Toilet Guide: How to Use a Squat Toilet (VIDEO)

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Last Updated on June 17, 2014 by Christine Kaaloa

Travel Tips: How to use a squat toilet (Watch Video above)

How good are your squatting legs? While the western throne is becoming more widespread, the Asian squatter still exist to haunt westerners, who have never experienced one before. In fact, two-thirds of the world still uses these toilets.  It doesn’t hurt to be prepared.  If you’ve never used one, this video and guide will show you how to use a squat toilet and give you more insight, into a revered toilet which may give you the heebie-jeebies.

What is an Asian squat toilet?

The general theme is a porcelain bowl in the ground a tub of water and a basket where you throw your used tissues.

What is the ideal position for the squat toilet?

Keep your butt down as low as possible. Tuck your knees tightly together and if you’re wearing pants, you might want to roll those things up.

How to use a squat toilet

Hovering the toilet, you are going to :

1. Straddle it, placing your feet on the grated pedestal.

2. Take a cup of water from the nearby tub (if there is one) and flush your stuff down.

3. Throw your used tissue into the basket.

Note: Avoid tossing tissues into the toilet as some places have old pipes and this will only clog the toilet.

Read my Secrets to Using a Squat Toilet

Why do they often call it an “Asian” squat toilet?

Being part Asian, I feel slightly offended by the fact many regard the squat toilet as “Asian”, when it’s clearly something over half of the world uses. But perhaps it has to do with the fact that Asians are more flexible in that regard and find squatting a natural position.

Not everyone was born equal and not everyone is flexible, when it comes to squatting. True story. I have many Caucasian friends, who’ve told me point blank, their knees and limbs aren’t as well-greased as mine.  Squatting is something they have difficulty with it. Being Asian, squatting is native to me. It’s something I’ve learned to do since childhood. I squat next to my grandmother, as I helped pull weeds in her tomato garden.  I squat when I was tired and my mom said not to sit or lie on a “dirty-dirty”  floor.  Come to think of it, I squat a lot as a child, as did my Pacific-Asian friends. It’s something we never thought twice about.

Squatting to “do my business” over a bowl in the ground… was different. It was something new in my vocabulary. Shocking and earth-shaking to me. Initially it felt awkward, uncomfortable and a bit humiliating. “Would I pee on myself? “…was my first thought.  So I freaked out and bought myself a “pee cup” (or feminine urinary device) and while still awkward, it felt safer to my western upbringing.

Things to Bring with you:

Invariably, while traveling anywhere, you’re going to want to bring these things with you for any toilet you meet. In cases, like my overnight buses or trains, it’s never certain what you’ll get in a public bathroom. In Laos, my overnight bus did bathroom stops on the roadside next to a highway field. Prepare for the worst and you’ll be happy you did. 1. Tissues 2. Hand sanitizer 3. Baby wipes (not to be thrown in the toilet but discarded in the basket).

Health benefits to squatting vs. sitting

While many westerners find the squat toilet appalling, there’s health benefits to that position. Having acclimated to using squat toilets, I agree with the idea that the squat position is the ideal and most natural position for defecating, making it easier and quicker.

Pooping  feels easier and cleaner and when self-cleaning, you don’t get the feeling you’re smearing yourself as you are with western toilets. The position also releases strain on the rectum and colon, reducing the risks of colon disease and hemorrhoids. It’s also more sanitary in that you’re not sharing the same toilet seat as others, which is a nesting ground for germs. More benefits here.

Countries with squat toilets

This list of countries with squat toilets is (but not limited to): India, South Korea, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, China, Japan, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Langka, Singapore  (Asia and Southeast Asia), France, Germany, Italy, Greece (Europe and the Meditteranean), Turkey, Yemen, Egypt, Saudi Arabia,  Iraq, Israel, Sudan and most of South and Central America  (more here).

While some places may be known for predominantly western toilets, you will still find squat toilets in public bathrooms in transportation hubs, rest stops and small towns and villages.

A solution for the ladies..

Okay, so you really can’t handle the idea at all, even after finding the western toilet is in the minority… I realize how squatters can be terrifying for many westerners – it’s an awkward position and aiming your pee can take a little time to learn. When I planned my first trip to India and knew I’d be encountering many squatters, I bought a female urinary device to help me through the journey. It gave me peace of mind and was easy to use.

Read If you’re a woman, would you pee standing up?

What country did you experience a squat toilet? Any tips for beginners on how to use a squat toilet? Watch more of my video travel survival tips on YouTube here.

how to use a squat toilet, squatting vs sitting, toilets in the world, toilet types, toilet tips, travel tips for bathrooms, using the public bathroom
How to Use a Squat Toilet

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  • the toilet in some area is really scary…. very hard to survive 🙁

  • I love this article and video! I lived and taught in S. Korea for a year and half and eventually got used to the squat toilets. My thigh muscles became strong! But nothing prepared me for when I was visiting China and a bad case of diarrhea hit me while we were out shopping. Luckily I survived with my clothing and everything clean and intact. But not to be too gross, I can’t tell you how awful it was trying to maintain the proper position and form while cramping and feeling like I was about to die. Ha ha!

  • I used them in Japan, because there was NEVER A LINE–everyone would be stacked up, looking uncomfortable and doing “the dance”, and I’d be in and out and done before they even got in to use the sit-downs! Haha!

  • I had to get really comfortable with these in SE Asia….before that if I found one in Korea I would hold it …hahaha now im squat potty trained. Also, recently I actually watched this video and couldnt help but laugh hysterically at the comments section on youtube….

  • A lot of them in China and train stations or rural area in Japan. They are sometimes uncomfortable, but some people might think they are more hygienic since your butt doesn’t need to touch the toilet lids which had thousand of people sat on them.

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