Magazine article Insight on the News

Feeling Flush

Magazine article Insight on the News

Feeling Flush

Article excerpt

Americans have high standards for hygiene, but they're not alone -- Brits, Aussies and the Chinese all are wild about washrooms.

Finally, a competition in which elimination is a plus. Hundreds of nominations for "America's Best Public Restroom" are arriving daily at the Best of USA, the marketing company that dreamed up the idea of lauding the lowly rest room.

"People take their rest rooms very, very personally," says Dan Cawley, spokesman for the Williamsburg, Va., firm, "and nothing sets forth the image of a business or a public site than the state of its rest rooms."

Cleanliness, of course, is paramount. But there's the Seattle ladies' rooms with a breathtaking vista, a Nashville spot with stuffed sharks peeking over the stalls and a Las Vegas casino with talking urinals. Some comely commodes, Cawley reports, feature cloth towels, pink-tinted lighting and miniature bottles of hand lotion.

Travelers can vote or vent their pet peeves at the official Website (www. The winner gets a classy plaque at summer's end when the tip-top toilet is determined.

But heavens, don't say toilet. "We prefer rest room," Cawley says. "It's just a little more delicate-sounding."

This is not necessarily the case with The Toilets of New York: A Handy Guide to the Best and Worst Public and Semipublic Relief Stations for Those with a Need-to-Know, a self-explanatory book by Ken Eichenbaum. There are similar treatises for other U.S. cities, along with national outhouse guides, protocol in the absence of facilities and even lavatory advisories for various college campuses.

The Website has offered an online compendium of recommended American toilets near and far for years, and international travel guides are not complete without primers on quirky overseas sanitation culture.

The global perspective, in fact, is the focus of Eva Newman's Bathroom Guide: How to Answer the Call of the Wild Anywhere in the World, and "Toilets of the World," a Website that focuses on practical aspects of rest-room etiquette, such as how to say "Where is the toilet?" in 70 languages, including Bulgarian, Icelandic and Tagalog. There are color photos and thoughtful analyses of toilets in dozens of countries, plus considerable commentary on the facilities of Russia.

"I've been to the former Soviet Union a number of times," writes the site's originator, Bob Cromwell, who coined the term "totalitarian toiletarianism" after his experiences. "After a few weeks in Russia, the toilets of the Baltic nations are like the promised land. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.