Toilets: A foreigner’s nightmare

Instructing foreigners on how to use toilets may seem like an unnecessary measure, but Australians also require bathroom tips when travelling overseas.

Universities and government buildings in Australia have been forced to put up diagrams on how to use a toilet correctly following complaints from cleaners.

The posters, which have been around for years, instruct foreigners on public lavatory protocols, including not standing on the seat and how to flush the toilet.

Sydney’s Macquarie University, the University of NSW, Melbourne’s Deakin University and Monash University are among Australian tertiary institutions that keep signs in their bathrooms.

The Australian Defence Force offices in Canberra and the Australian Bureau of Statistics in Belconnen, ACT also carry the signs in their bathrooms.

The posters generally use illustrations to urge users not to stand on the seats or squat on the floor.

Some also advise visitors to use toilet paper and then put it in the toilet bowl before flushing.

Do you have a photo of the signs? Or an opinion you would like to share? Send an email to [email protected]

But foreigners visiting Australia are not the only ones who require information about bathroom customs.

A number of travel blogs offer Western travellers advice on how to use foreign toilets.

“If you take a trip to India and other parts of the globe you may get a rude awakening to see Indian style toilets,” writes blogger Rudra on her .

She then lists instructions on how to crouch to avoid spillage from previous users, how to clean your backside using a jug of water and how to use your left hand for everything toilet-related.

Roland Boer lists the top ten tips for using toilets on Chinese trains on an Australian travel advice website.

“Grab firmly the handrail directly before you,” he writes.

“It is there for a purpose. Even though it may look as though previous users have balanced on one foot blind-folded while the train is racing around a curve, you should by no means try to emulate them.”

Although confusion seems to be reigning supreme around the world — Macquarie University is encouraged by the success of the instructional signs. A spokesman claims the cubicles have been much cleaner since the posters were installed 15 months ago.

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