HOW TO use a Chinese toilet

Travel in China and the toilets you may meet

Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit China every year. Visiting the Great Wall, Shanghai, the Terracotta warriors, and almost all of them will pass through Guilin, one of the most beautiful parts of China. Most of these tourists express amazement at the sights they have seen, the excellent hotels, transport and the care they receive, and then they complain about a toilet experience.

To let such a minor issue spoil such a fantastic holiday is clearly not a good idea. First it is useful to be able to actually use the thing with some confidence, and below I hope to provide the procedure and some tips. Secondly is to realise that different cultures have a different emphasis or outlook on things. We see things in China that appear 'dirty' to us, and the Chinese see things in our behaviour that they consider 'dirty' - just understanding this point can change the way we view others that leads to cultures 'looking down' on each others customs and habits.

Chinese hygiene

The Chinese toilet has no seat – so using one requires a different approach

Chinese have slightly different ideas to western about what is clean and dirty, Chinese will often have a western style toilet in their own home, but would not dream of sitting on a public toilet seat! The same applies to hotel toilets, my Chinese partner boils a kettle and douses everything we might touch in the washroom with boiling water, including the toilet seat, and then sprays everything with sterilising liquid. In a hotel bed she insists that we keep on underclothes and top, if it is hot or there is any other reason to expose skin in bed - we take our own sheets with us!

Learn about all this and get some Chinese language in the most beautiful part of China on this amazing value summer course.


HOW TO use a Chinese toilet

The TOILET and how to do IT - brief instructions.

1. Stand over the toilet facing away from the hole
2. Place one foot each side and about halfway along the trough
3. Remove lower clothing to below the knees
4. Grasp the clothing in the left hand and pull forward between the knees
5. Squat as low as possible in a comfortable position
6. On completion discard the waste paper into the bin provided
7. Stand up, still holding clothing firmly
8. Dress keeping clothing off the floor
9. Flush as normal and also use adjacent tap if necessary

For far more detailed instructions and further general advice about toilet use in China go here

Do not be afraid of the idea of a different toilet, after a few uses the technique becomes familiar and easy. For anyone who has a toilet seat phobia - this is heaven! for everyone else, the squat and stand excercise is really good for your leg strength and especially for suppleness, skiers will have no trouble at all in the position or the getting up and down required.

Comments 25 comments

darknezz111 profile image

darknezz111 5 years ago from Southern Idaho

It's funny, I just happened across a hub about Russian toilets- Say what you will about America, but man, at least we have decent plumbing...

recommend1 profile image

recommend1 5 years ago Author

LOL - it is a matter of perception, many people find sitting on a toilet seat after somebody else to be disgusting, especially after a stranger. Chinese invariably find it disgusting and look on western toilet seats as uncivilized !! I have been in China long enough to be familiar with both and now just find it funny :)

darknezz111 profile image

darknezz111 5 years ago from Southern Idaho

Maybe. But I think I prefer being an uncivilized westerner. To each his own.

recommend1 profile image

recommend1 5 years ago Author

darknezz - the difference is what cultural exchange is all about, broadening horizons is a loose term that basically just means trying new things. You never know until you try - did you take a look at the linked site by the way ?

smackins1974 profile image

smackins1974 5 years ago from UK

I will have to remember this hub when we eventually get to visit China. It is not suprising what you say about toilets being unclean though and common sense really in particular public toilets. I remember as kids mum always used loads of toilet paper to line the toilet seat so we touched toilet paper and not the seat when we sat down on a public toilet. Not touching toilet at all is just an extension of the same principle I guess.


travelespresso profile image

travelespresso 5 years ago from Somewhere in this exciting world.

This is MUCH easier said than done recommend1. I cannot tell you how many times I've rolled up my trouser legs so my clothing doesn't get get wet on all the water slopping around the floor. I often fail in my attempts to keep my clothing dry. For westerners unused to the squat position it can prove rather tricky.

recommend1 profile image

recommend1 5 years ago Author

Ah - you obviously did not read step 5 (Ithink it is) about holding all the clothing in the left hand and pulling it forward between your knees :D

smackins1974 profile image

smackins1974 5 years ago from UK

You know there are times I wish you were a stranger and not family as the images this hubpage conjures would be so much more preferable with a strange person's face in them LOL


recommend1 profile image

recommend1 5 years ago Author

I did try to persuade Sukie to pose some photos for me - but for some reason she thought it would not show her best cheeks !

SomewayOuttaHere profile image

SomewayOuttaHere 5 years ago from TheGreatGigInTheSky

....just what i needed to know!.....

Pamela N Red profile image

Pamela N Red 5 years ago from Oklahoma

Japan has the same and so does a few other Asian countries.

I prefer an American toilet since we don't have to do a balancing act. That is what sanitary seat covers are for.

Great information, not many expats know how to use one.

John Holden profile image

John Holden 5 years ago

Squatting is much healthier, it's the way we are designed to defecate. Try it next time you're constipated.

recommend1 profile image

recommend1 5 years ago Author

@Sarah - the paper lining the seat is a very common thing and is exactly the point about perceived hygiene - I think secretely most people do this. And the kind of picture you are suggesting would be "turning the other cheek" ! . . .

@travelespresso - I am more than aware of this - is why I considered it worthy of saying, such a simple operation in some ways, so fraught with danger in others :D

@SOH - If you head this way tou really do need to know :D

@Pamela - John Harrington invented the western loo in 1596 and a Mr Joseph Bramah of Yorkshire England patented the first practical model in 1778 ! American toilet indeed !!!

@John - I remember reading a long time ago how squatting helps prevent many bodily disorders through the 'natural' position, the standing up as an incentive to losing weight certainly works ! :D

jeodd profile image

jeodd 5 years ago from California

haha very useful to know just in case i travel any time soon :D

Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 5 years ago from The English Midlands

Hi :)

They have the same toilets in Europe ~ I have certainly come across them in France, Italy and Croatia

CMHypno profile image

CMHypno 5 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

Thanks for the tips on Chinese toilets recommend1. Squatting is also supposed to be much better for your bowels than a western style toilet as it is a much more natural position. The worst time I had to use a toilet like this was in a French ski resort, when I had an all-in-one ski suit on and a full set of thermals!!

stayingalivemoma profile image

stayingalivemoma 5 years ago from Tempe, Arizona

This was pretty interesting! I enjoy learning how other cultures live everyday. Great hub and am following so I can learn more!

recommend1 profile image

recommend1 5 years ago Author

Hi Trish, I never came across any in Europe before, are you sure you weren't in the mens room and they were'nt urinals ? ! LOL

Hypno - I recall reading this many years ago, one side effect of the position is that there are rarely any lengthy visits, maybe this is why.

S A Momma thank for dropping by, difference in cultures is great for making us look at ourselves in a more useful light I think :)

profile image

jenubouka 5 years ago

All I can picture is someone inebriated trying to do this.

mel22 profile image

mel22 5 years ago from ,

Just glad there were no (IN ACTION) pictures

Steve LePoidevin profile image

Steve LePoidevin 5 years ago from Thailand

@mel22 One of my friends took an IN ACTION pic earlier this year. A guy squatting, doing his thing, while reading a newspaper and smoking a cigarette. Now there's a person who could give lessons on how to use a "squatty potty".

@jenubouka One trip to the toilet at any of our local clubs here in Wuhan gives you a quick picture of the aftermath of using these things inebriated!

ngureco profile image

ngureco 4 years ago

It’s very good of you that you appreciate different cultures do things differently. I would have wanted you to explain how heavy-weight people (people weighing over 150 Kg) use the Chinese/Indian toilets. I have seen elsewhere where such heavy people are expected to improvise their own stools (seats) that have a hole at the centre. And now that Chinese are traveling widely in the western world, how do they use the English Toilet?

Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 4 years ago from The English Midlands

Hi :)

In Europe, even where these toilets are provided, there is usually an English-style one, for disabled people.

recommend1 profile image

recommend1 4 years ago Author

@ ngureco - Good point, age disability and obesity problems are also cultural, Chinese generally do not get obese and remain fit enough to do this sismple excercise until advanced old age. However, the seat that Trish mentions is generally available at most hardware shops.

@ Trish - yes there is a seat like a folding camp stool with a hole in the middle, for exactly this purpose - and it is available in most hardware stores :) This can easily be carried around in a flat bag if necessary.

Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 4 years ago from The English Midlands

Thanks for that, recommend1~ it could be very useful information :) :)

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article