The reason why public toilet seats are u-shaped

Publish Date
Tuesday, 17 January 2017, 3:15PM
Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

There is usually a difference between a public toilet and one at your house. And no it's not the smell. Lol ew. It's that their seats are shaped differently. You mightn't have even thought about it but there you go. 

Almost all public restrooms have what are called open front toilet seats, which are shaped like the letter u and have an opening at the front. Most private bathrooms, by contrast, have oval or round toilet seats that wrap all the way around the toilet. Why the gap?

We are speaking for the U.S. when we say this (but we seem to have them in NZ too): the open-front seat is required by plumbing codes. “All water closet seats, except those within dwelling units, shall be either of the open front type or have an automatic seat cover dispenser,” California’s state plumbing code reads. The requirement was first included in the American Standard National Plumbing Code in 1955, and in the Uniform Plumbing Code in 1973.

Mainly the reason for this is hygiene. No matter what you're packing, the u-shape gives you room...and it's one less place for urine to splash. 

Open-front toilet seats are largely designed to make it easier for women to wipe, according to Lynne Simnick, the senior vice president of code development at the IAPMO. 

U-shaped seats are also cheaper, since they use less material. And they’re less likely to be stolen, according to Roger Barry, the managing director of Healthmatic, a UK-based company that designs and manages public restrooms. We are wondering why the eff someone would want to steal a public toilet seat though!?!?!

Anyway, there is the answer to the question you didn't realise you had!