Emergency toilet – bedside commode chair

While I’ve seen a number of options for an emergency toilet, I’ve never seen using a bedside commode chair.  An image of one is in the link below:


Most affordable options are a bucket with a toilet seat.  I would think the advantages are:

  • More comfortable – as it is purpose-built.  It also has a frame and handles to make it more stable for the user.
  • Cost-effective – the cost is not much more than a 5 gallon bucket and a bucket-specific toilet seat.
  • Portable – can be folded up.

Any thoughts on why a bedside commode chair is not being recommended?  What are the downsides?


  • Comments (17)

    • 2

      You’re right! You don’t see these mentioned often! I’ve never used one, but can’t see many downsides a part from taking a little more space than just a bucket with a toilet seat on?

      Personally, I just have the bucket-only option because that’s what I also use camping and it’s just perfect for me right now. But it would be a great addition to my home preps to at least prepare for when I’ll start losing mobility due to old age 😉

    • 3

      Honestly, I hadn’t considered it and didn’t even know such a thing existed. It’s not a bad idea, and I like that they seem to be designed to sit over top of a regular toilet, although sitting that high up might make it more difficult to pass solids (I am a big fan of the Squatty Potty). Also, way cheaper than a composting toilet for recycling nutrients, and you can easily hide it when company comes over.

      The only downside (other than the high angle), would be that it’s much larger than a simple bucket toilet lid. The bucket lids are easy to store, and you can (in theory) use the bucket for other things. But would you really want to?

      • 2

        There are two main types of commode. The one in the picture looks as if it has the bucket attached so you would empty the bucket, the other is as you mention, designed to go over the toilet itself, but can go over a bucket or similar. As these are primarily for the disability market the focus is on mobility. You can get ones that look like a general chair


        In the old days they used a pot/bowl that was emptied in the morning, similar to the bed pans used in the hospital.

    • 2

      I’ve seen these used when persons have limited mobility due to illness or injury.    They aren’t small even when folded up.  The bucket toilet lid is much smaller to store. Having one stored would probably be good if you have elderly family members or ones that have foot/knee/hip issues and have the storage space.    It could then do double duty. 

    • 2

      Good catch, Bigwig.    When I was prepping for a possible pandemic in mid-2019 (who knew???) I purchased 2 bedside commodes for $10 each in two different thrift stores.   I also purchased kitty litter, lime, and 100’s of kitchen FLEX-STRENGTH trash bags to use to double-line the commode bucket.  

      It is best to purchase used collapsible/foldable commodes that don’t take up as much storage space.   However, any bedside commode beats a bucket or trench latrine.  

      The reason I purchased two for pandemic preparedness was to have at least 2 places available to quarantine or isolate sick persons.   

      Seriously, it was surreal to have everything planned and purchased by October 2019, stored for “possible” future use, then have Wuhan.  Many of the preps, thankfully, did not have to be used, and the two commodes are still wrapped in plastic in the shed along with the plastic sheeting, flex-strength 13 gallon bags, disinfectant, kitty litter and lime.

      • 2

        I can imagine your feeling of astonishment that your planned for scenario was unfolding before your eyes.  Great that you  were so ahead and that you didn’t need to use the items for quarantining.  Such good thinking!  

      • 2

        @Alicia—For the first half of 2020 I would go to sleep every night repeating the mantra “We have enough”.    My family (primarily driven by my niece and I) preps for 6 people for sure, and 10 most likely, because we always end up with bonus people.   My niece works with a university on the risk management team and part of what they do is plan for un-expected events that impact the enormous number of people involved with the university.   I was comfortable with 1 month of water/food/beans/bandaids/etc. from 2014 to 2019.   She kept wanting more, but it was expensive, takes a lot of space, requires rotating (first in first out FIFO) and all the other things required.

        In mid-2019 I pursued my personal interest of reading about the possibility of a pandemic.   Studied for about 4 months and went “AAAACK!  We need a bigger boat!”   So we extended our preps for 6-10 people to 5-6 months.    I was feeling complacent until January 2020 when my relatives in China started needing masks…..

      • 2

        I’d like to learn from you about wild fires and don’t know if anyone has started a topic on it before so you probably could start one.

        I would also love to learn from your niece because that sounds very interesting to learn about emergency preparedness  and relief for huge groups. You should invite her to join the forums and share some of her experiences because that’s probably a whole different beast than individual family prepping.

      • 2

        @Mike Hill – A topic on wildfires will be started.    As for emergency preparedness for large groups; it is an entirely different dynamic driven primarily by the prospect of liability on the part of the university/corporation/organization.    CERT (Community Emergency Response Teams) are also available for large organizations.   CERT offers programs for Campus CERT, Workplace CERT, and Teen CERT.  

        If every reader of theprepared.com committed to introducing CERT training to their workplace/campus, it would have an enormous, positive impact.

        I’ve been a CERT member for 14 years and strongly support their efforts.

      • 2

        Just finished a new forum topic about wildfire preparedness.

        Wildfire preparedness and mindset – How to evacuate quickly, safely

      • 2

        That is great that you were prepared for a pandemic before it came, even if you didn’t use everything that you thought you would. What other things are you preparing for now that might be coming up soon?


      • 2

        @Tim – Wildfires.    Always wildfires.    I live in Southern California and my father and I were each burned out completely in the 2003 Cedar wildfire.  I could choose to move, but this is our home, close to city life, but still rural.   (Hey, we know the devil here:  earthquake and fire.)  The entire group of 6 family members have had CERT training.   

      • 2

        Yes, indeed!  I’ve been evacuated for fires a couple times in the same year and some homes in my neighborhood were lost.   I’m sorry to hear you were ones who lost your homes.  Earthquakes are a bit random, but fires are every year and getting worse.  

    • 3

      Not exactly toilet related, but there is a book called “Humanure” that describes how to safely convert waste to compost when sanitary disposal is not an option.  It does cover composting toilets, but offers “manual options”.  Mostly involving sawdust I think, and conventional composting methods.  I should probably buy a copy of the book as I “lost” mine ages ago. 

      So there…if you buy a commode but don’t have a sanitary way to empty it, this might offer some insight.

      Now I’m thinking about one of those revolving drum composters.  I’ve already got a barn full of sawdust for the horse stalls…

    • 4

      My mother has mobility issues and we got her a commode chair that she uses most of the time. Our bath is small and it’s hard for her to maneuver her walker in there. She’s very happy with it.

      Downside is that it needs to be emptied minimum twice a day and after bowel movements and cleaned out. But that’s not as bad as you might think…no worse than changing your child’s dirty diapers or potty chair. I just empty it into the toilet. Rinse the collection bucket (included) with water and Lysol, scrub if necessary with the toilet brush, rinse again. Done.

      If there was no running water, or sewage treatment available, it could be a problem. If you live in the country, you might want to look into digging a latrine with an outhouse. Be sure, of course, you won’t be contaminating your water supplies.

      • 3

        God bless you for taking care of your mother like that. There probably are hard days, but it seems like you are in good spirits about it. 

        Many children can’t or won’t take care of their parents as they age. No judgement against them because I do not know their circumstances. But I do know that you are a great person for helping her out.

      • 3

        Thanks, Cap’n, but I truly feel lucky to still have her. She’s had a rough time, health wise, so every day is a blessing.

        Enjoy your loved ones while you can.