What Can You Do If You Drop Something Valuable In A Portable Toilet?

Posted on: 8 June 2016

Using a portable toilet is great if you need to go and there are no permanent restrooms available. At the ball park, at the playground or on a construction site, having access to a portable toilet can be a relief. But the construction of a portable toilet means that you may be more likely to drop something inside and have trouble retrieving it.

Structure of a Portable Toilet

If you drop something in a standard toilet, it's going to take a bath -- but at least you can reach in and retrieve it. If the water in the toilet is clean, it may not even be too terrible.

But a typical portable toilet doesn't use a small bowl with a flushing mechanism. Instead, the toilet seat is situated over a compartment or tank that stores the waste; when the tank gets full, it can be pumped out. 

Most portable toilets use chemicals that help to disinfect and reduce odor. In some models, a pump containing the chemicals is connected to the toilet seat, and releases a spray each time the seat is lowered. In other types of portable toilets, the chemicals are simply added to the tank. These chemicals are biodegradable and generally contain a colorant that makes the mixture appear blue.

What to Do if You Drop Something Inside the Tank

If you're using the portable toilet, there's always a small risk that you could drop your phone, keys, wallet or other valuable item inside the tank. To prevent this from happening, leave all your valuables inside your car or with a friend before using the toilet. But if you have accidentally lost something that would be difficult to replace, you have a few options.

  • If the tank is nearly full, you may be able to reach in and retrieve the item. If you have one available, use a plastic bag to protect your hand and arm, then bag up the item until you can disinfect it.
  • Call the portable toilet company. In almost all cases, there is a decal on the portable toilet with the name and phone number of the company. They can send a technician out to retrieve the item. If you've dropped your phone, of course, you'll need to rely on a friend or passer-by to make the call for you.
  • Give it up. If you have dropped your phone, it may not be functioning after you retrieve it, anyway.

How to Treat the Item After You Retrieve It

If you are fortunate enough to get your item back, you'll need to disinfect it carefully. Remember that the blue liquid inside the portable toilet is a disinfectant, so if you dropped your item into a relatively empty tank with chemicals, it probably won't be as disgusting as you may think.

For phones, follow the steps for drying electronics that have fallen into any liquid. Your most likely issue is that the phone won't function after getting wet. However, even if your phone is completely dead, you'll still have the SIM card from it for your contacts, and you may be able to have it replaced less expensively than if you didn't have the phone at all, depending on your carrier's restrictions.

For wallets, remove all the items that were inside and dispose of any non-essential paper. Paper money can be left to dry on paper towels, and credit cards, driver's license and other laminated cards can be cleaned with bleach or a disinfecting wipe. The wallet itself may be salvageable depending on its construction and material. A cloth wallet may hold up for a cycle in the top rack of the dishwasher, but a leather wallet that can't be wiped clean is likely destroyed.

Solid items like keys or jewelry should be soaked in a bleach solution of 1/2-cup bleach to 1 gallon of water for at least 2 minutes. You can safely soak most items for longer if you wish.

For more information and options, talk with a portable toilet pumping company, such as AAA Pumping Service

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