The Many Names People Use for Portable Restrooms

Ever wondered what a Porta-Potty, a Kybo, and a Johnny-on-the-Spot have in common?

You might not think about them much—until you really need one—but portable restrooms come with a surprising variety of names that are about as different as their designs and uses.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Why on earth would I want to keep reading about portable toilets?”

Think about it: Portable restrooms are everywhere—construction sites, weddings, outdoor events, and anywhere else you can think of where traditional plumbing might not reach.

And yet, they’re often only thought about when absolutely necessary.

Modern portable toilets can be surprisingly clean and sometimes downright luxurious. Yes, luxurious! Luxury portable restroom rentals come equipped with flushing toilets, running water, and even air conditioning.

A picture of The Many Names People Use for Portable Restrooms with MCS Portable Restrooms

From the sleek movie-trailer-like comfort stations that grace posh outdoor weddings to the rugged “job site johns” standing guard on bustling construction sites, there’s a lot more variety and innovation than you might expect.

Here in Colorado Springs, the most common words used are “portable restrooms” as well as “Porta-Potty” and “Porta-John.” These are widely used both colloquially, and by rental services across the state.

But there are many more. From the straightforward “Construction Toilet” to the more whimsical “Biffy,” these compact conveniences carry names and colloquial nicknames that can evoke curiosity—and even a chuckle or two.

(And besides let’s face it, everyone uses them—so there’s no reason to shy away from a topic that’s just about as universal as it gets.)

Whether you call them johnnies-on-the-spot, porta-loos, or something else entirely, let’s look at the many different things you can call these portable bathrooms and discover: What’s in a name?

Portable Restroom

The term “portable restroom” is a description widely adopted in the U.S. It refers specifically to mobile units equipped with toilet facilities that can be installed temporarily at various locations where permanent restrooms are not feasible.

This term emphasizes the functional aspect of these units—being both mobile and a complete restroom. However, over time, portable restroom rental services have evolved to include features like portable handwashing stations, making them indispensable at large gatherings and construction sites.


“Porta-Potty” is not just a common term in the U.S., but also a brand name that became synonymous with portable toilets overall, much like Kleenex for tissues. The term likely originated in the 1960s when the first portable toilets were patented and commercialized for use at outdoor events and construction sites.


This term is used interchangeably with Porta-Potty in many parts of the U.S. It likely emerged as a marketing alternative to make the units seem less sterile and more user-friendly, emphasizing a sense of familiarity and ease of use in environments that lack standard plumbing facilities.

Mobile Toilets

The “mobile toilet” term is more formal and is mainly used in technical and official contexts to describe toilets that can be easily moved and set up in various locations. These units are crucial for providing sanitation in temporary setups like festivals, camps, and disaster relief operations. The focus here is on the adaptability and transportability, key features that allow these toilets to meet the temporary needs of a mobile population.

Portable Loo (or Porta-Loo)—common in the UK

In the UK, the term “loo” colloquially refers to a toilet, making “portable loo” a natural linguistic adaptation. “Porta-Loo” is often used during large events such as music festivals or sports events where permanent facilities are insufficient. The term conveys a friendly, informal vibe while maintaining the dignity of privacy and cleanliness in public settings. This adaptability has made the porta-loo a staple term used in planning how many portable toilets are needed for events.


This nickname refers to a highly reliable and readily available portable toilet service, implying that these units are always available when and where you need them. This term has been popularized by companies specializing in portable restroom rental, highlighting their commitment to providing timely and efficient services. It underscores the convenience aspect, portraying these toilets as solutions that solve immediate needs at crowded events, emergency situations, or construction sites.

Portable Washrooms

Similar to “portable restroom,” the term “portable washroom” is more commonly used in Canada as well as certain parts of the U.S. It usually refers to units that include both toilet and handwashing facilities, emphasizing the full-service aspect. These units are designed to offer a higher standard of hygiene and are typically equipped with amenities like soap dispensers, mirrors, and sometimes even heating elements for use in colder climates.

Job Site Toilets

“Job Site Toilet” specifically refers to portable toilets placed at construction sites or industrial projects where permanent facilities are not installed. These units are essential for maintaining sanitation standards in compliance with health and safety regulations. They are built to withstand harsh conditions and frequent use, ensuring that workers have access to necessary facilities without leaving the work area.

Event Toilets

This designates portable restrooms used during public gatherings, festivals, and large outdoor events. These toilets are designed for high turnover and are often part of a larger array of facilities including multiple units with different capabilities, such as accessibility features for individuals with disabilities. Their deployment helps manage large crowds, preventing long lines and promoting better sanitary conditions.

Chemical Toilets

A “chemical toilet” is a term used to refer to a specific type of portable toilet that uses chemicals/enzymes to minimize odors and reduce the need for a traditional plumbing system. These are self-contained units where chemicals break down waste and reduce pathogens before the waste is manually removed. Common in camping and boating environments, these toilets are crucial for situations where connection to sewer systems is impractical.

Temp Toilets

The term “temp toilet” refers to temporary toilet facilities used for short-term needs, often during events or renovations when regular bathrooms are unavailable. These are basic units intended to provide essential services on a temporary basis. They highlight the adaptability and temporary nature of the solution, catering specifically to transient populations or temporary setups.

Festival Toilets

Naturally, these specifically refer to portable toilets rented for music and art festivals. Due to the high density of people and the often remote locations of festivals, these toilets are a critical part of festival infrastructure. They vary from basic models to more sophisticated units with additional features like flushing toilets and running water, depending on the duration of the festival and the budget of the organizers.

Construction Toilets

This is—you guessed it—another term for portable toilets that is used at construction sites. These units are necessary for maintaining compliance with laws that require sanitation facilities at work sites, and they are typically rugged, designed to handle the rough environment of construction sites, and are strategically placed to be easily accessible to workers while being out of the way of construction activities.

Field Toilets

This term may be used to describe portable toilets in agricultural or remote field settings where permanent facilities are nonexistent. They are important during seasonal agricultural work where workers are in the fields for long hours. Field toilets help maintain sanitary conditions, and reduce the need to travel long distances to access restroom facilities.


The term “Portalet” is commonly used in some countries, and particularly commonly in the Philippines, to refer to portable toilets. It’s derived from the combination of “portable” and “toilet,” and often used in various settings like construction sites, outdoor events, and disaster-stricken areas where permanent facilities are compromised. These units are essential for maintaining sanitation standards and are often equipped with basic features to meet the immediate needs of the population.


“Biffy” is a colloquial term used primarily in the Midwest of the United States. It’s a playful take on the more formal terms and is often used in camping sites or at festivals. The origin of the term is not well-documented, but it’s thought to perhaps be derived from a company name or simply a phonetic twist on “bathroom” and “potty.” Regardless of its origin, it reflects a regional preference for a more informal, approachable term for a necessary facility.


Used in scouting and by some communities in the Midwestern U.S., “Kybo” is another informal term for portable toilets. The origin of “Kybo” is believed to be from the early days of scouting, and it’s particularly used in camps and outdoor activities organized by scouting groups.

Note: While the popular acronym explanation for “Kybo” (Keep Your Bowels Open) is widely circulated among scouts (and on the internet) the other explanation that it originated from the use of “Kybo” coffee cans either being repurposed as improvised toilets in scouting is probably a more credible theory.

Honey Bucket

“Honey Bucket” is a term used in some regions of the U.S., and it’s also the name of a company that provides these services. Historically, it refers to the honey-colored chemicals and waste that would accumulate in the tanks. It’s definitely a less formal term, and it’s typically used in rural or less formal settings where such a euphemism might be seen as less crude.


“Sani-John” is another variant of the portable toilet name, similar to “Porta-John.” It emphasizes the sanitation aspect of the toilet. The use of “Sani” suggests a focus on cleanliness and hygiene, key aspects that these facilities aim to address. This term is sometimes used by companies to market portable toilets as clean and hygienic solutions for temporary sanitation needs.

Potty Wagon

The “Potty Wagon” is a U.S. regional name that refers to a large-scale portable toilet system—typically mounted on a trailer—which can be towed to various locations. This term is used particularly when a significant number of toilet units are required, such as during large public events or film shoots. The “wagon” part of the term conveys its mobility and larger scale, emphasizing its capability to handle larger crowds.

Comfort Station

“Comfort Station” is a term used to describe facilities that provide more than just toilet services; they often include showers and changing areas as well. These are commonly found in parks, beach areas, or large recreational fields. The term suggests a higher level of comfort and amenities, aiming to provide a comprehensive solution for visitors who may spend extended periods of time at a location.

Restroom Trailer

A “Restroom Trailer” is a more upscale version of the typical portable toilet and is used at events where a higher standard of comfort and aesthetics is desired. These type of units often feature running water, lighting, air conditioning, and sometimes even decorative elements. They provide a level of luxury not found in standard portable toilets and are preferred at weddings, corporate events, and other high-end occasions.