Why Are Public Toilet Seats U-Shaped?

You might have encountered times when you had to use a public toilet, either in a restaurant or in a shopping mall. Have you ever wondered why toilet seats in public toilets are different from the ones you have at home? 

Public toilets are obliged to use a U-shaped or open-front seat by law. The American Standard National Plumbing code created in 1955 states, “All seats of the water closets provided for public use shall be of open front type.” This law is designed with women in mind. But with the U-shaped seat, there is less chance of user contact with the contaminated surface of the toilet.

Let’s help you clear your head from all the confusing questions you have about such toilet seats. This article will solve all your queries regarding U-shaped toilets and ensure a better overall experience.

Keep reading!

How Does the U-Shaped Toilet Seat Differ From the Regular Toilet Seats?

The toilet seats you have at your place differ from the ones used in public toilets. The regular seats are in an elongated oval shape with no gaps. But the open-front seats have an opening/gap, making a U-shape in the front. 

Regular toilet seats are in an oval shape, giving enough room for people to sit comfortably. Users, especially men, feel comfortable while using these elongated seats, as there is space to adjust their lower body without squeezing. 

On the other hand, the open front seats have a gap and form a U shape.

Apart from the shape and size, everything is the same in both seats; they are manufactured of the same material and designed for similar usage. 

Why Are U-Shaped Seats Commonly Used in Public Toilets?

U-Shaped toilet seats allow users, especially women, to wipe off their perennial areas without touching the seat. This is a hygienic approach to avoiding diseases and viruses.

Public toilets are one of the most contaminated and unhygienic places on earth. Doctors and health researchers believe public restrooms are a major source of health issues and viruses. 

According to the American Stand National plumbing code and Uniform plumbing code declared by the international officials, toilet seats should be U-shaped to reduce the risk of germs transfer from toilets to users. 

close up photo of a u-shape toilet

How Do These Seats Benefit Women?

If public toilets are equipped with open-front toilet seats, it benefits the users, especially women. Due to the gap, women have enough space to wipe their lower bottom without touching the toilet seat. This seat option is better than the regular ones you have at home. 

Think from a woman’s perspective and imagine what will happen if the public toilets use the regular oval or elongated toilet seats. 

As you know, public restrooms are a root cause of getting contaminated by germs. In that scenario, if you touch the toilet while cleaning yourself, there is a high chance that you will catch bacteria residing on the seat. 

Thus, it is beneficial for women to prefer U-shaped toilet seats. Even the director of the code development for the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), Lynne Siminick, states that this design is intended for female use to provide a better and hygienic overall experience.

What Are Other Benefits of Using an Open-Front Toilet Seat?

The U-shaped seat was designed for female use. But people have realized other benefits to this type of toilet seat. They reduce the risk of backsplash, have a cheaper manufacturing cost, can sustain different weights, and much more. 

Let us explore each advantage in detail below. 

Lower Risk for Backsplash

There are a lot of men who are not careful while using the toilet. This often results in a urine splash on the toilet seat and surrounding walls. This is a common problem faced while using regular seats. So people use Open front seats as a solution, as it reduces the risk of the backsplash of urine. 

Cheaper Manufacturing Costs

The U-shaped seats have a gap/space. Because of this, factories have to use less material to produce this seat. Hence, they are economical. Also, they are commonly used in public toilets, which makes sense that they are cheaper. 

Weight Sustainability

U-shaped seats can retain more weight as compared to other seat designs. The open front seats are used in public toilets, where multiple people with different weights use the room. 

Not Attractive to Thieves

It might be surprising to hear, but many people steal toilet seats. A particular group tried doing the same thing with the U-shaped seat but did not succeed. This is because the open-front seats are for elongated toilets and do not fit perfectly on any other model. 

A Bonus Guideline for Using the Public Toilet

Public toilets are unhygienic because you don’t know who used the toilet stall before you. It is necessary to take care of a few things while using a public restroom. Keep your toilet paper or tissue paper with you, and avoid touching anything in the stall to prevent getting sick from the germs residing on them. 

  • Always carry a pack of tissue paper or disinfectant spray to wipe off your toilet seat before using it. 
  • Don’t use the toilet paper present in the stall. Research has concluded that these toilet rolls are as dirty as the toilet seat.
  • Don’t flush the toilet with bare hands. Use a handy tissue paper to do so.
  • After washing your hands in the sink, use tissue paper to close the tap. 
  • Also, while pushing the door open, use your elbows to do so. Don’t use your bare fingers.


Before reading this article, many of you wouldn’t have ever noticed the difference between the seat you have at your house and the ones present in a public toilet. In either situation, you should practice healthy and hygienic habits while using the toilet.

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