There is a really fascinating website online that is surprisingly useful for people who are traveling to foreign countries. It’s called Where Do I Put the Paper: A Handy Guide to the World’s Toilets.
If you’ve ever traveled to a rural area in a foreign country then you probably know that the toilets in a lot of spots can’t handle it when you try to flush toilet paper down them. Although you may know this, you may not know where to put the toilet paper. That’s an uncomfortable question to ask in any setting and can be even more awkward in foreign locations where you are unfamiliar with local customs, the language or both.
This guide resolves that problem for you by providing with you information about common toilet paper etiquette in numerous countries. It has information for a really large selection of countries so be sure to check it out. That said, here is what the site has to say about toilet paper disposal in ten popular destinations:
1. Argentina. The problem with this country as a destination is that it’s really large. Some areas are extremely rural whereas other areas are very urban. If you’re spending your time in the city of Buenos Aires then chances are that it’s safe to flush the toilet paper down the toilet. This is especially true if you are staying in a modern, urban, European-style hotel. However, if you’re in a more dated establishment in the city or you are located anywhere else in Argentina then you should put the toilet paper in the trash bin inside of the bathroom. If you see a trash bin in the bathroom with you then err on the side of caution and put the paper there rather than flushing it.
2. Australia. Travelers from the United States and Western Europe will be happy to know that it’s pretty much okay to put toilet paper into any toilet in Australia. The plumbing and water pressure here are sufficient to flush the paper down just like you’re used to at home.
3. Bahamas. One important thing to know before you trek off to the Bahamas is that it’s actually very common for bathrooms to be lacking toilet paper here. You’ll want to carry your own toilet paper in a purse or messenger bag so that you’re not caught without something to wipe. What’s unusual is that if you do have your own toilet paper then it’s generally fine to go ahead and flush it here. In most countries where toilet paper is lacking you’ll find that you have to trash the paper instead of flushing it but that’s just not the case in the Bahamas. The one exception is if there is a sign in the bathroom telling you to throw paper in the trash instead of flushing it so keep your eye out for such signage when you enter a public bathroom in the Bahamas.
4. Belize. As with the Bahamas, it is very common for toilet paper to be lacking in Belize so you’ll want to carry your own supply with you. The rest of the situation is the opposite of the Bahamas, though. Here, you should assume that the toilet can’t handle toilet paper and you should throw the toilet paper into a trash bin in the bathroom unless there is signage specifically telling you that it’s okay to throw it into the toilet.
5. Ethiopia. Local people here don’t actually use toilet paper but instead wash manually after using the bathroom. For that reason, you’ll need to carry your own toilet paper with you if you want to wipe. The toilets are not equipped to handle the paper, since it’s not what is commonly used there, so don’t ever throw toilet paper into the toilet when visiting Ethiopia. Instead, throw it in a trash bin if there is one. If there isn’t one then you’ll need to find a place to burn or bury your used toilet paper as you would do if you were camping in a remote area in other parts of the world.
6. Greece. This is a popular destination in Europe where you probably won’t be able to enjoy the common custom of flushing toilet paper down the toilet. The sewage system here is old and generally can’t handle the toilet paper. Instead, there should be a trash bin in the bathroom where you can dispose of your used toilet paper. The exception is if you’re staying in a very upscale and modern hotel but even then it’s best to err on the side of caution.
7. Indonesia. Like with Ethiopia, this is a country where it is common to wash instead of wiping. You can take your own toilet paper and throw it into a trash bin here if one is available. Alternatively you can carry it out with you and either burn or bury it in an appropriate location. Of course, you can also try using the local method of washing using the water pipe that is supplied inside of the bathroom for you.
8. Ireland. Many people who haven’t traveled extensively throughout Europe wonder a little bit about customs in places like Ireland. This isn’t a situation like Greece where flushing the toilet can cause a lot of problems. In general, it is totally fine to flush toilet paper down the toilet in Ireland. Of course, do look out for signs warning you that there’s old plumbing; they’ll let you know if you do need to put your toilet paper in the trash instead.
9. Maldives. This has become a very popular tourist destination in recent years. As that has occurred, more modern technology has popped up to accommodate tourists and that includes modern toilet technology. However, many of these toilets are composting toilets, so there won’t be any flushing of toilet paper. Instead, you’ll need to put the toilet paper into the bins that are provided in the bathrooms. Like in Ethiopia and Indonesia, you also have the option of washing instead of using toilet paper.
10. St Kitts and Nevis. The majority of Caribbean Islands, including St. Kitts and Nevis, have old plumbing that cannot accommodate toilet paper so you have to put it into trash bins instead of flushing it. This is not always the case. If you’re staying in a high-end, modern hotel then it may be able to accommodate flushing your toilet paper but err on the side of caution if you aren’t sure.
Alyona Gorbatova from Russia, Sochi on January 16, 2020:
The title of the article has intrigued me. And this is really useful information. Thank you!
Janisa from Earth on March 29, 2018:
I never thought that such a topic would be so useful to read on. Interesting article and good tips!
Ludmila C on October 13, 2015:
ocbill profile image
ocbill 4 years ago from hopefully somewhere peaceful and nice
Add Brazil to the list of non-flushing of toilet tissue. Although, some high-end hotels in the big cities may allow you to do that."
*********** BRAZIL IS HUGE and bigger than continental US hahaha
You say nonsenses lol
You can flush it in many places in big and medium modern cities in Brazil, some other places, no! You talk of Brazil as you talk of Bangladesh, the poorest country in the world.
If you are pooping in the Amazon forest, no need to wipe it. Just do it in a hole, put earth and leaves above and go to the river to wash it with soap, as do locals in brazilian countryside. Brazilians are considered amonsgt of the cleanest people in the world (europeans are not counted on top cleanest ones in this ranking)... Sometimes europeans backpackers coming back to Europe from Brazil, Amazon forest or even the highlands of NAZCA or just because they do not affectionate water, are so stinky that the plane officers forbiden them to embark, counseling them to take a shower before boarding the next plane hahahaha
Keith on June 04, 2013:
Thank you for this! For forty-some years I've wondered if I understood the instructions correctly when I stayed with the family of a friend. And dreaded their reaction if I was wrong. Finally I can put that out of my mind!
beatriz on March 30, 2013:
very useful and respectful article , very important to know for travelers who respect other cultures and establishements. Is true that in some parts you can´t flush toilet paper, and in some part you can do it, everything has a reason...so if you find the "sign" somewhere and you don´t want to throw your stinky toilet paper in trash bin, you d better move into another custom place, otherways..would be very stinky and disguisting to find your "stuff" (for others customs and staff)
Dewnut99 on September 05, 2012:
Of course, when in the US it would be nice if all of the tourists from these other cointries would flush the toilet paper. We have little boxes by the toilets for feminine hygiene products and to have them filled up with stinky toilet paper is just gross.
Desire on July 30, 2012:
It's true for Greece, they don't flush toilet paper and tourists are not allowed to do it almost anywhere. I was shocked, since it's Europe and not some third world country. When asked why, they told me their sewage pipes are 2 inches wide (50 millimeters) instead of the standard 4 inches (100 millimeters).
Irishman on April 09, 2012:
30 years and I have yet to find a toilet in Ireland that I cannot flush Toilet paper. I think it has something to do with the fact that there is NOWHERE on this island when you put your toilet paper in the bin. There are no bins in the toilet cubicles, apart from bins for sanitary towels. Your article is obnoxious to say the least. Kathryn Vercillo you are obviously not well travelled and extremely ignorant.
"What’s unusual is that if you do have your own toilet paper then it’s generally fine to go ahead and flush it here."
What's unusual about that?
One must have a "hub" to have an opinion or to correct misguided fools Nate?
CompuClinic from Provo, UT on August 09, 2011:
On the other hand, what is really funny is that my wife made this mistake in the US. She is from Russia and their plumbing is a lot tougher than ours. She put the paper in the trash bin for a few weeks before the family she was staying with noticed and mentioned something.
NateSean from Salem, MA on March 29, 2011:
I like how the "offended" parties don't even have contact info or hubpages. It makes me question their legitimacy first. But then, if they really are so offended, it must mean something too.
Anyhow, a very useful hub and well written.
jak on February 28, 2011:
hmmm, sorry some seem offended, but I arrived here in 2011 becausse the bathroom in my resort near the airport for Bangkok, Thailand has just such a sign. So I want to know what I am supposed to do.... PS, I also saw signs in Adas Ababa this year, so it is an issue there too.
Idiot banter is not fact on February 06, 2011:
I'm not sure who supplied this website with this information but I can assure that I've never been to a Caribbean Island where flushing toilet paper down a toilet has been a problem. To even propose that flushing toilet paper is an impossibility is St. Kitts and Nevis is utter nonsense and such allegations should be supported with fact or it's just simple idiot banter. For persons who actually sit, read and believe this is idiocy, you too should be clashed with the Neanderthal style of thinking for you too fall under the class of primitive idiots. Being from St. Kitts and Nevis and visiting most other island, we are not as outdated as you may naively think. In most cases, we are far better off than developed countries like USA or Europe. Further, why would you be traveling to a country and idly taking a dump in public rest rooms? That in and of itself is disgusting and a repugnant action. You too should feel disgusted for creating such a website. It shows your level of intellect.. an IQ score near the lower percentile.
Bahama Mama on February 05, 2011:
Ok. Please tell me this article was for all fun and laughs!
If not, you sure are ignorant as hell. It is not at all 'common' for bathrooms to be lacking toilet paper in the Bahamas. Common sense should tell you that every now and again bathrooms run out of toilet paper EVERYWHERE not just in the Bahamas.
Unless it was to your misfortune to experience a series of bad toilet paper luck in each of those counties (and I highly doubt you even traveled to half these places you talked about) I suggest you next time, give CORRECT information.
P.S. To future tourists, look for no such signs in any bathroom telling you to throw toilet paper in the trash.
SK resident on February 05, 2011:
Stupid article! What the hell do you know about St Kitts and Nevis. ALL THE FRICKIN TOILETS IN MY COUNTRY CAN FLUSH PAPER, WHERE THE HELL DO YOU GET OFF WRITING SUCH A RIDICULOUS ARTICLE? Nobody and I mean NOBODY throws toilet paper in trash bins in my country, such an act is extremely unsanitary and disgusting. Everything is FLUSHED for your freaking information. Don't you dare spread lies about us!
Amaranth on February 05, 2011:
Also, anyone travelling to the United States should be aware that there are no healthy places to eat and should in fact bring trail mix on their trip. In some up-scale restaurants it is possible to find healthy food but one should not count on this occurring.
Was that offensive? So is stating, without evidence, that there are whole countries whose plumbing systems lack the capacity to handle toilet paper. If you willfully travel to the rural areas of a developing nation then of course you will encounter basic sanitation issues. However, having lived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia I can say that I never caused problems by flushing toilet paper...that's what you're expected to do with it.
Please do not generalise the issues faced a section of the populus to an entire nation. It is ignorant and offensive. Citizens of the United States dislike when foreigners assume they're ignorant. Similarly, citizens of developing nations dislike it when foreigners assume we're all poor and badly sanitised.
Ms. Nomadica on January 28, 2011:
Oh wow, very important information for the budget traveler. Thank you so much for putting this quick reference together.
ocbill from hopefully somewhere peaceful and nice on December 27, 2010:
Add Brazil to the list of non-flushing of toilet tissue. Although, some high-end hotels in the big cities may allow you to do that.
WildIris on December 26, 2010:
Very informative! Good things to consider before being in the uncomfortable situation and not knowing what to do. Thumbs up!
Hello, hello, from London, UK on December 26, 2010:
Thank you for an informative and hilarious hub.
SteveoMc from Pacific NorthWest on December 25, 2010:
If I insisted that my wife throw her paper in a trash bin, then maybe we wouldn't go through 2 rolls a day! LOL Interesting information, just thinking about that pipe that is supplied for washing, I wonder how that works.
Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on December 24, 2010:
Hmmm... interesting, but not likely to be a problem for me, as I'm not in the travel-budget set.
I've only been outside of the country once, and that was to Canada, which is almost just an extension of the USA, with the exception of some odd words., eh?
As far as the trash-bin countries... eww... I shudder to think of the possibilites of contagion/contamination from accidental contact with the contents of the paper form possibly careless bin-stuffers!
Thanks for the info--if I ever get money to travel, I'll be sure to avoid those areas!