How to Use, Setup, and Clean a Groover.


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Groover duty. It’s a dirty business but someone has to do it.

Bringing a groover on a river trip is a necessary evil and many sections require one. But we all need to do our part to leave no trace and groover duty is just part of the deal. Owning a groover and being willing to take on the responsibility isn’t all bad. In fact it can get you invited on more river trips.

In this article we will cover the ins and outs of groovers so the next time you have to setup use or clean a groover you’ll do it like a pro.

What is a groover?

In short – it’s a portable toilet commonly used for wilderness camping. They can come in all shapes, sizes, and budgets.

The Eco Safe Toilet System is what you’ll find on most raft trips. It’s preferred for its ease of use and comfort.  On the river its stored within a watertight 50 Caliber Ammo Can and once set up for use has a stable platform to sit upon. The cleanup isn’t bad either.

How do you set up the groover?

Knowing how to properly setup a groover station for your wilderness campsite is critical. There’s no way around it. You will be pooping in the woods and more or less exposed. So make the most of it. Pick a secluded spot with a great view. Far enough away from your camp site that people have privacy while in use but not to far that it’s troublesome to find again in the dark of night.

Rule number one: Get a seat with a view. (Photo courtesy OARS,

Once your location is selected attach your groover’s seat and setout the necessary tools of the trade:

Setup groover station

Once the location is established it’s a good idea to setup a paddle, or large stick at the beginning of the path leading to the groover. Laying a paddle across the path is an easy way to indicate when it’s in use.


How to use a groover?

There are a few rules to follow when using a groover on a river trip.

  1. No peeing in the groover.  It will fill it up, makes it heavy, and the solution to pollution is dilution. Pee in a seperate pee bucket, in the river, or wet sand.
  2. No trash in the groover.
  3. Only poop and toilet paper.

Urine should go into the river, or on the wet sand at the river’s edge. If someone uses a pee bucket, dump that into the current, not in the eddy or slack water. -USDA FOREST Service

How to transport a groover?

It’s generally best practice to keep the groover accessible but away from passengers. If you’ve got a dedicated gear boat, awesome. Otherwise the back of the boat generally works. Just remember, if you bury the groover out of site and under a pile of dry bags you are asking for trouble when the inevitable emergency eddy out is called for.

Helpful hint: Before loading on the morning of your take-out, add some water to your porta-potty. The sloshing action of the boats and the vehicles helps loosen materials and makes the unit easier to clean at the SCAT machine. – USDA FOREST Service

How do you clean a groover?

This is the least glamorous part of the groover experience. Not to worry though. When properly prepared and equipped, cleaning your groover is not so bad. You’ve got a couple of options when it comes to cleaning your groover.

Pay a service

The least messy is to pay someone else to do it.  If you are lucky your local waste disposal or porta-potty company will take on this dirty job for you. Just drop off the groover and for a nominal fee pick it up later cleaned and ready to go.

SCAT Machine

SCAT machines are your next best option. SCAT (Sanitizing Containers with Alternative Technology) machines are specifically designed to clean your groover. Unfortunately they aren’t as prevalent as you’d hope. But if there is one near your river take out. Count yourself lucky and pay the machine.

The SCAT machine cleaning process is pretty straightforward and pain free. Just place your groover onto the open door platform and secure it with cam straps.

Take the lid off and placing it in a different location in the machine for rinsing and sanitizing.

Close the door and the button to start the cleaning cycle.

Two minutes later… the cycle is complete and your groover is sanitized and ready for use again.

PRO TIP: Typically you will need to provide your own cam straps to attach your groover to the SCAT machine.


RV Dump Station

Ok, we’re doing this ourselves. We’re fearless wilderness boaters, right? This should be no problem. Properly equipped it really isn’t to bad.

Groover cleaning Supplies
Tools of the trade: bleach solution, latex gloves, Lysol wipes

Latex gloves and some safety glasses (better safe the sorry) with some bleach solution or disinfecting wipes.

We’re going to focus on the Eco Safe Toilet System here. 

Eco Safe Toilet System Groover

NOTE: If you went with the $3 five gallon bucket or just the ammo can and don’t have access to the previously mentioned cleaning / disposal options you are really going to regret your penny pinching at this point and we can’t offer much help.

This is where the Eco Safe Toilet System really comes into it’s own.

Eco Safe Cleaning Steps

  1. Remove 1/4″ plug and install 1/4″ garden hose fitting. Use appropriate end of supplied wrench as these fittings have different hex wrench sizes.
  2. Unscrew 3″ waste cap and in its place screw in 3″ disposal hose which is stored in accessory container.
  3. Attach water supply hose to Eco-Safe tank at the garden hose fitting.
  4. Make certain 6″ cap is tight. Stretch out disposal hose and put open end into RV dump hole.
  5. Place Eco-Safe tank on its end so that 3″ waste spout is closest to the ground and garden hose is towards the top –furthest from the ground.
  6. Turn on water supply and flush waste from tank.
  7. Turn water supply off and place Eco-Safe tank upright.
  8. Disconnect water supply hose.
  9. Remove 6″ cap and look to see if tank is thoroughly clean.
  10. Repeat cleaning process if necessary.
  11. Put 4 to 8 oz. of holding tank deodorant into Eco-Safe tank , tighten 6″ cap, swirl around and dump contents though disposal hose into RV dump.
  12. Remove disposal hose.
  13. Replace 3″ waste cap.
  14. Unscrew garden hose fitting and in its place screw in 1/4″ plug.

Groover cleaning

When in doubt- RTFM

Staff Post
Staff Post
Paddlers writing about all things paddling.


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