Monday, 20 October 2014

Why I've Had A Change of Heart About Public Toilets in the Netherlands

I was a relative newbie expat in the Netherlands when I first formed my opinion about paying to use a toilet when I was out and about.

During my three pregnancies I needed pockets full of change just to be able to leave the house. I moved from one public toilet to the next, leaving coins on white plates for the pleasure.

I felt like I was being robbed blind. Paying to use a toilet indeed.

All that changed when my eyes were opened to the joys of a free public toilet during my summer holidays in Cornwall, England.

"Rancid," said my husband, shaking his head, as he brought our son back out of a public toilet still crossing his legs and looking more and more visibly pained and upset.

I've ended up taking one or both of our toilet trained sons in to the ladies toilets on many occasions. British women, it seems, have higher levels of public toilet hygiene than British men, and a quick visit is doable as long as you don't touch anything. Ever. You need to master the art of hover weeing.

So I've learnt the hard way that I'd rather pay my 25 cents for a visit to a clean, fresh smelling toilet with an ample supply of toilet paper and soap than have a free wee in a stinky, pee covered cubicle with no sign of toilet paper or soap.

Oh, fourteen years ago I could never have imagined myself uttering these words but ..... the Dutch sooo know what they are doing when it comes to public toilets.

What do you think? Happy to pay for clean facilities? What is the norm where you live - is it free to pee or are a few coins usually needed to use public toilets?


  1. I don't mind paying here in The Netherlands, but I think the price has gone up a bit (just like everything else since the Euro entered the picture). As for the US, toilets are a disgrace! And my mom taught me to "hover-pee/poo" over 60 years ago. Not easy for this Baby Boomer!!! Linda@Wetcreek Blog

  2. The problem with hovering is (without getting too graphic) that it sometimes worsens the situation with the splash back. If the seat is clean (and I realize that's a big "if), you should sit and wee properly. Most docs will tell you you can't catch much from a toilet seat.

  3. definitely happy to pay now! in the US it's really hit or miss (no pun intended) if the loos are clean or not. sometimes you just have to move on until you find a better one and that can be tough if roadtripping through the Southwest (where I come from). MORE than happy now to pay - it usually means CLEAN!

  4. Linda- the price has gone up. Absolutely. But I'll take the price hike on the chin if it means clean :-)

    Expat Mum - too late, it got graphic. Can't get the images out of my agree no hovering needed if the seat is at least clean!

    Pinky - you can say the same of France - some of those roadside 'services' are not only scary but sooooo rancid there are no words!

    Hmm, funny how toilet posts are so engaging! :-)

  5. You have to pay for public loos here, normally it's 50cent! I've nominated your blog for a liebster award by the way!

  6. I'm from the UK and I still object to paying! I don't mind so much with "proper" public toilets (i.e. the ones that are in a random carpark or whatever) because they really are pretty filthy in the UK, but paying for a toilet in a shopping centre? They should be able to keep those clean without taking extra money from me! Also, the toilets in German train stations now cost a whole euro, which is INSANE!

  7. Here in Australia we never pay for toilet. The shopping centres have clean facilities, as well as major businesses. Roadside rest areas vary somewhat but are usually acceptable. They get cleaned regularly. Service stations also have 'rest rooms' (not that anyone goes there to have a rest, but we all accept those euphemisms). When I had recently arrived in the US I asked the librarian "where are the toilets?" She looked absolutely shocked. I found out I should have asked for the bathroom (not that I wanted a bath!) or the women's room.

  8. I too hate paying to use the loo especially in V&D since I've usually just spent money in their cafe. However at outdoor music festivals, paying does mean you can have nice flushing loos, soap etc and you can get an all day pass if you're drinking lots of beer!