Tips for Dealing with Festival Toilets

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Tips for Dealing with Festival Toilets

Ah festival toilets, some people even use the state of the toilets as a reason not to go to a music festival. Honestly, each to their own, but that’s preposterous, I tell you! Festival toilets are honestly not that bad. They’re not lovely and fresh, but they are not that bad.

This article explains the different (and better) types of festival toilets available at modern music festivals in the UK. It also contains 12 tips for dealing with toilets at music festivals!

About Toilets at Music Festivals

Let’s started with a quick overview of the types of toilets you get at music festivals.

These are:

  1. Long drops
  2. Plastic cubicles (the worst type of festival toilet)
  3. Composting toilets
  4. Flushing toilets (aka “posh loos”)

Want to know the Lenor bottle secret? Read this to find out what I’m talking about…

Long Drops

Long drops are a set of metal cubicles sitting atop a large rectangular pit. They are open air with no ceiling/roof. When the trench/pit becomes full, it is all sucked out with a huge machine.

It may not sound very pleasant, but the fact that they are open air takes a lot of the smell away. The cubicles are usually made from metal the doors bang shut – a typical sound heard at festivals!

Glastonbury Long Drop Toilets
Long drop toilets at Glastonbury Festival

Plastic Cubicles

These are the least preferable of all the outdoor facilities. You don’t often find these inside festivals anymore, but there may be a few dotted around the car parks or queuing areas.

These plastic poo boxes are disgusting because there is no ventilation or airflow, they become blocked and full after about 2 uses and no one ever flushes or empties them.

Avoid these if you can.

Plastic portaloos at a music festival
Here are the un-ventilated sweaty stink boxes in a field somewhere in England!

Composting Toilets

These are much better. They’re semi-open air, but they usually have a canvas roof. These toilets are a temporary structure that’s elevated, and each cubicle has a compost bin beneath it.

Any ‘deposits’ into the toilet should be accompanied by a scoop of compost, which works with the ‘deposits’ and tissue paper to make compost called ‘humanure‘.

Compost toilets are very simple, but many Eco households use these inside of flushing toilets at home, which is really cool!

Compost toilets by Your Natural Event at Glastonbury Festival
‘Your Natural Event’ Festival Toilets in a colourful row

Flushing Toilets

Some festivals will have a limited number of flushing toilets. If you’re staying in a luxury or boutique area of a festival then you may have access to special flushing toilets.

Be aware, however, they may not be clean, nice or be stocked with toilet paper. They may be as equally gross and disgusting as any other toilet in the festival site!

How to Handle Festival Toilets

Now that you know all about the different types of festival toilets, here are some tips on how to deal with them.

1. Check your Privilege

First of all, festival goers choose to go to a festival and the state of the toilets are everyone’s responsibility. In the UK, we’re pretty accustomed to having indoor plumbing and flushing toilets. Yet, that’s a luxury that the majority of the developing world cannot enjoy.

Flushing toilets are not the most popular way of ‘using the loo’ around the world – long drops or composting toilets are commonplace in Africa, Asia, South America and rural areas all around the world.

Everybody else is in the same situation at a music festival, all through choice, you chose to be there and you get to enjoy days’ worth of entertainment. It’s a toilet. Deal with it.

2. Don’t look Down

For the love of God, do not look down the hole in the toilet.

Blokes, fix your aim without getting pee everywhere, get it straight down the hole but don’t look directly down! Keep your head up high!

Ladies, you’re luckier as you don’t have to face the toilet at all. You can stare at the back of the door instead. This is why she-wees are a bad idea, it forces you to look at where you’re peeing.

Want to know why you shouldn’t look down? Didn’t want to gross out our readers, but if you want to be grossed out, find out why looking down is ill advised.

Inside a compost toilet at a music festival
The inside of a compost toilet – very clean indeed, but the ‘don’t look down’ rule still applies.

Related: How to deal with your period at a festival

3. Breathe Through your Mouth

When you start to approach the toilet area, your nostrils will alert you to the point when it’s time to start mouth breathing.

If you’re mouth breathing, you can’t smell it.

This is where rain can be helpful. The heat from the sun just makes it smell worse!

4. Hover only when Necessary, Ladies

Every single composting toilet and long drop will have a plastic toilet seat. The seat is for sitting on, not hovering over. It’s no more dirty than any other toilet seat.

A lot of the time the liquid splashed on and around the toilet seat isn’t always caused by blokes with poor aim. This is ladies hovering. If it’s already soaking wet when you go in – fair enough. If you happen across a reasonably clean cubicle – do your best to keep it clean whilst you’re using it.

5. Toilet Seat Covers

If you’re really germ-phobic and the thought of a thin piece of paper between your bum and the seat helps with your phobia, then invest in a large supply to last the duration of the festival.

They only cost a few pennies each on Amazon and you can dispose of them down the toilet when you’re done. Simples!

6. Use the Compost

If the festival you’re at has composting toilets, for God’s sake, use the compost! There will be a large crate full of it outside the toilet block. You take a paper cup, full it with compost soil and pour it down the toilet when you’ve finished using it!

The compost works together with the toilet paper and other stuff to break it down properly.

7. No Wet Wipes

On that note – nothing other than number ones, twos, tissue paper and compost should go into the compost toilets or the long drops. It completely messes up the system and stops it from working.

Wet wipes, plastic wrappers and sanitary products can even block regular toilets. These items should go in the general waste bins and not down the festival toilets.

Please and thank you.

8. Hold the Door

This is an odd one – but it’s polite to hold the door open when you’re leaving the cubicle for the next person. Around main stages and campsites, the toilets can be very busy and disorderly queues (huddles) form around the toilets.

The people at the front of the huddle keep their eye on 2-3 cubicles, as soon as there’s movement from one door, they make their move.

It’s common courtesy to hold the door for the next person. If you’ve been to a festival before, then you’ll know what I mean here.

The composting toilets are always elevated up a few steps and the long drop doors just bang and bounce off the frame. Holding the door means it doesn’t slam shut behind you.

9. Hand Sanitizer

Keep a pocket-sized tube of hand sanitizer in your bum bag or pocket to use after toilet visits. There will probably be large bottles of it available near the compost/toilet roll area.

Cuticura Moisture Anti Bacterial Hand Gel, 6x100ml | Quick Drying
These are small enough to fit in your pocket for the festival. From Amazon.

It’s just hygienic, there’s nowhere to wash your hands with soapy water, so hand sanitizer will do the trick! You can also use this before eating too – you don’t want to pick up any nasty bugs!

Hand sanitizer
Hand sanitizer a-plenty, but bring your own for when this runs out!


BYOTP – Bring your own toilet paper. It’s certainly sensible, and advisable to do so! There will, of course, be toilet paper available. But, what if it’s all out by the time you need it?

Rather than bringing entire rolls, small packets of pocket tissues are handy because they take up less space and you don’t have to carry a whole loo roll with you everywhere you go!

The Cheeky Panda Bamboo Pocket Tissues | 8 Packs of
Carrying these is easier than carrying loo roll, right? From Amazon.

11. Outfit Check

Just keep this brief… Dungarees? No. Playsuit? No. Leotard? No. Flip-flops? No. Onesie? No way.

You don’t want to spend half an hour fiddling with your playsuit or leotard buttons in the smelly toilet when you’re missing the festival. These items may look lovely in the ASOS fashion magazine but they’re not practical for a festival toilet!

Same goes for long flowing dresses, unless you want to hold them up out of the way constantly! As for flip-flops, the toilet floor is usually wet with a few cm of liquid. Go figure.

12. Hooks for Your Bag

Finally, many festival-goers have a coat, bag or bum bag with them. Trying to use the toilet with a bag on your back can be a bit awkward so it’s natural to want to put it down somewhere… anywhere that’s clean… or dry… nope.

The toilet floor won’t be clean, or dry and you won’t want to put your bag on the floor.

You won’t really be able to put it on the area around the seat either for the same reason.

Here’s a little hack – get a pack of these ‘S’ hooks for very cheap on Amazon and you can use them to hook over the cubicle door at a festival! Then, hang your bag or coat from this hook. Genius idea.

Merriway BH01894 (10 Pcs) Kitchen S-Hook, 25 x 2.4 mm
These ‘S’ hooks are perfect for hanging your bag inside the cubicle, avoiding the nasty floor! Fits right in your pocket too. From Amazon.

The doors at festival toilets are always thin enough for these hooks to fit over the top, keeping your bag safely hooked inside the cubicle with you and not getting covered in toilet juice!

Related: Essential Festival Packing List

So these are our tips for dealing with festival toilets! What have we missed out? Drop a comment below!

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