I’ve already talked about Dutch bathrooms so now I am going to tackle the (in)famous Dutch toilet. I know you’re wondering what can be so special or unique about a Dutch toilet and if I hadn’t lived with one I wouldn’t have thought much about the topic. I remember having a discussion about toilets at work, but I hadn’t fully experienced a Dutch toilet yet so I couldn’t contribute too much to the conversation. However, my flat housed a Dutch toilet so I got to appreciate a Dutch toilet on a daily basis.
What is so special about the Dutch toilet?
Two words…inspection shelf.
I know, the next question is what is an inspection shelf? Well let me explain.
The Dutch toilet is not deep and full of water like an American toilet or even deep but with a little bit of water in it like other European toilets. Nope the Dutch toilet has a flat area under your butt awesomely entitled, the inspection shelf.
Please look closely at Exhibit A, which is the toilet in my flat in Utrecht. This is a prime example of a Dutch toilet. There is a small volume of water located near the front of the bowl and then a huge shelf-like area directly under your butt. As you can imagine when you go number 2, your poop plops down onto the shelf. In the USA there is a huge volume of water for your poo to safely land in, but in the Netherlands your poo lands on a shelf not very far below your bum. It takes some getting used to is one thing I will say
Why? Is a question I often got when trying to explain these special toilets. Excellent question and there are many theories. The first theory I heard from a Dutchman was something about water pressure in pipes in the Netherlands and so it was a safety feature.
The other theory is that the shelf exists for a Dutch person to examine their poop after it evacuates your body. Apparently, the Dutch are very fecally focused so having a shelf is important to them. They like to examine their poo after it leaves their body. I suppose to determine if they are healthy. It isn’t a bad idea because a lot of health problems manifest themselves as abnormal poo.The shelf has an additional bonus in that it does make it easier if you swallowed something valuable and you wanted to retrieve it later.
Mostly the Dutch toilet is not a problem except for two issues: smell and removal from the bowl.
First the smell issue…In other countries, your doody leaves your body and falls into a huge watery abyss where the smell is tempered. When your doody instead leaves your body and falls onto a platform in the toilet then the smell radiates from the toilet and consumes the bathroom. You never knew how bad your crap smelled until you let it land on a shelf without the watery abyss. There is not enough flowery aerosol in the world to cover up that gross smell. In addition, your pee also lands on this shelf. You never knew your pee smelled bad until you peed onto an inspection shelf. Ew! Gross! Yuck!
Second is the issue of removal from the bowl. When your poo lands on a shelf it takes a massive force of water to propel it off the platform and down into the sewer system. Dutch toilets have super tall tanks (Exhibit B) and the water coming out of there could douse a small fire. However, sometimes your poo on the inspection shelf is stubborn and doesn’t want to be dislodged and flow into the sewer. A tactic I saw posted by others was to make a toilet paper raft that you place in the toilet before you go number 2. Then your poo will fall onto the raft so when the force of water leaves the tank the poo will float merrily on its raft down the hole and into the sewer. Either way, you better do a double-take to ensure all remnants of your shitty experience do not remain on the shelf for your flatmates, friends, or family to find.
I actually didn’t mind the Dutch toilet so much and I think it is something all visitors to the Netherlands should experience. Next time you are over there, take the time to find a Dutch toilet. It will be an experience you won’t forget.