Public Toilet Etiquette: 11 Rules For Guests And Patrons

Who is this micro-class for

* Guests at any public venue or occasion

* Hosts 

What you’ll learn

* The crucial hygiene rules

* How to be respectful of others when using the restroom

* The behaviors to avoid in a public toilet


* Less than 5 minutes to complete

About this micro-class

Public toilet etiquette is the set of etiquette rules that guests should follow when using public restrooms at any public venue or social occasion.

1. Follow the appropriate toilet etiquette for the occasion

Types of venues

Someone’s House: Ask your host if you can use the bathroom before going. If your host’s house has more than one bathroom, ask which bathroom you should use.

Restaurants, Cafes, and Bars: Visit the toilet before or after dinner to avoid disruptions. If you need to visit the toilet during the meal, go between courses or after placing your order. Avoid leaving the table multiple times during a meal as it can be annoying to other guests. 

Schools, Universities, and EventsVisit the toilet before or after classes, lectures, or acts to avoid disruptions.

What to say

When you leave the dining table or your seat to visit the bathroom, it is sufficient to say “Excuse me”. 

Avoid giving too much detail or leaving without saying anything.

2. Use the designated restrooms

Use the correct restroom

GenderAlways use the restroom designated for your gender, unless you are in a unisex or family restroom.

Respect Gender-Neutral and Unisex Restrooms (if applicable): If the venue has gender-neutral or unisex restrooms, use them in accordance with their intended purpose.

Respect ADA Accessible Facilities: If you are not disabled, avoid using ADA-accessible facilities to ensure they are available for those who need them.

Wait patiently and give precedence

If the restroom is occupied, wait your turn patiently in line. Avoid pushing or cutting ahead of others.

When applicable, give precedence to anyone who might need the restroom more than you do, such as seniors, people visibly sick, staff, or parents with young children.

3. Be efficient and stay as short as possible

Short Stays: In any public restroom, it is best to stay as short as possible. Be mindful of others who may be waiting and try to keep restroom visits reasonably brief.

Limit Personal Grooming: It is acceptable to refresh your makeup or brush your teeth. However, it is best to avoid extended grooming, such as flossing, shaving, or hair styling.

Conversation: Limit conversation with others. You can say hello and make small talk but avoid chatting.

Cell Phones: Avoid cell phone use in the restroom to maintain privacy and prevent unnecessary delays for others.

4. Don't bring any belongings to a public toilet

Personal Belongings: Bring to the public toilet only what is strictly necessary. Avoid bulky items, such as luggage.

Bags and Purses: Avoid bringing their bags or purses to the restroom. Consider using a small toiletry bag instead.

Food: Don’t bring any food or beverages to the toilet to avoid hygiene risks and spilling.

5. Respect privacy and boundaries

Be considerate when the bathroom is occupied

If the toilet door is closed, don’t try to open it. Instead, gently knock. Avoid knocking endlessly and never peep under the doors. When you are in the bathroom and someone knocks, say a simple “occupied” or “sorry”.

If the toilet is occupied, it is best to leave and come back later. Do not wait for the person to leave, as it could cause embarrassment.


Close and lock stall doors

Ensure privacy and security by closing and locking stall doors when using a public toilet. 

Never leave the toilet door open or expose your private parts or underwear.

Keep noise levels down

Be mindful of the noise level and maintain a quiet and respectful atmosphere within the restroom. Maintain the privacy of others by not loitering or engaging in conversations that may disturb other guests using the facilities.

Respect personal space

Maintain a reasonable distance from other individuals using the restroom facilities.

6. Check the restroom when you enter

Avoid awkward situations. When you enter a public toilet, check that everything is in order. Make sure that there is enough toilet paper. Wipe the toilet seat before seating. 

Male guests must lift the toilet seat if they are not going to sit.

7. Dispose of trash properly

Never dispose of any items in the WC or on the restroom floor. Limit the amount of toilet paper to avoid clogging. Never dispose of feminine care or sanitary items in the WC.

8. Gracefully leave the bathroom

Toilet Seat: In an era of gender equality, leaving the toilet seat up is no longer a major offense. However, the best etiquette is to rest the toilet seat and the cover down. Wipe the seat before leaving and leave the toilet stall in perfect order.

Flushing: Always flush before leaving. Flush more than once if necessary. Open the restroom door only when the flushing is over.

9. Leave the public restroom as you found it

Maintain cleanliness

Correct Posture: Female guests should always sit on the toilet seat. Males should always stand close to the WC to avoid dripping. 

Messy Stalls: If the toilet stall is in poor hygiene conditions, find another one and call the janitors. Don’t make the conditions of the toilet stall worse.

Splashing: Avoid splashing water on countertops or floors.

Smoking: Never smoke inside the bathroom.

Report maintenance issues

If you encounter maintenance or cleanliness issues in the restroom, such as the flush not working or the WC clogged, you should report them to your host or the appropriate personnel.

10. Wash your hands

Handwashing: Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after using the restroom.

Save Water: Keep the water running only when necessary and turn the taps off before you leave. Avoid splashing water around and on the mirrors.

Wipe Your Hands: Dry your hands thoroughly. Don’t touch the door handle or leave the bathroom with wet hands.

11. Supervise children

If you have children with you, accompany them to the restroom and supervise their behavior.

Teach them proper restroom etiquette from a young age.

Public toilet etiquette worst mistakes

Avoid the worst public toilet etiquette mistakes:

  • Not washing your hands before leaving.
  • Spending too much time in a public toilet.
  • Embarrassing others.
  • Not supervising children.
  • Not flushing.
  • Disposing of items in the WC.

Resources and sources