How to Use a Squat Toilet

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During your travels, if you go to any exotic locations (such as South-East Asia or Africa), it’s highly likely that at some point you’ll come across a ‘squat toilet’ (i.e. a toilet without a seat that you must squat down to use – basically a whole in the ground).

These toilets can be confusing and tricky to use for the average traveler, as they require precision and technique, and because most people will never have come across one before.

On this page we’ll take look at how to use a squat toilet so that you’ll never have to worry about coming across one and being caught out again.

Step 1 – Preparation

Removing Clothes
Squat toiletMany inexperienced squatters attempt to use a squat toilet like they would a normal one – by pulling down their pants to their ankles.

Unfortunately, with a squat toilet this can lead to a whole messy situation, so it’s best just to remove the bottom half of your clothing altogether whenever possible.

There may be a hook where you can hang your clothes on, but if there isn’t than feel free to hang them over the toilet door (or wherever possible).

Note that in some countries (such as Egypt) it is common to find bathroom with several squat toilets; each divided up by a small wooden wall (similar to men’s urinals).

The problem is that these walls barely block the view from one toilet to the next, so it’s unlikely you’ll want to remove your clothing here. In these cases, pull down your bottoms as far as possible and position your feet slightly further forward than you normally would.

Position Your Feet
Stand over the bowl with your feet slightly wider apart than the width of your shoulders.

Squat Down
Lower your body down into a comfortable squatting position slowly, making sure that you’re lined up properly with the bowl. Rest your arms on your knees if necessary.

Step 2 – Extraction

Do Your Business
Pretty self explanatory here…

You may want to stand up half-way through if your legs are getting tired. I also find that it can be a good idea to lean from side to side to focus the pressure on one leg at a time.

Step 3 – Cleaning Yourself

Once you’ve done your business it’s time to clean yourself. This can be done either by using toilet paper (the traditional method) or by spraying yourself with a hose.

Using Toilet Paper
Hopefully you’ve brought some toilet paper (or tissues) in with you, as lots of squat toilets won’t provide them. If there is no toilet paper in there, there may be someone selling some outside. Don’t wait until it’s too late to check, though!

Once you’re done, dispose of the toilet paper down the hole and prepare for step 4.

Using a Hose
Although the hose method can be tricky to learn at first, many people I’ve met have actually come to prefer it in time.

Before aiming the hose at yourself, give it a quick spray to check the pressure. This will let you know how closely to position it to yourself, and means you’ll avoid any nasty surprises.

Spray yourself from the squatting position (over the bowl) and try to aim it directly upwards. Once you’re done spraying, give yourself a bit of a shake and dry yourself with toilet roll/tissues if necessary.

Step 4 – Flushing the Toilet

Washing a squat toiletThis is a step that a lot of squat toilet rookies tend to ignore (as they just want to get out of there as quickly as possible), but it’s good etiquette to ensure you’ve properly cleaned up your mess.

Most squat toilet in Asia will be made of porcelain, and there will typically be a small bucket filled with water which you can use to flush away your mess (see the picture). Don’t be afraid to refill the container and go for multiple pours. That’s what it’s there for.

In Africa, many of the squat toilets will simply be holes in the ground. Cleaning up here isn’t as vital (particularly as water may be in short supply), but try to do your best anyway.

So there you have it – how to use a squat toilet. Note that it’s a good idea to bring a bottle of hand sanitizer with you, as many of these toilets won’t have a sink where you can wash your hands afterwards.

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