Be a Responsible Guest: Bathroom Etiquette Tips When Visiting Friends and Relatives



If you’re staying at someone’s house, you’ll need to use the bathroom while you’re there. Be a good guest and follow these tips for impeccable bathroom etiquette when visiting someone’s home.

Ask First, Don’t Search It Out

Unless you’re a repeat guest at someone’s house, don’t go searching for the toilet when you feel nature calling. It’s polite to ask first so you don’t accidentally stumble on a room your host would rather you not see. Also, since many houses have multiple bathrooms, they may have one particular bathroom they’d like you — as their guest — to use.

Don’t Waste Water

Your friends may or may not have a specially designed eco-friendly bathroom, but most of us are concerned about the environment — or at least the water bill. Whatever you do in your home, use water sparingly in your host’s. This includes turning off the water while you brush your teeth and in the shower while you shampoo. Also, houses with older heating systems might have a finite amount of hot water before the stream goes cold, so if you’re the first to bathe you might be robbing others of warm water. At the same time, don’t skip showers while visiting someone else’s home. Keeping clean is good manners. Be aware of drips when you leave the bathroom. It’s possible the taps need more tightening than they do at your home.

Bring Your Own Toiletries

Most people have their guest bathrooms decked out with gift packs of soaps and bubble baths received in office Secret Santa exchanges or with travel-sized bottles from their last vacation. But that doesn’t mean you should count on those being there or being full of product. The last thing you want to do is cut short your shower because there’s no shampoo. Bring your own shampoo, conditioner, soap and toothpaste with you.


Clean Up After Yourself

If you stay in a hotel, someone picks up after you and gets paid for it. But, unless your hosts have a full-time housekeeper, you’re the one who should pick up after yourself when you are an overnight guest. Draw the line at getting on your hands and knees to scrub the bathroom tile grout, but wipe down the sink after brushing your teeth, clean off the mirror if it looks smudged, check for unsightly hair in the drain after showering and straighten towels left hanging on the rack. If the bathroom has accessible cleaning supplies, like a shower spray or a squeegee for glass surfaces, use them.

Ask in Advance About the Bathroom Schedule

Find out the evening before what your guests’ morning bathroom routine is. Most multi-person households have an implicit schedule, and if there are children in the house, adhering to that schedule might be the only thing getting those kids to school on time. Ask what they’ll be planning to do, and when they’d like you to shower. If the rest of the house showers in the morning, it might be a good idea for you to do it before bed.

Mind the Lid

Every household has its own toilet seat rules: up or down. Notice the way your hosts keep it and stick to the model they’ve provided. This eliminates potential confusion on your hosts’ part if they’re sharing the bathroom with you.

Teach Kids To Be Considerate

What if you have kids who are spending the night away? The best thing you can in this situation is to teach your kids to be as considerate at their friends’ homes as you would like their friends to be at yours.

About the Author: Gina Scotch has studied behavioral sciences and etiquette in various cultures. The bathroom fascinates her because of its universality: everyone has one, and yet each culture is appalled at what others do in the privacy of their own.



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About Kimberly

Kimberly Vetrano resides in the suburbs of New York City with her family and "mini zoo" consisting of five cats, a dog and a Goldfish. Kimberly is a teacher's assistant for a Kindergarten class. When she is not working or blogging, Kimberly enjoys taking photos of nature and hanging out with family and friends.


  1. Great tips! You’ve got some useful information here for visitors as well as hosts. Thanks!

  2. Michelle S says:

    This is soo funny, but true! I would never think to search out things on my own, just make sure things are stocked in advance, aka toilet paper before you go.

  3. Donna George says:

    Pretty complete list. I can’t think of anything to add. Good job.

  4. I would never expect my host to have any toiletries for me. The tip about drips would be true in my house (until I get around to fixing it)

  5. I think this post covered the fundamental rules in staying at another’s house. I think a lot of these just make practical sense, but in today’s economic climate, it’s even more important to be mindful of even small things like water usage and toiletries required. I would also suggest if it’s a sleepover specifically, to bring bedding. Sometimes it’s nice to bring your own towels as well. This was a good reminder post on normal etiquette when visiting friends/family. Thanks for sharing the tips!

  6. Would it be rude to send this link to my in-laws!

  7. Karen Glatt says:

    This is a good reminder to anyone who is visiting relatives or friends the proper manners when using a guests bathroom. Most of these I already know, but it is always polite to make sure to bring your own toiletries. I forgot one year to bring the toiletries, and I went out and bought some.

  8. I would also add that if you break something, or clog something up, tell the host immediately. It’s better to be slightly embarrassed in the short-term than to cause long-term damage.