If You Don’t Know How To Use A Public Bathroom, This Post Is For You!

Look, South Africa, we need to talk. You’re home to some of the best wildlife, okay-est food, most wonderful people, and most hilarious fashion choices. I love all of it. But as evidenced by the fact I recently wrote about being on peed on in a public washroom, your bathroom etiquette might need a little tweaking. And if you don’t believe me, just check out this sign I recently saw in a public loo:

Bathroom Etiquette

I mean, it could be worse. People COULD need a sign to show them how to do a simple thing like go to the…oh.

There’s just so much going on there. This poster contains so many useful tips, it’s difficult to hone in on just a couple, but I’ll try. Here are some of the highlights, listed by their corresponding number:

1. Smelly Toilets Are a Big Turn Off

Wait, what? I’ve been doing it wrong all these years! No wonder I only have two kids. Whenever it’s sexy time, I crank up I Want Action by Poison, make a nice bath with Dora the Explorer bubbles, drop a steaming turd in the toilet, and then lure my wife in. I’m glad the poster was able to show me the error of my ways.

I’m not sure who’s going into a public bathroom to get turned ON, but whatever, I guess.

3. If Someone Is Inside, Don’t Peep Under The Doors

The last thing you want to happen if you’re unfortunate enough to have to punch a grumpy in a public washroom is to have a snake latch onto your rocket when you sit down. But the SECOND last thing you want to happen is to look down and see someone’s smiling face looking up at you. As if just being there wasn’t horrible enough- now you have a freaking audience!

Here’s the thing- this was happening often enough they had to make a flippin RULE about it! So bad news, all you guys who like to lie on the floor and shove your head underneath the stall, you’ve gotta cut it out.

13. Do Not Throw Unwanted Hair or Soap Wrappers in the Washbasin

I get that it would be annoying to have to constantly clear soap wrappers out of the sink. Really, I do. But when was the last time you saw individually wrapped soap in a bathroom? In a hotel, right? But certainly not in a public washroom. And this one, like virtually every other public bathroom, had liquid soap from a pump. So what this means is that enough people were shunning the lowly pump soap and bringing in their individually wrapped hotel soap so they could show off, and then leaving the wrapper to brag about how much more pampered their hands were than the peasants who couldn’t afford to stay in hotels every night.

And unwanted hair…man. I don’t even know where to go with this. I usually save all my bags of hair trimmings to fashion into little dolls to make extremely detailed dioramas of my favourite scenes from Chris Farley movies. Who are the weirdos who waste clippings by dumping them into restroom sinks?

I know each one of the rules could be explored further, but to be quite honest, I’m getting a little grossed out just thinking about the series of events that led to this poster being hung.

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About the Author

I’ve been many things. A university English instructor, a picker upper of dead bodies, a musician, and a sales guy. My work brought me and my family from Vancouver, Canada to Pretoria, South Africa in September 2016, and I’m still wondering how that happened. I started this blog mostly because my friends back in Canada kept asking me how things were in South Africa, and posting about my experiences seemed more efficient than repeating myself hundreds of times. Maple and Marula is a way for me to make sense of my new surroundings as an expat who has no idea what I’m doing.

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  1. I also don’t know where to start. But my favorite instruction here is definitely, “Make it a point to wash your hand with antiseptic soap.”

    Wash your HAND?! Which hand?? And this one is even underlined.

  2. Too funny! We have the exact same point as number 1 (a smelly toilet is a turn off) in my offices in Sandton, and I always used to wonder… So is a nice smelling toilet a turn on??

    1. It was at an office building I was at. But I’ve always loved the signs in South Africa…”Hijacking Hot Spot,” “Smash and Grab Hot Spot,” “Potholes,” etc. By putting up a sign, I guess they fixed the problem!

  3. Again, this pedantic, preachy, pedagogical signage is something they learned from the British. Go to London and stare in amazement at thee signs that say “Please refrain from attaching bicycles to the railings as they will be removed and destroyed”. In Canada, that would read “No bicycles”. Or (seen at one college) “We respectfully request that you refrain from smoking cigarettes in the vicinity of the entrance”. Canadian version – “No Smoking”.

    And the Brits create road chaos with construction, but put up a sign that says “We apologise in advance for any inconvenience”. Would that have worked for Hitler? “I apologise in advance for the Holocaust”. Nope

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