The History of Porta Potties

October 18, 2022

While sitting in a polyurethane portajohn, history fanatics and the casually curious alike may wonder things such as “Where did portapotties come from?” and “Who invented portapotties?” Thankfully, we have the answers to these burning questions, whether you’re scrolling while on the porcelain throne or elsewhere.

Where did porta potties come from?

As shares, porta potties originated in Long Beach, California during the Second World War. They started as a solution to the issue of men taking a long time to reach the bathrooms that were located at the dock’s rear. One inventive chap began wondering if it would be possible to make a more portable toilet so that it could go on the ships instead of staying glued to the dock. The first portable bathrooms were pretty successful at doing their jobs. 

Still, they had one key drawback — they were composed of metal and wood, which made them pretty hefty and hard to lug around. They were also challenging to cart onto and take off the ships. What’s more, they were tough to sanitize and clear out.

The other main issue with the first portable toilets is that their wooden materials soaked up disgusting stenches like a sponge. All of these issues forced inventors to consider how they could be improved, but at least the basic idea of a portable toilet had made its way into the world.

Although portapotties had humble beginnings in Long Beach, California, this wasn’t the official birthplace for toilets as a whole. Rome is considered a pioneer in toilet history. They had communal places to defecate and urinate. These toilets, however, were far from portable. Ancient Greek chamber pots were more like portapotties.

Who invented portapotties?

According to, George Harding received a patent for the polyethylene portable restroom in 1960. As a co-founder of the PolyJohn Corporation, he’s one of the founding fathers of portapotties as we know them today. 

The development of the porta potty didn’t stop there. During the 1970s, fiberglass portable toilets rose in popularity. These portable toilets were definitely an improvement from the first porta potties in World War II. They didn’t absorb awful odors in the same way that the wooden and metal portapotties did. However, it was still hard to get rid of gross smells. As a result, they were phased out over time, as well. 

In 1984, "luxury restroom trailers" began resembling the portapotties we know, love, and use today. These facilities were by far easier to sanitize, clean, and rid of unwanted scents than their former counterparts.

When you need portable bathroom rentals for your wedding, construction site, or special event, choose Pit Stop Portables! We’ve been delivering and servicing clean, well-maintained portable bathrooms throughout the Chattanooga and Hamilton County, TN areas for more than 40 years. Call us day or night and get the portable potty sets, luxury trailer rentals, or garbage disposal bins that you need in 24 hours. Your #2 business is our #1 business!


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