Life is like a public bathroom – you never know what you’re going to get.
Although most people will tell you that they learned restroom etiquette as a kid, society’s progress within this area appears to be slim. Unmentionable messes and strange social behaviours defy the general expectation that all of us have the bathroom laws down pat.
Of course, using a bathroom isn’t so much about conforming to the rules as it is about being a decent human being. After all it doesn’t take a Herculean effort to think of others.
So to help you maintain your bathroom integrity, we’ve compiled a list of 11 essential bathroom rules you need to know.
1. Don’t pee on the toilet or floors
These days it seems like there’s a study for everything, and this topic is no exception. Splash back is a huge problem in washrooms for men and women. According to a Brigham Young University study, urine follows what’s known as the Plateau-Rayleigh instability, meaning your pee breaks up into drops before hitting the urinal or toilet water. Using a urinal beside another guy means you might be gifting each other with a complementary splash of pee, even if you can’t physically see it. Men can avoid this by standing as close to the urinal as possible. Splash back in female washrooms can linger on the toilet and floor, which you’ll learn more about in the following rules.
2. Don’t flush wipes down the toilet
Flushing disposable wipes down the toilet can clog sewers, damage sewage pumping equipment, and cause raw sewage to overflow in the environment. According to Metro Vancouver, this bad habit has resulted in other negative consequences too – backed up pipes result in flooded basements and sewage spills into our beautiful Vancouver environment. Don’t be fooled by the packaging’s deceptive labels – even if it says it’s flushable, it’s not. Moral of the story? The only things that should go down your toilet are pee, poo, and toilet paper.
3. Standing on the toilet etc.
The idea behind this circus move seems to be that you’ll dodge a “disease” lingering on the toilet seat – even though you’ll be all over it. Germ expert Jason Tetro writes in his book The Germ Files that “pathogen pickup zones include the toilet and faucet handles, the doorknobs, and the soap dispenser, but even here there is no real threat. The actual number of bacteria present in any one of these spots tends to be in the hundreds. This is nowhere near the amount needed for most bathroom bacteria to cause infection.” Unless if you’ve decided to lick the toilet seat, you’ll be ok.
4. Wash your hands
Well, this one seems obvious, correct? Apparently not to people who refrain from this absolutely essential bathroom rule. If you’re not convinced yet, then take this evidence for a spin: according to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, germs from unwashed hands can get into foods and drinks, making others sick. They can also be transferred to other objects such as handrails, only to be transferred to someone else. The overall payoff? Washing your hands helps prevent respiratory infections, skin infections, eye infections, and diarrhea.
5. Talking on your phone and peeing
Don’t hit dial until you’ve finished your business. Forcing other washroom users to hear your deep and meaningful conversation is a bit rude. Pair that with the almighty flushing sounds and you’ve created an awkward experience for all parties involved. Don’t make others listen to your phone conversation whilst peeing – no exceptions.
6. Spitting gum in the urinal
Why throw your gum into the trash can if you can spit it into the urinal instead!? This one’s impossible to fathom. Have some compassion for the friendly janitors who work hard to keep our bathrooms clean and simply place it in the wastebasket.
7. Check for toilet paper
This one kind of goes without saying. Due to poor communication regarding toilet paper, it’s best that you look out for yourself and warn others if you can. Don’t pee until you see the toilet paper.
8. Tacky selfies
Ahhhh…there’s something about that legendary bathroom selfie. This guilty pleasure lets you strike strategic poses while sporting the perfect kissy face. Newsflash: not even Kate Moss could make this one look good. Take time to consider your backdrop of toilets and stalls behind you before shooting. If you didn’t already notice them then chances are your entire Instagram feed did.
9. Don’t spit in the sink
We’ve researched this one with dedication and our initial hypothesis turned out to be correct: there is absolutely no good reason to do this.
10. Don’t take up too much space
Bathrooms present so many different possibilities: you can use the space for a variety of different reasons. But if you’ve transformed the public bathroom’s counter into a beauty infomercial about the importance of creating a full face of makeup then it’s time to shut that one down. Make way for anyone who wants to wash their hands or do a quick touch up. That way everyone can move on with their lives ASAP.
11. Don’t take miscellaneous items into the bathroom stall
Yes, it happens. You’ll see people toting all kinds of different items into the bathroom stall. From studying materials, laptops, to newspapers – this seems to be the new norm. Meanwhile, an anxious lineup of people has built up outside of your stall. Do your business, wash your hands, and leave.