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The 10 Dirty Secrets of the Office Restroom

Do you suddenly feel flushed whenever you step into the office restroom? If so, you're not alone. Office restroom etiquette -- er, the lack thereof -- is one of employees' biggest pet peeves.

Seriously, a dirty office bathroom can send employee morale right down the toilet. Assuming someone bothered to flush -- we'll get to that shortly. Maybe he or she didn't get the memo? Sure, toilet time isn't generally a polite topic of conversation, so that means we have to talk about it, right? Hold on to the hand rail, because this could get a little bit gross. Here are the 10 dirty secrets of the office restroom:

1. Someone pees on the seat. You go to use the toilet, and there's pee all over the seat. One of your co-workers wasn't a sweetie about wiping the seatie. You look behind stall door #2 and it's just as bad, or worse (see #2). Stall #3 is passable, so you go in there. You feel sort of like Vanna White pushing open each door one by one, but there's no way in hell you're going to wipe the seat up yourself. Eww. The line for stall #3 forms to the right.

2. Someone doesn't flush. You push open a stall door and oh, man...just look away. Why didn't the last person flush? In your co-worker's defense, some people do flush the toilet only to find it's either plugged or broken, but in most cases the toilet is working just fine. Maybe you need to flush twice? At the very least, alert management to a broken toilet situation. Your co-workers will thank you.

3. Someone pees on the floor. The toilet looks fine, but the floor around it is all wet. Is it water or is it pee? Maybe you don't know for sure, but you have no choice but to find a way to do your business without getting your shoes wet. Why can't you work with people who have better aim? Or maybe someone tried to flush paper towels (or personal hygiene products) and managed to overflow the toilet. Speaking of management, it keeps leaving signs and notes about proper toilet etiquette, but so far to no avail. I hear the floor in the corner stall is dry...

4. Someone leaves a paper trail. This is the person who leaves toilet paper either dangling over the sides of the toilet or scattered on the floor. Too bad the trail doesn't lead directly to this co-worker's desk, because you'd like to serve this person some papers, if you know what I mean.

5. Someone doesn't close the lid. Okay, ladies. You know what I'm talking about. The personal hygiene receptacle has a lid that you should close after depositing your items. I'm not going into further detail here. Just close it, will you? Full stop. I'd say period, but that seems too gross given the context. Psst, guys: you have your own set of guidelines to follow.

6. Someone doesn't replace the TP. Who hasn't reached into the toilet paper dispenser to come up empty-handed? Of maybe you find that someone left you the last remaining 3" x 3" square of TP on the last roll in the dispenser, where the rolls are always wound so tightly you have to pull hard to get one square at a time. Collecting enough TP can take awhile. Gee, thanks. But if you leave one last square on the roll, then you don't have to feel guilty for doing nothing because, technically, you've left some TP for the next person, right? Riiiight.

7. Someone causes a soapsplosion. There's no more soap in the soap dispenser because it's all over the counter top, which is now all wet and soapy. Good luck keeping your shirt dry. Where’s the hand sanitizer? Eh, screw it, no one else in the office is washing their hands, anyway.

8. Someone gets chatty. There's something weird about trying to do your business while someone in the next stall is talking on a cell phone. Or maybe two employees are cross-talking to each other from their respective stalls while you're quietly stuck in the middle. And there's no way you can't hear the conversation, even if it's conducted at a near-whisper, because office restrooms generally have wicked good acoustics. Note to self: Never, ever borrow this co-worker's cell phone.

9. Someone hogs the sink. You're waiting – and waiting -- to wash your hands while a co-worker (or two or three) lingers at the sink to check her hair and make-up situation. Not only is she blocking the sink, she's blocking the soap dispenser as she preens obliviously to those around her. Pardon me, please, could I get past you for a second just to get some soap? Of course, there's only one towel dispenser or air hand dryer, and it's always right next to the person who is preening. Why is that? Someone needs to research this, stat.

10. Someone camps out in a stall. You see feet underneath the stall, but you don’t know to whom they belong. This person is quiet –- too quiet -- and is taking forever. No talking, no peeing, no movement, nothing. Chances are, he or she is reading email, but you don't know for sure. What is this person doing in there?? And why does it feel like this person is not-so-patiently waiting for you to leave? It might not be your imagination if it seems like this person is beaming you a subconscious message to finish washing your hands already and just go away. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Soapsplosions, sink hoggers, stall campers -- it's enough to drive everyone crazy. Well, hang in there and spring for the good plungers, will you?

For other entries in my on-going "10 Dirty Secrets" series, check out The 10 Dirty Secrets Of Secret Santa Giving and The 10 Dirty Secrets of the Office Break Room.


  1. Ugh. Who doesn’t hate dirty public rest rooms, right? In the workplace, it’s everyone’s responsibility to keep the whole office clean, even if you have cleaning personnel to do that job for you. Always practice the “Clean as you go” habit everywhere, even if you’re not in your workplace.

  2. Good advice on the "clean as you go," Tyler. Let's hope people start picking up their crap in public restrooms -- sometimes quite literally!

  3. One thing that really pisses me off is a dirty restroom. It is a ‘rest’ room, a place where you can get a time for yourself and do personal stuff. How would you even have a good time if everything around you is a mess? Everyone should be more responsible for his or her actions. Thank you for this post.

  4. As always, an office is the reflection of the people in it. It’s a little scary if guests will get to see the office's restroom and get a bad impression from it. They will be stereotyping and brand everyone in that office as inappropriate, and we wouldn’t want that.


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