Have you ever wondered why a public toilet seat is U-shaped and not like the one you have at your home? As it turns out, there’s a reason behind it and we are here to give it to you. Almost all of the public toilet seats are shaped like the letter u and feature an opening at the front. This two-prong and open-front seat is a requirement of plumbing codes that are adopted by many public authorities in the US.
California’s state plumbing code reads, “All water closet seats, except those within dwelling units, shall be either of the open front type or have an automatic seat cover dispenser.” This requirement was first introduced in the American Standard National Plumbing Code back in 1955 and later on in the Uniform Plumbing Code in 1973 as per Dan Cole, a Technical Services Manage with the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO).
The reason behind all this is mostly hygiene. Having a u-shaped seat allows you to urinate without coming in contact with the seat and there’s less place for urine to splash. As per Lynne Simnick, the senior vice president of code development at the IAPMO, the open-front toilet seats are mostly designed in order to make it easier for females to wipe. She said the opening has been designed to ‘allow women to wipe the perineal area after using the toilet without contacting the seat’.
The U-shaped are also cheaper since they require less material and the chance of them being stolen is less likely as per Roger Barry, the MD of Healthmatic – a UK based company that designs and manages public restrooms. He further added that “the appearance of u-shaped seats is something that has dampened in the UK.” This is because the public toilets are no longer fitted with toilet seats in order to combat stealing.