Squat toilet

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Squat toilet (flush toilet) with water cistern for flushing (Saline, Michigan, US)

A squat toilet (or squatting toilet) is a toilet used by squatting, rather than sitting. There are several types of squat toilets, but they all consist essentially of a toilet pan or bowl at floor level. Such a toilet pan is also called a "squatting pan". The only exception is a "pedestal" squat toilet, which is of the same height as a sitting toilet. It is in theory also possible to squat over sitting toilets, but this requires extra care to prevent accidents as they are not designed for squatting.

A squat toilet may use a water seal and therefore be a flush toilet, or it can be without a water seal and therefore be a dry toilet. The term “squat” refers only to the expected defecation posture and not any other aspects of toilet technology, such as whether it is water flushed or not.

Squat toilets are used all over the world, but are particularly common in many Asian and African countries, including those with a large proportion of Muslim or Hindu faith (due to the practice of anal cleansing with water).


A squat toilet is also referred to as Indian toilet, Turkish toilet or French toilet. Squat toilets are sometimes called "eastern-style toilets" because they can be found in Turkey, Japan, China, India and the Middle East.[1] Conversely, sitting toilets are often referred to as "western-style toilets".[2]


How to use a squat toilet correctly (sign in a toilet cubicle in Japan)

Squat toilets are arranged at floor level which requires the individual to squat with bent knees.[3] In contrast to a pedestal or a sitting toilet, the opening of the drain pipe is located at the ground level.

Squatting slabs can be made of porcelain (ceramic), stainless steel, fibreglass, or in the case of low-cost versions in developing countries, with concrete, ferrocement, plastic, or wood covered with linoleum.[4][5] Slabs can also be made of wood (timber), but need to be treated with preservatives, such as paint or linoleum, to prevent rotting and to enable thorough cleaning of the squatting slab.[5]


The standing surface of the squatting pan should be kept clean and dry in order to prevent disease transmission and to limit odors.[4]

Squat toilets are usually easier to clean than sitting toilets (pedestals), except that one has to bend down further if the squatting pan needs manual scrubbing. They can be cleaned by using a mop and hose, together with the rest of the floor space in the toilet room or cubicle.

Society and culture


There are two different attitudes towards squat toilets, largely dependent on what users are used to, or whether the toilet is at a public or private place: Some people regard squat toilets as more hygienic compared to sitting toilets. They might be easier to clean and there is no skin contact with the surface of the toilet seat.[6] For that reason, some people perceive them as more hygienic, particularly for public toilets.

Some people regard sitting toilets as "more modern" than squat toilets.[6] Sitting toilets have a lower risk of soiling clothing or shoes as urine is less likely to splash on bottom parts of trousers or shoes. Furthermore, sitting toilets are more convenient for people with disabilities and the elderly.

Public toilets

Squat toilet at a motorway service station near Toulouse, France. In areas of Europe where squat toilets are used, they are usually public toilets

Squat toilets are used in public toilets, rather than household toilets, because they are perceived by some as easier to clean and more hygienic, therefore potentially more appropriate for general public use.[6][7] For instance this is the case in parts of France, Italy, Greece, or the Balkans, where such toilets are somewhat common in public restrooms.[7]


A trend towards more sitting toilets in countries that were traditionally using squat toilets can be observed in some urban and more affluent areas, in areas with new buildings (as well as hotels and airports) or in tourist regions.[6]

Preferences by region

Much of the world's population use squat toilets, especially in rural areas.

People in places like Australia, New Zealand, the Americas, Northern and Western Europe generally do not use squat toilets[6] with the exception of France, where they used to be the norm throughout the early 20th century[2] and are still commonplace as public toilets throughout the country.


Many areas in China have traditional squat toilets instead of sitting toilets, especially in public restrooms.[13] Nevertheless, sitting toilets have increasingly become the norm in major urban areas and cities.[13] Sitting toilets are on the one hand associated with development and modernization, and on the other hand with reduced hygiene and possible transmission of diseases.[13]


Since the 1980s high-tech sitting toilets are emerging that replace traditional squat toilets, especially in urban areas. One of those toilets with the brand name "Washlet" includes a "posterior wash" before wiping and features heated toilet seats. However, many rural people have no experience with such high-tech toilets and need detailed instructions.[14]


See also


  1. ^ Mulholland, S. J.; Wyss, U. P. (2001). "Activities of daily living in non-Western cultures: range of motion requirements for hip and knee joint implants". International journal of rehabilitation research. 24 (3): 191–198. PMID 11560234. 
  2. ^ a b Gershenson, Olga; Penner, Barbara (2009): Ladies and gents - Public toilets and gender. Temple University Press, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  3. ^ Burns, Anthony S.; O'Connell, Colleen (2012). "The challenge of spinal cord injury care in the developing world". The Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine. 35 (1): 3–8. doi:10.1179/2045772311Y.0000000043. PMC 3240914Freely accessible. 
  4. ^ a b Tilley, E.; Ulrich, L.; Lüthi, C.; Reymond, Ph.; Zurbrügg, C. (2014): Compendium of Sanitation Systems and Technologies - (2nd Revised Edition). [1] Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag), Duebendorf, Switzerland: 44. ISBN 978-3-906484-57-0. Retrieved 31. August 2015
  5. ^ a b Reed, Brian; Shaw, Rod (2011). G005: Latrine slabs - an engineer's guide. Loughborough, UK: WEDC. p. 11. ISBN 9781843801436. Retrieved 8 April 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g von Münch, E.; Milosevic, D. (2015): Qualitative survey on squatting toilets and anal cleansing with water with a special emphasis on Muslim and Buddhist countries by using the SuSanA discussion forum. Ostella Consulting, Schwalbach, Germany
  7. ^ a b Olmert, Carol (2008). Bathrooms Make Me Nervous: A Guidebook for Women with Urination Anxiety (shy Bladder). Bathrooms Make Me Nervous. ISBN 9780615240244. 
  8. ^ Lechner, Norbert (2012): Plumbing, Electricity, Acoustics - Sustainable Design Methods for Architecture. John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, New Jersey.
  9. ^ Fujita, Takuo (1994). Advances in Nutritional Research. 9: 89–99.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ Lonely Planet Southeast Asia on a Shoestring. Lonely Planet. 2014. ISBN 9781742207537. 
  11. ^ Chang, Jin-Soo (2014). "The Cultural and Environmental Unsoundness of the Chinese Public Squatting-Type Toilet: A Case Study toward a Sustainable Excreta Treatment System". Environmental Engineering Research. 19 (2): 131–138. 
  12. ^ Olmert, Carol (2008): Bathrooms make me nervous. A guidebook for women with urination anxiety (shy bladder). CJOB Publications, Walnut Creek, California: 61.
  13. ^ a b c Tobin, Joseph; Hsueh, Yeh; Karasawa, Mayumi (2009): Preschool in Three Cultures Revisited: China, Japan, and the United States. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois.
  14. ^ Cavusgil, S. Tamer; Rammal, Hussain; Freeman, Susan (2012): International Business: The New Realities. Pearson, Australia

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