Welcome to potty training! After having gone through the process twice with my two boys, I learned a few tricks about how to clean a toddler potty chair.
Different potty chairs and potty seats require different cleaning techniques. This is especially when you’re cleaning a travel potty chair while away from home without access to running water or your typical cleaning solutions.
I’m sharing my best tips for keeping your toddler’s potty chair clean and my recommendations for the easiest-to-clean potty chairs and seats.
Potty Chair vs. Potty Seat
It’s probably helpful to start by defining what I’m talking about when we say “potty chair” or “potty seat.”
- Comfortable potty chair with backrest and armrests
- Sturdy design with rubber strip underneath
- High splashguard prevents spills
A potty chair is a free-standing toddler toilet. Basically a little chair with a removable basin used to catch #1’s and #2’s.
Potty chairs require you to manually empty the basin into the toilet and then clean the basin and the seat before it’s ready for use again.
Potty chairs are popular for several reasons. They are portable, meaning you can set a potty chair right next to your toddler’s play area for easy access. You can also store a potty chair in the back of your car for a little toilet on the go when needed.
Plus, some toddlers are intimidated by an adult toilet (one of my boys was terrified of the flush), so a compact potty chair can be a way to slowly ease them into the idea of using a toilet.
- Less intimidating for some toddlers
- Not limited to bathrooms, it can be placed anywhere inside the home
- Works well as a “trunk” potty if needed on the go
- Requires more effort to clean (especially after a #2)
- Comfortable and secure seating; ergonomic design helps your child sit correctly
- Easy for the child; When it’s time to go, your child can easily put on and remove the toilet trainer on his or her own
- Flexible use; The toilet trainer only needs to be adjusted once to fit your toilet seat
A potty seat is something you set on top of the regular toilet seat to make the opening smaller for tiny bottoms. Potty seats make it easy for toddlers to sit safely on top of an adult toilet without any concern of accidentally slipping into the bowl.
Some potty seats also have handles on either side so wiggly toddlers can hold themselves steady while taking care of business.
Other potty seats are a step-ladder and seat combination so toddlers can climb onto the toilet seat without help. These are fine in bathrooms where the toddler is the primary user but can be cumbersome in shared bathrooms.
For both of the above options, it’s important to know if you have a round toilet or an oval toilet. Not all seats will fit every style of toilet! Not sure what type of seat you need? Here is an adjustable potty seat that can be made to fit any style of toilet.
Then there are combination toilet seat plus potty seat options, which are like a 3-in-1 solution. Lift the toilet seat cover to expose the toddler seat. Lift the toddler seat to expose the adult toilet seat. Then lift the adult toilet seat to expose the toilet bowl.
- Little to no cleanup is required after every use
- More compact and easy to store (depending on the model you choose)
- Encourages toddlers to use an adult toilet early on, making it less intimidating for them to use public toilets later
- Requires a step stool for most toddlers to reach properly
- Sometimes requires adult help to set it up if the potty seat is removed after each use
- Not mobile, meaning the toddler has to be able to hold it until they reach the bathroom in the early stages of potty training
RELATED – Minimalist Toddler Must Haves
How to Clean a Potty Chair or Potty Seat
Whatever style you choose, cleaning a potty chair or a potty seat is similar. See the steps below.
1. Empty (Potty Chair)
If your child uses a potty chair, the first step is to empty the potty basin into a toilet.
2. Rinse (Potty Chair)
Once empty, fill the potty chair basin with hot water to rinse. Pour the water into the toilet bowl. Repeat the rinsing process until you remove as much residue as possible.
Dry the potty chair with toilet paper or a paper towel before disinfecting.
Once rinsed and wiped dry, it’s time to disinfect the potty chair or potty seat.
You can disinfect after every use, after every #2, or once at the end of every day. Use your best judgment here!
To disinfect, I spray the potty with my cleaning mixture and a reusable spray bottle. I use one of the following mixtures:
- Option 1: 1 cup of water mixed with ¼ cup of hydrogen peroxide
- Option 2: ½ cup water mixed with ½ cup white vinegar
- Option 3: Another child-safe disinfecting spray
Once I spray the potty seat with my chosen cleaning mixture, I let the mixture sit for five or more minutes.
If you use a commercial disinfectant, you may need to rinse the potty chair with water before wiping it dry.
Even if you use a DIY cleaning mixture, it might be wise to give the seat a quick rinse in case your toddler has sensitive skin.
Use a cleaning cloth or paper towel to wipe the potty dry. Now it’s ready for another accident-free day (fingers crossed)!
6. Surrounding Area
If your child “missed” and soiled the area surrounding their potty chair or the toilet, it’s also a good idea to disinfect that area.
Wipe the area dry with paper towels, then spray it with your preferred disinfectant. Let the cleaning solution sit for at least 5 minutes before wiping it dry and moving on with your day.
RELATED – Best Toilet Brushes and Holders
Cleaning the Toilet Seat When Potty Training Boys
If you are potty training boys who prefer to stand, I highly recommend removing your toilet seat the next time you clean your bathroom.
Because little boys have inconsistent “aim,” there’s likely a mess underneath your toilet seat where it connects to the toilet bowl.
Toilet seats are easy to remove! Most have a clip function that you lift on each side to remove. Others have a screw you need to loosen first. This video demonstrates a handful of toilet seat fasteners and how to remove or replace them.
Either way, be warned, and please take the time to clean underneath the seat each week during your bathroom cleaning routine.
Helping Little Boys “Aim”
After reading that, you might feel incentivized to help your boy(s) improve their aim. There are a few tricks to this that are worth trying.
Some moms suggest putting a Cheerio or a square of toilet paper in the bowl to direct their little boy’s aim and give them something to focus on.
Other moms have their boys lean their chest or belly against the partially open toilet seat. This position encourages little boys to lean forward just enough so they are more likely to go potty into the toilet bowl vs. on the back.
Cleaning Travel Potty Chairs On the Go
In the earliest stages of potty training, keeping a travel potty chair in the back of the car and a potty seat in the diaper bag can be helpful.
It’s also wise to keep a small cleanup kit ready since you likely won’t have easy access to running water or the cleaning solutions mentioned above.
Here is what I recommend packing in your car or diaper bag for cleanup on the go!
Traveling with a Potty Chair
- Compact and practical potty – At home and on trips
- Sturdy and comfy to use
- Easy to empty and clean
The items you’ll need in your travel cleanup kit might vary depending on the style of travel potty chair you choose.
I had no problems using a regular potty chair in the back of my small SUV. The potty chair basin was easy to pour out and rinse with water in a nearby bush or gutter after a #1.
In the case of a #2, I pre-cover the basin with a plastic grocery bag (or two – it never hurts to double up in this case) and toss the whole thing in the trash once he was done and wiped clean.
With that said, other moms swear by travel potty chairs made to be used with a plastic bag. I personally found those potty chairs to be unnecessarily wasteful, but of course you should choose the option that makes you feel most comfortable.
- Opens quickly and easily for on-the-go potty emergencies
- Smooth, easy-to-clean surfaces
- Can be used flat on toilets; legs lock open for use as a standalone potty
Regardless of your choice, here are some helpful cleaning materials to have in the car.
Helpful Cleaning Materials
Plastic Bags – Now is a good time to repurpose plastic grocery bags stored in your house. I would store a handful inside one another in the back of my car in case of accidents or potty stops.
You can reuse grocery bags to store soiled clothes, soiled wipes, and even to line the potty chair bowl for a #2 on the go. Cleanup is SO MUCH EASIER when all you have to do is tie the plastic bag and toss it into a nearby public trash can.
Wet Wipes – Use these to clean dirty bums, hands, and potty chair bowls.
Water Bottle – When it’s a #1, empty the potty basin in nearby bushes or a gutter, then rinse it well with the water bottle.
Refill the bottle with more water after you get home (no waste!).
Paper Towels – Use paper towels to dry the potty chair bowl after rinsing it clean.
Disinfecting Wipes or Spray – On the go, it is sometimes easiest to use a disinfecting wipe vs. a disinfecting spray. You can use Clorox wipes OR keep disinfecting cleaning spray in the car (Force of Nature is a great option) and dry it with paper towels.
Potty Pads – Like the ones you use for pet training. I kept 2-3 of these pads in the back of my car to lay underneath the potty chair when my toddler used it. It wasn’t often, but my toddler got distracted a few times, and his aim was off.
Instead of cleaning my trunk interior, I could dispose of the soiled potty pad and just clean the potty chair.
Hand Sanitizer – Good to have for you and your toddler after the job is done.
RELATED – Compostable and Biodegradable Baby Wipes
Traveling with a Potty Seat
- Our Folding Travel Toilet Seat fits most standard and public toilets securely, and works great for boys & girls.
- Award winning: 1st place winner of the 2019 Drug Store News/ECRM Buyer’s Choice Award!
- Perfect for on the Go: Small, lightweight, and includes a free travel bag that makes it easy to take around.
Potty seats are great for toddlers who are a bit nervous about falling into an adult toilet. With that said, these can get really gross when you’re forced to use a dirty public bathroom.
Most styles are designed to suction to the adult toilet seat so they don’t scoot around. I prefer to line the dirty adult toilet seat with paper liners, but doing so makes the toddler seat too unstable to use correctly.
As much as possible, I encouraged my kids to use the adult toilet (lined with paper or standing when they were tall enough).
If you go the potty seat route, here are some helpful cleaning materials to have after each use.
Helpful Cleaning Materials
Plastic Bags – Store the potty seat in a plastic bag in the diaper bag to keep the rest of the contents clean inside the diaper bag.
Some come with their own carrying case, but I personally didn’t like the idea of the potty seat marinating in the same bag after every use.
You can also carry an extra plastic bag or two in case you need to store soiled clothes after an accident.
Wet Wipes – If you use wet wipes to clean dirty bums, ensure you don’t flush them down the toilet – even if the wipes are advertised as “flushable,” it is not advisable!
Disinfecting Wipes – Essential! After every use, use these to disinfect the potty seat (especially those suction cups – yuck).
Good luck to you! Things are bound to get a little messy, but with these tips and the right tools you’ll be sure to tackle potty training in the tidiest manner possible.