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The Five Absolutes of Proper Urinal Etiquette

Updated on January 29, 2014

There are a set of rules that every man must follow when using the stand up urinals in a men’s restroom. These rules are not written, nor are the understood by women or even some men from different cultures. The interpretation and strictness of adherence can vary slightly from one man to another but the basic principles and some absolutes are well understood by most American men. In the interest of promoting a better understanding of the sometimes, unacknowledged pressures and difficulties in a typical mans everyday life, I will outline my interpretation of these rules.



When approaching a line of wall hanging urinals no hesitation that may give the appearance of lingering is permitted. The decision of which apparatus to use must be made swiftly and the approach to the device must be confident and direct. The path taken to the urinal should be a not pass to closely to other occupied spaces. Do not approach on an angle, approach directly, perpendicular to the wall on which the toilets hang. A smart right angle turn may be necessary.


When deciding which latrine is best always try to allow for at least one unused space on both sides. If that is not possible choose the one next to wall or one that provides an unused space on at least one side. Opting to use the full sized commode in an enclosed stall if adequate spacing is not possible, is a matter of personal preference. There is a sort of stigma associated with taking a standing pee in the sit down toilet of a public restroom when stand up urinals are available. It is acceptable however in crowded restrooms or if there is a line for the toilets. Given the rules above always opt for the tall urinal if possible, unless your physical limitations dictate selecting the smaller privy.


Your stance should be comfortable but inconspicuous. Feet should be less than shoulder width apart and under no circumstance intrude into the adjacent space. Your body should be parallel to the wall, no angling is permitted. Distance from the porcelain should be conservative. Do not hug the device and do stand so far back that arching of the stream is required which could also cause excessive splashing. Once positioned and underway, no rocking, jiggling or swaying should be considered. A solid stationary stance is preferred.

Field of View

This rule is very important. Eyes should be forward, staring at a spot on the wall. Occasionally a glance to the ceiling is permitted if accompanied by a subtle groan of relief. If necessary to glance right or left because someone has chosen not to adhere to these rules or is uninformed tries to engaged in conversation, eyes should always remain level. Remember you can still stare at the wall while verbally responding to the inquisition.


Engaging in conversation with a client on either side should be avoided. If it occurs it should be brief and mundane. Sports, crude jokes, the weather can be acceptable topics, however the discussion should not exceed more than the exchange of a few short phrases . Under certain circumstances conversation is strictly forbidden. Never talk about anything personal and never exchange words with your boss unless prompted.


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