The ideal ratio of toilets to sinks to hand dryers

Dear reader, this is TMI, but I’m going to tell you anyway. I have a weak bladder. Whenever I’m in a public space, I’m trapped in a vicious circle.

It looks a bit like this:

  1. In public, unlike at home, there is no guaranteed access to a toilet.
  2. Not having access to a toilet makes me anxious.
  3. Anxiety makes me need to go to the toilet more often.
  4. There is no guaranteed access to a toilet.
  5. Not having access to a toilet makes me anxious.
  6. Anxiety makes me need to go to the toilet more often.

You get the idea. But, this post isn’t about my medical problems. That was just to demonstrate my frequent use of public toilets and, hence, my degree of authority on the actual subject of this post: how such facilities are designed.

My biggest bugbear of public toilets, besides perhaps the high chance of them being dirty shitholes (pun intended), is whatever the fuck the owner was thinking when they settled on the ratio of toilets : sinks : hand dryers.

How many times have you been to a toilet with a near-equal ratio of toilets to sinks, but a woefully low number of hand dryers? (That’s a rhetorical question because even I haven’t counted – that would be fucking weird).

Take the Gents at London Bridge station, for example. I think there are about 12 urinals and 5 cubicles. There’s a row of about 8-10 taps. How many hand dryers? Three. It’s absurd. There’s always a queue to use them. Or, more often, people just don’t bother and wipe their hands on their trousers. Ew.

The pattern repeats itself in public toilets big and small. I’ve seen shopping mall toilets decked out with entire banks of taps that are seldom used, but there’s only a handful of dryers. Worse still are the toilets equipped with just one hand dryer, regardless of whatever else is in there. Entering at the same time as someone else results in an awkward game involving peeing or washing hands especially quickly or slowly, so that you don’t both end up needing the dryer at the same time. Making someone wait next to you to dry your hands using what is, often in such places, merely whispering hot air onto your hands, is fucking awkward.

Anyway, it’s time for the answer. What is the ratio?

3 : 2 : 1 (toilets, sinks, dryers) as a bare minimum. Ideally you’d just have a dryer integrated above the sink or something for a 3 : 2 : 2 configuration, but I guess I have to be realistic since every public toilet owner I’ve come across has an apparent aversion to supplying hand dryers.


Highly specific sub-rant:
Remember those hand dryers at London Bridge? Reader, they are extra shit. When the toilets were first opened (as part of the £multi-million renewal of the entire station), they were equipped with Dyson “jet towel” style dryers. You put your hands in at the top and lower them to dry. They broke after less than a year. After some time of having literally no functioning dryers (what the fuck?) the station replaced them with regular ones where you place your hands under a nozzle at the bottom. But remember – the toilets were designed to have Dysons. The mounting position for the electrics etc. is such that the replacement dryers are now mounted way too low. So now, in addition to desperately trying to dry your hands faster than an F1 pit-stop, you look like a right twat crouching to fit your hands underneath. Top job, well done everyone. Bloody cheapskates.