The Official Rules of Bathroom Etiquette

English: Typical Male Restroom in the U.S.

English: Typical Male Restroom in the U.S. Glamorous, right? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In life, there are many unwritten rules. For instance, I know that I should not, under any circumstances, go out in public with boxer briefs on my head declaring myself “King of the Underpants” and demanding that everyone I see bow down to me. No one has ever had to tell me this. It is just a given.

One area full of these rules is the public restroom. Despite never having gone through extensive public restroom training people all tend to behave in a certain way. Or they should anyway.

I walked into the restroom at work today and was greeted with noise from a stall. It seems that a coworker had decided that they would use their most private of times to watch a video while they took care of business. I was horrified. I thought that it was clearly an unwritten rule that no one should be hosting a movie marathon on the commode, but clearly I was mistaken.

Since so many of these unwritten rules seem to be ignored, I think it’s high time we did something about it. I’ve taken it upon myself to create the first ever “Rules of Bathroom Etiquette.” They are now written rules, so no one has any excuse.

Rule #1: Avoid Using Your Smartphone

I find it strange that this rule is necessary, but clearly it is. While technology is great, inside the bathroom is not the place for it. The bathroom is a place of business. If you want to watch videos, I can literally think of hundreds of places better than in the stall of your local public restroom.

This is not limited to videos, though. You should really not be playing games, texting, Tweeting, checking Facebook, Pinteresting (or whatever it is called), or anything of the sort whilst sitting on the porcelain throne. You should definitely NEVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES TALK ON YOUR PHONE. There is no one in the world so important that they need you to talk to them while you expel waste. I think the person on the other end of the call would agree.

Rule #2: No Conversation is Necessary

Occasionally while I am at a urinal, someone will come into the bathroom and strike up a conversation. As I am a polite person, I avoid my urge to scream at them. Even if my best friend were to walk into the bathroom, our conversation should stop once a person’s zipper is unzipped.

Really, there is no reason you should want to talk to a person who is using the restroom. They don’t have much going on right then to discuss. They’re a bit preoccupied.

There are exceptions to this rule, however. For instance, if I am using the restroom and a large bear lumbers out from the handicapped stall (bears always use handicapped stalls as regular stalls tend to make them feel a bit claustrophobic), I would appreciate a warning. This is true of any predators or poisonous creatures. Outside of this, though, I think silence is the best rule.

Rule #3: Wash Your Hands

I’m sure everyone has experienced this. After finishing the matter at hand, someone goes and heads straight to the door, bypassing the sink, the soap, and the paper towels. From then on, you sidestep shaking their hand because you know their dirty little secret: they are disgusting and germy. You find yourself going out of your way to avoid them. Soon your relationship crumbles as you can’t bear the thought of being around someone so disgusting.

Just wash your hands. If for some reason you really are opposed to this idea, turn on the water for a few seconds and turn it off. There won’t be a test on the way out. We won’t know what you did with that water. Sure, you’ll know the truth and may dip into deep self-loathing  as you are now aware of how truly repulsive you are, but no one else will realize that your newly found self-hatred is because of this. We’ll just assume it’s clinical depression.

Rule #4: Keep Your Feet To Yourself

When Jonathon F. Stall IV, inventor of the toilet stall, created his finest invention, there was one fatal flaw: the walls of each tiny toilet room did not reach the floor, but rather hovered over the ground leaving a nice 12-18 inch gap at the bottom. “That’s no big deal,” said Stall. “There’s no way this could turn out to be an issue.”

Now, hundreds of years later, it is just that. Occasionally when minding your own business, you may see that the person in the stall next to you has slowly begun to ooze into the floor space of your stall. Their foot has drifted past the imaginary divider line and now you have a stranger’s toes poking into your space.

In a perfect world, I would be allowed to stomp on those toes. This is not a perfect world, though, so I am forced to live with the fact that another person is in my stall. Sure, it’s just their toes, but they are there nonetheless.

There is no reason for this to ever happen. Like an amusement park ride, hands and feet should remain inside until the ride, or in this case your bathroom trip, has come to a complete stop.

Rule #5: Don’t Be Gross

As a rule, the bathroom is a gross place. I mean, like, really gross. Just imagine the terrible awful things that have happened in there.

It should go without saying, but you don’t need to add to that nastiness. I am directing this at you, people who for some reason feel it necessary to hock a loogie anytime they are near a device that flushes. Must you pile on to the revoltingness that is the public restroom?

Maybe we should create a special loogie room for these folks. It would be a room filled with loogie only toilets. Then these people could cough and snort all they wanted without making anyone shudder.

Rule #6: Don’t Bring Food In

Seriously. That’s disgusting.

36 thoughts on “The Official Rules of Bathroom Etiquette

  1. Well said Nathan. People should also a kid using the handicapped stall unless they are handicapped. I’ve seen plenty of red faces as able bodied people have come out and realized the wheelchair girl had been waiting to use the one stall she can fit in, which they had wanted for the extra elbow room.

    By the way Nathan, it is nice reading you. I’ve missed your humor. How have you been doing? I read about your baby plans. 😉 Kids are fun when you and your wife are ready for them. You’ll be a good dad.


  2. “Hocking a loogie” is new to me. I treasure this discovery and will use it at every opportunity as no one will know what I am saying. Interestingly, I won’t know what I’m saying either as I don’t know what “hocking” or “loogie” means, but I just don’t care. Excellent post.


    • Per

      It’s generally a good idea to keep most of your bodily fluids to yourself, especially if they can be described as loogies, luggies, lugies, or green spit. Others will thank you for your self-control and courtesy, trust us. But if you feel the urge to hock a loogie, you should at least have a working knowledge of basic gross-out technology.

      To hock a loogie means to expectorate or spit out a generous supply of mucus thoughtfully stored in your throat and lungs. Some people find this easier to accomplish than others, especially if they are afflicted with chest congestion, smoke heavily or have few reservations about coughing up their own phlegm for visceral effect.

      Sometimes a person may hock a loogie for purely medical, if not exactly aesthetic, reasons. Coughing up and expectorating excessive mucus from the throat and lungs can temporarily relieve the uncomfortable sense of fullness accompanying a chest cold. In a self-medicating sense, hocking a loogie may be seen as the equivalent of sneezing to relieve nasal congestion. Perhaps the activity should be restricted to times when others are out of earshot, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with clearing an infected chest through productive coughing.


  3. Wonderful rules for men Nathan. Especially the handwashing. I can’t tell you how many men I’ve seen coming out the door still zipping, so obviously they went right from the urinal to the door. In fact, you might make that an additional rule – zip before leaving the facility.

    BTW, it might interest you to know that women have different rules. Such as the one about talking. Ask your wife.


  4. Great stuff. Finally the rules are written down. Now we need restroom police to write a few citations. The wash hands is the one that gets me. I have seen the great unwashed dip into a bowl of peanuts (by passing the spoon) at office celebrations. Felt sorry for the e-coli victims who did not know.


  5. If you have to be in the bathroom to eat your lunch, you may want to go see a doctor.

    Seriously, though, I can’t stand the people that wander into the restroom talking away on their phones and then continue talking through the whole process. It’s like, couldn’t you have held it a little longer?


  6. Agree with all of these. Well said Nathan! Maybe I’m just paranoid, or insecure, or something, but the ultimate faux pas in the gent’s for me is when somebody chooses to piss into the urinal next to yours when none of the others – all safely beyond touching/spashback distance – are being used. Why? Just, why?


  7. i love you, dude… i have a huge fascination with potty type things. i would like to add… don’t leave poon wrappers laying on the floor to get stuck on someone’s stiletto. if you are a woman who hovers, clean up where you dribble.. this is not spraying crops, people… and two words: COURTESY FLUSH. i mean seriously, did you have to get up and LOOK at it or something? we don’t wanna smell that. really. do you happen to know how blind people know when to stop wiping?


  8. when people talk on their cell phones in the other stall i ANSWER them.
    “Hey, what are you doing?”
    me….”Using the toilet.”
    “Are you busy?”
    me….”Well, kinda..”
    “What are you doing later.”
    me… “Maybe going to Walmart.”
    “I have to go.. there’s a weird person in the bathroom.”


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