Public Toilet Etiquette 101 -Eww!

Not to be gross, but this “toilet” information is useful information. Here it goes…

How to use the toilet when traveling the globe:


First, use some type of tissue when opening the exterior “ladies” bathroom door, the bathroom stall, flushing the toilet, etc.  Never touch anything in a public bathroom with your bare hands. The same goes for the bottom of your shoes.  Try not to touch them when taking them off at the end of the day.  I know.  It’s really really HARD TO DO. Ugh!  But, it’s also one more way to remain healthy during your trip and keep those around you healthy as well.

Oh, and if the sink is really gross and dirty, it’s probably best to just skip washing up afterwards.  Rather than touching the germy countertop, faucet, etc. it might be more sanitary to instead opt for your personal hand sanitizer until you can find a better place to wash your hands.

So…..there’s basically two types of public toilets: Western and Asian style.

Western style

This applies to the U.S.A., Canada, Central and South America, Mexico, Most of the Middle East, and most of Europe. (However, Europe and Mexico sometimes requires coins of specific currency to use the public toilets. -Rip-off!- Anyway, keep spare change handy.

You know the drill:

Open the lid and lower the seat. (The seat should be down unless it’s just been cleaned.)
The lid should be behind you when you sit down. Keep your feet on the floor. In other words, no squatting or feet on the seat, please. Use the toilet paper provided when you have finished, and drop the used toilet paper into the toilet bowl.  Be sure to flush the toilet with the lever or button provided. If there is no toilet paper (which is often the case), use the tissue that you brought with you. Easy-peasy.

Japanese, China, Indian, and other parts of Asia style

Do yourself a favor and roll up your jeans, pants, or skirt up above your knees so that your clothing never touches the floor. Squat on the floor toilet with the domed part (or stall door) in front of you. Use the toilet tissue that you brought with you and then discard into trash bin provided in toilet stall. Be careful not to forget, and accidently throw it in the toilet or you might get a bad surprise of overflow. Gross! Flush the toilet with the lever or button provided using your foot or another piece of tissue. Done!

Actually, Japan and South Korea have some pretty cool western-style toilets.  Some come with buttons along the side for pre-cleaning the seat, “privacy” buttons which play hilarious music, and even nature sound-effect buttons that play noises like rushing rivers and waterfalls. Humm…..I suppose the purpose of the sounds button is to encourage one to “go”?…….Anyway……..

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Yeah.  This is a gross topic.  But, sadly, if you plan to travel to a really exotic place, you are likely to see some pretty nasty-looking public bathrooms.  When you encounter this, take a deep breath, hold your nose (with a tissue), and remind yourself of this:


Oh, just one more thing: Please, ladies. Let’s all stick together. If we each use the toilet nicely there is a much better chance that none of us will have a gross experience.

Happy Travels!