Updated:6/16/2011 – Bathroom etiquette has been a pretty hot topic as of late with some of my friends… that is when we can tear ourselves away from discussing the drama of Weinergate or Paris Hilton’s latest reality show. There appears to be some confusion on some of the guy codes associated with the bathroom and I blame it all on our education system. Just kidding, we all know it’s the fault of liberals. Regardless, this situation must be corrected or there will be big trouble come the next Rapture prediction. Clearly god will not take the risk of someone crossing streams or heaven forbid someone talking on their phone while in the stall. In an attempt to document the major rules, I decided to go ahead and make a reference post…. and to give my friends the ability to quickly look up some protocols before using the bathroom at work. Amazingly, I was able to find some notes I made about 10 years ago on this subject to use as a starting point (some of the points on that old list were cryptically written and I am having some trouble understanding what those entries were for – needless to say I may have been under the influence of alcohol when that was first penned). Please post comments if you need a further explanation, desire to contest a rule, want to add some additional rules or maybe even need a call on a sticky situation.
Hit the Jump to see the Guy Code Rules for Bathroom Etiquette
- If you are in a stall, it is required to lift the seat should you choose to remain standing while urinating – it is acceptable to use your foot to accomplish this especially if in a public location and highly encouraged if in a bar or Paris Hilton comes out of the bathroom before you
- Always check for toilet paper before committing to the stall. Requesting a TP assist from someone else in the bathroom is strictly prohibited. This is why I have no doubt that politician playing handsies under the stall was completely guilty
- The full pants drop is only allowed when utilizing a stall. This is not an acceptable way for urinal usage
- While I am on that topic, if required, shirts should be tucked into the pants behind the closed stall door – no one wants to ruin their day by watching you stick your hands down your pants
- No food or beverages are allowed in the bathroom (I’m going with this strong position until someone produces a valid argument to loosen this requirement)
- Addendum: Chewing gum is aloud, however, you are only allowed to discard it in the trash bin – that means no spitting it in the urinal as discussed at length in this post from the way-back machine.
- My original notes stated “No no-handed” urinal activities. I immediately had visions of some drunk dude standing 2 feet away from the urinal with his hands on his hips and leaning back to watch the action as well as the opposite horror of someone leaning with hands against the wall (or divider) to get a little rest in. Both of these scenarios are, as the Holy Grail put it, RIGHT OUT.
- If there is any chance of coming undone, retie shoelaces before entering the bathroom.
URINAL SELECTION: (This has to be the most debated set of bathroom rules there are, but I am extremely firm on these so you better bring your ‘A’ game if you want to argue any of these)
- The goal is to maximize the distance between yourself and a someone else using the same bank of urinals. I find this rule is somewhat universal in that the distance rule can be applied to normal people and clowns, pedestrians and beggars, any channel you are watching and one showing a Kardashian reality show etc.
- If you are the first individual at the urinal bank you are required to take one of the end urinals. I have struggled whether to put a high recommendation on the one farthest from the exit or closest. The reason for the farthest would be to limit the number of people having to pass you during the business, but that means you maximize the number of people doing their business while on your way to the sinks. I am a little torn on this and need to spend some more noodle time on it (anyone want to weigh in on this?)
- If there are at least three stalls in the bank, the second person using the urinal must, of course, select the opposite end urinal which complies with the first rule.
- This is when it gets a little tricky and is totally dependent on how much a moron the building architect is. The mandatory rule is there must be an unused urinal between two people utilizing the urinal at the same time. If this cannot be accomplished with the urinal configuration and the current utilization, the “Detour Rule” must be invoked. The “Detour Rule” requires the subject in this scenario to divert to an open stall or if that is not an option to exit the bathroom or commence a pre-washing of the hands to bide time for an open urinal. Note, the pre-washing can cause a backup in the bathroom due to some architects not designing sufficient sinks to accommodate the standard occupation – basically, only use the pre-wash option if you absolutely cannot make it to another bathroom in time. As you probably figured out by now, the best indication you hired an incompetent architect is when they put 2 urinals in the bathroom.
- Addendum: (DavidM) In instances where the urinals are actually mini-stalls (by current definition the mini-stall is defined as a floor-to-ceiling wall between each urinal that is about 5 inches wide, 2 1/2 feet deep, and tiled – alternative dimensions will need to reviewed individually) while you should follow the rule of “furthest distance”, you may be permitted to use a “near” urinal due to the amount of isolation. For example, if there are 3 mini-stalls, and someone is using #1 and #3, you could use #2 as there’s no fear of inadvertent glances / looks due to the 5 inch thick wall between the two of you.
- In the situation where there are 2 people utilizing the urinal, and there are 5 urinals, clearly the next urinal to be occupied is the 3rd or middle urinal, again, to accommodate the first bullet
- There is some personal decisions that has to be made from this point forward. For urinal configurations that do not provide for bisecting the urinal position (translated even banks), you will need to choose which of the occupied urinals you want to maximize or conversely which urinal you are willing to minimize the distance from. Starting from the center point, choose the urinal closest to that point but shifted away or toward the end based on your personal criteria. Note, this decision has the ramification of providing insights for the two individuals already occupying the ends. One is going to wonder why you chose to be closer to him and the other is going to be very appreciative of your decision and might even give you some notches toward a promotion if that guy is above you in the org chart.
- It is highly recommended you practice your mental division by 2 to prevent any unnecessary hesitations during the urinal selection process.
- The farthest distance rules (as detailed in the urinal selection section) is an option you can’t go wrong with when it comes to stall selection
- Due to the enclosed nature of the stalls, the rules are a little more lenient in this area. If a gap of one stall cannot be achieved due to the configuration and current usage, you may choose a stall next to an occupied one. Again, attempt the standard gap first.
- Another aspect that impacts stall selection is “not fit for use”. Now, this would NEVER be an issue if everyone followed the bathroom guy code, but there is plenty of evidence out there to the contrary. If a stall is just too disgusting to use, you may reselect another stall. If required, violation of the one stall gap is acceptable.
- Addendum: Lack of toilet paper is an example of “not fit for use”
- Handicap stalls actually put an interesting twist into the selection process. I have wrestled with this one and quite frankly at a disadvantage in setting the guy code for this being fortunate enough not to have any handicaps myself and oddly enough have no close acquaintances that have to deal with such a misfortune. The floor is definitely open on this but here is a starting point. If you are not handicapped, you should exclude this particular stall in the first pass of the selection process. If all the non-handicapped stalls are in use or the “not fit for use” clause eliminates all other options, you may choose the handicapped stall. This is a happy median between getting efficient use of all the resources and still giving a pretty big window of opportunity should a handicapped individual need to use that bathroom. The debate floor is now open
- Addendum: After much debate a decision was made to not allow an exception for the handicapped stall selection to facilitate easier wardrobe changes. It just seems a little selfish to take benefit out of the misfortunes others have to deal with.
- Addendum: (DavidM) If you’re traveling alone in an airport and don’t have anyone else to watch your bags, and you have to do a #2, and no one is occupying the handicapped stall, you are permitted to use the handicapped stall as a first choice so that you can actually have enough room to perform necessary tasks while in the stall w/o leaving your bags.
SINGLE USE BATHROOM POINTS:
- (RonD) If you are not sure if someone is using the bathroom it is approved to lightly knock on the door. A short response (as in “used”) is permitted by the occupier. It is not recommended to simply barge into the bathroom if you are not sure if it is being used or not – remember the bathroom credo: When In Doubt, Stay Out
- If an awkward moment occurs because the occupier has forgotten his duty to lock the bathroom door, then an adequate apology must be given to the second guy in and for punishment must tell each person in line that he forgot to lock the door and is ashamed of his actions.
- Society doesn’t need to get any colder than it already is. Therefore, communication is allowed in the bathroom, but there are few rules that need to be taken into consideration. The first rule is communication can only take place at the same level. Parties involved can either both be sitting or both be standing, but the communication stops when one of the participants changes their position level.
- Addendum: There has already been some discussion on whether cross stall talking is allowed. Current ruling is if communication needs to occur (and that is a big IF) then the participants must not have anyone not in the conversation between them. If at any point time there participant levels are not known or someone breaks the continuum of the participants, then the conversation must politely cease.
- IF any party is in the process of actually using the urinals, then no one is allowed to look at those people while talking to them. For example, if two people want to talk and both are using the urinals then both should simply stare forward at the wall.
- Addendum: For that matter, just don’t look at people using the urinals in general
- Laughing at strange sounds produced in the bathroom is not allowed no matter how hilarious they might be. This rule might cause some internal gut damage trying to hold the laughter in, but you are guy coded to endure the struggle
- Although a courtesy flush is expected, it cannot be requested
- Electronic communication devices cannot be used in the bathroom. If it rings, let it ring. Everyone in the bathroom with you will appreciate the ringtone over any insights they might gain having to listen to your conversation. Just to complete that circle, the person on the other end of that phone conversation or text, for that matter, does not want to be a part of that call either. It’s 5 minutes delay at most and you can use the break from being jacked in to society.
- Addendum: This seems like a good point to mention that the use of all electronic devices related to computing, gaming, movie watching, music listening violates the guy code. If nothing else, you are bound to want to show your friends the latest game score you got or the coolest new song from the Black Eyed Peas (uhhh scrap that, nothing from the Black Eyed Peas is or ever will be cool). 4 out of 5 times that exchange is going to involve the other individual having to touch a keyboard or ear bud which will be identical to the dude sticking his hand in your pants – the visual alone should drive this point home.
- Addendum: There is at least one exception – if no one (and I mean NO ONE) is in the bathroom and there is a some form of violation that may require a picture for formal discussion, then it is approved to use your phone camera, however, there are some conditions. You may walk in, take the picture and leave or if activity has occurred, you may only take the picture after thoroughly scrubbing your hands with soap and water for at least 3 minutes first, take the picture and immediately put it away.
- (DavidM) Grunting / Groaning / Sighing: If you are in the process of performing any activity in the bathroom (#1, #2, washing hands, blowing nose, whatever…), you are not allowed to make any grunting, groaning, or sighing sound. Ever. Really. You can’t be working THAT hard at it. And, if you are, you’re going to have other issues…
- First and foremost, there are NO KEEPERS. If you need to admire your handiwork for some reason do it personally and then rid the world of it. This rule applies to the urinals as well if there isn’t an auto-flush feature.
- Addendum: If the stall toilet has an auto-flush feature, but you notice it does not trigger as you prepare to leave, you are obligated to push the manual override.
- If you mess the seat up, you are obligated to remedy the situation out of compassion for your fellow man. Note this should not be a common occurrence due to the seat raising rule.
- With zero exceptions you must thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water. I am sick and tired of seeing people bypass the sinks and head out on their merry way to infect the world. It does not matter if your body was hermetically sealed after your shower or you have some mutant gene that kills all bacteria on contact.. Wash the damn hands if nothing else, for peace and mind of others who have witnessed you using the bathroom
- Addendum: You are allowed to point out a violation you have personally witnessed to your friends upon your exit. Pointing to the individual and calling out NHW (no hands washer) works well for my wife and I.
- Addendum: You are required to directly call out any food worker employee that exits the bathroom without washing his/her hands. The news is full of stories about disease outbreaks, do your part to help stem the tide.
- Addendum: There have been some questions regarding the new trend of putting anti-bacterial dry hand wash in the bathrooms. I see no problem in using that after you have properly used soap in water as double protection. Think of it as keeping the pump on the dry hand wash clean for the next germ-o-phobe.
- Addendum: It should not be necessary to use the new trendy bathroom novelty of providing tissues near the exit to use on the door handle… that is assuming everyone is following the guys code which I’ll assume for now is a given
- Addendum: DO NOT scoop water into your hand and drink out of it. Definitely not before you wash your hands and for the decency of others, not after the hand washing either. I don’t know why this is happening, but it has been witnessed several times as of late.
- Addendum: (RonD) If at all possible, you must not reach to use a soap dispenser mounted in front of another person using a sink for any purpose. Alternatives include delay tactics or circling to use a different soap dispenser on the far side, but truthfully you should have scoped this out before you let yourself get into this situation.
- Addendum: (RonD) If both paper towels and air dryers are offered in a rest room, the paper towels should always be chosen.
- Addendum: (DavidM) The fact this has to be stated frightens me, however, a ruling was requested due to an actual witness. Hands, arms and face are the only permissible body parts that can be washed in the bathroom sink. Anything beyond that is just going to creep out the other patrons.
- Addendum: (RonD) At least two operations of the paper towel mechanism (even if an automatic paper towel dispenser is installed) must be performed, and they should be performed as noisily as possible, including the tear-off phase.
- Any reading material brought into the stall must be thrown into the trash before washing your hands. There is no further explanation needed here and I think Seinfeld covered this particular rule quite well.
- If the wastebasket is full when discarding the paper towels, there is no requirement to push down the existing paper towels. A careful balance of the towels on top, if possible, is sufficient and indeed more mannerly than tossing the paper ball at a full wastebasket. However, if the balance of the paper towel is anyway disturbed before you have exited the bathroom, you are obligated to retrieve the paper towel off of the bathroom floor and attempt to reposition the material on top of the pile. This must continue until you are successful or bit the bullet and simply push the pile down into the trash can. At this point you MUST repeat the hand washing cycle again. (originally added per RonD)
- (RonD) Drying of hands must be completed in a guy code manner. There are many appropriate means to do this, but for sure, it does not include alternately dabbing open paper towels against open hands.
- Addendum: An appropriate manner of drying hands with paper towels is a sequence of smashing and squeezing until the towels are formed into a ball for a manly tossing into the wastebasket
ARCHITECTURE and DESIGN:
- If auto-faucets and auto-toilets are installed in one bathroom in a building, all bathrooms in said building must have auto- faucets and auto-toilets. Any discrepancy just increases the chances of forgetting to flush by a gadzillion percent
- There should never be a reason to have a two urinal bathroom and for that matter any even number of urinals
- Urinals shall not be placed where any use of those urinals can be seen when the restroom door is opened
- Stall doors will have a coat hook on the inside
- Stall doors will be long enough to guarantee a sense of privacy
- Addendum: (DavidM) Stall doors have to have a working lock / latch mechanism that is regularly maintained to ensure proper operation (proper operation includes proper alignment of the door and lock so they function as expected).
- Bathrooms will be clearly marked Man/Men or Women/Woman. Any weak creative attempt to give different names based on building use (e.g. dog training facilities using Pointers and Setters), shall resort in the owner being taken out back and severely beaten.
- Clearly mark on the door whether the bathroom is intended for multiple or single occupancy
- Addendum (RonD): If Architect/Designer thinks that a single use restroom will fit the bill (and for the record, I can’t think of a single reason this would ever be valid), a door lock must be placed on the door and sufficient space OUTSIDE of the door (preferably beyond view of fellow patrons) provided to accommodate 3 people waiting in line.
- Urinal wall dividers are highly encouraged although they do not impact the selection process. However, urinals should be spaced appropriately to give sufficient comfort for individuals with large personal space radius. As a rule of thumb, if you can drive a car between them you have definitely met the guy code architecture requirement.
- Addendum: Never put the urinal so close to another object (e.g. stall dividers or vanities) that you cannot properly position yourself in front of the urinal.
- At sporting/arena venues urinal troughs must be easily distinguishable from the sinks
- All bathrooms should have a shelf or sufficient space at the end of the sink counter to store items and allow for the guest to follow the guy code
- There shall be no design implemented that results in a one urinal flush causing all urinals to flush (laugh now, but I have already witnessed it and some of you may know where)
- Mini-urinals or “low boys” should not be placed on the end
- Automated air fresheners are highly encouraged
- Paper towels are preferred over air blowers 10 to 1 and cloth based mechanisms should result in architecture license revocation
- Addendum: If for some stupid reason the architect still thinks air blowers are better and falsely believes they are more green, then they must install the jet engine blowers.
- Addendum: One exception has been identified. Air blowers are required in ski resort bathrooms so gloves can be dried – make sure the nozzle can be turned for optimal angles
- All stalls in an airport bathroom must be the size of normal handicapped stalls in order to properly accommodate passengers staying with their luggage which is a mandated rule by TSA
- Friends don’t let friends accidentally go into the opposite sexes bathroom. No matter how funny it might be the awkward silent treatment afterward gets real annoying
- Okay, okay, I am willing to give a little on large event bathroom protocols. However, you will have to present your case for which rules will be given leniency. 8×10 glossy pictures with a paragraph on the back of each one will be required with optional powerpoint presentation containing the reason for the deviation and pros/cons if this change would be approved
- (RonD) It is okay (and for some people highly encouraged) to print this guy code for reference out in the field. You might even consider having them miniaturized at a local printing store to be less conspicuous when you failed to memorized this very basic set of rules. Better to be embarrassed a little for having to check something than be humiliated in the eyes of other guys for failure to demonstrate proper etiquette.
- Addendum: Okay, this does seem a little outdated in today’s tech savvy world. Rather than print this code, consider simply referencing this blog from your mobile device’s web browser or simply download them directly to the device. Although, on the downside, you can’t use a mobile device as emergency toilet paper. Just in case you haven’t read all of these rules, you must use the electronic device reference before entering the bathroom and if use the paper version in the bathroom, you must throw it away on your exit.
RULES UP FOR DEBATE (Vote early, vote often in the comments)
- (DavidM) Laughing at odd noises. I think that laughing should be permissible if A) It’s really funny or B) You make eye contact with someone (not while using urinals – perhaps while washing or drying hands) in the bathroom and both of you giggle. Come on, aren’t we all 6 year old kids at heart when it comes to farting noises?
- (DavidM) Location of Mini-Urinals: Think I disagree on this one. If I had a little dude, I don’t think I want him in the middle so that some perv can glance down at his business. I would prefer that the mini-urinals be at the end rather than in the middle so you can give some shelter from passers-by. Ideally, would probably take him to the stall until he was old enough to go without dropping trou…
- (DavidM) Electronic Communication Addendum 2 – would it be permissible to enact Addendum 2 if you’re one of the kinds of people (Pez…?) that actually does believe in Keepers so that you could provide evidence w/o disabling the stall by leaving it there, even if other people are in the restroom?
- Is leaning on the urinal divider or placing a hand on wall above the urinal permitted while using the urinal? I encountered the latter today, and have seen the former many times. I’d think that, in order to try to stay as germ-free as possible, contact should be minimized and these actions would not be allowed. However, you may need to establish the “Too Drunk to to Stand Up” clause, where the bathroom patron actually HAS to use either the divider or wall to ensure he remains in an upright manner.
- per an existing rule (My original notes stated “No no-handed” urinal activities. I immediately had visions of some drunk dude standing 2 feet away from the urinal with his hands on his hips and leaning back to watch the action as well as the opposite horror of someone leaning with hands against the wall (or divider) to get a little rest in. Both of these scenarios are, as the Holy Grail put it, RIGHT OUT.) this would be a violation, however, the drunk usage has an interesting nuance to it – does there need to be different section devoted to that?
- Is it ever permissible to say “Wow, that water is cold” while using a urinal? And, if it is, are other urinal users obligated to respond with, “Yeah, and deep too.
- My current vote is this is NOT allowed for my own piece of mind
- One more question for a ruling: Brushing your teeth in a public restroom. Is this approved? I’m all for good oral hygiene, but not sure it’s appropriate / desirable in a public restroom. And, if it’s a bathroom with a limited # of sinks, one could potentially cause a traffic situation during heavy restroom use. Personally, if I have a dentist appointment, I do my best to schedule early in morning or late in afternoon so that I can brush my teeth at home. And, one could perhaps make the argument for it while traveling, but to be honest, usually, if I’m traveling on a trip that takes that long, I’m so disgusting, the last of my worries are my teeth at that point. I have only brushed my teeth once while travelling (during the travel phase, not the entire trip… LOL), and that was on an airplane during an international flight as I had to go from the airport to the office that day, so I didn’t have much choice. But, I wasn’t that excited about the whole thing.
- My current vote is this should be allowed on the mere fact I do this on dentist day because I can never get an appointment in the morning and my hygienist is a certified Nazi who beats me if she has to clean one speck of plaque off.
There are many rules that are still awaiting peer review and field validation. When those make it through the approval process I’ll update this post. If there are questions, concerns, tricky scenarios needing an assessment, please utilize the comments section of this post. All addendum resulting from said comments will be gladly added into the body of the post. For now, Happy Flushing everyone!