December 15, 2022 at 3:54 pm

Why Are Public Toilet Seats Shaped Like Horseshoes?

by Ashley Dreiling

Have you ever wondered why there are so many differently shaped toilet seats?

More specifically, why do so many public bathrooms have oval toilet seats with an odd opening in the middle front?

Public toilet featured image Why Are Public Toilet Seats Shaped Like Horseshoes?

Photo Source: Pixabay

Believe it or not, the horseshoe-shaped toilet seats come from the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO).

While it isn’t law, the IAPMO’s Uniform Plumbing Code outlines industry-standard regulations,

“Seats, for public use, shall be of elongated type and either of the open front type or have an automatic seat cover dispenser.”

But the code doesn’t explain why they recommend this shape, leading many to draw their own conclusions.

It turns out the horseshoe is recommended for hygiene.

According to Lynne Simnick, senior vice president of code development at the IAPMO, the goal is to avoid contact between the toilet’s contents and the body, specifically hands or private bits.

It “eliminates an area that could be contaminated with urine” and “eliminates the user’s genital contact with the seat,” Simnick told Slate magazine in 2013. She even went on to suggest the horseshoe shape especially benefits women, allowing them “to wipe the perineal area […]”

While there are other ways to protect against toilet seat germs, such as hovering or putting toilet paper down, it’s nice to know there are regulations to watch our backs (and backsides).

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