While it may go without saying, basic bathroom etiquette is important. And while we all think we know what to do, my recent trips to public restrooms have indicated it is not actually practiced often enough, so here are a few pointers, plus a video that adds a little humor, on using public restrooms.
Which Space to Occupy
When entering a public restroom, it is important that you know which stall or urinal to use. When there are a number of positions available, don’t stand right next to someone. It's uncomfortable and creepy. You should choose one farther away from them but also leave room so if someone else enters the restroom, they can also chose an empty position without crowding either you or the other person (the same rules apply when selecting a stall). The video below demonstrates the intricacies of urinal selection:
The only thing in the video I don’t agree with is that it appears to indicate next to whom you should stand if there are multiple people at the urinals based on position alone, when, in fact, I believe the proper technique is to determine who is closest to finishing up.
Under no circumstances should you make small talk or comments to anyone else at the other urinals. No “How’s it goin’ man,” “What’s up!,” and definitely no “Nice watch” (since that indicates your view is dangerously close to the other man's penis).
When done, make sure that everything goes down. Many restrooms have automatic flush now, but the flusher doesn't always sense when you have left the stall. Don’t leave a mess there; manually flush the toilet once, twice if necessary. Same goes for a urinal. And with urinals, don’t throw anything else in there. No gum, cigarette butts, or napkins, and don’t spit. No one next to you wants to hear you work up some phlegm from your throat and dislodge it into the urinal. Besides, there is no ability for these items to go down the drain so they just sit there for the viewing pleasure of the next patron.
Don’t do the “splash and dash,” actually use soap, and rinse your hands thoroughly. If you have dripped water all over the counter top, use the paper towels to mop it up and leave it clean so the next guy doesn’t have water running off the counter onto his pants. If there is only an electric hand dryer, be careful not to drip water all over the counter and use your elbow to start the dryer so you don’t leave the button wet for the next Dude. Lastly, make sure those paper towels go into the waste basket, no matter how full it is.
What if there is the dreaded bathroom attendant present? No one really likes this. You know what I am talking about. It’s usually some guy with a variety of bad bathroom products (Aqua Velva, Axe, Talcum Powder) and bad candy (think non-descript hard candies and lots of Big Red). He instantly turns the water on for you as you approach the sink and has a paper towel ready to go. What do you do?? I tend to let him help me and throw a dollar in the tip jar. I mean the guy is stuck spending his life in a bathroom, it’s the least you can do. If you don’t have a dollar, that’s too bad, just walk out. Under no circumstances take any of the products. There is no knowing who touched them or what they did with it. Besides, it's all crap anyhow.
That’s it, simple, neat, and clean. The goal here is that you feel good on the way out of the restroom and you have set an example for others, so maybe our public restrooms will be a bit cleaner.
This has been a public service announcement from the Dude Society.
About the author
Rich is the resident food & drink expert. He's been cooking since age ten, and has probably eaten and drank at
most every restaurant or bar in New York City.