Dirty Public Toilets Draw Ire

A sign in a bathroom at Flushing Mall (Photo by Jerry Cao via World Journal)

A sign in a bathroom at Flushing Mall (Photo by Jerry Cao via World Journal)

Ladies often have their own hygienic principles when it comes to public toilets. For example, in order to protect themselves from germs, they don’t like to sit directly on a toilet. So some people stand on the ground and crouch over it. Some people stand on the toilet seat and squat above it. These acrobatic postures not only are challenging to the performers, but also draw ire from janitors who have to clean the toilet after it’s been used. This is why replacing old toilets with something like the best TOTO toilets, as they have in Japan would make all the difference, especially when it comes to hygiene reasons.

Ms. Huang said she has very high standards for toilet hygiene and, therefore, she’d swear off public toilets. “High-end places are a little better. But in most public places, the ladies’ room is just a disaster. Some toilets seats are broken, covered by footprints. What’s more disgusting are the ubiquitous splashes of urine and even feces. Who’s going to use a toilet like that?” said Ms. Huang.

She said she also worries people who use toilets in irregular postures could injure themselves. “If you stand on the seat, all your weight would be on the toilet. If it doesn’t hold, you’d fall and hurt yourself,” she said.

Those annoyed are not only toilet users but also their cleaners. Ms. Liu, who works at the food court area in the Queens Crossing building in Flushing, said: “If you are customers of the food court, you have the right to use the bathrooms. But many non-customers also come in from the street to use the toilets. Some people are not very civilized. They step on the toilets, don’t wipe after using them and never think of those who may use it after them.”

She said the good news is the building now has the bathrooms locked and it equips each vending stand with a magnetic key. Only paying customers can borrow the key for the bathrooms.

Ms. Chen, who works at the New World Mall, also has concerns. “No one wants to be infected by germs. But that doesn’t mean you have to stand on the toilet. You can just lift your rear end so that it won’t touch the seat. If you stand on the seat, it’s likely you’d make splashes,” she said.

People working at the food court in the basement level of the mall said that people often won’t clean after themselves. Sometimes, they won’t even bother to flush.

Ms. Huang, a tour guide, said public bathrooms in many tourist sites, both the ladies’ room and the men’s room, can be dirty and messy. Sometimes after one tour group stops by, it is too dirty for the next group to use. This is a big headache for cleaners at the sites.

Although the problem is not only caused by Chinese tourists, Ms. Huang still frequently reminds her tour group to keep the toilet clean when they use it. And to be considerate of others even if they are not likely to return.

Su Zhou, M.D., of Evergreen Boro Park Comprehensive Medicine, said directly sitting on the toilet can get one infected by germs, and that itching and, in the worst-case scenario, a fungal infection which is hard to cure could develop.

“The most important thing is prevention,” said Dr. Zhou. The best way is to install an automated sanitary plastic seat wrapper on the toilet, like the ones often seen in high-end restaurants and airports. Some toilets offer paper seat wrappers. But they are not as effective as the plastic ones.

Zhou suggested bringing a small bottle of sterilization liquid to clean the seat and then wrap it with paper before using the toilet.

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