Noisy enough for privacy?
June 18, 2012 7:23 AM   Subscribe

Help me make our bathroom noisy enough for privacy in a small apartment?

My boyfriend and I just moved into a lovely apartment. It is a bit on the small side and all the rooms are close together. The only problem? The bathroom has no fan and a thin door. Which means, whatever you are doing in the bathroom- the other apartment dweller can't help but know about. I'm the type of person who usually turns on the fan and maybe locks the door whenever using a restroom. I like my privacy- I don't need to know whatever you are doing in there, flossing, having a drum circle, whatever, and I don't need you to know what I am doing. The bathroom is a private sanctuary, a temple of solitude. I'd like it to stay that way. Tracking each others hydration levels through sound is not ideal. I looked through the MeFi archives but only found a few suggestions.

Complications- why don't we just install bathroom fan?
-We are renting
-Neither of us know how to wire in such a thing and regardless, would not be allowed to by the landlord
-There is a vent in the wall of the shower that goes to some sort of shaft up to the roof...thought about trying to put a battery operated fan there...but then finding a battery operated fan that would be loud enough seems just about impossible. Finding such a magical product is also tough for our location- Germany.

Things we considered but seem awkward:
-Playing the clock radio in the bathroom when using it. But then you still get all the noise...just set to music.
-Each of our rooms have doors- we could just shut an extra door. But this seems like you have to trap the person in a room if you want privacy. Kind of awkward. Plus, the doors are rather thin and don't do much to cut down noise.

Is there a creative, elegant solution to this?
posted by anonymous to Home & Garden (22 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
install a thicker door?
posted by edgeways at 7:28 AM on June 18, 2012

Thick, fuzzy carpets and thick fluffy towels will help, slightly, cut down on sound emanating from the bathroom. You could try hanging tapestries on the opposite side of the walls from the bathroom (Kidding!) Or place bookshelves, cabinets, dressers etc. against those walls, providing some more sound dampening.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:29 AM on June 18, 2012

White noise generator?
posted by carmel at 7:29 AM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

I would buy a white noise machine - I know this one is wired for the US, but presumably you could find the equivalent for euro wiring.

I've seen them used in a number of settings for similar privacy in close settings, such as small therapists offices in a multi-office practice.
posted by mercredi at 7:29 AM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

In Japan, in public rest rooms, they have little boxes on the stalls that make loud flushing sounds, it saves water.

When Husbunny and I were first dating, he'd run the water in the sink until he was done using the toilet. The waste of water drove me insane.

So I'm nthing the white noise machine, but I thought you'd like the anecdotes.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:35 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think what you need is a fan or white noise machine, not in the bathroom but somewhere outside the bathroom where it can cover the most area, whereever "listeners" are most likely to be hanging out.

Fan/white noise in the bathroom may make the occupant feel like they have more privacy, but it is less effective at masking noises from peeps who are outside. In my experience.
posted by acanthous at 7:40 AM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Seconding the thick rug and hanging towels on the doors - maybe even get a thick, waffle-style shower curtain.

As for noisy fans, Target has one that I returned for being too darn noisy (for my application, might be right for yours):
posted by tilde at 7:57 AM on June 18, 2012

Running the sink is the method I sometimes use, but it does waste water as Ruthless Bunny mentioned. No new purchases or installation required, though!
posted by bessel functions seem unnecessarily complicated at 7:59 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Do you have an iPod? There are plenty of white noise apps. My daughter likes one called Sleep Pillow which has ocean, rain, wind, and campfire sounds. You could plug in a little iPod dock with speakers in there and then start up the app for background noise.
posted by Ostara at 8:01 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also, if you have room, you could get one of those little tabletop fountains. Like this. The fountain might also be inspirational for certain bathroom activities.
posted by Ostara at 8:03 AM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

When I had a situation like this, the bathroom also got pretty stuffy because there was no ventilation, so I just installed a wall fan to circulate air. It also helped with privacy.
posted by radioamy at 8:04 AM on June 18, 2012

I don't understand the logic of making noise inside the bathroom. Of course a fan in the bathroom will drown out noise from outside for the person sitting on the toilet - the fan is much closer than the outside world. But the reverse isn't true. For those in another room, the distracting noise is the same distance away as the toilet noises, and both will be heard about equally.

(Like everyone, I run the tap, but I realise it's ostrich logic as I'm doing it.)

What you want to do is to make noise outside the bathroom. Strategically put on the radio or TV a few minutes before you plan to use the bathroom. There is a skill to doing this naturally, and it's a much more secure option!
posted by cincinnatus c at 8:40 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

A cheap, loud air filter. Does double duty by concealing both noises and smells.
posted by ourobouros at 9:51 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Turn on the tap water while you're in there.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:16 AM on June 18, 2012

If there isn't already one, install a towel rod on the inside of the bathroom door, and hang some large thick towels there: those plus a bathroom area rug will help absorb sound. Maybe hang a tapestry of some sort over the OUTSIDE of the door, too.
posted by easily confused at 10:29 AM on June 18, 2012

And since you're renting and likely can't screw things into the door of the rental place you're at, use an over the door towel rack, but put it on the outside. I haven't tried this one, but an example of what I've seen.
posted by tilde at 11:52 AM on June 18, 2012

Maybe an indoor fountain would be loud enough to mask noise?
posted by Hop123 at 12:29 PM on June 18, 2012

There's an app for this! The Cover up iPhone App covers up embarrassing bathroom noises with the sound of running water, a blow dryer or hand dryer.

Also, the Toilet Buddy over at Gadget Gangster plays a "courtesy flush" sound, like the expensive Japanese toilets do. In addition, it can remind you to put the seat down, etc. It's also a DIY option. It might be too challenging to assemble if you are not technologically inclined, though.
posted by misha at 12:31 PM on June 18, 2012

Oh, and the key fob version of the Japanese noise maker is available for worldwide shipping, so you could each get one, even in Germany.
posted by misha at 12:37 PM on June 18, 2012

I use Date Saver on my iPhone when a fan noise is needed.

Be careful about putting over-the-door towel racks up. As someone who owns rental property, racks of any kind over the door do way more damage that is harder to repair than simply drilling the small holes in the door, unless the door has a huge clearance at the top. The metal tabs that hang on to the top of the door can strip the paint and seriously gouge the door frame. I would much rather someone drill holes in my doors.
posted by MonsieurBon at 1:02 PM on June 18, 2012

Seconding what mercredi is suggesting. This is placed outside of the door and turned on when the room is in use. It's what's used in my doctor's office which has multiple rooms and I never hear anyone when outside waiting.
posted by vivzan at 2:35 PM on June 20, 2012

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