DEAR INTERTRON: An open letter to ladies who pee

Dear fellow females and, really, anyone else who uses the women's restroom:


Seriously, consider all the pride that many of us put in our superiority, especially in the realm of tidiness. Think of how we stereotypically nag at our housemates, our partners, our families to do the dishes, take out the trash, vacuum the shag carpeting. Then recall the state of the last women's restroom you used. Not the one in your own home, mind you, but the ones we share, the ones in which we put our heads together, so to speak, to make it sparkle.

Every time I walk into a public women's restroom or a toilet at the airport, at work, or in a restaurant, I feel nauseated for any combination of the following reasons, all things that directly result from sloppy use of the facilities:
  • The handles of every door are damp.
  • There are paper products all over the floor.
  • The floor is covered with unidentifiable liquid.
  • The toilets are each filled with enough toilet paper to wipe the asses of every obese person in the U.S.
  • The toilets have not been flushed since the Reagan administration.
  • The toilet seats are soaked in mystery liquid.
  • Sometimes a futile paper toilet seat cover is plastered to the seat by said liquid.
  • The trash cans are overflowing with used tampons and pads, not even shielded from my view or olfactory sensibilities by the courtesy covering of toilet paper.
  • The sinks are a cesspool of hair, paper products, and still more unknown liquid and materials.
  • The paper towel dispenser or hand dryer is inevitably coated in a sticky goo of soap and melted dreams.
  • The walls are covered in blood, liquid of indeterminate origin, and fecal matter.
Okay, that last one was a stretch, but you get the idea. I bet, no matter what sex you are, you were grossed out just reading this list. It has got to stop. So I propose that anyone who uses any kind of public-ish bathroom follow these common rules of courtesy:
  • Clean up as much mess as you can stomach the instant you enter the stall.
  • If you get piss on the seat (it happens to all of us), wipe it off, and flush it down with the rest of it.
  • Speaking of flushing, hang around for the extra five seconds to make sure your excrement goes down. If at first you don't succeed, try again. If you still can't get it to work, blame the broken toilet, but tell someone whose job it is to fix these things. Don't just dash out of there like a bat out of hell and pretend it wasn't you.
  • If you are entertaining a monthly visitor, do what your mother told you to do with a tampon, pad, or whatever else and all its accoutrements: Remove it, wrap it in toilet paper, and put it firmly in the trash can. If there is no room, wrap it in extra toilet paper, stick it in your purse or pocket, and wait till you have access to a trash can with room in it. Trust me, it's more sanitary than throwing it on the floor.
  • Don't use a public restroom to blow-dry your hair or put your makeup on (unless you really have nowhere else to go). Just wash your hands at the sink and let other women in to do their business.
  • Use soap.
  • Dry your hands all the way. I learned in biology class once that wet surfaces are where the most germs flock.
  • If your trash won't fit in the trash can, take it out with you, and let the person taking care of the bathroom know.
As women, some might say we have an extra-special bond with Mother Nature. Let's take a similar tack with our restroom: Leave it cleaner than when you found it.

If I missed anything or am way out of line, please let me know in the comments. Thank you, and I look forward to a less unpleasant ladies' room experience next time.



  1. You are ruining my conception of the female restroom. I imagine them as fairly pristine, because I want to believe that women are more aware of the impact a mess will have on other people than men are. Honestly, are there not fragrant flowers in vases and neat pastel-colored couches in every women's restroom? Lie to me, Sarah, and let me dream of a world where a person can expect a public restroom to be of higher quality than a truck stop's (which, as a guy, I can't do).

  2. From what I've heard women's restrooms tend to be worse than men's, which is pretty terrible.

  3. I will never go into a public bathroom again. Or I'll clean up after myself and others like you said to. One or the other.

  4. I'm afraid I can't do that, Andrew. I must speak the truth.

  5. Hate to tell you this, but in the UK it is not common for people to wash their hands with soap after using the restroom. Sad, but true.


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