Dutch Quirk #36: Charge people for public toilets

HomeUltimate List of Dutch QuirksDutch Quirk #36: Charge people for public toilets

Public toilets are hard to come by in the Netherlands, but if you do manage to find one, just know you’ll be forking over quite a few cents to take a wazz. 🚽

To be exact, you’ll pay anywhere from €0.50 to a whole €1 for a public toilet, depending on the Dutch city you’re based in.

What is it?

If you come from the land of croissants, schnitzels, or clog dancing — you’re likely familiar with the idea of taking out your wallet just so you can sit on a public tinkle pot.

As you travel extensively through Europe, you’ll find yourself dropping a coin routinely in many train and gas stations, cafés, and restaurant bathrooms across the continent. 🗺️ 

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Knowing how much the Dutch love to make a fast buck, they took the pay-per-use toilet practice and ran with it. 

Now, every time you enter a public latrine in the Netherlands, you’ll be met by a robust gate and your local Gandalf (or restroom attendant) who says, “you shall not pass!”, unless you cough up a few coins. 🤺

Why do they do it?

Well, Gandalf…I mean, the restroom attendant… doesn’t just sit outside the loo, collecting money and ceasing to let people enter.

Believe it or not, that cash is actually their paycheck for keeping the toilets clean, so you can use the bathroom without having to straddle a dirty toilet seat.

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The majority of public toilets are seen as a service here, not a right, so it’s a natural procedure that you pay the attendant for their services as they ensure a good (enough) experience of using (semi) clean toilets.

Not only that, but the Dutch also charge people for public toilets as a way to discourage folks from wildplassen (literally, wild peeing). 🥴

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Apparently, many have the urge to unzip and take a leak in canals, on busy streets, against shop windows, and wherever they see fit.

So, in an effort to prevent this, the Dutch made toilets slightly more available to the public, put a price tag on them to ensure cleanliness, and made peeing out in the open illegal with a fine of up to €140.

Why is it quirky? 

We’re all well-acquainted with the ways of the world. Everything costs money nowadays, even if it’s for basic human needs (and that, in itself, is a weird thing 🙄).

In other countries, like Greece or the United States, folks are, for the most part, able to use a public latrine without having to carry any spare change. In fact, it’s common etiquette to just enter any shop you see and ask if you can use the restroom.

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But for the Dutch, they’ve made sure to charge for any (and we mean ANY) toilet seat that isn’t your own.

Funnily enough, their long history of trade plays a major role in the reason why, which follows their constant need to make money whenever they can.

When the Dutch see an opportunity to bulk up their wallet with a few extra shillings, they use the same age-old thinking pattern: “Is there a need?”, “Can I provide a solution to that need?”, and “How much can I charge for it?”

READ MORE | Can the Netherlands be more toilet-friendly?

All in all, if you use something that costs money to maintain in the Netherlands, you pay for it. 🤷

Should you join in? 

Well, you can opt for the dirty, stinky, graffitied train bathrooms, or take your chances and use an open urinal in the middle of a busy shopping street (where you pee standing up, might I add).

But if you’re out cruising the streets, and you’d much rather use a decent bathroom, you’ll have no choice but to join in on this quirk and let go of a few precious coins.

What do you think of this Dutch quirk? Have you experienced it? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Gaelle Salem
Gaelle Salem
Born and raised on the island of Sint Maarten, Gaelle moved to the Netherlands in 2018 to attend university. Still trying to survive the erratic Dutch wind and rain, she has taken up the hobby of buying a new umbrella every month. You can probably find her in the centre of The Hague appreciating the Dutch architecture with a coffee in one hand and a slice of appeltaart in the other.

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