Public restrooms being used for changing clothes, phone conversations, and 'getting away'

Should designs be updated?

June 27, 2019 |
Public restrooms being used for changing clothes, phone conversations, and 'getting away'

Rendering: Pixabay

About 60% of Americans use a public restroom one to five times a week, according to the latest annual hand washing survey conducted by Bradley Corporation.

Besides using the toilet and washing their hands, the top five things Americans do in a public restroom are: check their appearance, blow their nose or cough, get away, use their cell phone and change clothes. By far, 18-34 year olds use public restrooms the most frequently with three to 10 stops a week.

“When we looked at how people ‘get away’ in a public restroom, we found 27% use it as a place to take a mental health break, avoid someone, hide, and even cry,” says Jon Dommisse, director of strategy and corporate development for Bradley Corp. “Almost a third of the population go to the restroom for respite.”

That begs the question about whether designers of public restrooms should build in space and benches for people to recompose themselves. This may be happening already, with family restrooms having grown in popularity in the past decade. Some 76% of parents have availed themselves of a family restroom to, among other things, change a diaper, change clothes, wash a child’s face, and calm a child.