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The reason public bathroom doors don't touch the ground

The reason public bathroom doors don't touch the ground

No, it's not just so you can pass loo roll to your mate caught short

Ever wondered why public bathroom doors don't touch the ground? It turns out there's a perfectly good reason - actually, it turns out there are a few.

There are many design elements to public loos that we often take for granted - like those that say 'WC' on the door or have u-shaped seats.

Then there's the small matter of the strange gap often left between the door of each stall and the ground, which, when you think about it, seems to make no logical sense.

Mind the gap.
AJD images/Alamy Stock Photo

TikToker MattypStories (@mattypstories) took it upon himself to share a number of reasons for the custom, saying it boils down to the basics of practicality, hygiene and cost.

"Here’s why public bathroom doors don’t touch the floor," he said in a video posted a couple of years back.

"You’ve probably wondered at one point or another why bathroom doors don’t go all the way to the ground. But there are actually many logical reasons why they do this.

"First off, if there’s ever an emergency, it’d be pretty easy to see what happened and get the person some help.

"Secondly, it makes it way easier to clean. Public bathrooms are used quite often, meaning that they need to be cleaned many times throughout the day, and having the space under the door makes it a lot easier.

"And finally, it’s a lot cheaper to buy a door that has part of it cut off than the full door itself."

Indeed, many of these reasons are echoed on the website of WC Portables, an Essex-based portable toilet hire company, which also lists shorter doors being ‘ideal in cases of emergency’, ‘easier’ to clean and overall much ‘cheaper’.

But the company also believes there are a few other handy benefits, too – like the ‘faster escape of bad odour’. Urgh.

“Toilet is a natural environment for the release of bad odour,” the website says, adding: “The gap between the door and the floor provides a quick escape of the foul smell that was generated by previous users.

“It helps your toilet experience to become bearable. Without the gap, the odour is sustained in a stall and becomes unbearable to subsequent users.”

What’s more, gaps at the bottom of the doors make it easier to ‘determine availability’, with WC Portables saying: “Nothing beats the eyes test of glancing through the gap for any sign of occupancy.”

Of course, the gaps also allow you to pass loo roll to a friend caught short.
Denis Shevchuk/Alamy Stock Photo

Of course, a little discretion is required here, as peeking into a toilet stall doesn’t usually go down too well if it’s occupied... Maybe look for shadows cast outside the cubicle, rather than into the space itself, eh?

Another point is that the shorter doors help ensure ‘the toilet queue flows’.

“Toilets with doors of this nature could negatively impact people’s privacy,” the portable toilet hire firm explains.

“When individuals sense others can listen to their business that easily, they are prone to wrap up quickly.”

And finally, there’s the belief that they reduce bad toilet habits or behaviours – in a similar vein to the previous point, people might ‘refrain from exhibiting poor behaviour’ as the ‘embarrassment of being spotted acting inappropriately will ensure people err on the side of caution’.

Featured Image Credit: mattypstories/TikTok/Cayman/Alamy

Topics: Viral, TikTok