We were having dinner with our best friends last night and after several people came back from the restroom, we started discussing public restrooms and how people use and misuse them. I know, this is already sounding disturbing: discussing bathrooms at the dinner table in a restaurant. However, the discussion got me thinking about some unwritten rules about using a public restroom that I have followed for years. So now, whether you want them or not, I am now publishing the rules. The background on my reasoning for a couple of these rules is explained in a previous post, Men and Public Restrooms. You may want to read that post first if you have not already done so.
- Talking is not allowed while using a toilet or urinal. The only exception is a life-threatening medical emergency. Even then, it’s preferable to get out of the restroom before talking.
- Talking is acceptable while using the sink, but it must be with someone else. No talking to yourself.
- Talking is tolerated, but highly discouraged, while standing in line
- Cell phone usage is not allowed anywhere in the restroom (see life-threatening emergency exception above)
- For purposes of these rules, the definition of talking is expanded to include: whistling, humming, singing, moaning, and groaning–basically any sound generated from the neck up.
- Always flush when you are finished
- It’s acceptable to pre-flush a toilet if the last person was not considerate enough to do so. However, you don’t need to pre-flush a urinal. I’m pretty certain your urine combined with someone else’s will not create a toxic cloud or cause an explosion. Save the water–but flush after you are done.
- Don’t flush with your foot. There are way more germs on your shoe than the handle. You’re are just compounding the problem. Plus, you should be washing your hands right after, so if there are any germs they’ll be washed away.
- A casual glance to see if someone is in a stall is fine, but no up-close peering (Senator Craig). The best test is a gentle push on the door to see if it is locked.
- If all stalls but the handicap one is in use, use the handicap stall so long as someone in a wheelchair is not in line behind you. There are no fines for using a handicap stall.
- Always lock the door
- Unless the seat is obviously messy, there’s no need for cleaning. I’ve listened to some several-minute-long rituals of spraying Lysol, scrubbing with toilet paper, flushing, and applying a seat cover. This in a professional office building where the facilities are well maintained. It’s an unnecessary waste of time and money. Think about it, butt cheeks might very well be the cleanest part of the body. You take a shower, then apply a couple layers of clothing. There’s not much opportunity for a lot of germs on the part of the body that touches the toilet seat. Items touched by hands are exponentially dirtier than a toilet seat. (Great, now I’m probably going to have co-workers spraying everything in sight with Lysol.)
- Never pick up paper off the floor. I think this one is common sense, but I threw it in for Senator Craig’s benefit.
- If you are out of paper, do not ask for someone to pass paper to you (refer to the talking rules)
- If all urinals are in use and a stall is available, use it.
- Always look straight ahead
- Both hands must always remain “down there”. No hands on the hips, behind the head, or behind the back. No arms resting on the wall.
So there you have it. You may want to print this out for future reference. That way, if you ever have any questions, you’ll have the answers right there with you. I may consider creating credit card-sized laminated guides for a reasonable price if there is enough demand. I’d also love to hear if you have any additional rules I should consider adding.