NPR logo If You Follow These Signs, You'll Flush With Success: #WorldToiletDay

Daily Life

If You Follow These Signs, You'll Flush With Success: #WorldToiletDay

A sign in Indonesian shows how not to sit on a toilet. i

A sign in Indonesian shows how not to sit on a toilet. Tracy Hunter/Flickr hide caption

toggle caption Tracy Hunter/Flickr
A sign in Indonesian shows how not to sit on a toilet.

A sign in Indonesian shows how not to sit on a toilet.

Tracy Hunter/Flickr

You'd think that everyone on the planet would know how to use a flush toilet: Flip open the cover, assume the position and go.

But for many people, the flush toilet is a UFO — an unfamiliar flowing object.

Nearly 2 billion people in the world use pit latrines, one of the most common kinds of disposal systems for human waste in low-income countries. Squat toilets are still popular in East Asia and the Middle East. And almost 2.4 billion people have no access to toilets or latrines at all — that's one out of three earth citizens.

Adam Drolet, project manager for PATH's WASH initiative, says these folks might go in open fields, on other people's property or even in a plastic bag, which is tossed outside and known as a "flying toilet."

So a newcomer to the flush toilet might be confused.

Drolet learned that fact when he was working on a latrine project for the Peace Corps in Paraguay in 2008.

"We started noticing footprints and shoeprints on the toilet seats," he says. "Turns out people felt much more comfortable in the squat position and wanted to continue squatting when 'going,' even if this meant perching and balancing on the skinny, rounded ceramic seat."

For the benefit of the uninitiated, bathrooms around the world have diagrams and signs to teach what you've gotta know when you've gotta go. And since today is World Toilet Day, we thought it'd be a good occasion to share the knowledge.

(But we have to ask: Do they all do a good job putting you in the loop for the loo?)

Thailand: Stand on the floor, not the toilet bowl.

A photo posted by Joey Frasier (@joeyfrasier) on

Poland: Don't forget to pull your pants down.

A photo posted by elisaminondo (@elisaminondo) on

Czech Republic: Step-by-step directions

A photo posted by Petr Slavík (@petrsla) on

Australia: Don't hover over the toilet.

A photo posted by libhave (@libhave) on

Japan: Toilet paper apparently dissolves...

A photo posted by Emified (@emified07) on

China: Try to have a little aim.

A photo posted by Ralph Frost (@rhgfrost) on

Malaysia: Don't flush the toilet with your feet.

A photo posted by komeil (@komeilsoheili) on

United Arab Emirates: Keep the bathroom clean... and don't do these three things.

India: Do not squat!

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.