Urinal Etiquette

Don’t laugh.  This is an important subject that receives far, far too little attention in today’s society.  Prepare to be educated.

It’s become painfully obvious to me that somewhere along the way the topic of urinal etiquette simply isn’t being taught to our young men anymore.  Maybe it’s a result of so many boys being raised by single mothers, who naturally have never been exposed to these important life lessons.  Or maybe in today’s upside down world of transgenderisticity too many people believe that there aren’t any black and white rules to abide by at a row of urinals.

Regardless of the reasons for urinal ignorance, it’s time to put a stop to this nonsense.

Rule #1-Urinal Selection

When you enter the restroom your first decision is likely based on Rule #1.  Which urinal do I approach?  Just remember…..Nobody likes being crowded.  It’s not about being close to some other guy’s man parts.  But let’s get gross for a minute.  I wear shorts about 10 months out of the year.  And depending on the strength of your stream, the shape of the urinal, your aiming ability and the force of the urinal’s flush I might very well get some splash back all over my lower legs.

Crowding creates splash back.  Remember that and you’ll never forget Rule #1.

If there are only one or two urinals, the decision is already made for you.  The potential for splash back is the same no matter what you choose.

If there are three, you’ve gotta start making smart decisions.


  • If all three are empty, go to either end.  If you go to the middle you’re forcing someone to crowd you and imposing your crowding on them.
  • If a left or right urinal is occupied, go directly to the other end.
  • If both sides are occupied, use the middle.  There’s a chance for splash back in this scenario but standing back and not using an empty urinal just holds up the line and is really kinda weird.

If you insist on not standing next to someone at a urinal then take your chances on whatever might be waiting for you in a stall’s toilet.  Good luck with that.  But don’t hold up the line.

If there are multiple urinals your choices get trickier as people enter and leave.  Just remember….Crowding creates splash back.  And nobody wants that.

For instance, with five urinals you can still fill in from either end.

  • images-1#1,3,5 can all be occupied without danger.
  • If #2 is in use, go to #5.  Why not #4?  Because the guy at #2 is already in mid-stream.  He’s going to be done before you and then you’re the weird dude standing in the odd spot in the line of urinals.
  • When in doubt….Fill in from the end!!!

It’s worth mentioning that some venues are still using the urinal trough.  The same rules still apply, except that it’s not clear exactly how many people are supposed to be at the trough at once.

  • Generally speaking, if you’ve gotta squeeze in…..Don’t.  Nobody wants to be in mid-pee and get bumped by you.  That’s a recipe for splash back disaster.
  • Remember that trough use is going to be dictated at least in part by cultural norms (if you’re visiting a construction site where everyone uses a trough all day then they’ll probably be more comfortable with some shoulder contact) and the venue (if you’ve only got a few minutes between innings to do your business, there’s going to be some crowding….and maybe some pushing and shoving depending on the score).
  • When it comes to trough use, you’re going to have to read the room and adapt to the situation.

Rule #2-Don’t Use The Short One



As the father of three boys I’m never not amazed at the complete disregard for urinal etiquette I see when it comes to the short urinal.


Let’s be clear…..  The short urinal is for short people.

Full stop.  End of story.  That’s all she wrote.  Unless you’re a child or midget, don’t use the short urinal.

Ideally when a father brings his boys to the bathroom they are able to occupy the short urinal and the one directly next to it.  That way the kid can pee and the dad can create a buffer against potential creeps.  If my kid is at the short urinal and you jump in and take the one right next to him, I will take the next urinal over.  But I will stare directly into your eyes as I pee to make sure you’re not looking at my kid.  So unless you want me peering into your soul while we both have our pants down, don’t use the urinal next to the short one.

The urinal next to the short urinal is for fathers and creeps.  So unless you’re one of those, it’s off limits.

Rule #3-When To Speak

There’s nothing wrong with having a conversation in the bathroom.  But there are certainly ways to make that communication weird.

  • If you’re sitting down, don’t speak.  Ever.  If you’re out of toilet paper, it’s your own fault for not having checked before you started your business.  Figure it out.  Adapt and overcome.  But a lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.  And there better be an emergency that directly effects ME before you start chatting me up while you’re pooping.  For instance….If you just set that stall on fire, let me know.  If you think the guy in the stall next to you is strapping on a suicide bomber vest, let me know. But if your derriere is dirty, that’s not my emergency and I don’t want to talk to you about it.
  • At a urinal, you can speak to anyone who’s in the same position you are.  If you’re both waiting, talk.  If you’re both peeing, talk.  If you’re both done, talk.  But don’t try to have a conversation across those lines.  When you step up to the plate, you’ve got splash back to dodge.  And trying to talk over my shoulder to you about the weather doesn’t help me dodge splash back.


Rule #4-Don’t Ever, EVER, Use Your Phone


I understand that you desperately need to update your status and see how many people liked your selfie from lunch today.  But as a father, I don’t know if you’re playing Words With Friends or taking pictures of my kids.

So I’m going to check.  I’ll lean over your shoulder and see what’s going on, or stand directly in front of you until my kids are done.  I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again.


And to be clear, when I’ve invaded the personal space of a guy using a smart phone IN A PUBLIC BATHROOM, I’m not the weird one.

If you keep your phone in your pocket, the odds of it getting thrown across the bathroom and stomped into a hundred pieces go down significantly.  Just saying.

I hope that these four simple rules will enhance your urinal use experiences.

If you’re a single mother trying to raise boys on your own, take these lessons to heart and teach them to your boys.  Find an empty bathroom and walk them through the process of urinal selection.  (A “dry run”, as it were.)  They’ll thank you for it in the long run.

If you’re a father or grandfather, make sure your boys know about splash back now.  That’s a lesson that’s better learned from your experience than their own.

And if you’re just a weird, creepy guy in a  public bathroom who chooses to ignore these rules…..Just know that we’re watching you.  And we’ll stomp your phone into a million little pieces if we need to.


6 Comments on “Urinal Etiquette

  1. Rule #1 was essentially the reason the practice of washing visitors feet came into vogue.

    • Really? That makes sense though. Dirty feet on a dirt floor aren’t nearly as big of a deal as urine feet reclining at your table.

      And it really emphasizes how humble we should be toward our brothers.

      • No public facilities. Notice the idiom to identify men in this passage from the KJV: “And it came to pass, when he began to reign, as soon as he sat on his throne, that he slew all the house of Baasha: he left him not one that pisseth against a wall, neither of his kinsfolks, nor of his friends.” (1 Kings‬ ‭16:11‬) Additionally, realize they were traveling the same roadways as donkeys, horses and camels. When you got where you were walking, foot washing was quite practical.

  2. Great article, but you forgot one very important issue that bothers the snot out of me. FLUSH THE URINAL WHEN YOU’RE DONE! Almost every time I enter a public restroom, I see pee in the urinal. Come on, man. Flush it.

    • When it smells like a zoo I just pretend I’m in the jungle.

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