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The Squatty Potty

Updated on June 27, 2015

Going to the Toilet Asian Style

When traveling internationally, there are two main areas of dread for many people -- food and toilets! You're on your own with the food, but I'm here to help you with how to use the "squatty potty" found all over Asia. This is a delicate topic, and not without some inherent humor. But this is meant to be a truly educational lens. I'm here to demystify the squatty potty!

The Squatty in My Home

The Squatty in My Home
The Squatty in My Home

Please Don't Be a Wimp - When in Rome, do as the Romans.

I've known people who came to China on a short trip and stated with pride on the trip back to the airport, "I've been in Asia for three weeks now and haven't once used a squatty potty!"

Somehow that was a source of great satisfaction for the traveler, but I wasn't impressed. What a wimp!

Using a squatty is not torture, for goodness sake! When you've got to go, you need to go. And when in Asia, you're going to run into a squatty more than once. Get over your hangups and just learn to use the squatty.

Reliance Products Luggable Loo Portable 5 Gallon Toilet
Reliance Products Luggable Loo Portable 5 Gallon Toilet

When traveling, you want to be prepared. But that need should also be balanced with a need to pack light. After all, you don't want to pack a portable loo along with your toothpaste and razor!

 

Basic How-tos

using the squatty is not as bad as you think

I'm going to walk you through the steps for using the squatty. I'll be tasteful and keep it all G rated, so don't worry.

Which way to face?

Well, to be honest, it probably makes no difference. Usually you face towards the door of the stall.

Where do my feet go?

Look at the squatty. There are always large, ridged surfaces alongside the basin. Those ridges help with traction. Here's a picture to show you proper foot placement.


(Note -- this is the squatty in my own apartment, thus the barefeet.

I would NEVER be barefoot in any other toilet. Period.)

What about your pants?

Pull them down, but for goodness sakes, don't take them off! That's not necessary. And in a public toilet, that would be nearly impossible to do while keeping yourself or your pants from coming in contact with the filthy floor. Your pants can be around your knees just as they are when you use a pedestal toilet. You won't soil them. Really. (No photo here. You'll just have to try it yourself!)

How to squat.

This is not the same squat as you may have done over a Western toilet that was too dirty to sit on. You need to squat all the way down. It's actually more comfortable to go into your catcher's stance than to squat just a bit. So go ahead. Squat fully down. In case you're still not clear, here's an "anonymous" photo of some kind soul willing to demonstrate.

In the correct position, your clothes are out of the direct line of fire.

Have you ever used a squatty before?

See results

The Trash Can

If there's a trash can in the toilet stall, more than likely you're meant to put your tissue inside it and not inside the squatty potty.

This oddly translated sign from Thailand is trying to say just that thing -- don't put your paper (or anything else besides #1 or #2) into the toilet.

You can take your clue from what you see. It's usually pretty obvious that the paper is meant to be put into the trash. Gross, but that's the way it works!

Toilets of the World

Toilets of the World
Toilets of the World

This is a travel book focusing on TOILETS!

 

Flushing

Be considerate. Flush. Even if the person before you didn't, just remember the Golden Rule and flush.

How to flush? Sometimes there's a tank with an obvious knob or button. Other times there is a foot pedal that you step on. That's my favorite kind since I hate to touch anything inside a toilet! Here's a foot pedal as an example:

What if there's no obvious plumbing of any kind?

Is there large bucket of water with a ladle inside? That's how you flush. Take a scoop of water and toss it down the toilet, washing it "clean." If you need to, use a couple of scoops. Then replace the ladle back inside the bucket.

You Can Do It!

Unless you have some physical limitations which keep you from squatting, you can learn to use a squatty potty!

And it would be best to learn; this sign is rarely seen in China.

Terrible Toilets

The music is really creepy in this video. And there is a curse word in a sign. Be careful no little eyes are watching.

The Trough Squatty

Sometimes you may encounter a squatty this is more of a trough that you straddle. In some situations these trough squatties are completely open without any stalls. Or possibly there will be stalls but no doors on the stalls. Many reststop toilets and school toilets are like this. One blogger calls them Weapons of Mass Destruction in the culture shock arena. I have to agree.

Take a deep breath, while you hold a tissue over your mouth, of course, and remember that this is truly just a call of nature. Everyone does it. Try to get yourself to the back of the line so fewer people are watching you. Or even wait until the crowd thins (if ever).

Practical Reminders for Toileting in Asia

  • Always carry tissue packs! Most bathrooms will not supply toilet paper. Sometimes you can purchase it from vending machines in the restroom or from a table outside the toilet. But don't rely on that.
  • Along the same lines, you should also carry wet wipes. Just trust me. If you're in a bathroom without running water to wash your hands, these can substitute.
  • Most bathrooms will have running water but no soap. I carry a small snap top bottle of liquid soap in my bag so I can get my hands really clean. It is the same size and weight as those alcohol gel cleansers and will get your hands really clean! (Hint -- refill it with dish detergent for a cheap substitute.)
  • If your pants are really long, you may want to roll them up. Toilets are notorious for soggy floors. You don't want your hems lolling about in that filth!

Necessities for Traveling or Living in China - don't leave home without them

JAPONESQUE Snap Top Bottle
JAPONESQUE Snap Top Bottle

A snap top bottle (like this one) or a flip top bottle will stay shut in your bag but is easy to open when you need to. And no screw off top to roll away!

 
Palmolive Ultra Concentrated Dish Liquid, Antibacterial Hand Soap with Orange Extracts, 13 fl oz (384 ml)
Palmolive Ultra Concentrated Dish Liquid, Antibacterial Hand Soap with Orange Extracts, 13 fl oz (384 ml)

Use whatever dish detergent or liquid soap that you have on hand. Anything will work to clean the grime off your hands.

 
Tempo Pocket Tissue Packs (Set of 20)
Tempo Pocket Tissue Packs (Set of 20)

Although a roll of toilet paper may be cheaper than tissue packs, TP tends to make a mess in your bag. It's worth the extra money to have a conveneint pack of tissues.

 
GoGirl Female Urination Device, Lavender
GoGirl Female Urination Device, Lavender

If you cannot squat, you may want to try this funnel tool to help you (females, of course) urinate standing up.

 

The Benefits of a Squatty Potty

For centuries, people have squatted to do their business. And it seems that squatting to have a bowel movement results in a more complete elimination! It also reduces the rate of hemorrhoids. In cultures where squatty potties are prevalent, the rate of hemorrhoids is almost nil!

Video About the Squatty Potty - Healthier Than a Sitting Toilet

This humorous video discusses the health factors in squat versus sitting toilets.

Reader Feedback

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    • ArthurF LM profile image

      ArthurF LM 5 years ago

      When I first went to China I was really unsure how to use this. I was honestly a little confused about a lot of things. For one, how does it flush? The other is which direction am I supposed to face? While I don't prefer to use this facility, I can state with pride I have done so on several occasions.

    • profile image

      Lindrus 5 years ago

      Though I prefer the "normal" toilet, I actually don't have a problem with the squatty. Especially if you are talking about public toilet it's definitely the cleanest option! You chose a fun lens topic!

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 5 years ago from La Verne, CA

      Some points you outlined here I wished I had known when I visited Japan, like the full squat. So much easier that way, and the healthier aspect? Let's say, yes, I get it.

      ps. I have a related lens for toddlers which someone disparaged on SquidU. (Just A little bit.) I wasn't offended.

    • sazzy881 profile image

      sazzy881 6 years ago

      Ha ha!! Very amusing, living in Thailand you certainly can't get away from the old Squaties, it's a great work out for your legs. But even as ladies there can some times be an issue with aim....or maybe that's just me!

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 6 years ago from California

      First time I ever saw these I was shocked. I was in training in Eastern Europe at a school and these Squatty Potties are what they had. Design was different but the concept was the same. Blessed....

    • poptastic profile image

      Cynthia Arre 6 years ago from Quezon City

      Great lens, excellent discussion! Been traveling to and from Japan since I was young so I'm used to the squatty potty but yes please, give me a Western style toilet anytime! (:

    • mythphile profile image

      Ellen Brundige 6 years ago from California

      Well, I hope to go over there someday, so I'm glad to know this beforehand -- especially keeping wet wipes and such handy!

      My arthritic knees are rather uneasy at the idea, but if that's what's there, one will cope!

    • malloryjane profile image

      malloryjane 6 years ago

      Great lens, Jimmie! I just put a link on my lens to this one!

      http://www.squidoo.com/how-to-choose-an-esl-contra...

    • Louis Wery profile image

      Louis Wery 7 years ago from Sarasota, Florida USA

      Very interesting and well presented. Very helpful for travelers! Thanks.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I've never used a squatty potty, but I do have a luggable loo.

      This lens is certain different! I like it!!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      This lens is awesome. I love it. I am going to tell my editors on my Thai News website to write something about this lens and probably feature it.

      I will comment here again once we do.

      Great Work

    • profile image

      alika2010 7 years ago

      Thanks for educational lens!

    • profile image

      prettyevil 8 years ago

      I can't help but think the world would be better if all public restrooms, even in the west, had squatty potties. So many people just hover over public toilets anyway, which makes them even more disgusting, which leads to more hovering. So why not just have a squatty potty? That whole phobia about touching the seat is solved entirely and you don't gross anyone else out by making a mess.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      i mentioned to someone I had used a squatty potty for the first time and they asked what it was. I described it and was looking for a photo to help when I came across this. Hysterical and educational at the same time. Loved it.

      I ventured across my squatty in Greece last week. I was overheated and nauseous - figured going to the bathroom would be safe. I opened the stall, saw the squatty and leaned in a little out of curiosity, got a whiff and up came breakfast. At least I felt better afterward.

    • profile image

      ORH-Sr 8 years ago

      This is a very interesting lens. I was looking around the lens to see what had been written about however I never expected one on the proper way to pee or poop.

      I never thought I would need to be informed on this subject after 56 years of practice; I was wrong:)

      This lens is quite an adventure; fun and educational. Thanks for a great lens.

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 8 years ago

      I'd heard of them but never actually seen one. I hate using public restrooms and avoid it if I can.

    • draik profile image

      draik 8 years ago

      I was surprise to find a lens on squatties and this is such a fun lens. Maybe I have seen these too often but they are getting lesser in my country. My mom house still have a squatty which I think it is no longer safe for the elders. My mom fell inside the squatty once and we have to pull her out.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I was originally looking for lapbook information. Encountering the "squatty potty" on your frame I could not resist a glimpse.

      The side trip here was very educational. In my 37 years I'd not had the experience. Due to you my daughters and I are now more educated then before.

      Thanks, Peace

      Trina

    • jimmielanley profile image
      Author

      Jimmie Lanley 8 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      [in reply to x x] Wow. I'm so sorry to verify your fears. Yes, these toilets do exist. But you can learn to use them. Next time you have the dream, try using the techniques for squatting that I shared here.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I have a recuring nightmare of holes in the floor for a tolet, In my nightmare I keep looking for a clean tolet that is not a hole in the floor. I never knew they really have tolet like that until now. Now I am really scared to know that they actually have tolets just like in my nightmare.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 8 years ago

      Our friends recently came back from a short trip to Japan and remarked about what must have been a squatty potty. The other potty she tried had a control panel -- she had fun just trying to turn it OFF!

    • profile image

      GrowWear 8 years ago

      Seems much more sanitary! Fun and interesting lens. :)

    • profile image

      PaulaFarris 8 years ago

      What a great lens! I never knew that any other kind of toilet existed until now. Wow! The things I don't know! Thanks for the educational and fun read. Keep 'em coming. 5 *****'s

      Paula Farris

      "The Recovering Nonachiever"

    • heehaw lm profile image

      heehaw lm 8 years ago

      i find this lense funny to read.... hehe

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I laughed through most of this (that's a good thing). you managed to make the subject matter, umm, bearable. I've got really bad knees, so squatting is a gruesome, torturous task. I know several chinese people (now American citizens) and not one of them prefer the squatter to a Western toilet. I did a million squats before I left home for the month backpacking china. I helped some, but it was always a very unpleasant experience. Plus, NONE of the toilets I had to see were anywhere close to as clean as these. Life experiences -- that's what it's all about!! I lensrolled you.

    • Viola Horne profile image

      Viola Horne 8 years ago

      I have lensrolled you back!

    • VBright profile image

      VBright 8 years ago

      I've never been to Asia, so I've never had the experience. I wouldn't have a personal problem with it, but with my knee, if I squatted, I probably couldn't get back up!~ lol

    • tandemonimom lm profile image

      tandemonimom lm 9 years ago

      Lensrolled to The Battle Hymn of the Toilet. Enjoy!

    • tandemonimom lm profile image

      tandemonimom lm 9 years ago

      Great lens! Thanks for all the info and the picture tour.

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      I don't have a problem using a squatty, although I am so glad we have the pedestals here in the US... I guess I'm just lazy like that.

      When we went to Beijing, I remember one of my friends being horrified at the squatties and wondering exactly what to do. Too bad you didn't have this lens up already! Oh and the smell? She totally threw up. Everyone was looking at her like she was a crazy westerner. I laughed-- but only a little tiny bit!

    • Webcodes LM profile image

      Webcodes LM 9 years ago

      Fascinating lens. 5*. However, I cannot imagine how the old people with arthritis or the handicapped would be able to use this. It is interesting that you say it helps eliminate better and helps with hemorrhoids. Then again I guess you can always "squat" in a western toilet.

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      In India one time, the trash can was out next to the sink. And it had been used for "trash." I don't mind throwing my tp in a can in the stall, but to have to carry it all the way into the main bathroom...that's a little ewww.

      I have used squatties in India. They're not so bad. I used one in the dark once because the power was out (at the Taj Mahal).

      I would much rather use a squatty than go along the road!

    • Barb McCoy profile image

      Barb McCoy 9 years ago

      I've done squatty toilets before....wish I would have had your lens then. :) I don't think the toilets bothered me as much as the lack of softish TP...newspaper really didn't thrill me. I wondered once when going to Russia why the man in front of me going through customs had a whole suitcase of TP. Live and learn.

      Oh, my sister had a foreign exchange student from Venezuela a few years ago and he always threw his dirty TP in the trash and she for the longest time didn't have the foggiest idea why. Just different plumbing quirks I guess.

      Great lens,

      Barb-Harmony Art Mom

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      We sat on many in a squatty potty while in China to get our dd. The part I found most gross was the dirty seats on the few Western toilets where someone had climbed up to squat. I would take a squatty over that any day! Our hotel had Western toilets! Yay!

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      I've used squatties in public restrooms in Russia, and most didn't have stalls, meaning no walls or doors between the squatties. There was a pile of newspapers in the corner to use for tp. No wonder we were told to bring extra kleenex packs to give as gifts to those who were particularly helpful to us. I was so glad I had a pack with me.

      Thanks for bringing back a "fun" memory!

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      This is awesome and very educational as the norm for you! Great Job. I still want my western toilet and toilet paper! My sons have both experienced having to put TP in the can vs the toilet. ( in Central America) They say it is gross.

    • LilliputStation profile image

      LilliputStation 9 years ago

      Educational, as usual. I was wondering what you'd been up to lately. Not sure why I'm feeling a bit queasy now. Did you know the Chinese invented toilet paper? Who woulda thunk it!