Baseline Bathroom Standards: Let's Do This

The rise of AirBnB—and the existence of Airpnp, which allows you to tap-tap-tap on your tiny computer telephones and find a friendly bathroom in which to take a whiz when no acceptable public option is available—makes necessary a conversation about what amenities a bathroom should feature, and what constitutes a "guest-friendly" WC.

The thing about AirBnB is that it forces us to acknowledge that the bathroom is the last holdout from the panopticon: Unless we decide to, like, tweet about it from the toilet, no one really knows what's going on in there. It's not until we start actually going into unfamiliar bathrooms for more than a quick relieving of ourselves that we realize how wildly bathroom standards vary from person to person.

Until now. Because today is the day on which we will establish baseline standards for a bathroom that is to be shared with guests, both familiar and strange.

Things That Are Non-Negotiable In A Bathroom Used By Guests

A clean toilet, sink, and tub/shower
"Clean," in this case, means free of mold, mildew, soap scum, hair, toothpaste spittles, whiskers, human waste, etc.

Floors that are free of dirt, hair, and other debris
"Other debris" refers, essentially, to dirty underpants.

Easily located spare toilet paper
The alternative is... yeah, I don't want to even go there. Just leave an extra roll somewhere that's easy for someone to find.

A plunger and toilet brush at the ready
Sometimes embarrassing things happen in a bathroom that's not yours, which is why it's nice to have some tools for dealing with those embarrassing things on hand.

Hand soap
Get the kind in the pump—bar soap hanging out on the ledge of the sink is technically not incorrect, but it sure looks like it should be.

Hand towels that are clearly distinguishable from bath towels
Be a pal: Don't make your guest choose between drying his hands on his pants or your used bath towel.

A lined trashcan
The ladies, in particular, asked me to speak to this one. We're adult enough that we don't need to be all, "Eeew gross tampons gross," but I think it's also fine for me to ask the gentlemen among us to just trust the ladies on this one. Please have a lined garbage pail available—the toilet is not a trashcan! (Oh on that note, the ladies also asked me to ask you to stop flushing your used condoms, please and thank you!)

Clean towels that are not stained or frayed
For your own personal use, towels that stained and/or frayed but are clean are perfectly fine. But when you're handing a stained or frayed towel over to a guest, no matter how clean it is, it's going to read to your guest as gross. Disclaimer: If the guest is someone you know well, you can almost always get away with saying, "Sorry they're a little beaten up—they're just out of the wash, I promise they're clean!"

Wash cloths
Oh, did you want your guest to use your puffer scrubber to wash themselves? Right, you mentioned that you prefer it when they just rub your bar of soap all over themselves, how could I forget?!

A clean bath mat
Yeah, you gotta wash that sucker from time to time.

A door that closes fully
Here are door-latch repair instructions from This Old House, because I'm a giver.

Things That Are Nice To Have

Thoughtful product choices
Unless you've clearly specified that people need to supply their own products AND removed your own stuff from the shower—because if your stuff is in there, people WILL use it. This includes things like your razor, by the way. Just… right. A thing to think about!—you'll need to accept that your products are going to be used. Given that, it's nice to provide the following items, making sure that they're clearly labeled: separate shampoo and conditioner, body wash, face wash, and moisturizer.

If you frequently host people on AirBnB, you may also want to consider installing a refillable pump system. A pump system reduces waste and is much easier to keep clean, plus you won't be forever replacing the cap on the shampoo that the last person to use your shower left on the ledge of the tub.

Extra towels
Some people use two towels (one for hair, one for body) and don't want to have to ask for extras, so leave 'em out just to be nice.

Air freshener/matches
Stash these near the toilet and we'll never speak of it again.

All-purpose cleaner or cleaning wipes
It might be a bit much to hope for that your guests will take the time to clean the sink of any whiskers or toothpaste spittle they may have left behind, but you never know! Leaving a bottle of spray cleaner and some paper towels, or even just a tube of those pre-moistened cleaning wipes is a nice thing for conscientious guests to find underneath the sink.

A lock on the door
Never underestimate the power of privacy.

Things That Will Make You A Goddamned Hero

  • Hand cream
  • Feminine products
  • A spare toothbrush
  • Travel-sized toothpaste
  • Individual-use mouthwash
  • Fancy soaps and such
  • Reading material
  • Sound isolation
  • Butt wipes

That seems like a good note to end on. We thank you in advance.

Illustration by Jim Cooke.

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