How To Use A Traditional Indian Washroom
Updated: Jan 12
When you first enter a traditional washroom in India you will find that it is immensely different to a western bathroom. If you have travelled the world you will find a lot of Asian countries have similar washrooms. It is typically tiled all the way up the walls and ceiling. Taps will be situated above a large bucket with a jug. Next to the bucket is usually a small bath stool and a soap dish. Towards one end of the washroom, usually one step above the washroom floor, is a squat toilet.
A squat toilet is basically a hole in the floor with a ceramic edging with grooves for standing on. There will be another tap and cup alongside the squat toilet. Some washrooms will have a freestanding sink with taps, however you will usually find this outside of the washroom for easy access. There are many variations to the washroom depending on personal preference and regions of India.
Some will have the wash area and toilet in separate rooms for ease of access. You will also find that nowadays majority of Punjabi people use western toilets with a bidet. The bidet sprays a blast of water at your under carriage after you finish doing your business. Squat toilets are mostly found in rural regions and you will often find many public toilets will be squat toilets.
So how do I use an Indian washroom? Taking a bath is easy enough as you simply need to fill the bucket with the amount of water you intend to use. Firstly though for hygiene purposes, it is customary to pour hot water over the stool and jug before using. Then you simply take a seat and scoop the water out with the jug to bathe yourself. In most households you will find that everyone shares the same soap dish. This again is a personal preference if you choose to bring your own toiletries. Many households will also have a shower situated above the bucket yet prefer to bathe with the bucket. Therefore it is just a matter of personal preference as to which you use.
Now using a traditional squat toilet isn't as simple as bathing and can be quite daunting at first. You essentially stand over the hole and place your feet on the ceramic grooves on either side, then squat. Once you have finished you pour water into the cup that is placed next to the toilet. Then you straddle the cup and splash water as required with your other hand. You won't always find a cup and in some instances simply a bottle of water in which case you would then splash the bottled water and use your other hand for cleaning. Though whatever the utensil is that has been left beside the toilet, it will be used in a similar fashion.
But if water isn't your cup of tea, then just be sure to pack a roll of toilet paper or a pack of pocket sized tissues where ever you go. Should you use toilet paper, just be mindful not to clog any toilets as the plumbing in most areas isn't accustomed to large bouts of toilet paper being flushed.
If using a public squat toilet I personally avoid standing on the ceramic grooves for hygiene reasons as they can be quite filthy with many managing to miss the hole. It may seem surprising that you could even miss such a large hole, yet it is possible. So it can take a little bit of practise getting accustomed to a squat toilet.