Have you ever noticed that public toilet seats are different than the ones we have at home? Public toilet seats are called open-front toilet seats, which are shaped like the letter U. They have a opening at the front of the seat, unlike ours at home that are round with no opening.
There is actually a reason for why they are like this, and it is pretty straightforward, even though none of us really think about it often.
Although there are a few reasons as to why toilet seats are like this, most public toilets have to be like that. That is because plumbing codes all over the country demand it. The California state plumbing code states, "All water closet seats, except those within dwelling units, shall be either of the open front type or have an automatic seat cover dispenser." The requirement was first included in the American Standard National Plumbing Code in 1955.
But there is a reason why the plumbing code asks this of public bathrooms. The main reason is for hygiene purposes.
U-shaped seats are supposed to give you extra room so your genitals don't touch the toilet seat. They also are supposed to provide one less place for urine to splash.
They are also partially designed for women. They are made so while you're wiping, your hand doesn't accidentally touch the seat where a stranger's genitals were just resting.
Aside from hygiene purposes, U-shaped toilet seats are cheaper to manufacturer because they have less material, making it a business owner's obvious choice.
The final reason for U-shaped seats is that they are less likely to be stolen. This reason is odd because I had no idea it would ever run through someone's head to steal a toilet seat, but apparently it happens.
People don't steal them when they are U-shaped because they don't fit regular toilets.
Even if you have never thought about this before, it's always nice to have a reasoning for it and hey, maybe it can be a great conversation topic, or not...