Proper Restroom Etiquette

Using a bathroom outside your home can be a very uncomfortable experience. Modern Manners Guy has 3 tips for using restrooms in public.

Richie Frieman
5-minute read
Episode #189

They say, “When you gotta go, you gotta go” but sometimes having to use a bathroom that is not your own – in an emergency or not – can be a frightening experience. Now, I’ve never been in a women’s restroom, so I had to do some research with female friends and colleagues to get the full scoop. Man oh man, was I shocked! I thought the men’s world of restrooms was the drek of public places, but it seems the same goes for both genders. And just when I thought that having to use a trough at a stadium was the lowest of the low (in the year 2012, mind you), no matter where I go, it’s always topped – regardless of how nice the establishment is.

Proper Restroom Etiquette

Public, office, and even restaurant restrooms sometimes look like a testing facility for toxic waste. A bathroom at one at my past jobs had a floor covered in every color of the bodily function rainbow, decorating the tiles like a Rorschach Test. I mean, us fellows have a “part” that allows us to visibly aim, yet some guys treat that large white ceramic urinal or toilet as threatening as hitting the metal part on the board game Operation. It drives me nuts.

So before you enter any bathroom other than your own, bring plenty of hand sanitizer, don’t touch the door handle with your bare hands, and check out my top 3 Quick and Dirty Tips for proper restroom etiquette:

Tip #1 – Eyes Forward Soldier!

In What is Proper Gym Locker Room Etiquette? I mentioned how improper to is to stand around in your birthday suit while talking to people. I don’t care if you are best friends, siblings, or complete strangers, when you are naked, and unless you’re my wife, I do not want to talk to you.

The same goes for the restroom. Call me crazy but when I’m at the urinal, I prefer to keep my eyes straight on the wall. Can you talk to people? Sure, knock yourself out. But peering over at someone when you are in the restroom, while they are using it, is an incredible invasion of privacy. For the fellas, this happens all the time at urinals and we’ve all had to endure an awkward conversation of listening to another person talk over their loud peeing. Ladies have told me that some people prefer to kick up the old conversation right outside your door, while you are on the toilet. How bizarre!

When you do find yourself victim to someone trying to stare at you while using the urinal or toilet, just keep your eyes on the road and don’t veer off. Usually a person will catch on that you are not taking your eyes off the wall and follow suit. And if they don’t pick up on your subtle cues, at least you can try to tune them out. As well, minimizing the conversation with a “Mhmm…” or, “Yup…” is a good way to let them know you’re not interested. However, when you are at the sink washing hands, it’s perfectly fine to discuss anything you like.

Tip #2 – Show Some Respect

This is by far one of my biggest pet peeves – people who “miss” the toilet, sink, or anything else in the bathroom designed to catch a liquid substance, and fail to clean up after themselves. When I take my daughter to use the bathroom, I feel like a drill sergeant. “Don’t. Touch. Anything!!!!” If she winds up in therapy one day because I treated public bathrooms like poison ivy, then so be it. She’ll thank me when she doesn’t catch some toxic bacteria.

I get it, you’re “above” wiping off the seat or wiping down the sink that you just splashed liquid all over, but let me tell you something – you should be above treating a bathroom like a caveman (or woman). While at work, I’ll use the bathroom throughout the day and inevitably by the late afternoon, I’ll find myself standing in a splatter of urine. That’s right – it’s beyond foul! Not only that, but when I go to wash my hands (I’ll touch more on this in Tip #3), I’ll sometimes find my shirt sleeves soaked in soapy water that someone else splashed all over the sink. People, a simple wipe of the tissue paper can cure all of this.

When you find yourself knee deep in the bodily functions of other people, there is only so much you can do. I am by no means telling everyone to be the cleaning crew. That, my friends, is left up to people who have the proper protective gear (and should win medals, if you ask me). But, I am saying that when you mess up the seat you should wipe it off. Just a quick swish around the porcelain pony is sufficient. Same for the sink. Use as many paper towels as it takes.