Turkish Toilets: A Guide to Bathroom Etiquette and Facilities in Turkey
Some people wonder what the difference is between Turkish toilets and Europeon or American toilets. When traveling to a new country, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with various cultural norms and amenities. Among these, one often-overlooked aspect is the toilet facilities. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the world of Turkish toilets, shedding light on their diversity, functionality, and the cultural practices associated with them. From the distinctive signage to the different types of toilets, this guide will ensure you’re well-prepared for your trip to Turkey.
Decoding the Signage in Turkish Toilets
As you explore Turkey, you’ll notice diverse signs indicating toilet facilities. Look for signs labeled with “WC,” “Tuvalet, along with gender-specific indicators like “Bay” (for males) and “Bayan” (for females). Pictograms are also common, giving you visual cues to distinguish between the two genders’ facilities. Additionally, you might encounter gender-marker items, such as a tobacco pipe symbolizing the men’s restroom and a fan symbolizing the women’s restroom, offering a unique and intriguing touch to the cultural experience. These signs ensure that you can easily identify the right restroom, regardless of language barriers.
Toilet Types: Modern Conveniences and Traditional Practices
Most toilet facilities you encounter in Turkey follow the standard Western raised-commode style. These toilets provide familiarity and comfort to travelers. However, modern innovation has led to the introduction of newer models equipped with a two-flush mechanism. This mechanism conserves water by offering a small flush option for liquids and a larger flush for solids, promoting sustainable practices in water usage. A sign found above the flusher panel often instructs users to push the flush button twice. This counterintuitive approach actually encourages the first push to initiate the flush and the second to stop it, thus saving water effectively.
Interestingly, Turkey offers another toilet style known as the “elephant’s feet” toilet, where one squats instead of sitting. While initially intimidating for those accustomed to raised commodes, this traditional squat toilet proves hygienic once you’re accustomed to it. It’s designed such that only your feet touch the toilet surface, ensuring minimal contact. This position, often referred to as an “anatomically correct position” by medical professionals, aids efficient and swift elimination.
For those venturing into less developed regions or public facilities, you might come across the flat alaturka toilets. Although seemingly unusual to Western travelers, these toilets are part of the local culture and history. It’s worth noting that newer buildings might feature both raised commodes and flat toilets, catering to the preferences of different users.
Hygiene Practices: Water and Paper
Cultural practices around hygiene can greatly differ from one country to another. In Turkey, both types of toilets come equipped with a spigot and/or a water container to wash the left hand after use. This practice stems from tradition, where water is used to cleanse instead of toilet paper. The small white nozzle positioned at the back of the toilet bowl serves as the mechanism for this cleansing process. While some toilet stalls provide toilet paper, it’s not used for wiping but rather for drying your bottom and hands after splashing.
Washing with water remained the preferred method. This determination didn’t address the health aspect of using toilet paper, which can serve as a protective barrier against potential disease transmission.
To address potential plumbing issues, particularly in older systems designed only for water disposal, there is a practice of placing waste bins near toilets. This is particularly important when using substantial amounts of toilet paper, as flushing excessive toilet paper could lead to clogs and overflows. While this practice might seem unsanitary when paper is used for wiping, it’s a compromise between cultural norms and practicality.
Public Turkish Toilets and Etiquette
When using public toilets in Turkey, be prepared for a nominal fee, typically around TL5.00. As a responsible traveler, it’s essential to maintain proper etiquette when using public facilities. Always respect the facilities by adhering to the cultural norms and cleanliness practices. Be mindful of any posted signs and instructions, ensuring that you dispose of waste properly and follow the water conservation guidelines.
Benefits of Squat Toilets ( Turkish Squat Toilets )
Squat toilets, often referred to as squatting pans or squatting toilets, have been used by various cultures for centuries. While they might seem unfamiliar to those accustomed to sitting toilets, they offer several unique benefits that contribute to hygiene, posture, and overall well-being. Let’s delve into some of the advantages of using squat toilets:
- Improved Posture and Muscle Engagement
Squatting while using the toilet aligns the body in a more natural and anatomically correct position. This position encourages a straighter alignment of the colon, which can facilitate easier and more complete elimination. When squatting, the puborectalis muscle (responsible for maintaining continence) is relaxed, allowing for smoother bowel movements.
- Reduced Straining:
The squatting position allows the anorectal angle (the angle between the rectum and the anal canal) to straighten out. This straightening can help prevent unnecessary straining during bowel movements, reducing the risk of hemorrhoids, constipation, and other related issues.
- Faster Elimination:
Squatting tends to promote more efficient elimination. The posture encourages the colon to empty more effectively, potentially reducing the time spent on the toilet.
- Less Risk of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction:
Sitting on a raised toilet can sometimes lead to incorrect pelvic floor muscle engagement, potentially contributing to issues like pelvic organ prolapse or incontinence. Squatting supports the natural alignment of the pelvis and can help prevent these problems.
Squatting can aid in preventing stagnant waste from remaining in the colon, potentially reducing the risk of bacterial overgrowth and other gastrointestinal issues. A more complete evacuation can promote better overall gut health.
- Prevention of Hemorrhoids:
Hemorrhoids can be caused or aggravated by excessive straining during bowel movements. The squatting position reduces the need for straining, potentially lowering the risk of hemorrhoid development.
- Cultural and Historical Significance:
Squat toilets have been a part of many cultures for centuries. Embracing the use of squat toilets can be a valuable cultural experience, allowing travelers to connect with local traditions and practices.
- Eco-Friendly and Water Conservation:
Squat toilets often require less water to operate compared to sitting toilets with flush mechanisms. This makes them more environmentally friendly and contributes to water conservation efforts.
- Hygiene and Reduced Contact:
When using a squat toilet, there is minimal direct contact with the toilet surface, reducing the risk of exposure to germs and bacteria. This can contribute to better hygiene.
Understanding the intricacies of Turkish toilets is more than just a practical necessity; it’s a glimpse into the cultural fabric of the country. From distinctive signage to various toilet styles and hygiene practices, these aspects reflect Turkey’s rich history and traditions. By embracing these differences and adhering to local norms, you’ll not only ensure a comfortable and respectful experience but also gain a deeper appreciation for the diverse customs that shape this fascinating destination. So, as you embark on your Turkish journey, remember to embrace the toilet culture, immerse yourself in the experience, and be open to discovering new perspectives on hygiene and daily life.