How to stop someone from urinating on the bathroom wall?
November 11, 2013 6:53 AM   Subscribe

He urinates in the bathroom walls and uses the near by hand flush to wash it off. I have to shower next to this wall everyday. Details inside.

I live with my unmarried 30 year old brother. He urinates on the bathroom walls and uses the nearby hand flush to wash it off. I have to shower next to this wall everyday.

Bathrooms here have a single drain hole, a shower and a toilet with flush system. There is no bath tub.

As disgusting as it is, my father has a bad habit of doing the same thing. My mother urinates on the bathroom floor and then tosses water. Though, they don't live with us. I have a feeling my brother has picked this up from them and continues to do so because despite my repeated complaints, they have never talked or rebuked my brother about this. Their quiet on this encourages him to continue this behaviour. My parents change the subject/get embarrassed/console me with some stock responses upon broaching this topic.

I don't have the option of moving out just yet.

How do I stop or discourage him from urinating on the walls?
posted by sausagedoggie15 to Human Relations (30 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you asked him to stop?
posted by something something at 7:01 AM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

People don't often make permanent changes to their habits. Generally, they only do so if they WANT to change. This is especially so for "personal" habits... hygiene and such. By the time you're in your thirties, the way you pee is essentially ETCHED IN STONE (or etched on a wall, as the case may be). While I don't necessarily condone whizzing on the wall when there's a perfectly good toilet at hand, I very, VERY much doubt that you're gonna get him to change. I'd probably make yourself a little plastic spray bottle of bleach solution and spray down the pee-area whenever you have to use the bathroom. It won't really CHANGE much, but it may make you feel better. Sorry to be so negative on this, but I feel strongly that you're not gonna get him to change.
posted by julthumbscrew at 7:07 AM on November 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

Is it your house or do you and your brother share rent on a place? Either way have you ever both sat down and figured out some "house rules"? You both should have a say in how you expect the other person to behave. In order not to be confrontational you could perhaps suggest a few standards that you feel are important to you and include the urinating in the list, rather than making it the sole focus in case he gets defensive, and also give him the opportunity to talk about any issues he may have.

If it comes down to the fact that he refuses to stop peeing on the wall beside the shower, could you at least ask him to compromise and use the wall furthest away from it?
posted by billiebee at 7:07 AM on November 11, 2013

julthumbscrew: "People don't often make permanent changes to their habits. Generally, they only do so if they WANT to change."

Eh, I learned to put the seat and lid down at 36.

TALK to him about it. Every single goddamn time. At some point he might just realize it's less bother to go ahead and use the toilet.
posted by notsnot at 7:13 AM on November 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

You could try putting up a sign that says the walls have been treated with pee-detecting chemicals. They sometimes do this in public swimming pools. The chemicals do not exist, but the belief that they do, affects people's behaviour.
posted by Segundus at 7:16 AM on November 11, 2013

I'm having a hard time understanding why your family would prefer to pee on the walls and floor instead of into a toilet. Where are you?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:20 AM on November 11, 2013 [31 favorites]

So, I'm imagining the setup is something like this. I'd say his behavior is similar to someone in the US peeing in the shower (many people do this, many people find it to be gross) -- except with the wrinkle that the shower floor is the general bathroom floor. I don't know that you'll be able to change this behavior successfully. I'd find a new roommate. Or, if that is not an option, see if he will at least clean wall/floor with something like this after each time.
posted by melissasaurus at 7:26 AM on November 11, 2013 [5 favorites]

It is hard to answer your question without knowing what degrees of freedom you have here?

Do you own or rent the apartment / house?
Can you leave the apartment / house?
Can you kick your brother out?
Who else lives there?
What changes can you make?
Also, what country is this? Is this normal male bathroom behavior in this country?

Generally, it is hard enough to change your own habits even when you want to. It is much harder to change habits of others. If you have asked your brother and he has refused it will be pretty difficult. You are probably better off focusing on something you can change.
posted by jazh at 7:27 AM on November 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

Start wearing shower sandals. I'm not sure what else you can fix. But keep in mind that in a lot of countries where the bathroom set-up would lend itself to this, there is also a housekeeper who may be washing down the entire bathroom every day. If this isn't the case, perhaps you could remind your brother that normally, in this situation there should be someone cleaning the whole bathroom every day. If he doesn't want to be that person, he should stop, because otherwise the bathroom won't stay reasonably clean for a week.
posted by cacao at 7:53 AM on November 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

Question: How do you know he does this?

Next, it should be noted that your mother, father and brother all do this, so from their perspective, you may be the odd person here.

The best you can do is bring up the subject with him directly and ask him to stop. It may be awkward, but you're clearly bothered by this, with good reason IMO, so just ask. But be aware it is difficult to stop people from doing something they don't see as wrong.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:54 AM on November 11, 2013

Would he see it as a decent compromise if you agreed to keep the lid and seat up on the toilet when you are not using it?
posted by Rock Steady at 7:55 AM on November 11, 2013

This is the kind of question where it would be very helpful to know:

- Where you are
- Your cultural background, more specifically whether your "Western" style of urinating is seen as the norm
- Who is paying for your residence

A quick note to other readers- this type of bathroom setup is not that uncommon outside the US. I lived in an apartment in Paris that had a similarly-configured bathroom, though both I and my French roommate (and his parents) all used the toilet.
posted by mkultra at 7:58 AM on November 11, 2013

Mr. Llama wanted me to start moving the shower curtain to the right instead of the left when I stepped out of the shower (a logistical thing) so he put up a Post It on the medicine cabinet and jotted down every day that I moved it to the right, and said he'd give me a dollar each time I did it.

It was just a silly, childish, funny thing, but it totally worked on me. And hey, eventually I got ten bucks.

I was willing to change my habits, though. Is your brother willing to change? If he is, consider creating a game.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 8:05 AM on November 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I'd get a spray bottle of something that smells good and has disinfecting properties and ask him to use it. And rubber flipflops for you, if it icks you out too much to live with this.

Also, could you ask him, if he MUST pee in the shower, to pee straight down the drainhole instead of on the wall? The wall-peeing is the only part of this that seems bizarre to me (lots of people pee in the shower, as it just washes away and all kinds of sweat, oils, fecal matter, etc are presumably washing off too).

Leave your parents out of it. Regardless of their own habits, your 30yo brother is well past the window of appropriate involvement from them in his peeing routines.
posted by torticat at 8:09 AM on November 11, 2013

Get a black light pet stain detector and look at the bathroom walls together when it's dark. He probably thinks peeing on the wall is no big deal as long as he washes it off. The black light will show him the effectiveness of that strategy. And yes, I can confirm this works equally well on human urine.
posted by Dragonness at 8:17 AM on November 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

It sounds from your question like you and your brother share the place and share the expenses; thus, you can't move out at the moment and you can't kick him out.

When you have the option of enforcement, you can approach requests differently. "This is how it needs to be; if you can't change this habit, I can't have you live here." But when you don't, you really have to just ... ask. You're at the mercy of his desire to be considerate of your feelings, and that's what you'll have to appeal to, it seems.

Something like, "I know it's just a difference in habits, but it really, really bothers me to shower right next to a wall you've just peed on, even if you wash it off. It makes me so uncomfortable." If he's not going to do it, then you're not compatible roommates, and there's not a whole lot you can do about it, potentially, except move out when you can and wear shower shoes. I think the key is to treat it as something that makes you uncomfortable and that therefore he could maybe be considerate about, rather than something that's per se disgusting. (I agree with you that it is, but as other people have pointed out here, part of that is or may be strictly cultural.) Part of living together is accommodating things that are just preferences provided they don't put you out too much, and hopefully he'd be up for that.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 8:19 AM on November 11, 2013

sausagedoggie15: "I live with my unmarried 30 year old brother. He urinates on the bathroom walls and uses the nearby hand flush to wash it off. I have to shower next to this wall everyday."

I think it's silly to suggest that a grown man can't change his bathroom habits, but on the other hand, it sounds like this is an acceptable bathroom practice in your family, and you don't have much leverage here as his sister for getting him to change for you. At least he's washing it off the wall, so he is participating in some acknowledgement of etiquette and cleanliness.

But if washing it off isn't sufficient to eradicate the evidence of urine on the walls, I'd say "look, if you refuse to use the toilet, at least pee directly into the drain and then flush it with some water." Following that up with "how grossed out would you be if I left menstrual blood pooling on the floor" seems an obvious follow-up to me, though you may not be comfortable making that argument.
posted by desuetude at 8:27 AM on November 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

Let me start by saying that it's OK for you to be grossed out by this; lots of people would be, body wastes are generally considered icky and for good reason. For what it's worth though, it's also within the realm of reason for someone to see what he's doing as no big deal. In fact, if he's doing a good job of cleaning up after himself then you shouldn't even be able to tell the difference (except for a wet bathroom wall/floor from the washing up, of course). Urine is sterile absent certain specific health problems, and if he's cleaning up well then there ought not to be any smell or any urine actually in the bathroom when he's done. (If there is a smell or otherwise noticeable urine in the shower, then he at very least needs to do a better job of cleaning up.) So this is a situation in which two equally reasonable people can quite reasonably disagree.

I don't say the above in order to invalidate your feelings, just to point out that your brother's feelings on the matter are not inherently unreasonable. What's unreasonable though is his continuing this behavior if he is aware that it is bothering you. It's not clear in your question that he knows it's bothering you (you don't mention whether or not you've ever brought this up to him) but if he does know then it's selfish of him to keep doing it.

You should definitely take the advice above and talk to your brother about this, let him know that it bothers you. Stress that it still bothers you, even if it doesn't bother him and even if there's no actual health reason to be bothered by it -- what you feel is what you feel, and that isn't going to change just because he argues that there's "no good reason" for you to feel that way.

Appeal to his compassion for you as his sister and as a fellow human to make the change toward peeing in the toilet instead of the shower. Tell him that this will help you feel more comfortable with your living situation, and that this will make the whole house dynamic more relaxed which will improve things for him as well. Perhaps propose a trade -- there must be some small thing that you do or don't do which annoys him, which you could offer to change in exchange for his using the toilet to pee. Perhaps gently suggest, if you think it would actually help, that he might have an easier time finding a romantic partner if he modernizes (westernizes?) his bathroom habits. That's tricky ground though, be careful with that one.

Let him know how much it would mean to you and how much better you would feel if he would use the toilet. Don't attempt to shame him or get angry with him, as these are not effective techniques for changing an adult's behavior and will almost certainly just make him dig in his heels while thinking of you as some kind of crazy person whose opinions don't matter. Instead, you want to appeal to his compassion and help him see this as something that will benefit him as well as you. That is much more likely to get you the effect you desire.

If none of that works, or if it doesn't work completely, you will need to work on being less bothered by it. You can't always change other peoples' behavior, but you can always (with some work) change your response to that behavior. You don't need to tell your brother that this is what you are doing -- he doesn't need to hear that peeing on the bathroom wall is acceptable to you, because you still want him to change -- but you can work on reminding yourself that urine is sterile, that there's no health risk involved (again, unless your brother is sick in one of a fairly small number of specific ways) and that objectively all you are dealing with here is a wetness and perhaps a slight odor in a part of the house where you don't spend a lot of time anyway.

Try to consciously relax yourself while you are in the bathroom with deep breaths and calming thoughts, and give yourself a little reward like a snack or a few minutes of gaming or browsing the web or something immediately after you use the bathroom, in order to condition yourself to associate the bathroom with more pleasant things. Your response to his behavior is normal (not the only normal response, but a normal response) and OK and you are allowed to feel the way you feel, but that doesn't mean you can't work to change that response anyway for the sake of your mental well-being.

You can also mitigate the situation somewhat. Get some bathroom-only sandals that you wear while you're in there to keep your feet and your normal footwear from contacting the possibly-urine-tainted surfaces in that room. Clean the bathroom more thoroughly and more regularly (enlist your brother's help in this if at all possible as keeping the house or apartment clean is his responsibility as much as yours, and even moreso in this case since he's the one peeing on the walls) so that it doesn't seem so gross to you. Get some pleasant scents in there so that you don't have to smell (real or imagined) urine stink.

And, if you can't get the situation to a place where you feel totally comfortable, start planning to move out. I'll take your word that it's not an option just yet, but you can make a concrete plan with specific goals and start working on it. That will get you out a lot sooner than if you just wait until the necessary conditions fall into place on their own, and will help you feel like you are taking control of the situation and making progress.

Good luck.

P.S. I agree with others above that we can probably give you better and more situation-specific advice if you can give us some information about your location and cultural/ethnic background. There are likely to be MeFites who have specific experience with your location/culture/ethnicity and who may even have gone through the same problem you are dealing with, and they may be able to give you some more tailored tips on dealing with this.
posted by Scientist at 8:37 AM on November 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'd definitely ask him to stop. If you find that too confrontational, consider this approach:

Get some tile stickers and decorate the bathroom. Maybe buy new towels and a plant too, so it looks more believable. Then ask him not to pee on the decals, because you put so much effort into making the bathroom nice and don't want to see it ruined.
If he continues to pee on the walls, you have a reason to talk to him about his behavior, that is not "you've been acting gross all your life!".

Implement a new cleaning routine. Place a spray bottle nearby and ask your brother to spray down the bathroom every other day. You''ll do it on the alternating days (or as often as you like).

Get some plastic sandals to use in the shower.

Good luck.
posted by travelwithcats at 8:47 AM on November 11, 2013

I might consider hanging a family photo on the wall in his usual "area" in the hopes that it might discourage him from being a gross wallpisser. Otherwise, I would really not want to continue in that living situation. The ideal solution would be to have an apartment with separate bathrooms so he could do whatever unsanitary stuff he wants in his own pee-soaked restroom without ruining yours.
posted by elizardbits at 8:53 AM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Instead of putting up stickers where you don't want him to pee, put a sticker down by the drain hole or somewhere you would rather he pee (maybe start with just farther down on the wall?) so he has something to aim at.
posted by rmless at 8:57 AM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Putting stickers on the bathroom walls strikes me as rather passive-aggressive and likely to annoy him. Even if it changes the behavior, it will make him less well-disposed toward you and likely shift the stress to somewhere else in your housemate/sibling dynamic. The way to deal with this, in my opinion, is through gentle and careful confrontation combined with mitigation and a recalibration of your response. And, if none of that is satisfactory, by making a plan to move out and following it through as quickly as possible.
posted by Scientist at 9:10 AM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

The cool thing about living with your brother is that talking about this stuff is not off limits. You can say, "Piss in the toilet. Pissing on the wall is gross." You can say it over and over, in almost any context, as indelicately as you want, until he gets the message.

After that, if he decides to keep pissing on the wall, he's doing it to be an asshole and not out of confusion about proper bathroom manners or pre-caffeine habit or anything innocuous like that.

Which leads to the less cool thing about living with your brother -- just as there are fewer boundaries about confronting issues, there are also fewer boundaries that require considerate behavior. At the end of the day, your brother might keep being an asshole about this and there's nothing you can really do but stop living with him.
posted by Sara C. at 10:42 AM on November 11, 2013

Anyone can change their habits. In my 30's I decided that I (as a man) would start peeing sitting down at home and at other peoples houses. Just seemed more polite and cleaner. Men dribble. Just tell him to aim for the damn floor drain and stop peeing on the wall. Put a post-in note on the wall that say "Hey, I'm a wall not a drain". He's your brother not some stranger so just tell him it bugs you.
posted by misterpatrick at 11:09 AM on November 11, 2013 [4 favorites]

I don't understand. How does your mom pee on the floor and your dad and brother pee on the walls? Do you not have a normal toilet? Is your toilet a tiny hole in the ground? Is there a history of mental illness in your family? This behavior is not at all normal. You can ask them to stop, but this is the kind of thing that they should already know is not acceptable and since they don't, I suspect simply asking them to stop may not really work on a long-term, consistent basis. Maybe add some sort of pee guard around the toilet? Very strange.
posted by AppleTurnover at 7:55 PM on November 11, 2013

AppleTurnover, I'm thinking that the whole room is like a large shower with head-to-toe tile and a drain in the floor, and that the tiled room also contains a toilet. So the mom's behavior (peeing on the floor so it goes down the drain) is kind of the equivalent of peeing in the shower. I'm guessing that where the OP lives, this isn't as indicative of mental illness as some of us are assuming.
posted by Pizzarina Sbarro at 9:11 PM on November 11, 2013

There are parts of the world where Western-style sitting down toilets are relatively new, older people are distinctly not comfortable with them, and there are lots of old habits that can be hard for even willing/interested people to unlearn.

These parts of the world often overlap with parts of the world where a bathroom is mostly a big tiled room with a drain in the middle of the floor.
posted by Sara C. at 9:20 PM on November 11, 2013

AppleTurnover, melissasaurus also shed some light on a likely setup and even provided a visual aid:

melissasaurus: "So, I'm imagining the setup is something like this. I'd say his behavior is similar to someone in the US peeing in the shower (many people do this, many people find it to be gross) -- except with the wrinkle that the shower floor is the general bathroom floor."
posted by desuetude at 9:43 AM on November 12, 2013

Technically speaking, if your brother is peeing on the wall and then washing said wall off with the hand-sprayer thing, the bathroom is probably cleaner than it would be if he were peeing on the floor (like your mom) what with the unintended splashing of droplets/spray onto the side of the toilet or what-have-you.

I think most people pee in the shower (it's convenient if you're already showering, it saves time, it saves water), it's just that in your residence, the shower doesn't seem to be enclosed.

How do you know that he is peeing on the wall? Is he bragging? Is he not washing the wall well enough? Is there a urine smell?

Pee is not sticky like oatmeal—if he hits that wall with a couple seconds of steady water spray from the "hand flush"
(is that like a kitchen sink sprayer, or something different?)
any and all urine should flow down the wall
(99.9% of the pee has already done this, pre-water, due to gravity),
to the sloped floor and down the drain.

If everyone in your family is peeing in the shower except you (even your mom), I'm afraid you may be fighting a losing battle and the best bet would be special bathroom-only flip-flops.

(I think there may be some instinctual or early-learned behavior of penis-owning individuals—that if you pee against a vertical surface instead of the hard ground, it splashes [back on you] less.)
posted by blueberry at 6:42 PM on November 12, 2013

Response by poster: Thank you for all the responses. I read everyone of them and again some now. I am still living with him. My parents and he pay for the rent, I am unemployed hence can't contribute to the rent. At this new place we both have different rooms with separate bathrooms. Since I don't pay any rent, I was given the room with almost no light and a bathroom with squatting type commode (something both my parents knew I disliked but didn't say anything).

But the important point is because I have separate room and bathroom to myself, I no more have to talk to him or see his face even. I think this is better than the old situation I was in. I am glad, I can now look ahead and concentrate on things that are important to my career from here on.

"This too shall pass."
posted by sausagedoggie15 at 7:00 AM on March 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

« Older Hey engineers - I need a mechanical elbow!   |   How to Visit an Art Gallery Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.