Tough Job Tales

What’s the worst cleanup job you ever had to perform on a portable unit?

Pumping out the waste tank of a portable restroom might be considered, in the minds of most non-PROs, the worst part of the job. But we know that the toughest cleanup jobs are often outside the tank, all around it. Walls, doors and just about any accessible surface is vulnerable to graffiti, lighter burns, spray paint … you name it.

Every PRO who’s been at it for a while has a favorite nightmare cleanup job story. These two share theirs with us, and they share a mix of natural and man-made causes. We invite you to write in with your own worst cleanup stories that we may share in the future.

Fresh and Clean deploys about 280 of its 425 units in its service territory about 60 miles southwest of St. Louis. The company’s business splits out at roughly 70 percent construction contracts and 30 percent special events.

“We’ve had some units at a new concrete plant being built right along the Mississippi River. There’s a lot of wind there, and they get rolled around constantly. It gets pretty bad there. We do the best we can to keep them usable,” says owner Josh Campbell, but before too long, they’re beyond saving.

“We try to fix them as best we can, but a lot of times we’ll bring them back to the shop and just exchange them for new ones. We’re at that site three times a week. There’s one company that’s pretty rough on our units, and we make sure they get that same equipment back.”

Another cleanup job Campbell often faces is salvaging what’s left after vandals set fire to his units. “Just this week we had one that someone tried to set on fire. Our service man pulled up about three minutes after they set the toilet paper on fire and saved it. There was no damage. But last year, we had two units out at a park that were completely melted down.”

Bullitt County Septic Service fields about 400 units. The company is located just south of Louisville, next to the Fort Knox Military Reservation, which secures the gold that backs our country’s treasury. Owner Brad Reading’s solid gold unit recovery job story has as its villain not vandals, but a vortex.

“We had a tornado go through here a couple years ago, and that was pretty bad,” recalls Reading. “We lost about a dozen units and found one up in a tree. It was all mangled. The rest of the ones that got taken by the tornado were completely destroyed. There was no saving anything and we had to trash them all.”

The worst actual cleanup work his crews usually do is graffiti removal, and he finds that task easier than it used to be. “Seems like the products they’re coming out with now deal with it a lot better than they have in the past,” Reading says. “We use a product called Wipe-Off (Sunrise Environmental Scientific, Reno, Nev.), and it really works well.”

Send your worst cleanup tale to We’ll collect the stories and share them in an upcoming issue.


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