Names for Portable Toilets Explained

It was Shakespeare who wrote, “A flower by any other name would smell as sweet.” While some may not always smell that great, most people believe that all porta toilets are the same no matter what you call them. Unfortunately for these people, that belief is just plain wrong! There’s a lot of variation in portable bathrooms. So, the names people use when talking about them say a lot about their expectations.

In the portable toilet business we’ve heard a lot of names for portable toilets. We’re here to break down what each of them mean so you don’t have to be confused!

Portable Toilets

This is the umbrella term that refers to any type of bathroom that is not stationary. Portable restrooms are either standalone bathroom units or bathroom trailers that can be moved to different locations. They provide convenient restroom options no matter where someone needs to use the facilities. These can be temporary solutions – like in the case of a festival, parade, wedding, or other limited-time event. Or they can be permanent solutions in areas where plumbing isn’t available or cost-effective – like in the case of parks, nature trails, and other remote locations. In some instances, portable toilets are used to supplement existing indoor bathrooms for convenience – like in the case of u-pick crops on farms. Portable toilets are also a hallmark of construction projects and other work zones where laborers need conveniently located bathroom options.

Porta Potties

Porta potty is definitely one of the most common names for portable toilets. A porta potty is a standalone, no-frills unit. It contains a toilet, urinal, and hand sanitizer pump. They provide the basics needed to give users a private place to go the bathroom and are most often blue, green, beige, or orange. No sink is provided and the basin-style toilet simply collects waste without a flushing mechanism. At big events you may see long line of porta potties, called a porta potty bank, allowing large crowds to avoid long lines.

Porta Johns/Porta Janes

Porta johns, porta janes, and porta joes (yes, we heard that one once) are slang terms for porta potties. They sound kind of cool, so we like them and use them sometimes interchangeably with porta potty!

Elite Porta Potties

Unlike their basic no-frills cousins elite porta potties also include flushing toilets and a small sink with running water and paper towels. These units basically look the same from the outside. However, they’re equipped with more features on the inside for an upgraded user experience. These are fun to showcase to event attendees because they don’t expect much going in and are then surprised with added capabilities.


Some people refer to portable toilets as outhouses. However, the comparison couldn’t be further from the truth, which is why it makes us chuckle when we hear it. Outhouses are permanent installs on properties that don’t have plumbing. These are privately owned and are inherently rustic in nature. If you rent a cabin in a remote location, it may have an outhouse. But don’t expect to see an outhouse at your next outdoor event.

Restroom Trailers

Restroom trailers are are the swankiest portable bathrooms available, eanring them the moniker of “luxury restrooms” or “luxury restroom trailers.” Like elite elite porta potties, they also have flushing toilets. However, unlike any other outdoor bathroom options available, they boast a long list of other features like:

  • Climate-controlled interiors
  • Running hot/cold water
  • Interior and exterior lighting
  • Large mirrors
  • Sizable countertop space
  • Wooden cabinetry
  • Spacious interiors for comfortable use
  • Décor like accent rugs, hanging wall art, and faux plants
  • Complete privacy

If you’ve ever stepped inside of one of these, you’ll immediately notice the difference. In fact, you may even forget that you’re using a portable bathroom!

Kerkstra Luxury Portable Restroom Service Inc. provides portable restroom service across Michigan and luxury restroom trailers for all of the states surrounding the Great Lakes. Take a look at our mobile restroom trailers and request a quote today!