Whether it’s about professional relationships, romance, or everyday life, nothing makes me happier than to know that I’ve got mail from Modern Manners Guy readers and listeners about everyday etiquette conundrums.
Some of the more humorous questions I have received have been about the bathroom. What? You thought I was going to say dining manners? Well, that too, but we are all a little frustrated about what goes on in bathrooms at people’s homes and in public settings.
As someone who loves a bit of potty humor, I could write about the foul behaviors found in bathrooms across the world all day long. From the guy watching a violent movie in the stall next to you, to the person who doesn’t wash their hands, to the one who leaves the bathroom a mess, bathroom etiquette is a topic that is near and dear to all of us.
So before you think your you-know-what doesn’t stink (because it does!), check out my top three Quick and Dirty Tips for proper bathroom etiquette:
Tip #1: Yes, it Does Stink!
I figured I’d start my tips by addressing the nastiest of bathroom etiquette faux pas – the smell. You don’t have to be a House Call Doctor to know that whatever we do in the bathroom will (and should) in fact smell. Let’s be clear on this: Bathroom odors are uncontrollable and unavoidable. But what we do afterward to cover them up is where bathroom manners come into play.
Realizing you are leaving foul odors in the bathroom is embarrassing (we’ve all been there). And if you’re using someone else’s bathroom, you wish a genie would appear and grant you one wish to make the smell go away. Sorry, this isn’t Aladdin, but I can grant you three quick solutions to cover the embarrassing odors and alleviate your worries:
- Burn a scented candle. This won’t work in the office or a public bathroom, but a nice-looking scented candle with matches is a great useful accessory for a home bathroom. Just make sure you blow it out.
- Spray some cologne. Wherever I go, I always make sure to pack a small bottle of cologne in my bag. This can come in handy when you use a bathroom and don’t want to leave it smelling foul. Two quick sprays can cover up any embarrassing odors.
- The “Mercy Flush.” The mercy flush is a pre-flush, a conscientious flush, done before you have completed your business to send any bad odors away. When no scented candles or cologne are around, the mercy flush is a go-to and works very well to minimize smells. You can even do it twice if needed.
Tip #2: Listen to Your Body…and Make No Excuses
The way I see it, the bathroom is fair ground for whatever may occur behind closed doors. We are all animals, after all.
I’m guilty of having done this too, but it only takes one close call to realize you can’t spoil yourself with food or drink that may cause an emergency dash to the bathroom, especially when you know none will be around. You never want to inconvenience yourself just because that meal before a big meeting was too good to resist. However, what we put into our bodies does affect what happens in the bathroom, and it’s important to be conscientious of that.
For example, I have a friend who is often caught in compromising bathroom situations, like on a train, a bus, in a car or in a meeting. And every time he is caught in this embarrassing position he always gets mad at himself for what he ate and drank before the trip or meeting. We all do this, but why? We’re adults and we know which foods or drinks affect our bodies adversely, so why not just listen to our bodies when we know we’ll be in an inconvenient setting soon after? I mean, you wouldn’t down a half dozen tacos before running a 5K, would you? That’s not proper carb loading, folks.
You never want to inconvenience yourself just because that meal before a big meeting was too good to resist.
You have to make a pact with your body. Kind of like that quote by Homer Simpson, “Alright Brain, you don’t like me, and I don’t like you. But let’s just do this, and I can get back to killing you with beer.” Now, I don’t think we should all go nuts as Homer does with beer, but the mature and proper thing to do is push aside the foods and drinks which you know will upset your stomach if you have something important right after where time – and a convenient bathroom – is not on your side. If you have to have that drink or food, make your body a promise, like Homer did, to enjoy when you know you can handle it.
Tip #3: Clean Up!
Gosh, what messes happen in bathrooms sometimes! I thought it was just the men’s bathrooms that looked like a rodeo just came through, but apparently, the ladies have witnessed similar disgustingness. The women in my office have often asked me to reveal the foul habits of women’s bathrooms, which surprised me, so I’ll take care of that here.
Whether it’s a public, office, or home bathroom, nothing drives me nuts more than someone who doesn’t clean up after themselves. Toward the end of the day, the office bathroom floor looks like someone was doing target practice. In public restrooms, people seem to forget that paper towels are meant for the trashcan, not the floor. And when someone comes to your home and doesn’t clean up after themselves, it makes me livid! I would never, no matter how bad I had to go, treat a bathroom like a 70’s rocker trashing a hotel room.
Look, I know bathrooms are not pretty, they’re not a place you want to spend loads of time in or care to clean up others’ messes. I’m with you on every front. But it’s like taking care of our environment; if we all do our small part to help out, it can make a world of difference. Call this a bathroom etiquette revolution!
I want you to stand up and shout that you’re not going to take it anymore! No more trash, no more soaked floors, and good gosh people flush the toilet! If we all started being just a bit more aware and a bit more respectful with bathrooms, they would be a happier place for everyone.
And one last thing…WASH YOUR HANDS PEOPLE! Yes, some people still “forget” this step. Ugh. The past few years of a worldwide pandemic should have drilled in the concept of hygiene – especially in the bathroom – so do your part and make sure you rinse, wash, repeat. To that point, the last thing you want to have happen is for someone to see you in the bathroom and take note that you skipped the sink in general and went right to the exit. I can’t stand those people.
Do you have a great story about improper bathroom etiquette? Post all the details in the comment section below. As always, if you have another manners question, I look forward to hearing from you at email@example.com new email. Follow me on Twitter @MannersQDT, and check back often for more Modern Manners Guy tips for a more polite life.
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