Most people will find themselves working a traditional office job at some point in their lives. But if you’re a relative newcomer to the 9-to-5 drudgery, you might have some logistical questions. The most obvious ones probably concern your meals and commute, but that’s not what I’m about to talk about. After all, there are more important challenges to consider, such as how to poop quietly at work.
When I was younger, I used to have a lot of anxiety about going number two in public restrooms. They’re almost always crowded — especially at work — and the stall doors often don’t leave much up to the imagination. Because of that, I’ve always tried to keep my visits to the office restroom brief. But no matter how much we try to avoid it, eventually, we all end up having to “go” at work.
And so I wanted to find ways to poop without having to avoid eye contact with my coworkers after leaving the bathroom. While some might tell you to “assert your dominance” and let it all out, I understand that not everyone will be comfortable enough to do that. So with that in mind, let’s see how to make public restroom visits more bearable.
How to Poop Quietly at Work (Or If Your Home Has Paper-Thin Walls)
Even though these tips mostly refer to relieving yourself in the office bathroom, you could also use them at home — especially if you don’t want your roommate or partner to hear you at night. But before we get to the parts that will be useful in that situation, let’s talk about the unique struggles you might have while trying to poop quietly at work.
Time It Right
First things first, you’ll have to learn to recognize the best times for you to excuse yourself. That should be pretty easy since the need to go to the bathroom usually builds over some time. So, use that time to look for opportunities to gracefully leave that meeting or cubicle. Waiting until the very last minute and making a desperate run for the restroom would give away your business there.
Furthermore, try to visit the restroom when everyone else is distracted, if possible. Either wait for everyone to become absorbed in their work or do it when they’re at lunch. The goal is to get to the bathroom when no one else is in there. There are ways to adapt to a full restroom, though, so don’t worry about that too much.
Close All Doors and Turn on All Noisemakers
When you get to the bathroom, close all of the doors. Office buildings often have the bathrooms in a completely separate hallway, so you may be able to get several doors between you and your coworkers. That should muffle some of the noise.
Additionally, you can turn on the exhaust fan if there is one. Most companies don’t make it a point to invest in quiet exhaust fans and hand dryers. However, noisy ones would be an advantage in this case! These kinds of devices can essentially act as white noise machines, further masking the noise.
Still, if the office restroom doesn’t have these kinds of amenities, there are other ways to cover the sound. For example, if the sink is close to the toilet, you may be able to reach the faucet. Running the faucet is a trick you could use even in regular bathrooms. It may even be more realistic to do it at home since most public restrooms have faucets that turn off automatically to conserve water.
Don’t Freak out About Other People
If someone is already in the restroom, you should go to the furthest stall from theirs. Of course, I would also understand not wanting to share the bathroom when your breakfast burrito shoots out. In that case, you could go to the bathroom on a different floor, if that’s an option. Hopefully, people in that department won’t know you — you can just be the mysterious pooper that comes and “goes.”
But really, you want the bathroom you go into to be crowded. The more, the merrier, especially since no one will be able to pinpoint the source of the noise if you’re all using the toilet. Just, whatever you do, don’t try to strike up a conversation. Nobody is there to socialize!
Drop a Wad of Toilet Paper Into the Bowl
In any case, once you find a free stall, don’t drop trou right away. Take a moment to grab some toilet paper, roll it up, and gingerly place it into the toilet bowl. A part of the wad should cover the water in the toilet, though the top part should still be dry. That will prevent some of the atrocious plopping sounds and potential splashback.
While you’re at it, you may also want to cover the toilet seat with toilet paper before you sit down. But that will depend on the general level of cleanliness of the bathroom.
Get It Over With Quickly
When you’re finally seated, you’ll want to “go” as quickly as you can. Don’t bring reading materials, don’t scroll through social media, and do not make phone calls. That leaves time for the next person to come in and do their “business” on company time.
Still, if you don’t have anything to cover any potentially explosive sounds that might come out, you might want to take your time instead. But honestly, the faster you “go,” the less you’ll have to worry about noise. Plus, there’s one noise muffler that always works — the courtesy flush!
Conceal the Noise With a Courtesy Flush
If the toilet bowl is too far away from the sink to run the faucet from a seated position, you can always use the flushing function of the toilet to cover up the sounds.
Now, most people use the courtesy flush to eliminate odors when they’re using a bathroom at their friend’s house. However, if the flush is loud enough, you could use it to conceal any sounds you might produce as well. You won’t have to pay for that water bill, anyway, so I say: go nuts.
Flushing repeatedly is certainly better than other methods you might use to disguise flatulence. A brief Internet search revealed that those techniques include:
- Clearing your throat (but who wants to induce a coughing fit while they’re focused on producing a bowel movement?)
- Fake crying or screaming. I’m sure that one’s a joke — if not, it sounds like a great way to get fired and possibly admitted to a psychiatric hospital.
- Using an air horn to cover up the self-produced toots. Despite the hilarity of that mental image, you can see why that’s a flawed idea.
Obviously, you’re not going to do any of that — it’s insane! Therefore, flushing the toilet is a much more convenient and realistic plan. Now you just have to hope your office building doesn’t have quiet flush toilets. While those are great for your home, they won’t be effective at disguising flatulence.
Exit the Bathroom With Your Head Held High
After the deed is done, make sure you leave the restroom tidy for the next person. Lower the toilet seat lid before you flush to contain the noise, wash your hands, and get back to work. If you have followed this guide, no one will know what just happened in the restroom.
However, there are other ways to make sure everyone has plenty of privacy while they’re doing a number two at work. And no, I’m not talking about pulling the fire alarm to evacuate the building before they poop. Instead, you could look into fixing the structural issues that make it so easy to hear what people are doing in the restroom.
How to Soundproof the Bathrooms at Work
If you’re just an employee, you may feel as though you have no pull with the management. However, if enough people notice the awful conditions of the restrooms, you may be able to convince the company to pay for some improvements. So let’s talk about what needs to happen before the bathroom at work becomes a shy pooper’s haven.
Install Full-Length Stall Doors
As I have mentioned, bathroom stall doors are the most atrocious part of public restrooms. They usually don’t go all the way from the floor up to the ceiling. According to my research, the bottom gap is about 12 inches tall, with the door only covering about 36 by 50 inches.
Even worse, those doors usually don’t close all the way, leaving a 0.25–0.5-inch gap between the door and the pilaster. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s bothered by that charming feature.
So if your company has a suggestion box or another way for employees to ask for what they need, you might want to request full-length toilet partitions. In fact, you could even research some affordable options online before you present the idea to the management. Alternatively, you and your coworkers can all pitch in to redo just the nearest restroom.
Basic Bathroom Soundproofing Tips
If the full-length toilet partitions don’t pan out, there are other bathroom soundproofing methods you could try.
To begin with, you could ask the powers that be if you can drill into the bathroom door. If they say yes, install a rubber door sweep at the bottom of the main bathroom door. Or, if they direct you to the building custodian, make sure they have the tools to do that.
Additionally, you could add a strip of self-adhesive weatherstripping tape along the top and the sides of the door. That should fully seal the door when it’s closed, which ought to substantially reduce the noise that makes it outside. The issue of the bathroom stall doors will remain, though, unless you invest in full-length ones.
Just Go for It
There was no way for me to get through talking about this topic without cracking a few jokes. Still, I tried to sprinkle them in with all the other (hopefully useful) information I’ve presented. At this point, you should be able to make a bathroom run at work without having to worry about the sordid sounds you might produce.
But trust me: after a while, you’ll see how futile trying to cover up those sounds really is. As one truly excellent book teaches us: “everybody poops.” You might as well let go of your inhibitions and “go” whenever you have to.