How to Survive the Horrible Bathrooms in Your Dorm

The bathrooms in the dorms at college can be far, far worse than those at home. Sharing a bathroom with a whole floor of dirty people is a challenging task. Here is how to make it through.


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    If there's a bad smell, slow your breathing so you don't have to inhale as much. You can also breathe through your shirt or use an odor-eliminating spray.
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    Always wear your own shower-shoes, sandals, or flip-flops. Never venture into the bathroom with bare feet. You never know what bacteria or viruses are living on the floor. Especially in the shower, wear flip-flops or some kind of sandals. Footwear will help keep you from developing meningitis, plantar warts (caused by HPV), athlete's foot, and staph and strep infections. Many types of bacteria, viruses, and fungi thrive in warm, moist environments like bathrooms and showering areas. To prevent warts on the feet, never wear another person's sandals or flip-flops, and don't lend out your own.
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    Touch as little as possible. Make sure not to touch the walls of the shower or the bathroom stalls. Wash your hands before leaving.
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    Be VERY careful when shaving. Because of poor lighting, it may be difficult to shave without seriously injuring yourself. If you find shaving in the shower problematic, consider waxes, depilatory creams, or an electric razor.
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    When all the disgusting people on your floor decide not to flush the toilet or to dirty up the seat, don't hesitate to leave a sign on the door. Signs will decrease the amount of gross things occurring in the bathroom. However, you may need to post different messages every so often if students stop being complaisant. The best place to put a sign is on the inside of every stall door: people will definitely see it, and they have a moment to read it while they're on the toilet. Attract attention to your sign with lots of color and some clip art. Short and sweet messages are best; longer ones tend to be ignored.
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    Make sure to clean the seat before sitting down. For girls: hover over the seat whenever possible. Not touching the seat is always the most hygienic option. If you must sit down, wipe the seat off and line it with a few layers of toilet paper (this may be a waste of paper, but for the sake of your health and hygiene it's worth it).
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    If possible, wait to go to the bathroom until you are in a nicer facility. Find good bathrooms that you can resort to every once in a while in order to get away from the almost unbearable bathrooms in your dorm. Try to find a less popular or less messy restroom on another floor.
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    Always wash your hands with soap after using the restrooms, and remind others to do the same. If you do nothing else, at least perform this step! Also, if it doesn't create privacy issues, prop the door open when you enter the bathroom. Try to avoid touching door handles on your way out, or use a paper towel, a napkin, or even some toilet paper to open the door. Provided that you wash your hands, most restroom messes are more unpleasant than unhealthy. Washing your hands frequently will help stop the spread of illnesses as well.


  • When leaving signs it is effective to use fun quotes so people don't retaliate against the signs. A good example for a promising sign is: "If you sprinkle when you tinkle, please be neat and wipe the seat."
  • If the problem persists, you should contact someone higher up in authority. A filthy facility is a health hazard. The cleaning crew may be neglecting their duties or may need additional support or cleaning products to keep a high volume facility clean.
  • Older dorms may have years of dirt and germs. Mold and mildew may also be sources of bad smells. If the room has poor ventilation, you should contact your RA or someone from maintenance to check the ventilation system.
  • Apply anti-bacterial hand gel to a tissue and wipe the seat before using it. Allow it to air dry a few moments.
  • Invest in a spray bottle of anti-bacterial cleanser (or borrow some from your parents). Spray the shower area a few moments before you enter it. Products containing bleach will sanitize the area, but the smell may be overpowering in such a confined space. To avoid slipping, you should also rinse it well (moving the shower head to rinse the walls).
  • If you are male, use the urinals for peeing or lift the seat before doing your business.
  • If this still doesn't improve the facility, you may want to ask your RA or school to provide cleaning products and gloves and have a mandatory cleaning party. If the school uses cleaners that are not adequate for the job, it may be advisable to visit the store and buy a few containers of bleach or other sanitizing cleaners and supplies. People may be more considerate of the facility after making an effort to keep it clean.
  • A really disgusting bath/shower room should be discussed with your RA or whoever is in charge of facilities for your floor or building. A meeting of fellow users may be necessary to discuss proper etiquette when sharing facilities.
  • A toilet seat which looks clean at a first glance is often sprinkled with little pee droplets. If sharing a bathroom with (other) guys, always wipe and line the seat before you sit down. For girls who have to pee, it's a good idea to use the hover method.
  • When hovering, it can happen that you accidentally pee on the seat. If you notice that your pee stream hits the toilet seat or tends to spray more than usually, take a short look at the seat afterwards. Depending on the state of the toilet please wipe it off with some toilet paper if necessary. If you forget to look for mistakes, this is also not a big deal.
  • Hovering with a tampon inserted can influence your pee stream, which may spray or become multiple streams. Take care not to pee on your legs or pants by accident! (If you're wearing a nightie, a skirt, or a dress, simply lift it up. If you're wearing underwear, hold it away and go!)
  • If you have female guests, warn them of them of dirty toilets and recommend hovering.
  • If you're drunk, it may be challenging for you to hover. Find something to hold onto, such as a handle, the latch, the bottom of the stall door, the toilet paper dispenser, or even a caring friend's hand. Don't try hovering too low; you may lose balance and end up sitting in (hopefully your own) pee.
  • If you have bad aim and usually sprinkle, only use the hover-method when you feel really uncomfortable sitting on the toilet or if it's really gross and/or visible dirty. In these cases, it's acceptable to risk dirtying a toilet which has or has not already been soiled. If there are several stalls, always use the same one when possible. This will help to keep the other stalls clean. If the toilet was looking acceptable and dry before, make sure to leave it in this condition.
  • Consider purchasing disposable seat liners (usually available in the travel/trial size section) if they're not provided. Before using any, check the packaging to see if you can flush them or if you should toss them in the trash.
  • As a beginner in hover-peeing always hover over the cleanest looking toilet seat only in case you fail to hold balance.
  • If you aren't used to hover-peeing, practice! Practicing will help you find a hover position that's comfortable and safe as you go about your business. It may feel like a strain on your muscles at first but, with practice, you'll get used to it.
  • Hovering a few inches above the toilet prevents soiling the seat but can be uncomfortable. You have to find out the most comfortable but working position for you. A good compromise between aiming and a comfortable position for most girls is a distance of 5 to 6 inches (12.7 to 15.2 cm) to the toilet seat.


  • If you use bleach or another strong cleaner, make sure the area is properly ventilated. Some people are sensitive or allergic to the powerful odors these products leave behind.
  • Never mix ammonia with bleach.
  • Watch out for wet areas on the floor so you don't slip.
  • Mold and mildew can make you very sick. If this is an issue in your facility, you should discuss it with someone who can report the problem and have it corrected.
  • Remember guys: it's easy to spray. If you don't bother to clean up after yourself, you're forcing someone else to do it for you. Consider cleaning the toilet practice for the future when you'll have to sanitize the bathroom in your own home.
  • Cleaners can make the floors slippery. If you use them, remember to rinse the walls and floors thoroughly to avoid a fall. You may be held legally accountable if someone gets injured.
  • Some industrial cleaners (like those used by housing crews) contain heavy perfumes but have little sanitizing ability. Just because it smells better doesn't mean it's cleaner. Politely ask a staff member which cleaners you should use.
  • Don't blame anyone leaving a stall for pee on the seat; someone who used the toilet before them may have left the mess behind.
  • If you make a mess, it's your responsibility clean it up, even if other people don't do it or seem to care that you make the effort. Don't contribute to making the dorm bathrooms even more disgusting than they already are. Someone else will have to remove the mess if you don't. Although the housing crew gets paid to clean the dorms, it's a human courtesy to clean up your own waste. Plus, if someone catches you leaving behind filth, your actions may be reported to your RA (probably to your embarrassment). This Warning excludes girls who decide to hover but pee on the seat, they should read and follow the Tips section.

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Categories: Bathroom Cleaning | Campus Life