Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Addison. Addison Wonders, “who invented porta potty's” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Addison!

You might call it “the loo.” Maybe your preferred term is “the John” or “ the throne.” If you’re extra proper, you might use a “lavatory.” Yes, people have come up with many creative names for the toilet!

Humans have used toilets for thousands of years. But one common iteration of the device is relatively modern. You’ve probably seen them at festivals, parades, and other public events. What are we talking about? The porta potty, of course!

Porta potties give people the option to use a toilet where it would be otherwise unavailable. When they’re no longer needed, they can be moved to a new location. They certainly are convenient! Have you ever WONDERed who invented them?

George Harding received the first patent for a porta potty in the 1960s. His idea, though, went all the way back to the 1940s. Harding worked for the U.S. War Department during World War II. That’s when he started building portable toilets for use by shipbuilders. 

Over the years, porta potties have become more advanced. Today, there are even portable restroom trailers available with running water to flush the toilet and wash your hands. However, the basic porta potty is still the most popular choice for most outdoor toilet needs.

How do porta potties work? If you’ve ever been inside one, you already know some of the basics. They contain a toilet and urinal that both drain into a tank. Inside the tank, blue dye and fragrance are present to disguise the waste and fight odor. The tanks also contain chemicals designed to kill harmful bacteria and viruses.

Many of today’s porta potties also feature ventilation meant to help reduce the smell of waste. They also have translucent ceilings for light. Some contain sanitizer dispensers to help people clean their hands before and after using the toilet.

Have you ever WONDERed how porta potties are cleaned? It’s a messy but important task! It starts with emptying the tank of waste. This is done using a vacuum pipe that transports the waste to a special truck. Drivers then take the waste to a treatment plant

Next, the person tasked with cleaning will apply disinfectants and odor-reducing chemicals. They scrub the porta potty from top to bottom, making sure every surface is clean. Finally, they refill supplies like toilet paper, paper towels, and hand sanitizer.

Have you ever used a porta potty? If so, you know how convenient they can be. Always talk with a trusted adult about how best to clean up before and after using a porta potty. And remember to leave it as neat as you can—many people are likely to use it after you!

Standards: CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.SL.2, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.W.4

Wonder What's Next?

Read tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day with a NEIGHBOR!