All bathrooms are unhygienic. Here's 3 ways to fix that.

Modern Western bathrooms are a nightmare.

They’re arranged not for ease of use and optimal hygiene, but for convenience of plumbing.

That’s the argument Lloyd Alter has made in a fascinating piece for The Guardian, which you should read here.

Although our current bathroom setups may be more ‘historical accident’ than ‘well oiled machine’, there are a few cost-effective things you can do in the here and now to make your crapper less… crap.


The problem: Your toilet is disgusting. “We flush the toilet and send bacteria into the air, with our toothbrush in a cup a few feet away,” writes Alter. I had never thought of this before, and now I’m severely grossed out.

The solution: This one is simple. Your toilet has a lid for a reason. If you’re flushing brown, put it down. Every time. It’s not a perfect fix, but it’s a whole lot better than flushing with the lid open.


The problem: Your shower is a wasteful death trap. “They are designed so badly… The water runs constantly, even when you are applying soap or shampoo. You are usually standing in a slippery dangerous tub or in a tiny stall where you cannot move out of the water stream.”

The solution: Japanify your showering. Alter mentions that Japanese showers, where you sit down, have a water stream you can turn on and off, and wash yourself with a ladle from a bucket of hot water, use 1/10th of the water a Western shower does, and they’re super comfortable. While custom building a Japanese shower in your home is a bit of a pipe-dream (see what I did there?), you can use some Japanese strategies. You can buy an adjustable shower chair from an aged-care shop for just $25 . These can be popped in all but the smallest of showers. Then all you need to do is grab yourself a bucket and ladle, and crank the heat in your bathroom way, way up. Extra points if you already have a detachable shower head, because by turning it on and off, you can turn Japanese.


The problem: You bathroom is an airless box. “We fill this tiny, inadequately ventilated room with toxic chemicals ranging from nail polish to tile cleaners,” Alter explains.

The solution: Open wide. If you’re lucky enough to have  bathroom window, leave it open as much as household security will allow. Always leave your bathroom door open when you’re not using it, even if there’s a bit of a stink. By ventilating as much as possible, it’ll dissipate faster. Never clean your bathroom with the bathroom door closed, and try to do things like polishing your nails outside of the bathroom, or even better – outside.

This post was originally published on The Glow – and has been republished here with full permission.