propane heaters. You can find that guide by Clicking Here. I highly recommend you check it out as propane heaters work very effectively for warming up an outhouse during the winter.

Another tip would be to bring your toilet seat inside your cabin with you when you’re not using the outhouse. So, whenever you need to use the outhouse you bring the seat with you. This will keep the toilet seat warm, preventing you from having to sit on a freezing cold toilet seat.


There you have it, how to maintain your cabins outhouse. I hope you understand the importance of outhouse maintenance. Maintaining your cabin itself can be hard work but maintaining your outhouse is a completely different job. If this guide was useful to you then please share it with friends and family on social media and feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions or thoughts. I always look forward to hearing your feedback.

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My name is Eugene Thornhill. I'm an outdoor enthusiast who loves nothing more than being one with nature. I've lived in numerous outdoor homes and even constructed my own. Living off-grid is something I'm very familiar with, more so than living in the city. For many years I've dealt with the many problems of living off-grid. It's time to pass on my knowledge through Cabinguides.

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