Behold The bathroom – it’s your personal sanctuary, the place where you have lots of
time to wonder.
Like, why’s it called the John?
Why not the Charlie?
Why does the door in public restrooms always open inward?
And are my deepest bathroom fears justified…
One at a time, starting with…
1) Are the blow hand dryers really better than paper?
No, they’re not!
The air in a typical public restroom isn’t the cleanest thing on Earth because of open-flush
(You’ll understand why, but I’ll get back to that.)
When you use a hand dryer, it can blow bacteria around you – even though the air coming
from it is perfectly clean!
Stick to paper towels if there’s an option, or carry a small pack with you at all times.
2) Is it ok to flush cooking grease down the toilet?
You know you can’t put it down the sink.
But maybe the bigger pipes of the toilet can handle your leftover grease?
No, they can’t.
It all goes to the same place, and in that place, grease congeals and sticks to the pipes.
If it keeps building up in your plumbing, at some point you’ll have to call a plumber
to fix a big greasy clog.
Just let your leftover oil cool down, put it in a closable bottle or jar, and throw
it in the trash.
3) Why do some public bathrooms tell you not to flush the toilet paper?
Even though toilet paper is supposed to break down when it gets wet, there’s still a possibility
of clogging if the plumbing system isn’t new or if you use too much of it.
And where does a lot of toilet paper get used?
Public restrooms – bingo!
If you see such a sign, do as you’re told and throw your used paper in the bin.
Unless you want toilet water sloshing around your feet...
4) Is it safe to use toilet paper hanging from the roll?
The “open-flush” toilets in public restrooms don’t have a lid to block all the germy
microscopic droplets that come spewing out with each flush.
It covers the floor, the walls, the ceiling… and the roll hanging right next to you.
Experts say toilet paper has more bacteria than an average toilet seat!
If there’s a bit hanging down, don’t use it – tear it off and roll some fresh paper
down for yourself.
If the toilet paper isn’t in a metal or plastic holder, then beware!
(And bring your own wipes!).
5) Why are public toilet seats shaped like a U?
No not like You, like a “U”?
The gap on the front of the seat that makes it look like a horseshoe is there because
of plumbing codes.
Since 1995, all public toilets must have this open seat.
The gap serves hygienic purposes – your skin in that region won’t touch the dirty
6) Are some stalls cleaner than others?
One (rather dated) 1995 study suggests that people tend to choose middle stalls more often.
Does it make the side ones cleaner?
Perhaps, since those stalls get less traffic and, thus, less filth.
But still, they might get cleaned less often, or not as thoroughly by the staff for the
I guess it’s up to you – which stall do you usually use?
We’ll do an updated study down in the comments!
7) Do those toilet seat covers protect you from germs?
Sorry to disappoint you, but not really.
Those seemingly life-saving covers don’t do much because they’re absorbent.
Bacteria and viruses are tiny enough to easily soak in through the paper the covers are made
But good news: catching an infection from a toilet seat is unlikely.
You should be worried about that only if there’s some wound on your skin that comes into direct
contact with the seat.
8) Why don’t stall doors reach the floor?
Lots of reasons for that.
First, it’s just cheaper – less material means less money spent.
Second, stalls with such doors are easier to clean.
Staff can simply run their mop under the door without opening and then closing it.
The gap also lets you know if the stall is occupied or not, and it lets in more ventilation.
And finally, if you’re out of toilet paper, your neighbor can help you out!
9) Why do most doors in public restrooms open inward?
Imagine there’s a long line of people waiting for their turn to go to the bathroom.
Someone leaves and opens the door outward – everyone would have to huddle to the opposite
Even if there’s no line, an unsuspecting person walking down the hallway might be knocked
to the floor by the door.
And “push to enter” doors are safer since they have hinges and a lock on the inside.
This means there’s no way to get locked inside the bathroom.
Finally, the door opening inward helps a bit with the smell problem – fresh air gets
wafted into the bathroom every time the door swings in.
10) Why is toilet paper white?
Just to be clear, you can find toilet paper in different colors on the market.
But most manufacturers bleach it to make it softer.
Besides, turning toilet paper white makes its shelf life longer.
Hmm, bleaching makes sense, but why don’t they color it later?
Well, dyed toilet paper can potentially irritate sensitive skin because of chemicals.
And such paper would take longer to decompose.
On top of that, white is usually associated with cleanliness, so many people choose it
11) Why is the toilet sometimes called the John?
No one knows for sure, but some think that this name appeared back in the 16th century
when Sir John Harrington invented Britain’s first flushing toilet.
Others believe the toilet was called “Cousin John” even before Harrington.
Probably because the word reminds us of something familiar and close.
12) How do faucet and toilet sensors know when to turn on and flush?
They work a lot like your TV remote control.
These automatic fixtures use the same infrared light and detectors.
Those detectors emitting a continuous beam notice when infrared light is reflected from
There's a microchip that controls all the work and helps reduce the chance of false
activation when someone simply walks past the sink or toilet.
However, quite often the detectors scale up with lime and calcium and fail to work properly.
13) Why does the toilet water move when it’s windy?
Everyone knows the plumbing is underground, so how can wind affect the water in your commode?
In many homes, there’s a vent pipe that goes outside to the roof.
When the wind blows hard above that pipe, the air pressure in it is lowered.
Because of that, the air tries to escape from the pipe, creating a slight suction effect
throughout the plumbing system.
This makes the water level in the bowl drop a bit and go back to normal every time the
This led to that famous expression you normally hear in bathrooms when someone exclaims: “Thar
14) Why are toilets made of porcelain?
This ceramic-based material has plenty of benefits.
Porcelain is smooth, so there's no place for particles to get stuck in.
The nonporous nature of the material is great protection from bacterial build-up.
What's more, porcelain lasts longer because it doesn't corrode or oxidize.
The material is also easily molded into different shapes, which makes it perfect for tanks,
lids, and drains.
15) Why do American toilets have so much water in them?
The water line in the bowls baffles many visitors to the U.S.
You see, there are different systems of toilet flushing.
Most European bathrooms use a washdown system, in which water inside the tank is forced out
through water flowing from the rim of the bowl.
Most American toilets use a syphonic system, which forcibly draws toilet water down the
That, and a higher water line makes it easier to keep the bowl clean and odors at a minimum.
16) Why do your legs fall asleep when you sit on the toilet?
You can sit comfortably for quite long on a chair, but only 15 minutes on the toilet
will cause you that “pins and needles” feeling in your legs.
This happens because when you’re on a chair, your body weight is distributed evenly on
Butt… when you’re on a toilet seat, your weight is mostly resting on your thighs.
This compresses the nerves, which hinders blood flow to your legs.
That’s never good, so don’t sit on the toilet for too long.
If you can help it.
Yeah, I know there are times when you just can’t avoid it…but.
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