Are the Seats Greener on the Other Side?

A French restroom sign

This spring I had the good fortune of traveling to Europe for seven days of work-free exploration. It was my first break from work in almost a year—yet, I couldn’t stop myself from whipping out the camera every time I came within proximity of a memorable restroom. “What are you doing?” my husband asked as I stood outside with my iPhone pointed at a public restroom stall planted in the middle of the sidewalk. “Taking pictures for work!” I giddily responded. I couldn’t help it. I was on vacation, yet taking pictures of public toilets.

The Luxury of a Dry Seat

Granted I only visited two cities on my trip — Paris and Amsterdam — I noticed a drastic difference between the public toilet seats across the pond and the ones I’m used to seeing at home. Many of them were smaller, and some much more high-tech, but overall, they just seemed cleaner. While there was no way for me to prove the restrooms I visited in these cities were better or worse than a restroom anywhere else (I personally don’t carry an ATP meter), there was one major differentiator that stood out to me: the toilet seats. Why? Because they were dry. During my week-long trip, not once did I come across the age-old problem of stray urine on the toilet seat.

“Pee Goes in the Potty”

This is something I say to my toddler on a regular basis, but I think we can acknowledge proper public pee-pee protocol is a problem for adults, as well as for children. I’m not sure when it became acceptable for grownups to urinate all over the toilet seat, but it’s both common and disgusting—so much so that recently published an article called,“Can We All Agree to Stop Peeing on Toilet Seats?”

Patron Buy-In

Whether or not the lack of respect for the loo is specific to North America, my time abroad made me wonder if this might be the case. CMM survey results always show the restroom as a primary challenge area; maybe a lack of patron education is part of the problem. Buy-in from building patrons is actually a key component for success across many aspects of a building, an obstacle we mention in two of this month’s feature articles on the topic of waste management. Get reading to find out more and follow our #CMMRestroomRaves Instagram posts @issaworldwide for examples of restrooms that are earning respect from users and industry professionals alike.


Kelly Zimmerman

Kelly Zimmerman

Managing Editor, CMM

Kelly Zimmerman is the managing editor of Cleaning & Maintenance Management. She has experience managing industry-specific content for print and digital formats. She holds a master of science in journalism from Northwestern University. Kelly can be reached at


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