Public toilets, why is the toilet seat often U-shaped?

Almost all of us are reluctant to use a public toilet but we must admit that they are fundamental: in the case of long journeys or long absences from home, they are the only way to carry out one’s needs, because we know well how harmful it is for the body to retain solid needs and liquids. Even if you are not away from home for a long time, an emergency may arise that forces you to use the public bathroom.

Entering a public bathroom you notice obvious differences with your comfortable bathroom at home: the attitude is completely different, you enter a public bathroom perhaps holding your nose and trying to touch as little as possible. But another element also makes a difference to your bathroom: the toilet. Have you noticed the curious shape of the toilet seat in most public toilets? Why do toilets have a “U” shaped seat? 

Are public toilets really dirtier?

They teach us this as children: in a public bathroom you don’t touch anything with your hands and, obviously, you don’t lean on the toilet seat! So everyone learns acrobatics that would make circus performers envious in order to respect the dictates. But are public bathrooms really dirtier than your own bathroom?

The answer is generally yes. Public bathrooms are richer in germs and bacteria for one main reason: more frequent use by a greater number of people. In fact, one study found 77,000 different types of bacteria and viruses in public bathrooms. There are those who could argue that objectively public bathrooms are – or at least should be – cleaned much more frequently and therefore the bacterial load should be contained, but the reality is that cleaning often cannot eliminate the spread of germs.

Incorrect use by users also contributes to dirt in bathrooms: just think that of the 80% of people who have the habit of washing their hands after using the bathroom, only 30% use soap. But the situation is less prosperous than it seems: only 5% of people spend the recommended 15 seconds cleaning their hands.

You have to give up: some public bathrooms will be cleaner than others, taking into account the frequency of use and cleaning, but it is generally worth adopting all good practices to limit your body’s contact with surfaces. 

Why are public toilet seats “U” shaped?

Cleanliness is the watchword when it comes to public bathrooms. It is precisely this principle that is answered by the question we have all asked ourselves when entering a public bathroom: “Why does the toilet seat have an opening on the front?”.

The reason is not strictly linked to the possibility of use by a non-disabled person, but, as we were saying, to the concept of cleanliness. Considering that some people may need to lean on the toilet to do their business, the opening on the front prevents their private parts from coming into contact with the toilet itself. The front opening is effective for both women and men. 

Furthermore, the U shape of the tablet also prevents the accumulation of urine and its bouncing off the walls. If you find a toilet with an opening on the front in a public bathroom, don’t turn up your nose: it will make use safer and more comfortable!

Are front-opening toilets useful for disabled people?


Many people think that the opening on the front is for disabled people to use the toilet. In reality, we have seen that the purpose is another, namely to encourage correct use of the toilet and to limit the contact of the private parts with the surfaces and to prevent dirt from accumulating on the toilet seat.

However, it is correct to think that the solution of the opening on the front is also useful for disabled people: if the toilet is also equipped with a shower, the opening on the front allows it to be used with less effort on the part of the user. 

If it is not possible to reserve a space in public bathrooms for users with specific needs, it is a good idea to make the bathroom as inclusive as possible and therefore install a toilet with a U-shaped opening.

Other reasons why the tablet is U-shaped.

It seems that there are also other reasons why the public toilet seat has a U shape: the first is of an economic nature, as the opening on the front actually involves less use of material and therefore economic savings.

The second reason, decidedly more curious, concerns theft: in fact, it seems that the toilet seat is among the most frequently stolen objects from public bathrooms. Leaving aside for a moment the desire to analyze why a person should take home a public toilet seat, it seems that the installation of open-fronted toilet seats discourages theft, probably because people do not want to have an object in their homes. which strongly recalls the public toilet.

Recalling an old saying, still valid, the world is beautiful because it is varied, and there are also people who attack public toilet seats! 


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