New Research Explores the Cleanest Bathroom Stall to Use

There might not be a correct answer

Bathroom sign
Ever wonder which bathroom stall is cleanest?
Yena Kwon/Unsplash

It’s a question that nearly everyone who’s used a stall in a public restroom has wondered: namely, which one of these is going to be the cleanest? Most of the time, it’s going to take some guesswork. Should you opt for the stall closest to the door or the one furthest from it? Do the center stalls have an advantage that the rest lack? Is there even a “best” option here?

Now, with a long-in-the-works Slate article, Chloe Hadavas ventured into the debate — and brought both scientific and anecdotal research into the mix. This included Hadavas talking with her colleagues about their experiences in men’s and women’s bathrooms.

What did she learn? Numerous women preferred going to the first stall, while men had a different set of priorities — some also went for the first stall, while others opted for the most private option.

The article also cites an aggregation of research on the subject from 2015, which has some other useful information. That includes more details of how people opt for privacy when using restrooms.

There’s another element to the article that’s worth considering — and it might unsettle you just a bit. Many of the people Hadavas spoke with viewed using the first stall as a kind of life hack. But if more and more people opt to use the first stall as a result of this article, that could lead to big changes in bathroom behavior. Are we entering the realm of Schrödinger’s bathroom stall? We might just be.

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