Dutch Ingenuity. Restroom & Toilet Revisited.

1 September 2013




One of the most unpleasant adjustments I had to make in the Netherlands was becoming accustomed to the dreaded Water Closet, more commonly referred to by Americans as the restroom.


Taking the term “Water Closet” literally, the standard Dutch restroom has been reduced to nothing more than a “standing-room only” space outfitted with a toilet. A claustrophobic’s real world nightmare, one has to cleverly maneuver themselves inside, close the door, adjust their clothing, and appropriately decide the most comfortable position for their limbs.


With my comparatively miniature 5″1 frame, I cannot help but wonder at times how adult-size Dutch people (many towering well above 6″ feet) manage to get themselves inside the cupboard-like room. With such long legs, I can only guess that the most comfortable position for these giants is having their knees strategically pressed against the door. Granted, the Dutch have only been recently declared as the tallest people in the world and thus such inconveniences may not have been realized until now.


Arguably the most alarming feature of a Water Closet is the infamous Dutch toilet bowl. Dutch engineers have designed the bowl itself to contain a plateau set well above the normal water level. To say the least, one must be very comfortable with themselves and all their excrements on the display shelf. Why the Dutch would have such a perverse desire to examine or witness their waste remains a mystery. Perhaps it is the lingering Dutch sentiment of having reclaimed the land from the sea that extends towards this toilet philosophy. By having a plateau set above the water level and having the option of controlling the amount of water to be flushed, the environment might provide temporary comfort in assuring the Dutch that they are still masters of the sea.


Once a person has completed his/her business, he/she is confronted with the new challenge of cleaning up one’s own mess. Having just described the Dutch toilet with its unashamed plateau showcasing one’s most recent accomplishment, one can only imagine the new task that must, with all politeness, be dealt with. Never fear! The Dutch have ingeniously provided a compulsory toilet brush and chemical laden toilet cleaner appropriately within reach.


Newcomers may benefit from such an embarrassment with this Insider’s tip:

First line the plateau with toilet paper and tactically aim one’s most recent stomach contents onto it. A single flush will hopefully leave no shameful streaks and unnecessary expenditure of one’s energy and the costs of the toiler cleaner.


Never loosing the opportunity to exercise Dutch thrift, most would also have the opportunity of witnessing Dutch hydraulic ingenuity first hand. They can either choose a smaller button to flush tiny amount of water, or a larger button promising a more robust flush to rid unwanted waste. Water of course isn’t free so one is cautioned to use water as sparingly as possible and only when absolutely necessary.


Last but not least, being in such a confined space, a display shelf, and lack of an electronic ventilation switch, one may also have to endure a robust, unpleasant aromatic setting. For those who do not enjoy the pervasive odor, they may be fortunate enough to find an air purifier. I highly recommend AmbiPur Puresse, an air fresher that provides relief and is also hypo allergenic.


After having mastered the Dutch Water Closet and all its glory, one can then truly leave with a sense of being productive for the day.