An Attempt at Dream Analysis - Not for the Faint Of Heart
Dream topics run the gamut from benign and boring to wild, bizarre, and outrageous. The dream I am going to refer to falls into the latter category.
This is how it goes:
Imagine... walking down a corridor. An empty, silent, corridor in a school or a dorm. You are looking for a bathroom. Finally you recognize the door that indicates you have found what you are looking for. You feel a substantial amount of urgency. When you open the door you see a typical public bathroom with tile halfway up the walls and a line of stalls. You open the door to a stall and wham! you are met with a disgustingly dirty plugged toilet that has overflowed all over the floor. You try to avoid the abundance of human refuse and wet toilet paper that is spread across the floor. Almost finding this impossible you try another stall and are met with the same thing. This scene repeats itself until you find a stall, although still dirty and disgusting, one you can maneuver in on tiptoe without touching anything. Luckily you wake up, although a bit distressed, and realize this was just a dream.
Sharing our dreams with our friends is a great way to get some laughter started and some intriguing conversation going. I would have to admit that one of my most disturbing dreams is the one described above. For years I kept this dream to myself, too embarrassed to ever mention it to even my closest friends. Although I had this dream maybe once every two years or less, I believed I was the only person in the world who had it and probably due to some disturbance in my early development.
During a particularly rambunctious family dinner when the subject of bizarre dreams came up I purged myself of my dirty bathroom dream. Believe it or not my sister and my Dad chimed in to admit they have also had this dream. My father bowed out of our post discussion which dissected the gory details. Amazingly, my sister and I shared similar images. We agreed the common feeling state we both shared during this experience was extreme horror and disgust.
What in the world does all this mean? Well, the following research was meant of course for my own use but also for all of you who have had a similar dream. I do believe we can learn about ourselves from our dreams and there are many dream experts out there.
Information from "The Strangest Dream...The Dreamers Dictionary for the 21st Century" by Kelly Sullivan Walden, describes that dreams of bathrooms symbolize releasing and letting go of toxic feelings and thoughts. In addition dreams of human excrement signify a releasing and letting go of what is in the way of your being fully in your power. Ms Walden also writes that dreams of dirt indicate that there is an aspect of your life that needs to be cleaned up and dreams of urine signify that a person is releasing negativity. A common theme here with all of these symbols is a letting go to start anew.
In George Fink's, "Dream Symbols A-Z", Mr. Fink writes that bathrooms are a place for cleaning up, and indicate emotional purification. Dreams which contain a toilet mean that we want to rid ourselves of burdens. He goes on to write that a dream about feces may be related to "financial matters or to evaluating the worth of someone's character." He writes that "it points to the dreamer's sense of order and generousity."
In "Parkers' Complete book of Dreams" by Julia and Derek Parker I read a particularly powerful statement which may be helpful, "Refuse is something that we want to dispose of . It may be something we no longer want or something foisted upon us by others.
In my dream sample the human waste or refuse is already there, left by someone else. I am faced with maneuvering around it. It could be considered a type of assault or just an uncomfortable barrier and represents people or situations which are keeping me from my full potential. It may mean I need to look more closely at those around me who have an important influence on me. The most positive aspect of the dream in my opinion is that I am able to work around all of the refuse.
I really find dreams fascinating and fully realize I am no expert. I'm sure I have only skimmed the surface on this one. (Dr. Freud would have alot to say). But isn't it interesting? At the least a little research into your own dreams will leave you feeling a little more hopeful and you may realize that you are not alone.
Margaret on May 30, 2015:
Thank you for this analysis. I agree with the feeling of having something unwanted foisted upon you. And the urge to clean. My sister, father and myself were in my dream last night. Someone else had used the toilet...invited to do so by my dad. When I went to flush it..it overflowed in to a horrid brown mess. I tried to clean it but was overwhelmed and disgusted. My father often had unnecessary people around myself and my sister when we were young. This analysis and the comments have helped me to become aware of those negative emotions. I now have a greater understanding of how I felt as a child. I made a list of those emotions gathering clues from the article and the comments. Then I imagined myself miraculously cleaning the dirty bathroom in my dream. I'm so ready to let go of these bottled feelings from the past!!!
Linda on December 28, 2014:
I am 62 and I have been having these dreams for as long as I can remember. i like what one person said about how this is something that is foisted upon us by others--something invasive, dominating and disgusting. It is our reaction to blatant egotism and disregard for others.
Sarah on September 14, 2014:
I'm sooooooooooooo happy I'm not the only 1 that's had dreams like that!!! I've never had dreams like that before and then a few months ago I would have them like every week or so it only lasted a few weeks but it was sooooooooooo DISTURBING!!! I would wake up and freak out about it cuz I'm OCD 2 begin with so I would rather have a dream about getting eaten alive than 1 of those "dirty bathroom dreams"!!! The themes were pretty similar dirty floors only I think mine were just pee and trying 2 find a clean bathroom!! Also I had 1 were I was peeing in front of every 1 in this resteraunt cuz the stall had no walls and people were looking at me it was soooooooooo not cool! I'm a Christian 2 and sometimes I wonder if the devil tries 2 get in my dreams cuz he knows those kinda dreams will mess with my head!! 4rl cuz I would never choose 2 dream dreams like that!!!
Bella on March 09, 2014:
I have never looked online for info about poop dreams, though I've had them for some time now. It's just so gross, strange, embarrassing to even talk about. So, I was glad to find your post.
My dream is usually about trying to find a bathroom, and the only bathrooms I can find have no walls/stalls or they're in some massive room that looks like a hall, or they're connected to a men's locker-type room or they're super tiny, and you have to step up to it, or there are a dozen toilets, most in stalls, but those are out of order. The only ones that work are those that have absolutely no privacy. (Which I find horrifying. haha)
Life is like that though. We do stupid stuff and it's there for the entire planet to witness. We offend one person and then the entire universe knows about it and judges us. I have no problem acknowledging the stupid stuff I've done in life, but fixing those issues is another thing all together. It takes a supernatural act of God to put us back together.
I think the icky-ness of poop and the icky-ness of sin are similar. We have to deal with it on a daily basis...till His Kingdom Come.
Then, again, maybe this is just the body's way of telling us to wake up and get to the lu?
Summer on January 05, 2014:
Wow, I was so sure I was the only one who had this dream! I have probably had it about twenty times. I'm always in a different location-a school, the mall, etc.-and end up having to use the restroom. I go to the bathroom, and it's always the same one: it's darkly lit by a dungeon, and absolutely huge, with perhaps dozens of stalls. However, every single toilet is disgusting, and some stalls don't even have doors, furthering my anxiety of using the bathroom. But I really, really have to go, so I keep looking for one that is at least semi-usable.
Very strange! Just glad I'm not alone (=
Lana on January 01, 2014:
I literally gasped when I came across this because I have had this exact dream my whole life on different occasions. Like someone else has said, it's always the same situation but in different locations. This last one was in my old high school bathroom and I walked in like normal and every stall was revolting. Human feces everywhere and I remember each stall had it and I ended up having to just leave. Something that was new to this dream however was that some girl was at the sink while I was in there and before I walked out I remember making some annoyed comment about the school's cleanliness and how gross people are. Then I woke up. How weird is this!
Jamie on October 11, 2013:
Oh yes, I have these too. I hate searching and searching and I'm so disgusted by the pee and dirty tp. I believe mine are related to really having to go to the br and searching helps me wake up. However, there must be some other common thread since everyone has them. I tend to think the mind is using a concept that is disgusting for us as individuals to try to get us to notice something. We have to figure out what the "something" is.
Kelly on August 19, 2013:
I have a recurring dream that I need to use the bathroom but there is no privacy. It's always a different bathroom and a different reason why there is no privacy: there is no door, the door doesn't lock, there is a big huge window overlooking a busy room, it is just out in the open in the middle of some room, there is an adjoining room with people in it and the door won't close, etc. etc. It is never overflowing or disgusting though as you describe it, and I never feel like I really have to go. It might sound ridiculous but for a while I thought maybe I was feeling too "exposed" by posting on facebook...the dreams did stop for awhile but now they're back even though I haven't posted anything online. I read somewhere that it could be related to performance anxiety...and I have a horrible fear of public speaking...maybe that has something to do with it?
Dreamer9972 on August 09, 2013:
I have to say that I was shocked when I read this. Like the author, I thought I was the only one who had disgusting dreams like this. There have been several times (each time was a different place but pretty much similar). I needed to go to the bathroom, would find a bathroom with a ton of toilets but each time, the toilet would be overflowing with feces and used toilet paper, always looking like they hadn't been cleaned in years. Each toilet just as worse as the 1st. I would even search for a toilet that I could at least straddle without touching because I had to use the bathroom so badly but would never find one because I would be so nauseated. Now I have a better understanding of what the dreams may mean. And its nice to know that I am not alone with disgusting dreams like this.
Anna on January 28, 2013:
I have a similar dream about once every 1-2 weeks and I think I've figured out why. It's usually always because I really need to pee in my sleep and I believe my subconscious is telling me I can't really pee so the toilets I find are always either disgusting, clogged up or smack-dab in the middle of a public place where everyone can see me. The horror or embarrassment prevents me from ever getting to go in my dream.
I'm sure we all have our different reasons for having these dreams but I have to admit it feels nice knowing I'm not alone. =)
Wendy on September 19, 2012:
My dream is similar, but only involves pee. I have to pee really bad, and the stalls seem to be clean, but sometimes the toilets are too high.
Last nights dream the toilets were a normal size, and with most of these recurring dreams some stalls have doors, some don't, and I always try to find a private one but sometimes can't.
Peeing in front of others doesn't bother me in the dream (I used to be a stripper and now own a pole dancing business with the attitude of 'No Apologies EVER (Sarah the teen who hated high school-adopt that philosophy :) - so the public doesn't bother me.
It's always that I keep peeing and peeing and peeing, never poop, to where the toilet bowl is going to overflow with my pee. I get so worried when the pee gets to the top and I have to keep peeing.
It's the embarrassment I think that I'm going to make a mess because it's MY pee that's going to overflow.
But the feeling of RELIEF is soooo overwhelming and feels SOOO good when I pee, but then I HAVE to keep peeing even when it's going to overflow.
I never remember how that part of the dream ends, I just go on to the next part of the story.
My dreams are LONG, VERY detailed-I can recall the tiniest details-in FULL vibrant color and often are great stories from beginning to end, like the one last night.
I love going to sleep and wondering what story I'll be starring in that night.
I dream a LOT, too, about Little House on the Prairie and living in their town. Always liked the show but it wasn't anything wonderful. Last nights pee dream was a sci-fi spy thriller which was AFTER the Little House dream, and oddly connected somehow but I don't know how.
Anyone have any comments on my pee dreams? That the toilets are CLEAN but it's MY pee that's going to overflow? I'd LOVE to hear!! Thanks in advance!
faith on July 04, 2012:
I just started having this dream, last night was the 3rd night consecutively in a row. The first night I found my boyfriend in a crowded public restroom like a locker room and there were frightening, wraith like drag queens around, and my boyfriend was losing his mind, mutilating himself and trying to push me away. Then pushing my head/face in the toilet bowl where there was food in it. I don't remember the sight of filth but the feeling of filthiness was there. The second night, these girls, 2 of whom I know/recognize, first sent a dog to crap all over my carpet and then an old man, who came in the form of an old man who my father used to care for and who would occasionally crap or pee himself. Even pee on the floor but I don't remember him crapping the floor in real life. I was angry these girls sent the dog and the old man to crap on my carpet and I just couldn't seem to get rid of it.
The third night (last night) I dreamt I was in a crowded/full public restroom with no real toilets...but four sided, like squared, columns that were mirrored on all four sides of the columns. Everyone was squatting or standing/slightly crouched over with their back to the mirrored sides, facing out, and just shitting piles and piles of shit in front of these mirrored columns. No toilets. Vivid imagery of filth and just piles of crap everywhere.
This is the 3rd public restroom/crap dream that I've had in a row now and they're starting to disturb me. It is refreshing and somewhat comforting to know others have these common repetitive themes in their dreams.
christa on July 03, 2012:
I've been having this dream almost every night for a few weeks...but at least now I understand why. :(
DianaRae on June 30, 2012:
I have this dream about dirty bathrooms, and usually they are not fully functional either, in other words stall walls are missing and doors don't work; so that if one were brave enough to use said disgusting bathroom, one would be exposed not only to the filth, but to being seen by others - often of the opposing sex. I think that for me the dream has far more to do with a feeling of "in between" in which I don't have a place to be comfortable. I had my dream last night, and I am in the middle of moving and renovating the new place. I've been sleeping on an air mattress and dealing with paint fumes and dust. The dream, for me is about feeling like I don't have a home - and craving a place in which I can let go and be comfortable.
GE 1981 on June 19, 2012:
I Have these dreams all the time, running around public places looking for a toilet and there being filth everywhere, then when I do finally find one I can use, although always still disgusting, the door will only be very small or won't close and everyone can see. Speaking to my sister I found she also shares these dreams. In addition we both dream constantly about our teeth falling out. But thanks for the page, quite reassuring!
HappyCleasing on June 13, 2012:
well i did experience some trauma in my life when i was 19-21...about the dream, so mine started last year in september...i wanted to go take a bath but when i got to the bathroom the tub was full of water, which was just uncontrolably overflowing , it was just crazy i did not even think of closing the tap , i took a mop trying to mop the water on the floor but it got me nowhere then i woke up....ijust felt like something was wrong in that dream because i was not able to control the water... so january this year i got a prophecy from a man of God who told me that i need to read the word of God... so i thot okay fine i will do that, i did not know God by then, i always just read the bible in a passive manner,like the bible was some book full of nice stories about the life of jesus and all. so i started reading the word on my own, started reading the book of john first so i really got to understand what life is O.M.G, started seeing the truth in the word, i kept studyin and meditating and studying then i started seeing the nasty toilet dreams, i think 3 times i did that, i would find faeces in a toilet.... kept studying and studying the word.... then something amazing happened this june i had a dream where i took a shower.......!!! this time there was no overflowing water.... no loss of control.. i felt happy when i woke up so i googled "shower" dream and guess what?? shower dream all got to do with "cleansing"... continued meditating on the word....after that i had another dream and this time it was "toilet" i wanted to go to my dom toilet but when i got there i just stared at the toilet it was so "clean" the cleanest toilet ever i did not even take a dump i just woke up........ this is all happening thine june 2012 mind you....so on saturday the 9 june had another dream this time it was rain... i was jumping and down in the rain while it just showered all over me..... woke up happy... AGAIN on monday as in this monday on the 11/06/12 i had another dream showers again this time there was even soap for me to use...SO i guess that Now that i have allowed God to help me, he is busy cleasing my spirit of all unwanted negative staf, feelings from the trauma in the past..."so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word "(Ephesians 5:26)!!!!! if you experience dream whereby you trying to take a shower and you cannot find it, or water is just crazy overflowing from tub,sink, know that you need to let the holy spirit help you..water represents the word of God, the holy spirit... the word of God is food for our divine nature, (the spirit) we spend so much time taking care of our bodies and we neglect our inner man( the divine nature of God, most of our spirits are anorexic because we do not feed them with the word of God... "Man shall not live by bread alone" john 4:4.... "The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life."john 6:63...whether you believe it or not we all have a divine nature..when your body is asleep your spirit is awake.So im stil waiting for when Jesus says i am finally cleansed and ready for that renewal.... HAPPY CLEANSING EVERYBODY ALLOW JESUS TO CLEANSE YOU
Lani on June 11, 2012:
I can't believe so many people have had the same horrible dream! I've been having this recurring dream for as long as I can remember. The setting changes, but the theme remains the same. I've wondered what it meant for years. Thank you for shedding a little light on his topic.
Maggie on June 10, 2012:
I've had this dream for years and just told my daughter about it. I was amazed to hear she has the same recurring dream too. The only difference is that in her dream she pees in the sink because the toilets are so dirty. She doesn't care what anyone else in dream thinks about it.
peter bruce photo on May 20, 2012:
so true of my dream like this WOW
Anonymous on May 17, 2012:
Everytime I have the dirty bathroom dream (where the toilets are too dirty and disgusting to use) I am sick within a couple days. I think that dream is trying to tell me that my body is fighting something.
Jamie on April 23, 2012:
I've had these for years and have begun to wonder if it's a little more than just built up emotions. Sometimes I am not being healthy in my life and believe my body is trying to physically purge bad food, bad habits (sleeping, eating, etc.) and the dream is a way of telling me to get it together. I don't think it's a real hdden meaning. I think emotional or physical problems both cause us to physically feel bad and we want to feel clean. Eating right, exercise, meditation, etc. make this dream go away for me.
MRH on April 13, 2012:
I have been having this disturbing & frantic dream for years. Public bathroom, 60% it is a gym locker or large venue restroom. Filthy, feces, water/urine on the floors, people around, and I am searching for the cleanest with a door. No one else comments on the filth. No privacy as I often have to go thru miultiple stall doors that ultimately don't latch or are open on the other side. My feelings are a bit of embarrassment but mostly utter discust & frustration. As to other posts who believe that it is because my body is trying to wake me to use the restroom - that has never been the case. When I have woken after these dreams I do not have that urge. Let me share one breakthrough I had during one of these dreams - I simply stepped to the door saw how awful it was and SAID to myself In my dream - "I don't have to go in there". I woke up immediately and felt a huge sence of calm, relief & pride. I continue to have the dreams, but hope each next time I will feel that empowerment!!!
Mikie on March 26, 2012:
I often have such dreams in relation to my former schools whose public toilets used to be (and still are) not too clean! Actually, I have Googled this subject because I had such a dream last night.
Since I get this dreams in relation to toilets/bathrooms in my old schools, I think they have something to do with the trauma associated with looking for a clean loo. Here is the evidence and WARNING, it is yucky!
Although the loos in our schools used to be cleaned every morning, been a public school with many students, the loos used to get dirty and stinky by evening! The idea of using them was repulsive except for an emergency. To make matters worse, other Children would make fun of you for days if they saw you using the loos!
In our primary school, we used the word 'bog' to refer to poop! Yesterday, I happened to come across a website that was discussing the geographical phenomena called bogs- marshes of stagnant water full of partly decayed vegetation matter. The appearance of the word bog in this context made me laugh at my primary school days. Not surprisingly, I was woken up by a bathroom dream the next morning!
However, I have noticed that bathroom dreams often come when I have partial constipation especially from eating food with little roughage. In fact, in such situations, I usually have a tight feeling in my abdomen and that feeling which remains long after coming out of a smelly loo! Honestly, I think bathroom dreams might be a symptom of constipation!
Here in Africa, there are schools and villages whose loos are much worse than those in my former schools! I am repulsed by the fact that anyone would allow their Children to step into such loos barefoot!!!! Eeew! I wonder what kind of dreams these Children get when they grow up!
MS on March 13, 2012:
I've had the toilet in the middle of the room or no stall doors dream my whole life. Within the last few years the filth factor has been added to the mix. And this past week I've been having them every night, sometimes a few a night! I read that no stall doors may mean you feel you don't have any privacy or that you are putting the needs of others before your own. I definitely think the idea that I need to purge myself of stresses or impurities applies! I just don't quite understand what the meaning is behind getting other peoples excrement on us. I'm always finding toilets with urine on the seat and attempt to hover but either fall or my pants touch the side of the toilet. I even had one last night where I leaned overto picn something up and my hair went in the toilet! So do we feel like everyone else's ability to relieve themselves of their stresses and impurities is being rubbed in our faces maybe? Any other thoughts on why we cants seem to stay clean in these dreams?
Lisa on March 11, 2012:
Wow! How amazing that there are so many people having the same dream. I have had this dream a few times now and just recently again. It is disturbing and I when I woke up I didn't have to go nor was I cold so I don't believe its just the normal having to "go". Mine previously was in a large place, a school, college, auditorium with me searching and searching for the bathroom but the last one was in a small shop, like a hair salon. People were just going about their business and the toilets were in short stalls, the walls are only as high as the toilet and the mess was every where around the toilets not in the rest of the shop. No one seemed to care. I found one and was able to go, very vivid images are left in my mind, and I am talking to people thinking all along how weird it is that I am going out in the open yet still interacting with people and no one thinks anything of it. Its so very strange. Thank you all for sharing and offering the insight to what this may be all about. Its helped me alot.
pru on March 04, 2012:
i just had this dream a few nights ago and it is still bothering me! so glad to find that others have also had this. mine was really disturbing ... i had used the toilet and flushed but saw that it was going to overflow so i bent down for the little water flow knob and i fell in between the toilet and the wall and got stuck and couldn't move and the toilet overflowed all over me omg!!! sooooooo gross! i thought it meant my life was full of shyte lol, i like your interpretation much better!
hampdengurl on January 08, 2012:
I have this dream A LOT! Thanks for the interpretations.
brrit on December 17, 2011:
I dreamed that I went into my bathroom at home and It was so full that the pile of crap reached the ceiling! I sighed and flushed the toilet like 36 times until there was nothing in it, and then I ussed the bathroom. . . WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?!?!
brittany on November 11, 2011:
I have this dream once a week and I haven't noticed getting money or having to use the bathroom in reality......I've read most of the posts and I've had all variations at different times! Sometimes I clean, sometimes there are other people, sometimes no stalls. The only thing that is always constant is the smell! It leaves such an impression that is really seems I can smell it when I first wake up! I would love to know EXACTLY what these dreams mean. *sigh*
karen on October 29, 2011:
is everyone reading more into this than is necessary? i have this or similar dream often. i get up out of bed and go to the bathroom, go back to sleep and I am fine. I think it is my subconscious not allowing me to pee in my bed.
MNLady55 on October 13, 2011:
This has been a recurring nightmore of mine for years. The bathroom is usually covered in urine and feces and toilet paper and the smell is wretched. I also usually try to find a clean stall and find that none of the stall doors latch and that I am "exposed" amongst all the filth. I thought for awhile that it was a sign that I am a germophobe. The dreams have made me wary of public bathrooms in general as well. For the first time last night, I dreamt the same dream and actually cleaned up the bathroom in my dream and felt good about it. I hope my "dirty bathroom" dreams are done. Thanks for the article, makes a lot of sense.
annhub123 on September 13, 2011:
I JUST HAD THIS DREAM LAST NIGHT!!! It is a recurring dream for me. This one was extra gross!
KMydean on August 25, 2011:
We all have strange dreams. Some of them are often premonitions. Never dreamed about a dirty bathroom so far as my memory goes. The urgency of going to the bathroom in my dream occurred many times and I realized when woke up that I was not covered with blankets on cold days, and my body was cold. The significance of seing a dirty bathroom seems like you have some dirty laundry to be cleaned.
fryhole on July 15, 2011:
I was floored to see my exact dream posted up here I have looked up dream interpretations several times with a level of sceptasism. i've felt like they dont really tell me anything, or they sound like something someone just made up. but if all these people have the same dream there must be some underlying emotion behind it, but pinpointing what that is, is a huge challenge. the main difference between everyone's dream and mine is that i'm often looking for the least discusting toilet in an open bathroom full of toilets, -usually there are NO stalls at all just toilets lined up along the walls with a mountain of poo in just about each one, and most of the time there's no one else around. hmm i think its kind of funny even though i feel discusted in my dream. i think i identify with Vince the most out of all the posts :)
Mary on June 29, 2011:
Thank you for posting this! I hbe had reoccurring dreams about filthy bathrooms for years and haven't been able to find anything online. My dream are ridiculously filthy - trash, feces, dead babies.. and usually there are other people there and it's usually like a large public bathroom with several stalls. I have it every few months. Thanks again for sharing this!
Ky on April 20, 2011:
Same dream. Often. But mine always end with me pooping all over myself! So first I have the horror of the filthy bathrooms, and the horror of NO privacy, then the horror of MY poop all over me! Once that is done, I search desperately for a private shower! Of course, to no avail.
Cheryl on April 19, 2011:
I am absolutely amazed at the similarities between your dream and the one I have at least once a week. I never would have thought that so many others have it too. The toilets in the public restroom are always non-functioning and hideous but I go anyway. Usually the stall door is too short and people can see me going. I also had this dream where I was in a public restroom looking for a stall and there were men in the ladies room. I kept telling them to get out but they just ignored me. I was so enraged!
plumbing on April 16, 2011:
Everybody has that one friend who just seems to annoy your toilet. Nothing can instill fear in your heart like a toilet that is about to overflow.
jojo on March 27, 2011:
thank you so much for this interpreatation...I've had the same recurring dreams about maneuvering around other people's feces about 3 - 4 times a year (if I remember) for the past 10 years or so. After reading your article had had anither dream but the bathrom stalls were clean! I can remember being distress (in the dream) that the stalls were going to be dirty... but thew were no! yay!
anon on March 26, 2011:
I've had this dream since I was a child. It's always gross school public toilets and I can never find a clean one. Plus sometimes I feel like I can't find one that is private enough. I think it's just an anxiety dream about feeling uncomfortable and not being able to cope well with things that are unpleasant. Also the feeling of being exposed is pretty common in dreams, maybe to do with self confidence.
Bob on February 26, 2011:
Whenever I have a dream of dirty toilets I get paid...!? I feel horrible when I wake up with that dream but I also long for it cause it means money is on its way. Does anyone experience this?
LA on February 23, 2011:
Thank you so much for this explanation of this, what I find to be, disturbing & recurring dream! I used to have this dream very infrequently as you noted. But, I've had a version of it every night this week. I'm not sure if dream analysis is anything like psychic or tarot card readings that seemingly offer a vague enough explanation to apply to just abou any aspect of anyone's life (sorry if I've offended anyone), but this dream analysis seems to make perfect sense for me & my life right now. Thank you also for compiling all of this research & saving me the time in doing it all myself!
Sally on February 20, 2011:
Me too! I've asked every therapist I've been to about these dreams, and NOBODY has anything useful to say, but your description of the need to purge yourself of impurities or let out your emotions is actually helpful to me. In addition, I am constantly trying (unsuccessfully) to let go and get rid of "junk" that I tend to collect, and now that my husband is nearing retirement, I'm feeling a great deal of urgency about it, and I'm having this dream almost every single night. One other aspect of my dreams is that very often there is no privacy; e.g., no doors on the stalls or doors that won't close all the way or stay closed.
Thank you so much for posting this. I am feeling a whole lot less weird now that I know I'm not alone.
Ren on February 19, 2011:
I have this exact dream all the time. Except each time its in a new location. Sooo strange you have described it dead on
Art Peridien on February 19, 2011:
It's comforting to know that many others have had this dream. Many thanks to the OP and all who commented. I find this explanation/investigation much more helpful than another one that seems to be common on the internet: that "to see an overflowing or flooded toilet in your dream symbolizes your desires to fully express your emotions." The latter answer does not begin to address the depth of "horror" as you've rightly phrased it, that one feels in such dreams and in recalling them. Key similarities in my own experience: flooding/feces everywhere; it's a public place, and sometimes other people are present--and significantly, as someone else remarked--the others present don't seem to register the same horror or disgust; unconventional toilets; and having to simply find the least filthy one and just "go" despite my own disgust...
I'm in my late 20s and I think I began having these dreams in my late teens, which was a time of considerable difficulty in family relationships in my home. I was not actually abused, but there was some trauma, and in my mind I class these dreams along with a whole range of dreams that are simply distressing and that bring a feeling of regret (not personal guilt, but regret for miserable past experience) and shame.
I think it must be very significant that in these dreams we are the only ones so preoccupied with the filth--others present don't seem to be. And the filth is not our own. Perhaps we are particularly sensitive people when it comes to dealing with the ugly side of life/relationships. Perhaps we have high personal standards too--and maybe that even extends to the more prosaic explanation the OP later offered that we just react badly to filthy toilets, more so than others. I think that may all be connected and in summary we're very sensitive people and very concerned about propriety. Not so much about propriety in expression, I think (we are not repressed necessarily) but in private feeling (we are conscientious).
I am a deeply religious person (a theologian by profession) and some of my dreams of this nature have also involved idols related to the polytheistic background of my ancestors. But that is rare. Equally rare, but I think related to that, I have also sometimes dreamed that the feces was "stale" and had been there for a long, long time; and possibly this relates to generational problems or dysfunctions in family or other relationships.
dawn on January 31, 2011:
thank god its not just me ..i had one of these dreams again last night ..i was telling my mum and she has them too..trying to find a clean toilet but there never is one ..these dreams make you feel dirty and vunerable i think ..very strange
Melissa on January 12, 2011:
Oh I forgot to mention, another very common aspect of my dream, is no stall doors, or no privacy, people walking by etc. Feeling like I need to find privacy maybe?
Melissa on January 12, 2011:
I have this dream too. A lot and with different forms, but always the same theme, a clogged or very difficult to use toilet, sometimes it's just non functional, too small, too high, unconventional and I just can't figure out how to use it, or the dirty clogged, just this morning I had to clean one up that someone had barfed all over. Very strange I must say.
braincandy (author) on January 06, 2011:
Thank-you to all who have found my article useful or at least interesting.
Sarah- hang in there. High School is such a small blip on the radar of life.
toilet dream- Yes, I didn't mention that in my dream the stall is very narrow and I am usually barefoot- so,so-o-o lovely.
Psse 01- I have to plunge like crazy way too much in real life-faulty plumbing...
Sam- Very interesting insight!
jamie on November 29, 2010:
I can't believe I found others who have this dream. Mine too is always some public place, restaurant, locker room etc...and I open all the stall doors and there is feces all over the place and then maybe, maybe I find one that I can tolerate, but still, poo everywhere. I have had this dream many many times.
Vince on November 22, 2010:
I have a dream like this a few times a year. I experienced no childhood physical abuse or trauma, and when I wake, no real life "urgency" exists, so no obvious biological or developmental dream-source seems to exist. The dream is terribly graphic and unsettling. In it I have an intense need to deficate and all the stalls are literally overflowing with feces. Some are out in the open, but there usually aren't many other people around. However, the fear of being seen contributing to essentially open piles of feces is severe. Considering the dream's frequency, I wasn't surprised to find out others experience similar dreams. Most of the interpretations I've read seem generally to fit. Specifically, the suggestion that this dream could symbolize a relationship with someone very close that the dreamer would like to change or terminate, but hasn't in part because of a fear that others will judge the dreamer negatively.
Essentially, the source of the dream could be concealed feelings of hostility or superiority that the dreamer feels shame about. In waking hours, acknowledgment of those feelings can be surprised to the point where the dreamer forgets they even exist, but of course in the universe of dreams, this type of supression may generate discomforting, even graphically repulsive imagery.
toiletdream on November 20, 2010:
First off, a big thank u for this post. I often have dreams about going to a public place and then I end up going to use a public toilet that is very dirty, overflowed to the floor and very tiny/narrow ones too. Ones where I could hardly move and when I do, I end up touching the dirty walls. Previously my dreams weren't that bad, but the one I woke up from last night, I was wearing sox n the toilet was all wet narrow. I had to step in and use it. For some reason I didn't n couldn't stop myself from going in. Thank goodness it was just a dream!
Physical side of things, its true it's probably natures call.
As for repetition emotional side of things, now i am starting to think mine is probably to do with my control freak boss being an obstacle to everything i would like to do n leaving me with all the mess n I just have to always step in clean it up n cope with her bad (dirty toilet) n tight conditions (narrow/small toilet). As I am not given bigger opportunities n more trust to handle things in less stricter conditions as I would like.
Whatever it is, I m glad that I m not the only one having these dreams. A very useful thread!
Courtney on November 20, 2010:
I had this dream for the first time, as far as I know, last night. I was uber shocked to wake up and see that it was more common than i thought. For the past week or so, I've been feeling like crap - ha, no pun intended. But just very negative despite myself trying to make some positive advances. This interpretation almost mirrored my dream and was very comforting to know that it wasn't so much being a filthy person as it was to release that filth and want to cleanse. Thank you so much for this.
Disillusioned from Kerala, India on November 14, 2010:
I get this dream a couple of times a year. The real, physical reason is invariably a full bladder that needs to be emptied!
The psychological reason may be as per your research. Sometimes, in such dreams, I also feel that I should take up doing the cleaning work myself, though extremely occasionally I start doing the cleaning work in the dream, but mostly my dream will end with the intention of cleaning but not putting it to practice.
Perhaps I should interpret that I have the intention of purging my internal impurities, but don't really want to put it into practice!
Sam on October 12, 2010:
I have this dream at least once a week for the past few years. I thought you fellow gross dreamers would like to know that at first I thought it was telling me about the past or present but about a year ago I realized it was actually telling me about the future ...... Or to be more precise ..... The following day. Whenever I dream it i always end up in a fight, disagreement etc. It may not be about me but I am there. For example last month an old lady was on the bus speaking loudly about how rude the school kids were for putting their bags on the seat. 3 minutes into her complaints I told the lady that the bus is only 10% full so why can't they? The cute little school kids thanked me as the old lady was quiet (if looks could kill.....). Next week after another gross toilet dream a guy dropped his coffee and splashed on an irate lady who yelled at him. Again (yes I know I can't help myself) I said "I don't think he meant to drop his coffee let alone on your shoes". Please note that I too am at fault at causing some of the arguments . . . But not going to share these out of guilt :-). I find this very interesting and now know without a doubt there will be some kind of conflict ...... And have over the last 9months actually dealt with it more calmly than before. I would love to know if others have found this or start monitoring it to see if it does happen. Btw - how gross are those bathrooms we have to endure . . . And I am always barefoot - dumb nuts me.
omg on October 06, 2010:
I have had this dream a lot lately, thank you for this interpretation!
Psse01 on September 26, 2010:
Almost always my dreams are in a public restroom and many times I am in my bare feet as well and like peepee there are always people around not seeming to notice the disgusting mess. Last night (which prompted me to search an explanation) I was at, what I presume to be my home or some other private place) still people around and I was plunging like crazy trying to get the mess to go down the drain...didn't happen before I woke up.
The rav on September 24, 2010:
I'm glad to see the dream I had shows I'm letting go of toxic feelings. They are poison.
peepee - metoo! on September 23, 2010:
Just like peepee, my dream is the same, having to settle for the least filthy toilet in a public/stall restroom and "hovering" so I don't have to touch the seat. I'm not sure exactly what it means (because I am not particularly repressed person or a germaphobe) but am relieved to know it is a common dream. Thanks to all for posting! :)
inspain on September 20, 2010:
I'm amazed at how many have had the same dream-and feel better that I'm not the only one! I haven't had childhood issues (that I know of) but do think obsessively about the past and "if only I'd done this or that...."interesting.
wow on September 16, 2010:
i can't how many other people also have this dream...it's kind of a relief to be honest! however, i do believe it's what someone said earlier about it having to do with childhood trauma(s). i was sexually abused as a kid myself, so that's why i believe that. but i was in therapy for a couple of years...and yet i still have that dream...hmmm
peepee on August 25, 2010:
I have this dream too. I recall how disgusted I feel in the dream. I have to settle for the least dirty stall, and yet i still end up getting my shoes or bare feet soaked in urine, and peeing all over myself while trying to "hover"! And there is always someone else in the bathroom.
I don't know about interpretations, but in waking life, public toilets are a huge deal to me. I can never walk into a bathroom without being on guard and anxious!
Z on August 24, 2010:
I have noticed when I have dreams like this, it means I have to go to the bathroom in reality. Not being able to find a clean stall is a way for my body to try to alert me to wake up
Chiquita713 on July 29, 2010:
I have been battling with this dream since I could remember but in my case it is me that goes to the restroom. I could feel myself only going to pee but when I look down I see the bowl full of excrement and people in the restroom are disgusted by the smell and laughing at me. I know it seems strange but what does it mean when it is you the one that left all that waste?
Rayray on June 28, 2010:
This was the most helpful interpretation Ihave read. I woke up this morning from a disgusting bathroom dream. They are always so bizarre with women buzzing around tending to their hair and comoing in and out. When I look at the toilets, they are horrifying. In the one last night, I went to both a men and a women's restroom. The men's was empty of people, but very disgusting and brightly lit. To get there, I had to run up stairs that fell away. I didn't have to use the restroom, I wanted to find a place to masterbate. I could have masterbated standing up in the open, but I felt the contamination from the stalls would be in the air. When I left, I was in a new place and the women's restroom was crowded and worse with filth.
I think it might mean something about my relationships with men versus women. But I'm not sure what...
Mahnaz on June 27, 2010:
thanks for your article.
just last night i had such a harsh dream , which repeated itslef frequently over the past few years.
i thought may be i can find the answer in google, and happy to reach you and read your wise information.
Sarah on June 22, 2010:
yeah ive been having these dreams allot lately.
It really bothers me, I figured it must have to do something with my obsessive compulsive disorder and my battle with it, my fundamental repulsion with dirty bathrooms.
but I guess it could have to do with the disposal of toxic feelings, because I just graduated from a high school that I hated, and hated everyone in.
romancaesar on June 14, 2010:
How refreshing to hear others have bathroom dreams. For me, it, too, was from a series personal assaults when I was little. My dirty-bathroom-dreams started years ago as a tsunami of feces, urine, and waste to filthy bathrooms at camp sites, to overflowing toilets with floating urine and fecies in the stalls, to simply overflowing toilets with sometimes blood stagnate around the drain. Reading your article was the first time I read something professional about its interpretation of cleansing as said by Kelly Walden. Thanks for printing your article as icky as the subject is.
Bathrooms on February 25, 2010:
Hey! Thanks for the article. Dirty restrooms may become a very serious problem for a dorm or a school. One of the most possible ways to deal with this is putting special warning signs (saying smth like: WARNING! This is a dirty restroom!) on the mirrors' corners.
lady_68 on February 06, 2010:
... this idea is something the rest of my family is resisting. this dream is just one resulting factor of many that all indicate to my past including some invasive assults on my person when i was really young.
i share this b/c i think its important to seek out the things that we feel. this dream always brings an eerie discomfort for me when i wake up. it feels invasive, disgusting, and dominating. i never feel scared or alerted when i wake up as much as i just feel creeped out.
to whoever reads this, please do not just let others wave off your ideas about your own personal perspectives and feelings. no one has the right to suggest that what another individual feels is insignificant.
i think our minds and our bodies give us real warnings when something isn't good for us and i think we should listen to those ques. its not about getting ourselves freaked out or worked up. it IS about making sure we give ourselves the healthy attention we need to for our well-being.
lady_68 on February 06, 2010:
I think the original inturpretation here is quite good. and i think dreams ABSOLUTELY line up with realities in our lives and, often, in our subconcious.
Personally, this dream is the last of dozens of loud ques that i've had pointing back to some hard childhood traumas. the interesting thing is that i feel like
cartechz on December 28, 2009:
Love all of the ideas! You are a wealth of information.
Very informative content. I can see you put a lot of thought and hard work into creating your hub. Hope it pays of for you.
braincandy (author) on December 18, 2009:
Another idea that may be appropriate is that maybe some of us are just more traumatized than we realize when we are surprized by a dirty bathroom stall. The surprise factor may be more traumatizing and lingering than we think...
Pambo on November 04, 2009:
I am amazed that so many have these nasty filthy bathroom searching dreams. Mine are always the same premiss but always different locations. NOW, I am one that ALWAYS voices my opinon, am an "A" personality, very strong willed, Self employed and in charge! I told family that the dream seams to tell me that I need to "Purge" or "Clear" something up and they drop to the floor laughing. So what else could it be? What would I have to clean or purge. Sure some things I say may be harsh but needed to be said. I have no guilt when saying these things or after saying things. My mind is clear! I wake totally exhausted and (of course) NEVER have to actually go to the bathroom. WHAT THE HECK IT IS???
braincandy (author) on May 19, 2009:
Hello fellow Washitonian! I'm happy to say I have not had this dream for over two years now. Or maybe I just don't remember?
Shane Belceto from WA USA on May 19, 2009:
Interesting I must say ... I am one who once awake I don't remember any of my dreams. From reading this it appears that can be a good thing .. but also would be nice to do like you and dig into their meanings some. Find it interesting such a dream becomes a dinner topic ... grin.
So does this dream still come to you now that you have written this and delved into it some?
P.S. Oh I too am from WA so awesome to bump into another WA HUBie.