The map above shows where in the world you can and can’t flush your toilet paper in a toilet. The data comes from Where do I put the paper? which describes itself as A handy guide to the world’s toilets.
If you live in the United States, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand or most countries in Northern Europe it may come as surprise that not everyone flushes their toilet paper away.
Although, it should be noted that the data is perhaps not 100% reliable as almost every single toilet you’re likely to encounter in say France or Spain will allow you to flush your toilet paper.
So if you’re not flushing it away, what are you doing with it? The answer is that it depends on where you are.
For example, some countries have relatively few flush toilets, so you’re going to be using something closer to an outhouse.
However, in other countries there may be a bin where you throw it out rather than flush it away. Here are the customs of a few countries as described in Where do I put the paper?.
Mexico – In common with most of south and central America, you’re going to be spending a lot of the time you’re going to be throwing the paper in bins in Mexico, so keep an eye out for them. Some higher class hotels have European-style flush toilets, but it should be fairly obvious which are which.
France – Contrary to popular belief, many places in France have toilets that you can actually safely use and you’ll be able to flush the paper. This isn’t the 1980s you know. Having said that, the French still like to squat over a hole in the ground or crap behind a bush (or car or tree or anything to hand), in these cases, act politely and bin your paper somewhere hygeinic. Of course, you still can’t drink the water and they eat snails you know.
Spain – is a bit of a mix. In most cities and beach resorts you can flush the paper. Although you might be asked specifically to use a bin, in which case, do. If you’re out in the countryside and stuck in a refugio bury it or burn it. If you’re using a camp site, follow the instructions (although if in doubt, flush).
China – There a wide variety of toilets in China, from European-style porcelain numbers to holes in the ground. Generally speaking, use the bin provided for the paper, but if one isn’t provided for holes-in-the-ground, just drop it in.
Brazil – In common with most Latin American countries, the sewage system in Brazil can’t cope with paper being flushed, so use the bin provided. If you’re in the jungle or up the Amazon, take your paper with you and dispose of it somewhere hygienic, or burn it on the way. Brazilian public toilets are mostly very good, although if you’re in Rio, avoid the portaloos in Lapa at all costs.
Russia – I have been informed that you are most likely to be flushing in Russia. However, there are public toilets, and some older facilities that don’t have the power to get rid of the paper where you’ll need to use the bin, but these will be clearly marked. Anyway, flush most of the time unless you’re specifically told otherwise. Oh, and Russia is one of those places where you’re better to have a supply of your own paper if you’re going to be using public facilities.
India – Indian toilets employ a ‘wash and go’ cleaning facility in the vast majority of cases. If you are going to use paper, put it in the bin provided. Oddly, the internet tells me that there are more mobile phones in india than toilets; I wonder what the ratio is in the UK.
North Korea – If you happen to find yourself in North Korea and can find a toilet that doesn’t have a microphone listening in to your every word (imagine having the job of listening in to that), you’ll probably be throwing the paper down the hole you use, but you can flush it in most decadent Western-style toilets. Who says Communism is a bad thing?
Saudi Arabia – As with most Arabic countries you’re going to be squatting and washing in Saudi Arabia, they don’t really do toilet paper. If you do use paper, throw it away, don’t drop it in the hole.
South Africa – Public toilets are few and far between in South Africa, but do exist. Ask at tourist information or restaurants. Toilets in cities tend to be Western-style and you should be able to flush. In townships and in the countryside, long-drops tend to be most common, bin or throw the paper in.
And if you’re looking to buy toilet paper you can still find it on Amazon here.
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