Updated: Dec 29, 2020
It's fascinating to observe the difference between bathroom etiquette in San Diego and Mexico. Mostly because it's so drastically different.
Bathroom stalls in Mexico are usually well-maintained, not quite as spacious and need extra care to maintain, since plumbing systems are so much different.
There is a good reason why we have to throw toilet paper in the trash container, whereas San Diegans throw it in the toilet.
Plumbing systems are unable to handle much more than organic matter here. It is not infrequent for flooding to occur because of clogged pipes. It's important to follow the local custom while visiting.
Before you visit Mexico, know the bathroom etiquette:
Save the pipes: Do not throw anything besides your human waste into the toilet. Not even toilet paper. Especially not wet wipes or feminine products. Toilets will clog very easily and plumbing here is not the same as in the U.S. The inconvenience of throwing things in the trash can is much easier than flooding a local bathroom facility (or your own bathroom). It is worth the effort to throw trash in the trash can.
Tip the help: If there is a bathroom attendant, their job is make sure the bathroom is clean and maintained. A few pesos are appreciated and most of the helpers survive purely on tips.
Pay for Service: I realize we don't pay (directly) for bathrooms in the U.S., but think of this as a courtesy and a contribution to the local economy to use a clean bathroom, especially if someone is maintaining it. They have to pay for the toilet paper, cleaning supplies and people to care for the facility. It usually only costs 5-10 pesos for a bathroom visit.
Pack Extra: Some bathrooms are not funded and will be missing essentials like hand soap, toilet paper or towels. You may need emergency bathroom supplies and extra toilet paper, especially if you are at the border for a long wait. There are bathroom facilities as you get closer to the crossing, but if the line is long, you will not have many options. Empty plastic water bottles, plastic bags, coffee cans, extra water, antibacterial wash and wet wipes can help.
Visiting Mexico can be a great cultural experience for everyone, and an even better way to become more culturally sensitive to our differences.
And if you are living here now, make sure to follow Tip #1 to protect your pipes, and your budget from costly repairs.
Get in touch for a visit - we'd love to show you around to the most amazing tacos in all of Mexico!