Chinese Bathroom: How to Use the Squat Toilet in China

Chinese Bathroom: How to Use the Squat Toilet in China

Recently I was reflecting on some differences between China and the United States and I realized a major difference that is a part of my everyday life: going to the bathroom. Prepare yourself for some toilet talk.

It might surprise you to learn that even going to the bathroom in China requires an adjustment. While more modern or expensive establishments might have a toilet normally found in American homes, many places still have an Eastern-style toilet. It has earned the affectionate nick name: the squatty potty. The name comes from (you guessed it) the squat position required to use the toilet apparatus.

It has earned the affectionate nick name: the squatty potty.

Unlike in this picture most bathrooms won’t have toilet paper available for you to use. That means it’s bring-your-own-toilet-paper of BYOTP. Everywhere. I don’t mean carry a roll around in your purse – a small pack of Kleenex tissues will do.

bathrooms in china
Preparing for the squatting position
Chinese Bathroom: How to Use the Squat Toilet in China

The squatting position takes some getting used to but it’s just like going camping. Unfortunately, for girls, there is significant splash back. Don’t wear sandals to the bathrooms – especially if you have any open wounds on your feet. Bathrooms in China are not known for their cleanliness.

Most of the time the floors are ‘mopped’ with water sans cleaning agents. This means any bodily fluids on the floor just get diluted once or twice a day depending on the cleaning schedule.

The squatting position takes some getting used to but it’s just like going camping. Unfortunately, for girls, there is significant splash back.

[Side note: Do NOT put your cell phone in your back pocket unless you want to fish it out of the trench between your feet.]

Once you do your business and you’ve cleaned yourself up, you do not flush your used tissues. For some reason, the plumbing in China is not strong enough to withstand a wet tissue. Instead, people put the used tissues in the trash can located in all the stalls. The smell builds up and it’s common to smell the bathrooms before you actually find them.

While we’re talking about the stalls, let me mention that doors are not always a guarantee. There have been so many times that I have turned a corner in a bathroom only to see a woman in full on squat.

Many Chinese people just rinse their hands before leaving (if they make an effort to wash their hands at all, that is).

Finally, I highly suggest you bring your own hand sanitizer as well because most restrooms won’t have soap available at the sinks. Many Chinese people just rinse their hands before leaving (if they make an effort to wash their hands at all, that is).

Chinese Bathroom: How to Use the Squat Toilet in China

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Menstruation in China: Your Guide for Eating, Drinking and Buying Tampons
Questioning the East vs. West Divide in China
12 Tips for the First-Time Traveller to China
How to Avoid China’s Crowds and Chaos
Your Guide to Travel Scams in China

Have you traveled to China? What were your impressions of the Chinese bathroom? Email us at editor@pinkpangea.com for information about sharing your experience and advice with the Pink Pangea community. We can’t wait to hear from you.

Chinese Bathroom: How to Use the Squat Toilet in China top and content photo credit: pixabay and Katie Sill

About Katie Sill

Katie SillKatie Sill is a graduate student from Dallas, Texas living and working in Hangzhou, China. In addition to teaching English at Hangzhou Dianzi University, Katie is conducting original research pertaining to women’s roles within Chinese culture.

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