Why Don’t We Use Urinals In Home Bathrooms?



It’s a rare occurrence to encounter urinals as part of bathroom suites in UK homes. In fact, it’s so rare that I don’t think I’ve ever come across such a surprising sight. We expect urinals in the men’s bathrooms of public places as a matter of course, but a urinal in a home is something that’s inconceivable to the majority of people I’ve asked in the past. Men simply have to release their fluids into the toilet when they’re at home, more often than not causing a few arguments about not managing to get everything into the bowl. Having urinals in home bathrooms is just something that doesn’t factor into plans when designing one, but should that be changed?

The argument for more home urinals – or any home urinals at all – tends to centre on the fact that simply peeing into a toilet wastes a lot of water. It seems illogical that we use litres of water to flush away a small amount of yellow-tinged drinking water, making it pretty wasteful from an environmental standpoint. BuildingGreen.com estimates that two males in a home who both pee an average of three times a day will require a total of 2,040 toilet flushes a year. That’s about 3,250 gallons of water used just to flush urine away every year. When you put it in numbers it just reaffirms the theory that, yes, it is pretty damn wasteful.

Woah… wait! Don’t urinals use water to flush the urine away anyway? Well, yes, although urinals do use about 1/3 of the water that toilets eat up when flushing. Secondly, waterless urinals exist that employ various systems instead of an onrush of water. These generally come in the form of replaceable cartridges or trips, both of which are being courted as possible solutions to help save more water in the future.

So, what’s stopping people from embracing domestic urinals with glee? What’s not putting an end to endless arguments about leaving the toilet seat up or down? There are a few reasons I can think of.

The Reasons Why Home Urinals Are Rare

I’ve come up with four reasons why I think most people just don’t want to have one in their home. Please feel free to contribute towards the discussion by commenting below.

It’s a bit, well, weird: People are simply put off by the idea of having a urinal in our home bathrooms in the first place. It’s something we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in bus station and pub toilets, and we all know how grotty some of those places can look. There is a worry that putting one in your own bathroom will look out of place and ruin the design aesthetic. The bathroom is one place that guests will inevitably end up visiting when they’re in your home, so you want it to look as neat and presentable as your living room is. Walking in to see a urinal in someone’s bathroom may illicit a strange reaction, although if you’re someone that relishes the opportunity to be ‘out of the ordinary’ then having one may be a good addition to your oddball roster.

While we’re on this topic I should mention that I’m seeing less and less urinals available when out in public. I’ve been in plenty of pubs that only have toilets, meaning that businesses could be wasting just as much water as residential properties. However, in the majority of cases the lack of urinals is due to the following reason.

There’s a lack of space: In a room where space is already at a premium, adding a urinal to the mix simply isn’t an option for some people. Residential bathrooms, especially in the old terraced homes that are abundant across the country, just aren’t that big in the UK. Once you’ve slotted in a toilet, bath/shower and a basin there just isn’t much space for anything else. My own bathroom is a tight squeeze, with little space between the sink and edge of the bath. I don’t have the luxury to fit in a separate shower enclosure to accompany the bath – I have an overhead shower instead – so I certainly don’t have the luxury to install a urinal too.

Nobody can be bothered with the expense: While urinals won’t differ much in price to your average toilet, it’s still an added expense that people can do without in the harsh economic climate. The difference is that a toilet allows you to do two different things, whereas you’re hardly going to start sitting down in a urinal (I hope so anyway!). Yes, you may save money in water bills in the long run (if you run on a water metre), but the bigger picture isn’t always something you think about when you’re choosing between that stunning new bathroom mirror or sticking a urinal in the corner.

There is also the environmental angle to consider, but unfortunately we tend to be more concerned with paying the bills than saving the planet as the money in your pocket is something that personally affects you. Of course, I’m not saying that people don’t want to do their part but you’ll be hard pressed to find a huge sales base if you’re trying to sell urinals on the sole basis that it will help the environment.

It’s something else to clean: Our busy lifestyles leave little time to do the cleaning as it is, let alone cleaning yet another appliance. I’m probably pushing it a bit adding this one, as it’s nothing a bit of bleach can’t sort. However, people tend to not want more clutter to clean, and as it’s something they don’t actually need if they’ve already got a toilet then they’ll be less inclined to get one and have to spend more extra time doing the cleaning.

If you don’t clean them then they end up stinking to high heaven. Then again, so does a toilet.

Ultimately we can sum up the argument for installing a domestic urinal in the following buzz-inducing slogan that is sure to sell a million of the things: ‘Save Water. Get a Urinal’ But it probably won’t, and until someone comes up with a way to smash through the reasons I’ve given above, the home urinal will sadly remain a rare sight.