What are portable sinks and how do they work?

What Are Portable Sinks and How Do They Work?

Posted by | 12-04-2021

Have you ever needed to wash your hands only to find out that there is no sink in sight? We have all been there — including particularly sticky situations where hand sanitizer simply won’t cut it. Now, with increased attention to hand hygiene, more and more people are looking for ways to promote frequent hand washing, cleaning and other healthy habits. 

Portable sinks help with these issues, especially in places with no access to conventional plumbing. This mobile and flexible hand washing solution helps maintain health and safety habits even without pipes and running water.

Are you looking for a mobile and flexible hand washing solution? Check out this complete guide to all the features of a portable sink and how it works:

What is a Portable Sink?

A portable sink is a self-sufficient handwashing station designed to offer hygiene solutions in places where conventional sinks might be impractical. One of its standout features is that it eliminates the need for traditional plumbing or water connections. Often known as standalone handwashing units, they encompass all required components in one streamlined design.

In essence, a portable sink has a basin for handwashing, similar to traditional sinks. They can vary in designs based on manufacturers and sizes, with options for single, double, and triple basins. The water delivery method can differ across brands – some come with taps, while others might use a foot-operated system.

As the name suggests, one of the defining characteristics of a portable sink is its mobility. Unlike standard sinks, it is built to be moved easily, often facilitated by sturdy front-locking swivel casters or rubber-treated wheels.

The Basics of Portable Sinks

Navigating the world of sinks can be more intricate than one might initially think, especially when delving into the innovative realm of portable sinks. Unlike their fixed counterparts, portable sinks operate without needing a standard plumbing system. But what does that mean in practical terms? In essence, imagine a portable sink unit or a portable sink system that comes equipped with its own water supply. Think of it as the efficiency of a porta-potty sink combined with the comprehensive features of a full-fledged washing station. Whether you're after a portable hand washing station for outdoor events or a portable sink with a water tank for mobile businesses, these dynamic systems offer unparalleled convenience. Let's dive deeper into understanding these self-sufficient sink units' basics and unique advantages.

Traditional vs. Portable Sinks

Portable sinks work basically just the same as traditional sinks, complete with a water supply, heater, and even sanitizing supplies. The only difference is a portable sink is not connected to a traditional plumbing system, so water does not flow from the source and into the pipes. Instead, portable sinks come with a tank of freshwater: all you need to do is fill it up to accommodate multiple hand washes and cleaning.

Roll to Desired Location

Portable sinks are best known for their convenience. These self-contained sinks are docked on casters and locked in place for secure but flexible, mobile use. For quick transport, simply wheel the sink to any location, whether indoor or outdoor and plug it into a standard electrical outlet for continued use. 

Access Clean Water Anywhere

Portable sinks are self-contained units: these mobile washing stations are complete with tanks, heaters, and even accessories to suit various applications. Now, you can wash and clean anytime, anywhere.

These self-contained units are designed with a large tank capacity — a 16-gallon freshwater tank, and a 21-gallon wastewater tank. These also come with a 2.5-gallon electric water heater and pump inside the cabinet to dispense both hot and cold water. So, just as with a standard washroom or kitchen, you are guaranteed comfortable hand washing and thorough cleaning.

How Portable Sinks Work

Ever wondered how does a portable sink work? Or perhaps pondered the intricacies of how do portable hand washing stations work in areas without plumbing? Dive into the world of portable sinks and unravel the genius behind their design and functionality. From the moment these units are set up, they exemplify convenience combined with top-notch technology. Whether you've encountered a porta potty sink at an event or seen a multi-basin portable sink system in schools or offices, it's evident that these sinks are designed for diverse needs. They are not merely mobile; their design ensures that clean and wastewater are kept entirely separate, eliminating contamination risks. Furthermore, these sinks are not just about mobility; they're crafted for durability, promising years of service even in the most challenging terrains. Let's delve deeper to understand the mechanics, the waste disposal system, and the variety of configurations that make these sinks a must-have for various scenarios.

Setup and Operation

As soon as the portable sink is wheeled in place and plugged in, the heater will start to warm up. You can test the water pressure and temperature, typically at 40 degrees above room temperature once hot enough. This is generally adjustable, so check your sink’s product specifications to confirm ideal temperatures and water pressure for comfortable and effective use. 

Waste Disposal

Just like a regular sink, wastewater and soap suds will flow down the basin and into a tank that drains. But because portable sinks don’t feature traditional plumbing connections, wastewater goes down into a designated tank which can be emptied into any drain. 

Even in a compact and self-contained unit, there is no risk of contamination — fresh and wastewater tank connections are separate. It would be impossible to inadvertently switch them after refilling and emptying, so only clean water will flow through the faucets, while wastewater drains into the right tank.

Different Configurations for Every Hand Washing Need

Portable sinks come in a range of configurations to suit every demand. Depending on your needs, you can get a one-, two- or three-basin portable sink to accommodate high-volume hand washing and cleaning, in both remote and outdoor locations and in busy schools and offices with limited washroom and kitchen access.

These sinks are also built to last, especially in rugged terrains. Engineered with commercial-grade 18-gauge 304 stainless steel, these sinks are guaranteed to withstand high-volume use over many years, making them cost-effective options not only for their convenience but also for their durability.

Customize Your Portable Sink

Delving into the world of portable sinks, one quickly realizes these units' sheer versatility and adaptability. Far beyond the basic notion of a portable hot water sink, these modern marvels come with many customization options to cater to a myriad of requirements. Whether setting up a temporary handwashing station at an event or looking for a portable sink-no plumbing solution for a clinic, these sinks offer the best of both worlds: functionality and aesthetics. The beauty of a portable sink system lies not just in its mobility but also in the array of accessories and designs that can be integrated, ensuring that, be it a spa, a school, or a bustling food truck, your portable utility sink aligns seamlessly with its surroundings.

Options and Accessories

Portable sinks feature various options and accessories to suit any application. These customizations allow you to meet your mobile hand washing and cleaning needs in any location and setup.

Choose among popular customizations like deeper sink basins, as well as soap and paper towel dispensers. These help ensure proper hand washing and sanitation, especially when your portable sink also doubles as a food prep and cleaning station. You can also add your own step stools so younger children can get up to adult height and practise good hand hygiene habits at school, outdoor events, and other locations.


Portable sinks are not only convenient to use because of their portability but also because they fit well in any location. These units feature different cabinet styles and attractive designs, and are all made out of stainless steel.

Where to Use a Portable Sink

Portable sinks are compact and mobile, offering a complete and convenient hygiene solution. These self-contained units are in high demand because they can move across indoor and outdoor locations, from schools, clinics and offices to outdoor attractions like concerts, festivals and food trucks.

Do you need a mobile hand washing solution? Portable sinks have many applications - here are just a few:  

  • Daycare centres and school classrooms
  • Medical clinics and treatment rooms
  • Spas and salons
  • Food trucks and other foodservice operations
  • Outdoor event and camping sites
  • Construction sites 

Contact Ancaster Food Equipment

At Ancaster Food Equipment, we understand the importance of good hygiene wherever you go. We offer a lineup of high durability, professional-grade stainless steel portable sinks that are quick and easy to place in any location.

For more information about our portable sinks, call Ancaster Food Equipment at (855) 888-9644 or contact us here.

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