#555 Proper urinal etiquette

Just look at us.

We blast rocketships into outer space, talk to people across the planet in seconds, and swallow little pills to take away our headaches.

Yet despite these giant leaps forward one thing’s still pretty primal around the world. Ladies, it ain’t pretty, but most guys unzip and drip into a dirty wall toilet while standing next to a bunch of other dudes.

Thankfully there’s some unspoken urinal etiquette to help answer the call of nature with class:

1. Respect The Buffer. The goal is to leave as much space as possible between yourself and fellow urinators. Take the corners first, take the middle last, and when it’s tight out there use the stall or come back later. Elbow contact should be avoided at all costs.

2. High Shhh Alert. Talking is frowned upon especially in the mall, workplace, or everywhere. This ain’t no coffee shop, people. Save that for the sinks.

3. Temporary Food Ban. There’s something wrong with the guy who leaves a sloshy bottle of beer or a half-unwrapped cheeseburger on top of the urinal while he takes care of business. The mental combination of food plus bathroom is far too intense and must be avoided at all costs.

4. Fart ’em if you got ’em. I think we know why.

5. No middles, no problem. Picking the middle from an empty bank of three urinals is considered a cardinal sin of the highest order. This terrible offense upsets the natural order of the men’s room.

6. My, What a Nice Wall. Eye contact is forbidden so keep staring down that brick wall in front of you. If there’s a poster hanging above the urinal, it’s guaranteed that every word will be read at least three times. Some people may even choose their urinal based on how good the poster looks. This is allowed assuming all other rules are followed first.


Okay ladies, thanks for putting up with us here. Yes, the men’s room is a nasty, dirty, filthy world. It ain’t pretty and it never will be. But it’s part of our daily lives so let’s all help keep it classy and keep it clean by respecting the codes, respecting the creed, and always observing proper urinal etiquette.


Advance reviews are popping up. Have a great weekend, everybody.

Photos from: here, here, here, and here

79 thoughts on “#555 Proper urinal etiquette

  1. Great post. Urinal etiquette is key to a safe and happy men’s room. There are even some flash games out there for you to practice various situations. http://gamescene.com/The_Urinal_Game_game.html
    Ladies – give it a try. You’ll get a chance to see that there is a definite code to follow in the men’s room!

    While we’re giving the women-folk a peek behind the curtain, I’ll mention my other favorite urinal quirk. When the urinal has some small target painted on the inside. Sometimes it looks like a fly landed there. It’s for.. ahem.. aiming, purposes. It looks like this: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_HrpHQA9qFgQ/R6xgXX0JriI/AAAAAAAAAOc/Rf3JEpJ62Kw/s400/urinal+fly+far.jpg

    Some nerds did a study, and found that having one of these in a urinal did far more to prevent unnecessary “spray” than any amount of signs of prompting could do.

    Btw: Jdurley? *tick*

    1. I think I’ll use a thick black marker for this one. The kind that gives you a chemical burn in your nostrils when you open the cap.

    2. I am a female third grade teacher and the other day I had to deal with proper urinal etiquette. One of my students was upset about something and had been off all day. At one point he asked to go to the bathroom.
      A few moments later two boys from another third grade class were running to my room and asked to talk to me. I took them in a hall and they told me that the student pulled his pants and underwear clear to the floor, which they both said was not allowed and he had never done in front of them before. The student came back to the room a few minutes later and I had to approach him about it. I said to him, “Now I may be a girl, but I know what is and isn’t allowed in the bathroom!” I then called the one male third grade teacher and had him come over to talk to the student. It was such an awkward and embarrassing situation! I wish he had followed proper etiquette.

  2. In the toilets of a bar, some chat may be acceptable.

    There mustn’t have been these rules 50 years ago because I very often find that old men do not respect the code. You’ll see in your peripherals some old bloke moving his head around trying to get a glimpse of everything he can. Or maybe I just have a knack for using the urinals at the same time old paedophiles do.

  3. Nothing is worse, though, than those bars with the “pee troughs” Where there’s just one big long sheet-metal bin for everyone to just line up at. Very popular in New Orleans, unfortunately.

    1. The old white Sox park in Chicago had circular ceramic ones and allways crowded. High splash danger the later in the game. One bar I went to allways had ice in the trough and there was allways a few coins.

      1. Peeing on ice / snow is the second best peeing related pleasure in the world! (next to peeing when you have been holding it forever) You don’t see that enough…

    2. I have been in two men’s bathrooms (one just to glimpse, and the oher because the lady’s were out of order). My brother often talks about his antics with friends and often mentions the bathrooms… -_- anyway, in the times i saw the mens bathrooms and my brother’s stories about urinals i have not once come across the individual ones as in the picture. I didnt even know what they were until some american tv show talked abou them.

  4. Oh my, yes. All true.

    Also: If you’re leaving the toilets just as somebody else is walking in, you ALWAYS give him right of way if possible. You have no idea how desperate he might be, and the last thing he needs is to back out when the urinal was just in sight because you refused to let him through first.

  5. LOL, what about the infamous men’s bathroom scene on TV shows, where the main characters prove how manly and primal they are by having intense (or not-so-intense) conversations while urinating?

    1. That rarely happens. I do, however, remember educating a fellow drunkard that it created greater user satisfaction to urinate while off the grate than on it (in the single trough model, that is).

      I am ambivalent on this view. So if you anyone wishes to argue this point, feel free.

  6. The Men’s Room should be a strict “No Talking” zone. Especially when everyone’s performing such a primal, but necessary, activity.

    1. Totally agree. Always a massive gee up when you’re out one night and you hear from someone while at the urinal that the local team (in whatever sport) has won.

      Perhaps add that as an awesome thing?

  7. This is hilarious. Great post. I can’t think of anything women have that quite measures up to this. Anyone have any thoughts?

  8. I think there’s a women’s equivalent! The thou-shalt-not-inhabit-the-middle-stall rule definitely applies.

    Also, we, as women, act as a sort of toilet-wing-man. For instance, if a woman walks into a stall and comes out immediately, that should serve as a warning for everyone to stay OUT of the stall. Do not ask questions, do not go in there to look for yourself. Assume that there is a dead, decaying animal in there.

    We also scope out toilet paper situations and warn others that they may need to grab some tissues on the way in.

    And, perhaps in the biggest display of sisterhood comraderie, when a stall’s lock is broken, we immediately swing our arm up to the top, take hold, and let our partner do their business in private.

    Bathroom etiquette is awesome!

    1. Mel, this is right on! LOL, re: decaying animal!

      I would like to add the acceptable exception to the “no talking between stalls” rule.

      “Uh, excuse me? Could you please pass me some toilet paper? There’s none over here. Thanks SO much!”

  9. What about the holy grail of all public urinals, the Dividing Great Wall of Urinaland? Nothing says “Come pee in my porcelain container!” like a nice, sturdy structure of sanctity like the one that blocks the bobble heads from viewing the unmentionables. My own personal studies show that I am 300% more likely to pee even when I don’t need to, if it has a dividing wall, and 50% likely to pee if it does not.

  10. Great post!

    This reminds me of the PooP at work – list

    How to Poop at Work
    We’ve all been there but don’t like to admit it. We’ve all kicked back in our cubicles and suddenly felt something brew down below. As much as we try to convince ourselves otherwise, the WORK POOP is inevitable. For those who hate pooping at work, following is the Survival Guide for taking a dump at work. Memorize these definitions and pooping at work will become a pure pleasure.

    Definition: a fart that slips out while taking a leak at the urinal or forcing a poop in a stall. This is usually accompanied by a sudden wave of panic embarrassment. This is similar to the hot flash you receive when passing an unseen police car and speeding. If you release an escapee, do not acknowledge it. Pretend it did not happen. If you are standing next to the farter in the urinal, pretend you did not hear it. No one likes an escapee, it is uncomfortable for all involved. Making a joke or laughing makes both parties feel uneasy.

    JAILBREAK (Used in conjunction with ESCAPEE)
    Definition: When forcing poop, several farts slip out at a machine gun pace. This is usually a side effect of diarrhea or a hangover. If this should happen, do not panic. Remain in the stall until everyone has left the bathroom so to spare everyone the awkwardness of what just occurred.

    Definition: The act of flushing the toilet the instant the nose cone of the poop log hits the water and the poop is whisked away to an undisclosed location. This reduces the amount of air time the poop has to stink up the bathroom. This can help you avoid being caught doing the WALK OF SHAME.

    Definition: Walking from the stall, to the sink, to the door after you have just stunk up the bathroom. This can be a very uncomfortable moment if someone walks in and busts you. As with all farts, it is best to pretend that the smell does not exist. Can be avoided with the use of the COURTESY FLUSH.

    Definition: A colleague who poops at work and damn proud of it. You will often see an Out Of The Closet Pooper enter the bathroom with a newspaper or magazine under their arm. Always look around the office for the Out Of The Closet Pooper before entering the bathroom.

    Definition: A group of coworkers who band together to ensure emergency pooping goes off without incident. This group can help you to monitor the whereabouts of Out Of The Closet Poopers, and identify SAFE HAVENS.

    Definition: A seldom used bathroom somewhere in the building where you can least expect visitors. Try floors that are predominantly of the opposite sex. This will reduce the odds of a pooper of your sex entering the bathroom.

    Definition: A pooper who does not realize that you are in the stall and tries to force the door open. This is one of the most shocking and vulnerable moments that can occur when taking a dump at work. If this occurs, remain in the stall until the Turd Burglar leaves. This way you will avoid all uncomfortable eye contact.

    Definition: A phony cough that alerts all new entrants into the bathroom that you are in a stall. This can be used to cover-up a WATERMELON, or to alert potential Turd Burglars. Very effective when used in conjunction with an ASTAIRE.

    Definition: A subtle toe-tap that is used to alert potential Turd Burglars that you are occupying a stall. This will remove all doubt that the stall is occupied. If you hear an Astaire, leave the bathroom immediately so the pooper can poop in peace.

    Definition: A turd that creates a loud splash when hitting the toilet water. This is also an embarrassing incident. If you feel a Watermelon coming on, create a diversion. See CAMO-COUGH.

    Definition: A load of diarrhea that creates a series of loud splashes in the toilet water. Often accompanied by an Escapee. Try using a Camo-Cough with an Astaire.

    Definition: A bathroom user who seems to linger around forever. Could spend extended lengths of time in front of the mirror or sitting on the pot. An Uncle Ted makes it difficult to relax while on the crapper, as you should always wait to drop your load when the bathroom is empty. This benefits you as well as the other bathroom attendees.

    FLY BY
    Definition: The act of scouting out a bathroom before pooping. Walk in and check for other poopers. If there are others in the bathroom, leave and come back again. Be careful not to become a FREQUENT FLYER. People may become suspicious if they catch you constantly going into the bathroom.

  11. I don’t think alot of these rules apply to former military. Many times we were just happy if the stall had walls, let alone a door. That might be why so many ‘old men’ don’t seem to abide by the rules. Plus I have four kids…i don’t think I’ve had a private bathroom moment in 11 years!

  12. This post should be printed out and hung over urinals everywhere to both remind men of these fundamental laws and provide entertainment during that face-forward time.

  13. I think us ladies could have a little more etiquette when it comes to public restrooms. Treat them as your own!!!

  14. I’m sooo glad I’m a girl. I have a suggestion and it has nothing to do with pee, urnials, aiming or targets… its the pre-paid envelope. Aint nothin better when your payin all those bills than the pre-paid envelope. It think it deserves more recognition

  15. I’m sooo glad I’m a girl. I have a suggestion and it has nothing to do with pee, urnials, aiming or targets… its the prepaid envelope. Ain’t nothin better when your payin all those bills than the prepaid envelope. It think it deserves more recognition

  16. Anyone remember the old pee troughs at Maple Leaf Gardens?

    There was always the small, lonely mitten floating downstream.

    You would hear a gentle “let it go, son”


    Nothing is more unawesome than those who disobey bathroom etiquette. Middle urinal taker, you know who you are. Awesome is knowing the rules and sticking to them, even if it means, as you said, coming back later to take care of bidnis.

    We men may be pigs, but we do have our boundaries.

  18. Sadly, the “No Talking” rule seems to be vanishing with the rise of the cell phone headset. I’ve seen many guys jabberjawing while doing their business. Creepy.

    Worst urinal ever? The old Silver Stadium in Rochester, NY had a large circular fountain where you were supposed go… all facing each other.

  19. Mmmm . . . little pills.

    My bottle of water was confiscated as we handed over our tickets, and I refused to buy one there. They gave me a cup. My husband said he’d fill the cup for me at the water fountain after he went to the bathroom. But where did he have to set the cup? WHERE???

    1. My rule in that situation is to hold the cup in my teeth. My personal rule on the subject is “no cup should EVER be put down in a bathroom”. Yeah i breathe in the cup, but at least its not on the floor or urinal.

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  21. As a reminder, gents, for the urinal talkers; that old joke of “My, the water is cold today” wasn’t funny even when the first drunk in history uttered it. But there’s always ‘that’ one guy in the bar, tavern or pub that says it.

  22. The only spoken words that are EVER acceptable are… “Oooooff (followed by some horse lips), I’m hammered.” Other than that, no chattin, period.

  23. This reminds me of the time last summer when I was at a ball game and made a mid-inning dash to the nearest urinal. Along the baseball stadium-sized urinal wall, I found upwards of a dozen separate urinals. Following proper etiquette, I picked the one on the far left.

    There was, however, one other urinal just to the left of me, but it was for kids. Unlike other kid urinals, this one was not lower to the ground, rather, it was at the same level as all of the other urinals, but with a step in front of it to raise short people (see #625) up to normal peeing height.

    Seeing as the room was pretty much empty, I figured I was safe. Unfortunately, Greg Zaun or somebody must have been at bat, because just as I started peeing, everyone else decided it was time. Seconds later, a very tall man (see #890) took a step up beside me.

    I still haven’t decided what was more annoying, my face being at this man’s waist as he peed, or the ricocheted splash I felt from the man peeing from the second floor into the urinal right beside me.

    Bad etiquette.

  24. LOL Fart em’ if you got em’ haha

    Awesome to read at the start of the day!

  25. I find it astonishing how many guys don’t follow the golden rule and go the middle. I mean the only way it’s really acceptable to use the middle urinal is in a break-in-case-of-emergency scenario

  26. Here’s a good one I told my friend the other day and we decided it should go on this website. It relates to this entry:

    When a stranger used a public bathroom stall after you-

    After using a public bathroom, while washing my hands, it’s always a great feeling when a complete stranger walks in and checks out the stalls for the clean one they feel comfortable in. Then they pick the one you were just in. I don’t know why but it makes me feel proud. It makes me feel AWESOME. :-)

  27. I totoally agree with this, i always avoid any eye contact with strangers will in urinal! lol until the sink!

  28. I’ll agree with the bad etiquette of cell phone using while peein’, because I straight up don’t want to be talking to someone and hear that charactoristic echo, then the flush. You think I’m gonna believe they were in a cave and a waterfull just kicked up?

    1. best revenge to that is when someone lets a huge one rip next to the cell talker. Can’t explain that one away, especially if it stinks.

  29. It’s quite an interesting phenomenon whenever you see men chatting in line and at the sinks, but when it’s time to get down to business at the urinal itself–stone-faced silence.

    Don’t forget that there’s always an ATM-like courtesy distance between the line and the urinals. Don’t be that guy who breaks it by standing right on the heels of the user in front of you.

    Agreed on avoiding the middle unless it’s taken, and heads always travel on a vertical axis. It can be down to monitor progress, straight ahead while in the zone or looking towards the heavens in relief but never ever side-to-side.

    1. Wow. That must have taken a while to come up with such a well-phrased and succinct comment. You’ve put us all to shame.

  30. You know, it’s sad but all toilet etiquette goes down the drain at beach lavatories. (partial pun intended)
    Sand is everywhere, and people changing into swim wear, it’s a truly disturbing thing sometimes… O.o

  31. I’m a girl so I’ve never experienced this in a public mens room or anything, but I work in a day care and we have anywhere from 2.5-6 year olds using the bathroom and it’s often unavoidable (only 1 guy on staff) that we go into the boys room and there is a urinal so I often randomly get a view of the butt and I still find it weird so I don’t even want to think about how this works in a bathroom where you don’t know the person you are peeing next to and there is more than one urinal. Also, I think it’s funny because this day care is at a church and I work with the kids on Sundays as well and I definitely almost walked into the boys bathroom without thinking on a Sunday because I heard the water running and wanted to know if any of the little boys were still in there or if they had left the water running (happens all too frequently as was the case this time). I then realized how comfortable I had gotten walking into the mens room there and had to rethink this. Thankfully no men were in there anyway and I stopped the water before it left the sink.

  32. I was 27, a single-parent new to a small town. I went on a nice date, then learned the guy was married with children! The next time I saw his car at the bar, I asked for the owners permission, *”granted”*, I barged in on bar hub-bub and gave a lecture to the one guy, a line up of men at urinals, those washing up and those who were curious from the door-way.
    Now I may have broke every code of ethics written here within this post, but everyone in town knew where I stood on those of marriage, for the many years I lived there.

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