Viktorija Panovaite
Squat toilet

Using squat toilet

Indonesia is “challenging” country, especially for those, who have never been before in any Asian country. You need to learn how to eat with hands (if you don’t usually eat with hands), get used to Indonesian “bathing system” and the most “interesting” part is using squat toilet (better known as “Turkish style toilet” or “squatty potty”). In fact, some research suggests that going to the bathroom in the squatting position is better for your health in a variety of ways ;).

Mostly in Indonesian toilets there is no flushing system, so you need to use water from container. Indonesian people do not use toilet paper, but they wash them-self with water (always available in WC). As well use left hand to wash themselves, while they keep the right hand to shake hands and to eat.

So the thing that everybody needs to know, but nobody wants to ask – “how to use squat toilet?” :)

First, you have to get into position. If you’re never did this, better you take off everything below your waist, including your shoes and socks (be careful not to let your clothes touch the floor or get in the way). If you have rubber flip-flops, put those back on.

Crouch into a nice, deep squat, with your weight back on your heels. Your knees should be pointed up toward the ceiling (hug them if you want).

Relax, and enjoy one of the easiest and most pleasant “evacuations” of your life :D. That’s it!

What’s next? Use your hand.

Probably the first idea “I can’t touch myself back there. That’s a dirty place. I need toilet paper or at least tissue”. But cleaning yourself with your hand and a lot of water is the most natural and most hygienic way.
In most bathrooms, there will be a bucket of water with a scoop. Fill the scoop, and grip it firmly with your right hand. You are about to supply water with your right hand as you wipe with your left hand.



For women, it is important to pour from the front, and wipe from front to back, to keep any dirty water away. Going the other way can cause yeast infections or worse.
For men, pouring from the front is more of an advanced skill, since there are a few obstacles in the way.

In many bathrooms (including many bathrooms with a Western sit-down toilet), there may be a sprayer provided, which makes the job a lot easier. The general idea is the same like written above (try not to get the walls and ceiling wet, some of those bidets are pretty high-powered).

Other notes on wiping

Use a lot of water. Use more than you think you should. The next step is going to be flushing, so it doesn’t really matter how much you use to wipe.

Now that you’re nice and clean :), you have to get dry. If there’s no paper around, then just stay squatted for an extra minute, and gravity and evaporation will do its thing :).

If there is paper around, or if you were forward-thinking enough to bring some, then use it and pat yourself dry. If you REALLY used just a sheet or two of toilet paper, you can put the paper into the toilet. Many sanitation systems are not designed to handle paper, but a square or two per flush is okay. MORE THAN THAT IS NOT because most squat toilets (even the flushing ones) will get clogged.


Don’t forget not to leave any trace! Use as much water as you need to in order to get everything down the toilet. You may start with a high pour directly into the hole, followed immediately by more water into the front of the toilet for a smooth, powerful flush.

Most bathrooms with a squat toilet are “wet everywhere” bathrooms, so don’t worry about getting some water on the floor. Be sure to clean your “footprints” off the toilet if you left any, and if there’s a brush provided, go ahead and get that squatter spotless.


Finish up by washing your hands with soap and water, and if you really hate germs, follow with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

You’re done! Hope you enjoyed your first encounter with the squat toilet? :)

Some extra tips:
  • Bring your own toilet paper. In some places where squat toilets are common, free toilet paper isn’t. There might not be a trash can for used toilet paper, and squat toilets aren’t designed for anything but bodily excretions. Even if you don’t bring toilet paper, for first times bring something to dry off with.
  • Squat with your heels flat on the ground. You might be used to squatting on the balls of your feet, with your feet close together, but this position is very unstable and hard on the knees. Squatting with feet hip-width or shoulder-width apart and with your feet flat is easier to hold for an extended period of time. If there are ridged foot rests, put your feet on those; otherwise, plant your feet on either side of the toilet and squat all the way down.
  • Take care of your stuff in the pockets. If you’re wearing pants, be careful not to let things fall out of your pocket as you squat. They might land in the toilet.


Illustrations made by Hendra Arkan.

Useful? Great! :) You might also like these:

Indonesian people lifestyle
Good manners in Indonesia
How to eat with hands and tools


4 thoughts on “Using squat toilet”

  1. I grew up with first-world mod cons in Jakarta and finds these toilets intolerable! Maybe I’m even more militant about them than most expats, because I cannot assign the annoyance of using these toilets as something exotic :)

    1. Sometimes, things that you never saw in reality or used – seems like exotic :) I remember one women who was so exited, happy and gave so much positive energy when she was bathing first time in Indonesia with a plastic dipper :)

Comments are closed.