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German Bathroom Fixtures… What is the Deal with Those Toilets?

German Bathroom Fixtures… What is the Deal with Those Toilets?


german bathroom fixtures

german bathroom fixtures

Germany and America are countries separated by both language and bathroom fixtures. The two main issues…Hand-held Shower heads, and Toilets. It’s funny I traveled back and forth between the countries for years, and never had serious issues with German bathroom fixtures. In fact, I LOVE the hand-held showers in Germany …. As for the toilets? Well, they are better than the “squatters” I’ve dealt with in other places. But then, I traveled with an American… and boy did he have a lot to say.

Oh Those German Bathroom Fixtures!

Why do I have to hold the Shower Head in Germany?

german bathroom fixturesFor some reason hand held shower heads, are troublesome to Americans. I think they are FANTASTIC!!! You see, I’m a little on the short side, and I absolutely LOVE being able to raise and lower the water to a perfect height. If I don’t want my hair to get wet, I can slide it down the pole. And if I want to spray water right on my knees, I can hold the sprayer at the perfect angle. Of course, the American I was with had nothing good to say … “it slides down!” (tighten it), “why do I have to hold it?” (to get all your bits clean!), “why can’t this be like an American Shower” (because, sigh, you are in Germany… I can, however, arrange a flight home for you this afternoon).

Best of all…. Cleaning the shower is 100 times easier when you have the hand held sprayer. You can actually get into the corners.


Why is there a Ledge in a German Toilet?

german toilet
American Toilet design on left… German Toilet Design on right

For those of you who have never experienced a German toilet (and wonder what could POSSIBLY be different), picture this….. a toilet with a shelf for your business to land on. AKA, a Reverse Bowl Design.  Hmmm. Now, there is a perfectly good, and almost scientific reason for this shelf. Germans have always been concerned about health and well being  (ask my kids…. I’m always saying “a clean colon is a healthy colon”). With a shelf, you get a chance to make a quick inspection to see that ….well… things are coming along nicely. It’s also a great way to do a quick check for parasites, important in a world where pork is a major source of protein. (Granted, that hasn’t been much of an issue in the past 70 years….) One article even pointed out that it was easier to retrieve any coins or jewelry that your child may have swallowed before it gets flushed away. But… that may have been a joke.

german bathroom fixturesSadly, seeing your Hinterlassenschaften, and maybe worse, smelling your Hinterlassenschaften is an issue for many Americans. It is kind of yucky. And there is always a worry of the WHOOSH of water ricocheting and splashing out if you forget to close the lid. I understand there may also me a ricochet issue for men who pee enthusiastically… honestly,  I have never experienced this firsthand, so I don’t feel I can comment on that… other than to say this is a HUGE concern for people who hate to constantly be wiping up the bathroom tile. But, I don’t see the toilet as cause for international incident…. (Unlike SOME people who just can’t finish up, and then move on with their lives). I really don’t think you will get an entire nation to change their bathroom habits…especially if they are doing it just to please visiting Americans.

Bathrooms Poster Tin Sign - Wc Benutze Diesen Stillen Ort, Doch Halte Ihn Sauber, Sonst Jagen Wir Dich Fort, Retro Style (14 x 10 inches)Bathrooms Poster Tin Sign – Wc Benutze Diesen Stillen Ort, Doch Halte Ihn Sauber, Sonst Jagen Wir Dich Fort, Retro Style (14 x 10 inches)

And remember, the Reverse Bowl Design Toilet is still better than a Porta Potty on a hot Sunday afternoon during a weekend long Youth Soccer Tournament.

What is a WC?

A WC…pronounced Veh Zeh is a Water Closet… Small room with a Toilet and Sink. It has everything you need to take care of 80 % of your business. I don’t know why they chose to call it a WC, it just is. I know there are several other words people use for Bathroom …Badezimmer, Toilette, Kloh…Deal with it.

Assorted Other German Bathroom Fixtures….

Then there is the little stuff… why is the toilet paper covered by a metal flap? To prevent the toilet splash from wetting the paper… (You did remember to close the lid before flushing, right?)

Why are the towels on hooks?  It’s more space efficient. Use them

Why is it always so COLD!? Because it’s always cold in Germany…

Why does the toilet paper feel like sand paper?? It doesn’t any more… now they have the same cushy soft stuff that American behinds are accustomed to. (Does anyone else remember the grey stuff that they had on the Deutsche Bahn back in the day?

Why is there a Toilet Brush? Because in a civilized country, you don’t leave evidence of your last visit….

Do I have to use the Bidet? Granted, you won’t find one everywhere, but if you want to use it, that’s up to you… just remember, it’s NOT a drinking fountain.

Embrace the differences… it’s just a bathroom.




german bathroom

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GROHE Power and Soul 130 Shower Set with Hand Shower, Starlight ChromeGROHE Power and Soul 130 Shower Set with Hand Shower, Starlight ChromeEssentials Guest Bathroom Set, 3-In-1Essentials Guest Bathroom Set, 3-In-1


What is the Deal with Those Toilets?


  1. Thank you for this info! I lived in Germany for 8 years back in 1984-92 and still didn’t know all of those little things. I think the toilet shelf serves one BIG service you missed. In a country that served meat-centric meals and had high rates of heart disease in folks over 50, the toilet shelf allows for a quick visual check for blood in stools. For your consideration.

  2. “why is the toilet paper covered by a metal flap? (To prevent the toilet splash from wetting the paper…”

    No, that’s not true! The flap is supposed to maintain the paper flap in the front, so you can take the paper neatly, and not have to search for the beginning or unroll a big quantity of paper

  3. This is such a great article. I spent my summers with my family in Germany, and my schooltime in the U.S. It is so nice to know that others realized these interesting differences!

    You are a great writer; very down-to-earth and entertaining!

  4. I live in the US and have had a hand held shower for the last 38 years. I like it for all the same reasons you do. And, I must say, the German toilets are much more efficient than most, but not all, American ones. So, even though some Americans are pretty sold on all things American being superior, don’t judge us all the same, ok?

  5. Hi,
    I’m German and enjoyed your article about our German toilets a lot!
    I used to be an exchange student in the US 30 years ago and lived in Ohio for a year. Can you imagine my surprise using an American toilet for the first time?? I thought the water would run over the edge and thought I broke something… haha.. that sure scared me..
    By the way, I think our toilets are designed that way in order to avoid splashing.
    Thanks for your arcticles – it’s nice to see someone being so open minded towards a different country!!

    Best regards from Hannover, Northern Germany

    1. I was taught the same.

      Otherwise what you said about the ledge is quite true and especially helpful in hospitals for those tests.

  6. Yes the DB gray toilet paper was terrible. It had what appeared to be bits and pieces of things that did not seem well mixed in with the rest of the paper. As kids we joked that you could use it in word working as a substitute for sand paper! We also joked that the brown paper towels to dry your hands was softer than the toilet paper. As I recall the toilet paper was made with a lot of recycled content!

    Also the first place I ever say the very large industrial sized super thin and narrow toilet paper roll was at a McDonald’s in Germany. Now they have this every place but this was back in 1988.

  7. Why is the flush handle or button for a German toilet located in the wall above and behind the toilet? Why is there no water holder for the toilet?

  8. Another difference is that German toilet bowls, as well as most new bathroom cabinets, do not sit on the floor – they are hung on the wall, providing a cleaner look and the ability to mop the floor a lot easier. While I’m at it, in Germany the bathrooms tend to be totally tiled, all walls, all the way to the ceiling, unlike in the US.
    Rolladen (roll-up window shutters), tilt-and-turn windows that open towards the room, and window ledges are other differences, but not only in the bathrooms…

    1. I loved the rolladens, the windows and the hanging toilets! I would also like the shower on the pole. I totally want a German sty.le bathroom!

  9. German toilets have changed a lot during the past 20 years. You don´t find toilets with a “shelf” anymore. Also, new toilets tend to buttons with which you can save water.


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