Learning how to build an off-grid bathroom that fits your lifestyle can make your off-grid experience so much easier and more enjoyable. If you take the time to do it right, your outdoor bathroom and shower can be functional, sanitary, and even peaceful, helping you complete your off-grid life with pride and satisfaction.

Hi, I’m Ryan

The most important thing about an off-grid bathroom is maintaining sanitation and eliminating odors while keeping everything as convenient as possible. This 10-step process helped me build an off-grid bathroom that prioritizes cleanliness and convenience.

What Is An Off-Grid Bathroom?

An off-grid bathroom is a waste management system for an off-grid home that isn’t connected to any public water, sewage, or electric utilities.

Instead, it relies on things like composting, solar panels, and propane to dispose of waste and create hot running water.

Those who build their own off-grid toilets and showers either live in remote locations where connecting to the grid isn’t possible or else enjoy a more independent, self-sustaining lifestyle.

Many of those who choose off-grid bathroom solutions are also homesteaders.

The Pros And Cons Of Building An Off-Grid Bathroom

If you’re a creative homesteader (and most of us have to be), designing a DIY off-grid bathroom might sound like a fun project. And, to an extent, it can be.

The building process itself can be fun, and some find that they adapt easily to composting their waste and taking showers outside. The maintenance and other ins and outs of off-grid toilets and showers can sometimes get dicey, though, especially for those with sensitive noses or a preference for scalding hot showers.

Off-Grid Bathroom Pros and Cons


  • Sustainable
  • Environment-Friendly
  • Less Expensive Overall
  • Ideal For RVs And Tiny Homes


  • Requires Regular Maintenance
  • Unpleasant Odors
  • Can Cause Contamination If Not Maintained
  • Not Permitted In Certain Areas

Ideas For Off-Grid Bathroom Design

Some off-gridders like to have their showers and composting toilets inside their homes. While that approach might work well for them, I prefer stationing my off-grid bathroom outside to keep out any odors and unwanted moisture.

Build separate facilities for your shower and toilet to keep everything as sanitary as possible.

I also always advise people to separate their shower and toilet facilities. If you don’t have enough space for two separate units, you can put your shower and toilet in separate stalls or rooms of your outhouse, but I advise having two buildings when possible. Sanitation is something you don’t want to get wrong.

Interior Off-Grid Bathroom Ideas

The interior of your off-grid bathroom shack can be as basic or as fancy as you like. Just because it’s outside doesn’t mean it has to be plain or rustic, unless that’s a look you enjoy. Build some shelves, hang some plants, use some cheerful paint, or put up some decorations. Make it yours.

Make a built-in woodchip bin within reaching distance of your toilet to make covering your compost as efficient and effortless as possible.

Remember that you’ll want this space to be easy to clean and keep sanitary, and you’ll want proper ventilation as well. I always recommend having a built-in woodchip bin next to your composting toilet, so that covering your waste with these carbon-rich, odor-absorbing chips is as easy and as natural as reaching for the toilet paper.

Exterior Off-Grid Bathroom Inspiration

As with the interior design, your outhouse exterior can be as simple or as ornate as you want, depending on the time and resources you have available. The amount of exposure you allow to the elements in your building plans will depend on your climate and the amount of land and privacy surrounding your outdoor bathroom.

Off-Grid Shower Solutions

If you’re like me and really enjoy your long, hot showers, you’ll want to take care with designing your shower house to fulfill your expectations. Some people even go so far as to design a bathhouse-greenhouse combo where they can relax in a hot bath with thriving plant life surrounding them.

Off-Grid Bathroom Floorplan Options

Before you actually begin building, make sure you have a solid off-grid bathroom floorplan to follow. Having the details of both your bathroom and shower laid out ahead of time is the key to a solid build.

Off-Grid Bathroom Floorplans

Building A Off-Grid Toilet Diagram

Building A Off-Grid Shower Diagram

How To Build An Off-Grid Bathroom In 10 Steps

Building any kind of structure for the first time can feel like a daunting task, but it can also be very satisfying, so get ready to put your DIY skills to the test!

Tools And Materials For Building An Off-Grid Bathroom

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but to give you a good idea of the main things you’ll need to build your off-grid bathroom, here’s a list of tools and materials to assemble.

Tools And Materials

  • Propane tank
  • Water heater
  • Water barrel or a hookup to your indoor plumbing
  • Composting toilet (with a urine diverter and vent fan)
  • Woodchip bin
  • Sink
  • Piping for sink and shower
  • Shower head
  • Your building materials of choice (lumber, PVC, scrap wood, metal, concrete, etc.)

1 Determine The Dimensions Of Your Off-Grid Bathroom

Before you even start building, you’ll want to nail down your bathroom design. The size will vary depending on how basic or fancy you want your outhouses to be, as well as the level of privacy you want. You’ll want your toilet and shower close enough together so they can connect to the same water source but separate for sanitary reasons.

2 Map Out The Location And Level The Ground

You don’t want to slide off of your composting toilet or have to take your showers at an angle because your ground isn’t level. Uneven ground can also cause drainage issues and cause your water to pool in one area.

The ground doesn’t need to be perfect, but you’ll thank yourself later for taking your time and using a level instead of eyeballing your way through the project.

3 Set The Posts And Build Your Walls

The simplest way to start building your off-grid bathroom is using a shovel or a post hole digger to dig two to three feet down so that you can set your posts and create sturdy walls around them. If you’re building a fairly basic little shack out of lumber, six to eight treated 4x4s should be enough for the posts.

The larger your buildings and the heavier your materials, the more support your structure will need. Once your support posts are in, create the walls with your materials of choice. Remember to allow for some form of ventilation.

4 Build A Roof For Your Off-Grid Bathroom And Shower

If you’re building the most basic version of an outdoor shower, you might not even put a roof on it, but you will most likely want one for your toilet no matter what. Who wants to use the toilet in the rain?

You can use metal or shingles or come up with something else. Some people choose to install solar panels on their roofs, but I’m a fan of keeping them on the ground where you can easily access them and clean off leaves and snow.

5 Lay Some Flooring With A Proper Drainage System

From wood planks to tile to stone, you can do just about whatever you want for the floor of your off-grid bathroom and shower — just make sure the materials you use can handle some water. The floor of your shower itself should ideally be raised and slatted to allow water drainage. Use gravity to your advantage while creating a drainage system, and remember that you don’t want to create a muddy mess outside of your shower.

6 Connect To A Water Source

If you are able to connect your outdoor shower and sink to your indoor plumbing, that is ideal. Otherwise, hanging a water barrel and allowing gravity to create your water pressure is probably your best bet. The higher the barrel, the more water pressure. Just keep in mind that if you’re relying on gravity alone, your pressure will fluctuate with the water level. Solar powered pumps are also available, but they will limit when you can shower.

7 Invest In A Water Heater For Your Off-Grid Sink And Shower

While some off gridders boil their water on a woodstove, that option wasn’t for me. I’d love a doable option that didn’t require propane, believe me. But water heaters are powered by propane or natural gases, and I’m not willing to resort to the woodstove. For my outdoor shower, I’ve used the eco temp L5 water heater for a long time, and it has worked great for me.

8 Outfit The Shower And Install Your Sink

Once you’ve got your shower area hooked up to your water source, it’s time to add the finishing touches like a shower head and any type of faucet you’d like along with shelving options for your bath products.

The best off-grid bathroom sink for your outdoor bathroom is going to be whatever option is easiest to hook up to your water source and drainage system.

You can purchase ready-to-go off-grid sinks or you can build your own using some lumber, pipes, a basin, and a faucet. Make it look basic, rustic, or fancy — just make sure it’s functional.

9 Install A Composting Toilet And Vent Fan

When it comes to a no-plumbing toilet, some people choose the bare minimum — basically building a wooden box with a toilet seat to place over a five-gallon bucket.

While this option is probably your cheapest one, I recommend investing in some more sophisticated off-grid toilet options to make your bathroom more pleasant and to help keep odors at bay.

Choose a composting toilet with a vent fan and a urine diverter to combat odors.

You can’t separate solid waste from urine in a bucket, and the moisture from the urine is what makes the smell get out of hand. Investing in a store-bought composting toilet with a urine diverter or rigging up one of your own is the most effective way to combat bad odors. No matter what else you do, make sure you install a vent fan (ideally solar powered) to vent the fumes from your compost outside.

10 Paint, Decorate, And Personalize Your Outdoor Bathroom

This is the fun part. You’ve done the hard work in learning how to build an off-grid bathroom for your specific situation. You’ve got your basic structure finalized and you’ve equipped your toilet, shower, and sink with the necessary elements to keep your off-grid bathroom and shower functional and sanitary. Now, make it your own!

Some people choose a rustic aesthetic for their off-grid bathrooms, or they add plants to keep the air fresh and the space more pleasant. Get some curtains for your windows and add some paint to the walls — whatever it takes to make your new off-grid bathroom feel like your own.

FAQ: Common Questions About How To Build Outdoor Bathrooms Off-Grid

When it comes to off-grid bathrooms, people tend to have a lot of questions. Like any aspect of homesteading or living off the grid, doing something different than the norm means entering unknown territory, and it’s always wise to do that armed with as much information as possible.

Does An Off-Grid Toilet Smell Bad?

The short and unpopular answer is yes, off-grid toilets tend to develop bad odors. The more carbon-rich material (such as wood chips) you cover your waste with the less odors will develop, but I have never encountered a composting toilet that didn’t develop an odor over time.

Can You Flush A Toilet Off-Grid?

A flushing toilet is possible for some off-gridders who have access to a water source and are willing to use a solar powered water pump and holding tank — but installing these is a huge project. Most off-grid toilets are composting toilets, which don’t flush and have to be regularly emptied.

Can You Use Toilet Paper With A Composting Toilet?

Yes, you can use toilet paper with your composting toilet! While any type will work, you can actually buy RV toilet paper that will break down faster than regular toilet paper.

Learning how to build an off-grid bathroom is usually one of the last things off-gridders get around to when we’re building or transitioning our homes to support a simpler life. Don’t get discouraged at this step. It can be daunting and make you question what you’re doing at times, but it can also be your crowning achievement in creating an off-grid life.

Your Turn!

  • Do you have a secret to preventing odors with your composting toilet?
  • Why are you interested in building an off-grid bathroom?