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My (long...) rant on restaurant restrooms

This is really a sub-thread to the "if I owned a restaurant..."
Why can’t restaurants get the restroom right? This is really bugging me. I’ve been in some very fine restaurants that do so many things right... right up until someone has to use the restroom.
Although no restaurant restroom has risen to the level where I wanted to go there because of the restroom (“Hey guys, let’s go to Joe’s. The food is iffy but the bathroom is to die for!”), there have been times where it definitely added or subtracted from the overall experience. I will try to highlight what I consider some common mistakes as well as what makes for the best restroom experiences. I’m most familiar with the mens room and, except for those unisex restrooms (more on that later), the women’s room is a mystery for me and I want it to stay that way. I have a vision of a comfortable place where women go to “freshen up” and don’t do any of the things usually associated with a bathroom. I’ve been told that is not the case, that it's just like the mens room, but I’m going to keep believing it is different and there’s no telling me otherwise. With that being said, on to the restrooms.

First, the ideal restaurant restroom. Being a germaphobe, the ultimate restroom experience will be a “hands free” experience. In a perfect world, you would not have to touch anything when using the public restroom. This not only includes the obvious (toilet seat, handle and various knobs) but even the less obvious, like the door. To me, touching anything in the restroom should be avoided at all cost. To be honest, I’m not even too keen on touching myself, so touching something that someone else has touched after they might have touched themselves sort of freaks me out a bit. Unfortunately, to have the whole hands free experience you need a really big place. This is to accommodate the entrance to the restroom. To go without a door, one must have some sort of maze-like entrance that uses a lot of space. I acknowledge that only the very largest restaurants (or airports or shopping malls) have the necessary space for this setup. Once inside however, the technology is readily available where any profitable place should be able to go hands free. There are sensors that can flush toilets, dispense soap, turn on water and dry hands or dispense paper towels so you can not only dry your hands, but can then use the paper to open the door (if you must have a door) on your way out without having to touch it with your bare hand which otherwise just made moot every other hygienic precaution you have just taken.

I actually skipped an important step on the way to the restroom. Before you get into the restroom, you must first find it. Most places have their restrooms “in the back” somewhere. Easy enough you would think, but here’s a bit of a dilemma. The restroom should be easy to find yet be out of sight of diners. If you are sitting at a table anywhere in the restaurant, you should not be able to see inside the restroom. The ultimate sin? To somehow make eye contact with an actual toilet while dining. That can be a game changer. So, where should you place the restroom? Down an obvious hallway is good place to start. Some classic mistakes? I should not be able to chat with the dishwasher through an open door to the kitchen while waiting for the restroom. Food should be nowhere in sight and certainly not within reach of a bathroom even if it’s in a can. I know it’s kind of trendy to stock bales of semolina flour and cans of imported Roma tomatoes in places where customers can walk past and think to themselves “I like that they use top quality ingredients...” but please, not near a restroom. I’ve actually seen cans stacked in the restroom. My only hope is that it was meant as some kind of Warhol-like piece of art and never made it onto a plate.

OK, you’ve found the restroom, or at least think you’ve found the restroom when you come across the most egregious error in the world of restaurant bathrooms - signage. This seemingly most simple of things has done more to confuse me more than anything else associated with a restaurant restroom. Why do so many restaurant owners insist on making a trip to the restroom a game of pictionary? Is it really that difficult to stencil a “men” or a “women” on a door? Maybe include one of those international figures of a man or a woman. Listen folks, I’m just trying to use the bathroom. Now is not the time to get cute. I should not have to try to figure out if the wood carving is Sir Lancelot or maybe Lady Macbeth. Do I use the restroom with the picture of the mermaid or the one with the sperm whale? I’m not even sure what gender Medusa was. I know it's a French or Greek restaurant but I can assure you, if we're actually eating on U.S. soil, most of your customers do not speak French or Greek. Thankfully, Chinese and Thai restaurants recognize this and almost always go with English. Although women tell me that it wouldn't be the end of the world if I were to accidentally walk into "their" room, it would be for me. Bottom line, please put an easy to read sign on the door. Thank you.

OK, so the place isn’t big enough to go door-less but you managed to put the restrooms down the hall or behind some sort of screen. So far so good. Everything inside is up to par (hopefully hands free) except for... the trash bin. Really, how difficult should this be? First, could you please place the bin near the door so that I can open it with the paper towel (not touch the door) and then throw it in the trash without having to make an NBA 3-pointer? I rarely make that shot which segues into my next pet peeve: how often do you find the restroom trash overflowing with paper towels? I will now pause while you think of the two possible solutions for this problem... (I’ll be right back. Cue the Jeopardy theme music in your head...)

I’m back so let’s see if you came up with the same answers as me. First option: get a BIGGER trash can. Pretty simple, don’t you think? Second option: EMPTY the freak’n trash when it gets full! You can slice and dice and chop and saute and grill and poach but you are unable to get a grasp on the trash container in the restroom. Inexcusable.

Next on the list of common restaurant restroom miscues? The lock on the door. So we’re in a “cute” (e.g. small) bistro that has wonderful food but only has room for two small, one person, restrooms. I understand we might not be able to put in all the latest hands-free gizmo's that I really like to see but, come on guys, how about a decent lock on the door? Once again, I’m a little weird about this stuff as I’m the type of person who locks the bathroom door when I’m alone in my own house. One of the worst things I can possibly imagine happening to me is for the restroom door to be flung open in a crowded restaurant exposing me to dozens of diners who, I can assure you, have now lost their appetite for even the finest of fine food. Am I the only person who has nervously used a restroom while propping a foot or hand against the door? I’m sorry but the little button on the door knob doesn’t cut it. Neither does the small hook that I have to get into the even smaller eye that was screwed into the door post and might just be strong enough to keep a light breeze from swinging the door open. For me the ideal lock is something you would find on a medieval castle. You know the one I’m talking about - the kind that requires 30 or 40 strong guys using a 100 year-old pine tree battering ram to break open. Being that such a lock might be extreme, I’ll settle on a compromise - a good solid lock, or better yet, two. Maybe the lock can incorporate some of that new airplane or Grayhound bus technology which shows whether or not the restroom is “occupied”?

Lighting. Once again, this should be a pretty easy one. First, more than one light bulb please. This way, if one were to go out, I can still see. Next, how about enough wattage so I can really see what's going on in there. It's the bathroom for goodness sake. I’m really not looking for any kind of ambiance. Then there’s the light switch. Now, I’m a green kinda guy, really I am. I recycle and turn off lights when I leave a room but there is very little that creeps me out more than to have to feel along a wall in a dark public restroom for a light switch. Please have a light that stays on all the time - I know it might waste some energy but it's really so little compared to the peace of mind it gives me in return. If you want to be really cool, go with the motion sensor lighting ($14.95 at Home Depot). Anything. Just don't make me have to run my hand along the wall.

Finally, the unisex restroom. The ONLY time this is acceptable is when there is only one restroom in the building. If there are two, make one the men’s room and the other the women’s room. What’s the big deal you ask? This is the big deal: I walk into the unisex restroom and find the toilet seat has been left in the upright position. My first thought is “this is good, one less thing I have to touch” but then I realize that there might be a woman waiting outside the door. What is she going to think of me when she finds the seat left up? My women friends tell me not to sweat it as they never actually sit on the seat in any public restroom regardless of how clean the place is but I don’t believe them and have been programed for 50 years to “always put the seat down as there may be a lady using it after you”. What started out as a positive (me not having to touch the seat) has now, due to the unisex nature of the restroom, become “well, I have to lower the seat” and... you know what happens next, don’t you? The seat is, let’s say... not clean. As there might be a woman waiting outside the door, I am now in the position of having to CLEAN the seat because “what would she think of me if I didn’t” even though I had nothing to do with the lack of cleanliness and it would be very awkward to engage in such a conversation trying to explain this fact. I have now gone from enjoying a (sometimes very expensive) dinner with my wife to cleaning toilets because the restaurant has decided that “...we should be avant-garde and go with two unisex restrooms because I saw that in Europe last summer.” The real irony is that I don’t even clean the toilets at home as we hire someone to do that so the only place where I find myself cleaning a toilet these days is usually in an expensive restaurant. How weird is that?. I’m all about equality but please, please, please, separate restrooms.

There you have it. A few rules to follow to make the restroom experience as pleasant as possible. Does anyone else feel this way or am I nuts?

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  1. Wow- you have certainly given this a lot of thought!!!

    1 Reply
    1. re: macca

      Way too much. To think of all the stuff I could have gotten done around the house...

      1. At first I thought you were a bit nuts but after I considered your post, I realized you were spot on. My 2 biggest restroom issues: put a trash bin by the door so that I can throw out the towel I used to open the door and use solid locks. I particularly despise locks on single person restrooms where it's unclear if they are actually locked. I actually don't mind a unisex bathroom left with the seat up since its easy to put the seat down with my foot. Also, I prefer stalls that are completely enclosed. I've been in a few where the walls weren't quite tall enough to prevent me from seeing into the next one. Awkward!

        3 Replies
        1. re: Hobbert

          please do not use your wet, used hand towel to open the restroom door. 99.99% of us use our hands. be polite, use your hands too. We don't want to grab hold of a wet slimy knob or pull.

          1. re: KaimukiMan

            Yeah, I'm not going to start using my bare, clean hand to touch a filthy bathroom door handle. However, I use a clean paper towel or one that's barely damp. Most people may not use a paper towel but I hesitate to venture to guess how many of those also don't wash their hands. I suspect you and I probably aren't using the same restrooms, though, so it's not something that should worry you :)

            1. re: KaimukiMan

              I'm pretty considerate when using a paper towel to open door. I make sure I have enough dry parts on the towel so as to not leave any moisture on the knob. If I were to touch the knob and find it "wet" I'd freak out at the thought that it might not be water. If there are no towels I'll open the door with an article of clothing like my sleeve. It's like I committed a crime in there and I'm trying not to leave any fingerprints.

          2. As a guy, I am in the restroom maybe 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. I go in, do my business, wash up and leave. If the bathroom is nice and has all the amenities I need, great. If it does not, oh well, I came to the restaurant to eat. No big deal for me.

            22 Replies
            1. re: ttoommyy

              As a girl I'm the same way... In and out. As long as it's pretty clean and adequately stocked with TP, and has a sink with soap and a good way to dry my hands (ether paper towels or a hand blower that actually works well, I like those Dyson ones), I'm good to go. I'm not a germaphobe whatsoever though (although I have my limits... ie pee on the seat is a no no). I rarely get sick and I think my non-germaphobeness helps with that.

              1. re: juliejulez

                I'm the same way. In addition to the business at hand, I may touch up my lipstick but that's about it. I'm at the restaurant for the food, not the restroom experience.
                And after encountering some fascinating excuses for a restroom in SE Asia, I care even less about the amenities western restrooms offer.

                1. re: alliegator

                  It's the Asian bathroom experience that has made me LESS tolerant of poorly designed RR's.

                  Restaurants who tout their famous architects or ideal view/locale, or superior service are asking that their layout and amenities be judged harshly.

                  Chains should just know better by now.

                  1. re: alliegator

                    I've gotta say, I was oddly content with the toilet situation in Thailand (the 2 footrests with a hole in between) but I did bring my own toilet paper. The hose situation just wasn't happening.

                    1. re: Hobbert

                      Nylons-hose or garden-hose?

                      China life certainly redefined "padded bra" in our lexicon; that's where the emergency tissues lived.

                      My point is, places with squatties probably weren't selling the ambiance of the experience of eating at the restaurant-- more often than not, the RR was instead down the hall, around the corner, and out a back door and "owned" by someone else entirely.

                      1. re: Kris in Beijing

                        Haha...garden hose. Yeah, I agree with you- definitely zero ambiance.

                      2. re: Hobbert

                        Turkish toilets flip me out. I came across a few in Venice restaurants and held it rather than use the hole.

                        1. re: Hobbert

                          My Thai year was spent on Phuket. And while I won't go into to toilety details, occasional flooding rains and a low water table make for an unpleasant situation ;)
                          And the hose was a no-go for me as well. We referred to it simply as "ass-hose".

                          1. re: alliegator

                            First time in India, I had to come out of a restroom and ask Mr. Pine how to um, use the bathroom. Hole in the floor, 2 painted feet, but no running water for washing afterwards. And, yes, I knew about the use the right hand for food, left hand ("sinister" in medicalese) for other things.

                            1. re: pine time

                              Oh, Lordy. I'm going to India in October. Squat holes and I'm left handed. Awesome!

                              1. re: alliegator

                                Ha! Just go to more modern places than I've been to! Altho' seriously, consider taking some seat covers (that was my other funny experience: had my taken-from-here seat cover in hand, but: no seat to cover!), plus individually packaged hand wipes.

                                1. re: alliegator

                                  You'll be fine. Just bring toilet paper (Target sells travel rolls!) and watch where you...uh...aim the first couple times. After that, it's pretty easy. Skirts are helpful :)

                                  1. re: Hobbert

                                    I actually got quite used to squat holes, no biggie there. It's the eating! I want smaller, more authentic food experiences, I think I'll just politely explain that I'm left handed and the food looks so good that I want it to end up in my mouth :)

                                    1. re: alliegator

                                      I'd probably do that too. The few times my right hand has been injured and I've had to eat with my left, I thought I was going to lose my mind. It's one of the most frustrating things ever, especially if the meal is delicious and you can't focus on the flavors because you're trying to figure out how to keep from falling between plate and mouth. Argh!

                                      1. re: alliegator

                                        There's nothing more appealing than a squat hole after a nice big meal of really spicy Thai food.

                                        1. re: linguafood

                                          Some jobs are best saved for when you get home or to hotel, etc ;)

                                      1. re: latindancer

                                        I had my purse balanced on a window ledge (no hooks,natch), and a tube of lipstick fell out. Remained covered, mind you, but I still tossed the whole tube into the floor holes! Didn't want to even consider using it.

                                    1. re: alliegator

                                      Sort of a poor man's bidet? I've not heard of that before, please explain if you don't mind.

                                  2. re: alliegator

                                    Talk about excuses for a bathroom-
                                    having traveled a lot I would say it is quite an experience to use the open sky facilities in a Tibetan temple, the bathroom is always at the highest part of the temple, the view is of course breath taking. If you are lucky you may have used the luxury version which even has cement grips on the sides of the slit in the ground. And if you are a bit affected by the high altitude, you WILL use those slits....

                                    And - count your blessings that places like Burkina Faso ( West Africa) are usually so hot that you will not need a bathroom despite drinking gallons of bottled water and weak beer. Usually you will find a totally disgusting hole, 6 - 8 inch in diameter in the muddy ground outside in the back of any eatery...
                                    Btw we never got sick, you learn not to touch certain things, especially railings.

                                    And there was the outhouse in Guyana, not exactly making you a good reader...

                                    and - closer to home, a trip on a raft through the Grand Canyon - well, there is the sand and you carry out what you carried in. An occasional boat coming by might have gotten a casual wave....

                              2. "My women friends tell me not to sweat it"

                                I know you've put alot of thought into this...
                                Not being a germaphobe (I'm beginning to hate that word because it's being used, in many cases, to describe people who're just concerned about a little cleanliness and for those who aren't really concerned they now have a word to use to justify their lack of it).
                                Restrooms need to be clean and it's fascinating to me some of the 'fine dining' restaurants, in comparison, don't hold up cleanliness- wise to little beach shacks I've been to up and down the coast. There's one in particular I'm thinking of where one of the employees is, hourly, in there washing down the floors, the toilets, the sink and everything else he can get his cloth on to make sure it smells nice and is sparkling. It opens to the day light and it does sparkle.
                                I don't agree with your lady friends. While I don't sit on the seat I really don't care to come into a unisex restroom and see the seat up. Plus, I'm now wondering 'is this guy a good aim?', wondering what the floor and wall is like and I'm *not* worrying about germs when I think this. I blame my dislike on being raised with all boys and I now have an aversion to it because I wasted alot of time cleaning up after them before I used our one bathroom.
                                Personally, I like restaurant restrooms to have little cloth 4X4 washclothes to dry my hands with...thrown into a basket and the cleaning woman comes and empties it hourly and bleaches them. She's also in there shining the knobs, toilets, doors, mirrors and floors. I know it's over- the- top, not realistic everywhere, but I love it. Those new blast dryers are so loud they give me a jolt...especially when there's a 4 year old workin' it and thinking it's funny to see how long they can keep it going.
                                Anyway, with work like that from a cleaning person I never think twice...it's just psychological, I'm sure, but you'd think some restaurants could find it in their budget to make their patrons feel comfortable in a place that is pretty important.

                                1. I'll agree re: the trashcan - have someone check it to ensure it's not overflowing. Would love motion sensor soap dispensers, toilets and faucets. The faucets and soap dispensers are easily and cost-effectively done. The toilet? Probably not that cheap. But I've never priced them out.

                                  But bobbert - the majority of the women using a unisex OR ladies room hover. I promise you. Don't worry about cleaning it.

                                  The lock, however? I laughed at the medieval castle lock that would require a battering ram. The little button ensures the handle can't be turned. Most people are smart enough to figure out that means someone is in there. But then again, you did say you lock the door in your own house, so I'm just going to go with you're a wee bit overboard on this one. :-)

                                  1. I am with you. Although I am not that finicky about the no touch issue. I just would like a clean restroom like a hotel restroom How come hotels can keep their public restrooms clean, but restaurants can't?

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: PeterL

                                      Most likely because a hotel has a dedicated housekeeping staff and a restaurant normally does not.

                                    2. Frankly, if your women friends -- and this seems to be a particularly North American affectation -- had the nerve to sit their asses down after perusing disinfectant wipes (if available, even just regular TP *really* come in handy here), most toilet seats wouldn't be sprinkled with piss nearly as much.

                                      Most women's "aim" is about as bad as a man's.


                                      55 Replies
                                      1. re: linguafood

                                        Wow, I agree with this 100%.

                                        Lately, I've been noticing the same thing...I'd have thought a man was spraying all over the seat.

                                        1. re: latindancer

                                          To be fair, though, I think alot of mothers/grandmothers take little boys into the bathroom with them and don't make a point of telling them to lift the seat...
                                          I think, in this day and age, when we're so leery of allowing little boys to go into a men's bathroom by themselves I'd like to see a little urinal for these little guys in a women's bathroom.
                                          What would it hurt?

                                          1. re: latindancer

                                            There's a highly popular pizza place in Berlin run by Italian anarcho-punks (or... something like that), and the ladies restroom has a stall specifically for kids with a smaller toilet.

                                            Surprisingly, I do not know if this applies to the men's room as well.

                                            1. re: linguafood

                                              I've entered women's restrooms on several occasions where a single man will ask me if I'd accompany his little girl in while he waits outside.
                                              Of course I do and then think of his dilemma should he take his little girl into the men's restroom.
                                              They're urinals, obviously, but then the toilets (and seats) have got to be disgusting...
                                              What man gives a damn (other than the OP obviously) how they leave the public bathroom they've just used?
                                              I think those Italian anarchopunks could make a killing in this country if they merchandised their ideas. Those smaller toilets and urinals with their own little stalls are a great idea.

                                            2. re: latindancer

                                              Latindancer, that is a brilliant idea. I traveled alone with my nephews (then 8 & 5) and daughter a number of years ago. When I realized I would have to navigate the bathroom situation with my nephews at O'Hare, I almost literally hyperventilated! Made worse by the fact that the 8-year old was horrified at peeing in the ladies room. A urinal discreetly located would have been a godsend. Brilliant!

                                              1. re: jlhinwa

                                                Nearly all airports have Family Restrooms now.

                                                1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                  Yes they do. Finding a vacant one with a 30 minute layover was not so easy. I told the boys to use the restroom on the plane. That way I didn't have to worry about who else might have been in the restroom or the, getting lost. My nephew also wasn't amused at the idea of having me in a family restroom with him. :-)

                                                2. re: jlhinwa

                                                  Yup, most Ikeas have family restrooms as well.

                                                  1. re: jlhinwa

                                                    And all the malls by us do as well. The family restroom includes private nursing stalls and usually a microwave, recessed changing area with lots of sink counter next to it to put stuff on, a family bathroom with a small sized toilet and an adult sized toilet plus their own sink, and cartoons in the brightly-colored waiting area. I got so spoiled taking my infant in there that I still use those restrooms in malls and my kid is almost 4.

                                                    1. re: jlhinwa


                                                      I've been exactly in the position you've described. *Begging* and explaining when they're doing the 'dance' isn't my idea of fun.
                                                      Your 8 year old nephew would have felt much more comfortable knowing he had his own private spot...even in the women's restroom.
                                                      It just makes sense, doesn't it?

                                                      1. re: latindancer

                                                        It totally does. He was mortified by the whole thing and was mad at me for not letting him go in the men's room at O'Hare by himself. Ummm, no, not gonna happen on my watch. Thankfully we survived that experience by having them go on the plane but whew...it was stressful for me.

                                                        I think the private corner with a urinal is simply brilliant. But what about the flip side...daddies with daughters?

                                                        1. re: jlhinwa

                                                          It would have to be *very* private. My nine year old son still won't use a urinal, even in a men's room. Or so my husband tells me...

                                                3. re: linguafood

                                                  I'm learning new things all the time. Thanks (I think). Oh yeah, the question about whether or not I'm nuts was a rhetorical one. I have issues for sure, just hoping I was not alone.

                                                  1. re: bobbert

                                                    Hey- dont feel bad- everyone has issues- some are just more willing to admit it!!!

                                                  2. re: linguafood

                                                    Yeah, can't believe this bit about "most" women hovering.

                                                    Ladies, if you are, CUT IT OUT! You ruin it for everybody who comes after.

                                                    1. re: MelMM

                                                      If the person hovering cleans up after themselves (which I DO should it be necessary, which it isn't - I'm not standing and peeing, I'm hovering an inch or so above the bowl), what is the issue?

                                                      The issue you are having is with those who don't clean up after themselves.

                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                        Right. And it would appear that many, many, many women do *not* clean up after themselves after hovering and peeing all over.

                                                        If they weren't so paranoid about wiping the seat *before* they sit down, there would be less mess to begin with.

                                                        1. re: linguafood

                                                          Well, I've often said that women are not the tidiest in public bathrooms, having personally witnessed concert stadium both ladies' and men's' rooms. Water on bathroom sinks, paper towels on the floors....perhaps the men's rooms are cleaner because the guys don't wash their hands.

                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                            Ya know, I've always heard that women's restrooms are supposed to be so much worse than men's restrooms.

                                                            Obviously, my experience with the former surpasses the latter, but I can't say that's true.

                                                            The olfactory aura is usually more, shall we say, *pronounced* in men's rooms, is all I can say. I try not to touch a helluvalot in those (or unisexes) anyway.

                                                            1. re: linguafood

                                                              Perhaps the old Foxboro Stadium had extra strong exhaust fans in the men's room during the Rolling Stones' Steel Wheels tour, as I luckily didn't encounter such an aura. Thankfully.

                                                              And thankfully several stalls were open when we 3 women walked in (after calling out a warning that women were entering) because the ladies room line was a 15 min. wait. And thankfully the guys in there were (mostly) OK with us using their facilities. One said to me "Good set of cojones to come in here!" Hey - when you gotta go, you gotta go.

                                                              My favorite restaurant has two bathrooms, and they are used interchangeably by men or women...it's a first come, first served. I'd say it's pretty evenly divided as to the mess left by men or women. There, I absolutely use paper to wipe the seat.

                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                My friends and I started using the mens room in the nightclubs we hung out in the 80's. We would get one of the guys to stand guard at the door while we were in there.
                                                                This thread goes well with the "sandwich in the bathroom" thread.

                                                                1. re: EM23

                                                                  My friends and I did that all the time at concerts, nightclubs, etc. late 80's/90's when the womens room lines were out the door. Just get a guy to watch the door, holler your coming in, and get er' done.

                                                                  Carry your own wipes and don't touch anything with your skin.

                                                                  It was easier when you had had a few drinks!

                                                            2. re: LindaWhit

                                                              LindaWhit, I've always wondered about that.

                                                          2. re: LindaWhit

                                                            Great visual....thanks for the thoughts LW!

                                                          3. re: MelMM

                                                            Hover AND wipe after. Using a generous wad of tp, of course.

                                                            1. re: jlhinwa

                                                              So it's OK for the next unsuspecting person to come and sit where you peed and then wiped up any spillage? But not OK for you to wipe up any spillage from the person before and then sit? If everyone sat, we wouldn't have the issue at all.

                                                              1. re: MelMM

                                                                Or if everyone wiped the seat after use (men and women). But neither is going to happen.

                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                  "Or if everyone wiped the seat after use"

                                                                  OR if everyone would quit peeing on the seat there'd be nothing to wipe. .

                                                                  1. re: MelMM

                                                                    Agreed. The hovering is just dumb to me. You'll get more germs by handling the menu or sitting at the table in the restaurant than you will from the toilet unless you are leaning your face into it and flushing and taking in a big, open mouth of wet toilet air/water.

                                                                    1. re: MelMM

                                                                      No it's not okay for me to leave spillage. I said "hover AND wipe after" meaning leave the seat dry.

                                                                      I am not ever going to sit on a seat when there are not seat covers available.

                                                                      1. re: jlhinwa

                                                                        I'm pretty sure California has a law requiring the paper seat covers in restrooms. Height of civilization, me thinks.

                                                                        1. re: pine time

                                                                          Indeed. I seriously do not get why every public restroom doesn't have them. It is not uncommon to find restrooms with no seat covers. Thus the need to hover.

                                                                          1. re: jlhinwa

                                                                            Even better, in some airport restrooms (maybe O'Hare?) there are automated seat cover devices. You press a button and the machine rotates out a fresh plastic covering. Unlike the flimsy paper ones these completely surround and cover the whole seat.

                                                                            1. re: pamf

                                                                              Love those things! O'Hare has had them for years now. I wonder why they never up aught on elsewhere.

                                                                              1. re: jlhinwa

                                                                                One company has the patent on them and they are very expensive to buy and maintain...perhaps when patent expires it will be more affordable.

                                                                          2. re: pine time

                                                                            California, where I live, has a law for everything they can think of to legislate.

                                                                            I'd like to see California, with this law, hire someone to invent a rubberized toilet seat cover, where nothing will penetrate, that flushes.

                                                                            1. re: latindancer

                                                                              Good lord, what an enormous, terrible addition to the waste stream that would be. This is simpler- 1) Wipe the seat with tissue, or a sani-wipe if you insist, 2), sit down, 3) Check the seat and wipe any drips off.

                                                                              Intact skin is an excellent germ barrier, it even comes with an immune system.

                                                                              Also, nearly all urine is sterile. Esthetics aside, you're not in any real danger.

                                                                          3. re: jlhinwa

                                                                            I said "where you peed and wiped any spillage", so I wasn't implying that you leave spillage.

                                                                            1. re: jlhinwa

                                                                              "I am not ever going to sit on a seat when there are not seat covers available"

                                                                              Ugh. Me either. However, I can't think of one place I've been where there aren't seat covers available...some of the worst gas stations have seat covers.
                                                                              Are women *still* hovering with the seat covers? If so, why?
                                                                              Am I missing something?

                                                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                                                That would make no sense at all. Unless the seat was already clearly wet and they didn't want to deal with cleaning it before using it.

                                                                                1. re: latindancer

                                                                                  I travel a lot and do a lot of cross-country drives, and let me assure you, there are many, many places where you do not see seat covers. Especially not in gas stations, but even in very nice restaurants.

                                                                                  There are also some places in the US where it is not uncommon for restroom visitors to place their used toilet paper in the waste basket, as opposed to flushing it, out of concern for potentially finicky plumbing.

                                                                                  1. re: MelMM

                                                                                    Yeah, you're right, I've been to places like that. In that case I use whatever (tissue, TP) to cover the seat. No big deal.

                                                                                    As a couple of posters have mentioned, with all the Purell and the like, I don't understand the problem with sitting.
                                                                                    There are some anatomical/physics involved her, 'hovering'-wise, and the likelihood of aiming 100 % of the time with accuracy isn't very good.
                                                                                    Having used barren and open desert for the occasion I can assure you, as a woman, I know what I'm talking about.

                                                                                  2. re: latindancer

                                                                                    when i visited canada, there were no seat covers.

                                                                                    1. re: westsidegal


                                                                                      Having visited Canada numerous times I guess I was just too young and crazy to care.

                                                                                      1. re: latindancer

                                                                                        it was about 3 years ago.
                                                                                        went to montreal, quebec city, and ottawa.
                                                                                        don't remember seeing any seat covers.

                                                                                        1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                          Why is that do you think?

                                                                                          It just seems like a staple in most places in this country. I'm kind of used to it and to go to a place like Canada, which isn't much different than the US, for the most part, and not see any? There must be a reason for it I would think.
                                                                                          Unless they feel it's an unnecessary expense?

                                                                                          1. re: latindancer

                                                                                            I can't think of a single public restroom (maybe in airports) in Germany that has those covers. If they are available, I'll use them, but if not... I'll wipe the seat and *hope* for the best.

                                                                                            So far, so good.

                                                                                    2. re: latindancer

                                                                                      Latindancer, I think we in CA are spoiled with the seat covers in (nearly all) public restrooms. Did a cross-country driving trip awhile back, and believe me, seat covers are not universal in the US.

                                                                                      1. re: pine time

                                                                                        I think we *are* spoiled, pine time.

                                                                                        This is the first I've learned about there being a law requiring them in this state. I wonder why they found it necessary to pass the law?

                                                                            2. re: linguafood

                                                                              A custodian at my last job told me the ladies rooms were always more disgusing than the mens.

                                                                              1. re: EM23

                                                                                Many (many, trust me) years ago, I was one of the lowly maintenance men (boys) at our town pool. Dumping the trash barrels, cleaning out the restrooms every day before the pool opened..college job stuff, but the sun and view was always nice. I never thought a restroom could deteriorate into the filthy disgusting mess I would find each morning...stopped up sinks and toilets, dirty walls...and, amazingly enough, the women's room WAS consistently worse than the men's room. I haven't thought of this in years...thanks for bringing it all flooding back...

                                                                                1. re: njmarshall55

                                                                                  I remember being at Dorrians Red Hand on the Upper East Side one night, and that ladies room still holds the distintion of being the most disgusting that I have ever seen - filthy, toilets stopped up, vomit, etc. All those rich preppy girls sure knew how to make a mess.

                                                                                  1. re: njmarshall55

                                                                                    Maybe young and teenage girls are the culprit? I am shocked whenever I go into the girls locker room at my daughters school. At my office (where there about 12-15 people daily, fairly evenly split between men and women, the men's room is consistently nasty. I have, on rare occasion, used it when the women's room was occupied for a lengthy time. Oh my lord...the smell. And these are grown, professional men who should know how to clean up after themselves.

                                                                              2. The women's addendum.

                                                                                I often eat alone, which means when I go to the restroom [RR from here], I have to transport all sorts of things with me-- purse, phone, possibly laptop, probably not coat.

                                                                                In a typical RR, there is NO SPACE for any of that-- or there is a tiny hook on the door with a weight tolerance of about 6oz, so hanging anything upon it either breaks the door or causes it to spontaneously pop open.

                                                                                And when I want to wash my hands-- no dry space available, so I have to swing my purse [assuming it has a shoulder strap] onto my back whilst I launder my hands.

                                                                                And heaven forbid I have I diaper bag or toddler or even a 6 yo in tow.

                                                                                My ENTIRE judgement on the "class level" of a restaurant is cemented by the RR.

                                                                                Two common mainland China sights--
                                                                                1) an alcove just into the Ladies' RR with a tiny urinal
                                                                                2) sinks separate from the RR for a quick hand wash before the meal.

                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                                  I vote we start a campaign for sinks separate from the RR (I can't be the only one who likes to wash my hands before eating). And I think we should start with those restaurants that have just one RR for all patrons.

                                                                                  1. re: gaffk

                                                                                    What I really like about this idea is that the patron is now hand washing in a somewhat public space. Maybe those who don't think hand washing is necessary will be shamed into doing so. I'm amazed at how often I see men leave the restroom without washing.

                                                                                    1. re: bobbert

                                                                                      It's also interesting to see a family tell their kids to trot over to the sink and wash up Before their meal-- and then notice how the sink gets really busy with other patrons immediately afterward!

                                                                                      1. re: bobbert

                                                                                        Women too... or more likely, they pass their hand under the water for a fraction of a second and that's it. Maybe they're afraid they will melt...

                                                                                        1. re: MelMM

                                                                                          Interesting theory. I once had a boss who did not avail herself of the sink in the RR . . . and she *was* a witch.

                                                                                  2. I know Nordstroms is not a restaurant (although there is one there) but I would like to offer kudos to the one I go to. Next to the door there is a little towel dispenser with a wastebasket under it. You can use the towel to open the door when exiting. The sink, toilet, towel dispenser are all automatic.

                                                                                    I know only about the women's restroom. I really don't dwell on restrooms; but I was prettyimpressed with Nordstroms'.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: lenorel57

                                                                                      They should just make the door automatic

                                                                                    2. bobbert:
                                                                                      1) you are terrific writer: funny, clear, entertaining.
                                                                                      2) agree with you on all points.

                                                                                      1. Well,

                                                                                        Clearly Bobbert is not the only one who thinks about restrooms alot.....

                                                                                        This blog is all about restrooms in the Seattle Area.....


                                                                                        This includes a famous restroom in town. The ladies room at the Columbia Tower Club, with a commanding view of all of DT SEA from the er, 'throne'. Hehe.

                                                                                        Whenever I have attended an event there, or been a guest. There is inevitably some guy being 'snuck in' by a woman so he can see the view from the toilet - as if you can't see that view from all the windows in the place on the 74th floor! It's pretty funny....

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: gingershelley

                                                                                          It is an amazing view from those bathroom stalls.

                                                                                        2. And here, is the bathroom I hold nearly all others up to for comparison... the bathroom at Canlis. Albeit one of the more expensive resto's in town, you can certainly go there for a drink and a small snack in the piano bar, and not have it set you back too much. Just dress nicely.

                                                                                          GREAT bathroom - all the amenities you would want, and never an overflowing trash. Thanks Mark and Brian Canlis. We ladies appreciate you!


                                                                                          1. bobbert, thanks for making me laugh, and thank you for saying so many of the things that I think when navigating restaurant restrooms! Your irritation might even surpass mine (I’m not as much a germaphobe as a visual-ick-a-phobe, and a yearner for proper paper products), but I am not going to judge that - you raise such valid points.

                                                                                            Restaurant owners and managers should all take heed. We customers all care. I like the issues you raise that management can do something about. The other, more customer-generated issues, are hilarious to read (I’m looking at all those “sprinkling-when-tinkling” and such posts), but sadly those are outside of the restaurant’s capabilities to police. I do think it’s within a restaurant’s abilities to have decent sanitary facilities for its patrons. So glad you post has garnered so many responses; I feel less *alone* in the Restaurant RR wars!

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: cayjohan

                                                                                              +1 CJ on many points with you.
                                                                                              Many here know that I have been a licensed plumber for more than 35 years...and although I do not do the actual work, (I have plumbers that work for me).. nonetheless I am out and about to look at problems and provide estimates for work...As such I have been in some real shit houses during my career . If you think restaurants are bad, you should see how some people use and care for their own facilities at home! Seems that some people are just filthy pigs!,(but that is for another blog)

                                                                                              What I read here are two problems; the facility itself, and the conduct of the people using them.
                                                                                              Solution to the later....Educate people!..bring along your own seat covers, clean up. I always travel with my own package of ass wipes, even if I am traveling between my home in NY and FL, on a commercial airline.
                                                                                              Take that little paper towel with you when you leave the restroom, to open the door and ask the server, where you can dispose of it, outside of the restroom.
                                                                                              We're not all Michael Jordan!
                                                                                              What happened when someone child or adult, clogs the wash basin , intentionally , turns the water on and walks out? Real funny ? Not if your the owner of the establishment, and you have to fix the resultant damage.

                                                                                              AND AS MY KINDERGARTEN TEACHER TAUGHT ME.."CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELF!!!"

                                                                                              The facility itself.
                                                                                              There are many things to consider when constructing or operating a restaurant. Maybe it is a just a change of ownership from a pizza restaurant to a more to upscale Italian restaurant, and the space exists and it is cost prohibitive to enlarge or relocate the public toilet(s).
                                                                                              The age of the building? Is it an existing space or is it new construction?
                                                                                              *******Locks on the door; there are many regulations when creating a public toilet, concerning handicapped persons and safety for access into the room if someone gets ill. The time it takes a fire medic to break down a door, may be the difference between life or death. So much for the chastity belt lock on the damsel in the castle, behind the door requiring a battering ram and the 30 or 40 strong men to bust down the door!

                                                                                              And technically these are not "bathrooms" they are restrooms or a public toilet! They are only considered bathrooms if you can actually bathe or shower in them. (and there are many, such as truck stop restaurants, private clubs, pool facilities, but not most "eating only" establishments.)

                                                                                              In every locale in the US, there are codes and regulations, from all levels of government that regulates the way we see our rest rooms, there are reasons, and like all restaurants and food, they are all a little different.

                                                                                              One thing is constant in the restaurant world though: Only two types of customers use the restroom(s)......women or men!!! (my next life I want to come back as a dog, so I can piss where I want, and lick my own balls!)

                                                                                            2. There is one restaurant in our hometown that has a foot rung to open the door. Why hasn't that caught on? It's brilliant!


                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: mojoeater

                                                                                                Great suggestion! ; but what do you do if the restroom is for one person at a time? You then have to manually operate a lock. This would seem good for a restroom for multiple people, but by no means a cure all.

                                                                                              2. Funny rant! I have to confirm your secret fear: when I enter a unisex toilet, I HATE it if the seat is up because that means I have to touch it to put it down (I am a major germaphobe too). So, you are right. I grab a big wad of TP to use if I have to touch it with my hand to put it down or I use my foot. My other pet peeves: women who don't flush after they go. Why? Are you in such a hurry? And, women who crouch, don't sit, on the seat, and then leave a wet, sprinkled seat for the next person. Yuck. Line the seat with paper and then sit on it properly. Is that so hard? Oh, and p,ease provide a hook so I can hang my bag while I go instead of having to hang it around my neck. I am sooo not putting it on the dirty floor!

                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Kat

                                                                                                  Kat...read my two posts above...I think you correct about the mess....

                                                                                                  1. re: Kat

                                                                                                    I am always surprised by how often I see women putting their handbags on toilet floors. Besides the ick factor, it would be very easy to swipe a bag while the owner is indisposed.

                                                                                                    1. re: EM23

                                                                                                      Agree! I like the stall doors with the hooks halfway down. That way, it's nearly impossible to reach over and snatch a bag.

                                                                                                      1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                        Of course, there are times when I need something From my bag, and it's essentially tied to the door, 18" away from my furthest grasp.

                                                                                                  2. There was an article in my local paper yesterday about a business soliciting new product ideas. One of the ideas under consideration was a toilet that operated like the foot pedal trashcans: a foot pedal would be used to raise and lower the seat. Hope this catches on.

                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: gaffk

                                                                                                      This was developed by American Standard Plumbing fixture manufacturing and Delay Flush valve back in the 1950's for toilets in hospitals. Information from a plumber since 1972!

                                                                                                      1. re: PHREDDY

                                                                                                        Although the very first incarnation of such a device can be seen in "No Time For Sergeants", which starred Andy Griffith. Saluting toilets!

                                                                                                    2. L O L.....soo funny.

                                                                                                      Though I agree with you, I am completely horrified by the trend of high-end establishments having a uni-sex "area" designated for the loo. True Food Kitchen in San Diego has separate restroom spaces, but the sink area is all together. Saltbox in downtown SD takes it a step further. There is a whole area of bathrooms AND sinks TOGETHER. I won't go back to either of these places. I have desire to conduct my business and primp in the company of strange men.

                                                                                                      1. Check out the article "Myths and Realities Revealed About Restroom Germ Hot Spots" which will help address your concerns about being a germaphobe.

                                                                                                        The article does confirm that a commonly found restroom fixture in women's and sometimes unisex restrooms is not only repulsive but potentially DANGEROUS!

                                                                                                        The most contaminated germ “hot spot” in a ladies restroom is NOT the floor or toilet but at the top of the list is the sanitary napkin bin!

                                                                                                        It's time for women to take a stand and let restaurant management know " I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!"

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. The door knob/handle in and out of the restaurant probably has more (maybe even WAY more) germs on it than anything you'd likely touch in the bathroom. Urine on its own is relatively sterile, FWIW.

                                                                                                          1. Long- time mountain biker/cyclist/hiker/runner.

                                                                                                            Home would be my first choice.

                                                                                                            "Outdoors" second.

                                                                                                            Avoid restaurant toilets and other public places at all costs.

                                                                                                            1. I often think about all of places for germs to be in a restaurant, so I agree with many of your points.

                                                                                                              Some people have pointed out that there are places that are worse for germs, like the door to the restaurant, etc. The item that especially freaks me out is the meny when I think about how many germs have been collected on there, but regardless of how germy these items might be, that is why it is important for the bathroom to be clean. After I order and hand back my menu, I like to wash my hands before eating, so it is nice if I can use a towel to open the door when I expect, or better yet, push on the way out rather than in (when it so often is the opposite).

                                                                                                              I have also been in similar situations as you with sketchy locks that cause me to try and complete my business while being ready to shove the door back if someone tried to enter.

                                                                                                              I am not a fan of bathrooms signs I feel like I have to decrypt before using, but I have seen something more annoying. I was in a pub one time that, on the inside of washrooms, on the exit door, it labelled it as the opposite gender, so when you went to leave the bathroom, it tried to make people think they were going into the other gender's washroom. Ha ha??

                                                                                                              Another weird washroom sighting was a washroom with glass panels in the front of stalls that tinted once the door was locked.

                                                                                                              1. Bobbert -

                                                                                                                Have you been to Europe? Some of those restrooms will
                                                                                                                drive you nuts. Not so much as problem for the guys, but
                                                                                                                I learned early in my first trip to figure out how to flush the
                                                                                                                john before using it to avoid having to seek assistance
                                                                                                                afterwards. Some of the designs were simply things I
                                                                                                                had not run into before like overhead chains to be pulled
                                                                                                                and pedals on the floor but some of the "high-tech" stuff
                                                                                                                could be mystifying. Of course, I've never been known
                                                                                                                for my mechanical acumen so it might not be a problem
                                                                                                                for others.

                                                                                                                One thing I did like about some of the European facilities
                                                                                                                including those in some museums is that the stall doors
                                                                                                                reach all the way to the floor.

                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: ferventfoodie

                                                                                                                  Oh, I remember a squat toilet in a place in Milan about 15 years ago... The fact that it's supposedly an ergonomically superior position is unavailing to me. Especially when the hole is in the center of the room and too far from the wall to help yourself up, as it were.....

                                                                                                                  1. re: ferventfoodie

                                                                                                                    Just got back from Europe and yes, some crazy restrooms, Tried to keep to museums when the need arose.

                                                                                                                    1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                      I think the hope is that you will uh "instagram" some of those moments.

                                                                                                                      (None for me thank you!)

                                                                                                                  2. OK enough about toilets. Isn't this website supposed to be about chow???

                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: lenorel57

                                                                                                                      I thought the thread had died a natural death but then again, this is the "Not About Food" board.

                                                                                                                    2. if all the kitchens in all the restaurants I've eaten in are akin to the bathroom facilities cleanliness, I really shouldn't be eating there.

                                                                                                                      1. 1. The last Shah of Iran is reported to have said that Americans confuse indoor plumbing with civilization.
                                                                                                                        2. Unless you are building a McD inan empty field there are tremendous constraints on a restaurant in constructing washrooms. Practically speaking. Of course the owner can do whatever he wants , but there are tradeoffs.
                                                                                                                        3. But I do agree with you on one point. The doors should be marked clearly.
                                                                                                                        I had just come to Nova Scotia which of course is full of the descendants of Scottish immigrants. Scottish heritage and kitsch are big deals. I got confused about the washrooms. In the urgency of the moment, I thought that the symbol on the door was a guy in a kilt and that the sign said laddies.
                                                                                                                        4. The problem with paper towels in a public washroom is that some customers throw them down the toilet .The toilet clogs and overflows. Not nice.