Why are most public toilets U-shaped?




U-shaped toilet seats

The letter ‘U’ may be of some or no significance to you. If your first or last name begins with ‘U’ then you could develop a soft spot for the letter and maybe lean towards ‘U’ shaped items as well. For lovers of DIY, there are staples designed as U-shaped metal fasteners that can be driven into a surface to tighten an object in place. We like the kitchen as it is a place where great meals are prepared and hungry stomachs fed. With a U-shaped kitchen, there are usually three sides or walls in the shape of a ‘U’ These kitchens are great at maximising the available space designated for storage and work surfaces. They are ideal for all kitchen dimensions and can also incorporate a breakfast bar or island.  Staples and Kitchens are not the only items that can be designed in a U-shape, other products in a similar shape include a sofa, pregnancy pillow, pegs, valley and public toilet seat. Our goal is to discover the reasons behind U-shaped public toilets as opposed to a different shape like O, V, W or some other interesting letter. 

Reasons why public toilet seats are U-shaped

  1. Plumbing code requirement: Public toilets with a U-shape have what is known as open front toilet seats, also having an opening at the front. On the contrary, most private toilet facilities are considered to have a round or oval toilet seat that extends around the toilet. The U-shaped or open-front seats are prescribed by the plumbing codes by most public authorities in the United States. To be more specific, it is a requirement of IAPMO’s Uniform Plumbing Code. Although the code is not viewed as having any legal enforcement but a variety of cities, state governments and countries may embrace it as law. 
  2. Aid women use the public toilet hygienically: There are so many other theories or assumptions as to why public toilets are U-shaped. Lynne Simmic, a senior director of code development at the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) alluded that U-shaped public toilets are designed to enable women to clean their perineal area and avoid coming in contact with a public toilet seat that could be unhygienic. 
  3. Easier to clean: This is one of the assumptions behind U-shaped public toilets. Some toilet users think that public toilets seats are usually designed in a U-shape because they are easier to clean than their oval-shaped counterparts. The higher demand or usage of public toilets leads to more cleaning. Whilst this is not confirmed, some people  are convinced the ease in cleaning these toilets informed the U-shape. 
  4. Cheaper to produce: On The Morning News, one of the non-experts commented that U-shaped toilets are cheaper to produce and Install than other variants.  The reader went further to add that less toilet set surface area, leads to less material which in turn results to a cheaper cost to produce and install. 

There are other unfounded theories or reasons behind U-shaped public toilets. Whatever the reasons may be, you must use public toilets hygienically and worry less about the shape of the toilet seat.

Image Credit: Ebay

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