Public Toilet Etiquette: 10 Easy Tips for London and Europe

Navigating public toilets can be a bit tricky, especially when you’re in a bustling city like London or traveling across Europe. Good etiquette in public restrooms ensures a pleasant experience for everyone. Here are ten easy steps to help you practice proper public toilet manners.

1. Know Where to Go

In London and across Europe, finding a public toilet isn’t always straightforward. Major landmarks, parks, and shopping centers usually have restrooms. Download apps like Flush or use Google Maps to locate the nearest facilities. Many cafes and restaurants also allow customers to use their toilets, but it’s polite to make a purchase first.

2. Carry Change

In many European cities, public toilets require a small fee. This is common in train stations, bus terminals, and tourist attractions. Always carry some coins with you. The typical fee ranges from 20 to 50 cents. In some places, a euro may be required. Paying for cleanliness and maintenance is standard, so don’t be caught off guard.

3. Line Up Politely

Queues are a common sight in busy areas. When you see a line, join it and wait your turn. In London, queuing is almost a national pastime, and cutting in line is considered extremely rude. Be patient and respect others’ need for the facilities just as much as your own.

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4. Keep It Clean

Once inside, your primary goal should be to leave the place as you found it, or better. This means:

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  • Flush the toilet after use.
  • If you splash water around the sink area, wipe it down with a paper towel.
  • Dispose of paper towels, sanitary products, and other waste in the bins provided, not in the toilet.

5. Use Sanitary Products Properly

In Europe, toilets are not built to handle sanitary products. Always dispose of pads, tampons, and wipes in the designated bins. If no bin is available, wrap the product in tissue and take it with you to dispose of it later. Clogging a toilet is inconvenient for everyone.

6. Be Quick but Thorough

Public toilets are for everyone, and in busy areas, many people may be waiting. Be mindful of others by being efficient. Don’t rush to the point of being unhygienic, but avoid lingering unnecessarily. A swift visit helps maintain a smooth flow and reduces waiting times.

7. Respect Privacy

Respect the privacy of others. Do not peek under stalls or over partitions. If a door is closed, assume it is occupied. Avoid making unnecessary noise or conversation. Public restrooms are not social hubs; they are functional spaces designed for privacy.

8. Use Hand Dryers or Towels Responsibly

In many European restrooms, you’ll find both hand dryers and paper towels. Use these amenities responsibly. Hand dryers are eco-friendly, but if you prefer paper towels, use only what you need and dispose of them properly. If the dryer is very loud, be considerate of others who might be sensitive to noise.

9. Mind Your Personal Belongings

Don’t leave your belongings all over the place. Keep bags and personal items close to you, either on a hook or in a corner where they won’t get wet. This helps maintain cleanliness and prevents the loss of valuables. If there’s a baby changing area, use it only for its intended purpose.

10. Report Issues

If you encounter a problem such as an unflushed toilet, broken equipment, or lack of supplies, report it to the appropriate authorities. This could be a facility manager, an employee, or through a feedback system if available. Reporting issues helps ensure the facility is kept in good condition for everyone.

Bonus Tips

1. Be Prepared

Carry a small pack of tissues and hand sanitizer. Not all public restrooms are well-stocked, and having your own supplies ensures you won’t be caught off guard.

2. Understand Cultural Differences

Toilet etiquette can vary slightly from one country to another. For instance, in some parts of Europe, you might find unisex restrooms or toilets without seats. Adapting to these differences with grace and respect will make your travels more enjoyable.

3. Accessible Toilets

If you have a disability or are traveling with someone who does, look for the universal accessibility symbol. Many public places in London and Europe offer accessible toilets that are equipped with features to accommodate special needs.

4. Be Kind

A smile or a thank you to the restroom attendants or cleaning staff can go a long way. They work hard to maintain these facilities, and a little kindness can brighten their day.

5. Teach Children

If you’re traveling with children, teach them these etiquette rules. Not only will it make the experience better for everyone around you, but it also instills good habits that they’ll carry into adulthood.


Practicing good public toilet etiquette in London and Europe is about being considerate and respectful to those around you. These ten easy steps ensure that everyone can enjoy clean and functional facilities, making your travels more pleasant. Remember, good manners cost nothing, but they mean everything.