The squat toilet, also known as the Eastern toilet, is the most popular type of toilet in the world, but many Westerners have never used one. When you "settle in" for your first encounter you may be amazed, befuddled and confused on what to do, so here are some tips how to use them...
Ready to get started? Ok, here is using a squat toilet 101...
1. Carry your own toilet paper, baby wipes and hand sanitizer.
2. Pour a little bit of water in the toilet.
3. Pull down your pants or lift up your skirt. Be careful not to let your clothes touch the floor or get in the way. If you are wearing slacks or shorts, it helps to step completely out of one leg and “hike up” your slacks or shorts on your thigh of the other leg. If you’re wearing a skirt, tuck the end into your waist band to free your hands.
4. Squat with your heels flat on the ground. You might be used to squatting on the balls of your feet, with your feet close together, but this position is very unstable and hard on the knees. Squatting with feet hip-width or shoulder-width apart and with your feet flat is easier to hold for an extended period of time (if you’re in Asia, you might notice many people squatting like this in public while waiting). If there are ridged foot rests, put your feet on those; otherwise, plant your feet on either side of the toilet and squat all the way down. The direction in which you face will depend on the kind of squat toilet you’re using. Frankly, it doesn’t really matter, as long as everything lands in the hole.
5. Do your business. If you’re defecating, it should be relatively straightforward. In fact, some research suggests that going to the bathroom in the squatting position is better for your health in a variety of ways.
6. If you’re a woman urinating while squatting (presuming you don’t prefer to urinate standing up, which is possible), it might be challenging to keep the urine from going where you don’t want it to go (outside the toilet, down your leg, on your clothes).
7. Rinse or wipe. If you have your own toilet paper, use it, and don’t throw it in the toilet when you’re done, as most squat toilets (even the flushing ones) will get clogged. There is usually a waste basket in the room for toilet paper. If there’s a bucket of water nearby, use your right hand to pour it on yourself and use your left hand to cleanse. (This is why in some countries, people don’t shake hands or eat with their left hands. Then rinse off your left hand. Dry off with toilet paper or fabric.
8. Flush. If there’s a flushing mechanism, this part will be quite obvious: push the button, pull the string, whatever. Otherwise, pour water into the toilet until any remnants of your business are gone. If the toilet has a flushing mechanism, don’t flush until you’re standing, or else you can get splashed.
After a 2 or 3 week trek in Nepal, you'll be a squat toilet pro! Good luck!