Ask LH: Is It Safe To Hang Out In An Office Toilet?

Dear Lifehacker, When work is getting too busy or stressful, I'll often use my "potty break" as a chance to unwind. After doing my business, I'll regularly stay on the toilet for another ten to 15 minutes and just vege out. (Sometimes I'll even get some work done on my smartphone.) So my question is: is staying in the cubicle longer than necessary bad for my health? Or is it the same amount of risk regardless? Thanks, The Sitter

Toilet picture from Shutterstock

Wow. We get some odd questions sent through to Ask LH but this one really takes the (urinal) cake. Sorry.

As a general rule of thumb, we'd advise against spending extra time in a tiny room where people defecate. We understand it's one of the few places where an absence goes unremarked, but come on: it's a public toilet.

If you're truly stressed out at work, there are various life hacks you can employ to make the situation more bearable. Examples include deliberately front-loading your week, employing a popular "stress buster", using humour and switching off your (presumably shit-encrusted) smartphone. You can also check out our complete guide to keeping your stress levels in check in 2015.

If all else fails, try explaining to your boss that sitting all day is a proven hazard to workers' health (and we mean regular office chairs, not toilets). Unless you work for a complete tyrant, they should be agreeable to you walking around and clearing your head for five minutes each day.

Oh, and if you absolutely must chill out in the toilets, we'd recommend "going" in the morning. Most workplaces do not clean their toilets until after 5pm, which means you're absorbing a lot of second-hand arse sweat (and worse) by late afternoon. If you want to ruminate while your urinate, get in early.

We're also curious to see what readers think: do you ever vege out in the office toilet or do you get out of there as quickly as possible? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Cheers Lifehacker

Have a question you want to put to Ask Lifehacker? Send it using our contact form.


    ... this one takes the (urinal) cake... we’d recommend “going” in the morning... If you want to ruminate while your urinateBah ha ha ha ha, so many potty jokes in one article.

    But seriously, I'm in and out in record time, toilets are gross. Why not just go for a quick walk outside? If you're spending 15 minutes sitting in a toilet surely you can spend that 15 minutes getting some fresh air instead?

      I kind of get it -- heading outside for 15 minutes is likely to raise questions when you get back, while spending 15 minutes in the toilet will be politely ignored. With that said, still gross.

      I would think that it depends on where you work as well. If you work in the CBD, sometimes it's more effort than it's worth to take the elevator down 10+ floors, just to walk for 5-10 minutes outside with all of the extra noise and commotion of the world.

    My boss has started placing motivational quotes and images in our work toilet, so we only have her to blame for spending more time in there. But generally in and out.

    Shrug. Can't see why it wouldn't be 'safe'. Five minutes, fifteen minutes... the bacteria that was gonna transfer got transferred within a minute of you planting your cheeks - the 'five second rule' is not a real thing.

    Worst-case you're going to be subject to an extra flush or two of faster-moving coworker traffic, and each flush puts a bit of extra fun in the air for you to soak up.

    Seriously though, go for a walk. Call it a smoker's break if you have to. Just grab your watch/phone-clock and see how far you can get in five minutes, mark that spot mentally for future reference, then turn back for a nice, round ten. Bonus: fresh air and get the blood moving.

    We have mostly private loos at work and they are all in their own rooms, no cubicles. I totally vege out for a little bit and do a raid in Clash of Clans or a quick go in some other time waster.

    really? are we all too stupid to figure this sort of thing out for ourselves? this isnt so much a lifehack its advice for people who cant walk and chew gum at the same time

    Picture of the girl needs to lift the toilet cover before doing her duties.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now