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Lack of toilets is a significant financial drain on world
Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013

In a new report from Reuters, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf announced that bad sanitation circumstances, such as a shortage of accessible toilets, are draining $260 billion a year from the world's economy.   

"$260 billion in economic losses annually is directly linked to inadequate water supply and sanitation around the world," she said at a meeting discussing an proposed update to the United Nation's (UN) Millennium Development Goals, set to expire in 2015, according to the news source.  "We must take this issue more seriously."

This meeting transpired in her African nation's capital, Monrovia. 

Reuters published other comments from Johnson Sirleaf, a UN co-chair. She said people should think of sanitation improvements as a crucial part of the path to economic development, not something that comes about after conditions and stability have improved in a nation. Without a clean environment, disease spreads, resulting in missed workdays and school days. In addition, members of the population, predominantly females, will spend a significant portion of their time gathering water from sources that are sometimes tainted. 

Indian Union Minister says toilets help women

Meanwhile, Indian Express recently reported on comments made by Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, who advocated for a reversal to the toilet shortage in India. Not only would toilets provide some security to the 60 percent of Indian women who currently don't have easy access to a toilet, it would also give them a greater sense of self respect and confidence, he said. 

While embarrassment is certainly a factor for Indian women with no toilets, the danger of sexual assault surrounding relieving themselves in the open is a far more dire problem. 

"As a woman, I would have to check where the males were going to the toilet and then go in a different direction," Meera Devi, an Indian mother of three who, at one point, walked half-a-mile every morning to find a safe, private place to do her business, told Bloomberg. "We used to avoid the daytimes, but if we were really pressured, we would have to go any time of the day, even if it was raining."

Bloomberg also spoke with the World Health Organization (WHO)'s regional adviser on water, sanitation and health, who said that, unfortunately, about half of the toilets the WHO has subsidized in certain parts of India were used for grain storage instead of sanitation.

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For some people, there's much, much more that goes into designing a bathtub than providing a place for people to lie down in and get themselves nice and clean. It would seem that some designers create unusual bathrooms out of creative impulses, while others are implementing modern technology in fun and innovative ways. Others even apply both art and science to their next generation bathtubs. 

Artistic bathtubs

Perhaps the most creative bathtub found on Melodyhome.com's set of eccentric tubs is a lavish bit of furniture designed to resemble a giant, elegant high-heeled shoe. The source explains that this device was created by Italian decor master Massimiliano Della Monaca. It's adorned with a grey pattern featuring butterflies on the Melodyhome website, but apparently comes in other designs. The site also features a bathtub made in the likeness of a small boat, for those who would like to transpose their love of aquatic adventures into their personal hygiene routine. 

On the opposite end of the aesthetic spectrum - though likely not the price-range - is a stone bathtub featured on Techeblog.com's set of off-kilter bathtubs. A giant rock hollowed out with a faucet attached, this product of the Stone Forest  company wouldn't look out of place on an episode of the Flintstones, although a person could likely enjoy a bathing experience far beyond what was available during the real Stone Age. Stone Forest also makes sinks in a similar style. 

Tech-savvy bathtubs

Also viewable on the Techeblog are a neon-green LED bathtub you could envision the little grey men from the X-Files enjoying a relaxing bath in, as well as an ultra-futuristic "Red Diamond" bathtub. The source speculates that it might be the most expensive bathtub in the history of bathroom decor, and it includes a pair of high-definition television screens - possibly so two people taking a bath together can view different television programs if they have a disagreement about what they'd like to watch. 

But an even more elaborately futuristic bathtub, despite its a minimalistic appearance, is the i-Sopod tub shown on Homeartblog.com Largely resembling a giant egg, it's tricked out so a bather will be totally isolated inside once they close the lid. The lights inside are programmable, so people can choose for themselves whether they'd prefer to bathe in a bright environment, under dim lighting or in the dark. 

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On those occasions when we have reason to believe we'll be trapped in the bathroom for a significant period of time, it's nice to have some reading material on hand. But not every book or magazine makes for great bathroom reading. While some might enjoy absorbing complicated academic text books or other intellectually challenging material while on the toilet, most people might prefer to scan something light and entertaining while they take care of their business. 

For the reader's benefit, we've browsed the web for some of the more reputable lists of top bathroom reading. 

Guinness Book of World Records

Both AskMen.com and Reader's Digest include the Guinness Book of World Records on their lists of the top reading materials to keep in the bathroom. People go to all kinds of bizarre lengths to get their names listed in the venerable almanac of human achievement. For instance, Citizen News notes that a 33-year-old British man almost got into Guinness for visiting every nation on earth without ever taking an airplane, but was denied due to the fact that he lacked a valid visa during his venture into Russia. Meanwhile, Japanese-English news site Rocket News 24 published that 141 costumed mascots are on their way into Guinness for breaking the record for the largest number of "yuru-kyara" characters to perform a synchronized dance. 

Uncle John's Bathroom Reader

AskMen and Reader's Digest may not agree on a lot of things, but as is the case with Guinness, they both added Uncle John's Bathroom Reader to their favorite bathroom reading lists. Uncle John's website - bathroomreader.com - gives you an idea about the tone of the stories and the variety of topics covered. The site includes a well-aggregated story about George Clooney paying someone else's bill at a restaurant, thinking his table was too loud, a video of a man crawling into a bear cave, and a theory explaining why James Bond hasn't seemed to have aged in 50 years of movies. 

The works of Frank Miller

AskMen recommends Archie comics and, while we're certainly not bashing Archie, it's noteworthy that many comics penned and possibly drawn by the legendary Frank Miller make exceptionally good bathroom reading. Most of them aren't for children, but fans of gritty noir stories that don't require the reader to think too hard might want to consider making "Sin City" part of their bathroom collection. 

 

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Maximizing on your time in the shower
Posted on Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Virtually everyone has probably written off his or her morning or evening showers as a mere part of the daily routine. This should not be so. Time spent alongside shower panels should be about more than making sure you don't smell bad at the office. It should provide some relaxation, and the solitary time to quietly contemplate matters without lots of background noise. There are plenty of small steps you can take to getting the most out of your shower time, in regards to both personal hygiene and mental well-being. 

The benefits of water temperature

In addition to some tips on cleanliness and water conservation, the website Organic Authority notes that hot showers aren't always the best call, depending on the circumstances. For example, if you've got sensitive skin, a warm shower will be gentler and less likely to cause a rash. Cold showers, the source notes, are quite underrated. Brisk temperatures are said to leave you feeling more rejuvenated, with improved circulation and are supposed to be better for your skin and hair. That isn't to say there aren't plenty of benefits to taking hot showers. Almost nothing calms the nerves like standing in a room full of steam.  

Keeping things mellow

Lots has been written about how certain products could help put you in a relaxing mood in the shower. But Instructables.com points to one accessory that could calm you down that isn't directly related to washing - while drying off, you can make yourself feel comfortable by wrapping yourself in the largest towel you own.  Of course, the source also lists pleasant-smelling shampoos and body washes, and it also states that a shower head that sprays water in a large range could be more soothing than a more direct stream. 

Have yourself a beverage

Organic Authority recommends having your morning coffee in the shower - so long as it's carefully placed on a countertop where it won't spill. That sounds like good advice for any workday when you're on the go and want to save a few minutes of your morning commute. The source also recommends a cold beer in the shower, which could taste extra crispy. While obviously not the best idea during the morning, that does seem like a worthwhile plan for an evening or afternoon.

 

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You might not consider the bathroom the most romantic space in your household, unless you're lucky enough to have installed a whirlpool built-for-two. However, especially considering that Valentine's Day is on the horizon, it's worth keeping in mind that just because the bathroom is used for personal hygiene doesn't mean it can't include some lovely ambiance.

One person who clearly agrees is interior designer Windsor Smith.

"I love bathrooms that feel like rooms rather than just a place to bathe," he told the home decor news provider House Beautiful. "They should inspire romance. This is an homage to the ceremonial bath, a place to relax and reflect and contemplate simple pleasures." 

There are plenty of bathroom accessories you can add to you lavatory to evoke images of cupid's arrow. 

Lace and other frilly cloth

One need look no further than Houzz.com for a selection of bathroom decor arrangements that wouldn't seem out of place on a store-bought Valentine's Day card. In the first and most prominently displayed picture, bits of lace double as washcloths. Though they would probably need to be thrown in the washing machine more often that black cloths, they're certainly more soothing to look at. In a way, the same idea applies to bathroom curtains, floor mats, and other accessories. After all, a pink, purple, red or even teal towel would certainly be more romantic than a black or brown towel. Furthermore, many inexpensive wash cloths are decorated with heart pattens, which certainly doesn't hurt their romance-provoking abilities.  

Although this might seem tacky for some people, hanging up a heart-shaped mirror would certainly add a touch of romance to anyone's morning teeth-and-hair brushing routine. The same could be said for a heart-shaped floor mat. 

Small, suggestive accessories

Continuing its report on romance-inducing bathroom decor, House Beautiful recommends arranging objects along the lines of pearls, dresser jars and glimmering trays around the bathroom vanity to inspire a bit of an elegance. 

But something you'll see in many bathrooms year-round that's well known for inspiring romance is a vase full of flowers. Clusters of light pink and red flowers are strewn around countertops throughout Houzz.com's compilation of romantic bathrooms. In fact, one bathtub is lined with rose petals. On the rim of the tub stands a bottle of wine and a pair of glasses. It doesn't get much more romantic than that, does it? Perhaps, the bathroom is more romantic than we give it credit for.... 

 

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Virtually all of us have found ourselves in this situation - you wander into a public restroom hoping to comfortably relieve yourself, only to find some scoundrel has overloaded the toilet with bathroom tissue, deliberately clogging it and rendering it useless to people in need. According to the Republican Herald, this was an ongoing problem at a high school in eastern Pennsylvania. School officials, not content to sit back and allow vandals to ruin the bathroom experience of others, decided to take a stand. 

"We have a case pending with the police where a bathroom down by our gymnasium was absolutely destroyed," announced Mahony Area High School principal Thomas Smith, during a school board meeting, according to the news source. "I'm sure [the district facilities director] could tell you the times that our toilets have been jammed with toilet paper and other papers. ...After we took the toilet tissue out of there, people were throwing books."

In order to obtain toilet paper, male students at Mahony Area High School have to sign out a roll from the office, and sign it back in after they've concluded their business. The principal said this policy has curbed the wanton wrecking of bathrooms, although some parents have expressed umbrage with the course of action school officials have taken. 

The policy may have down sides. At the board meeting, one students' mother said that some boys have preferred to fake sickness and return home in order to avoid the embarrassment of having to ask an authority figure for a roll of toilet paper. She also asked why students were only allowed to use the restroom during the first five minutes of each class. Superintendent Joie Green responded that this policy is intended to reduce the amount of loitering in the hallways.

In Penn., bathrooms have grown in popularity since '30s

Meanwhile, while some statistics show that owning a cell phone is more common than enjoying access to a household toilet in India, similar circumstances may have existed in parts of the U.S. as recently as less than than 100 years ago.  

According to findings compiled by Public Opinion online, based off the 1933 Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture farm report, radios were almost twice as prevalent as toilets in Franklin County, Penn., at that point in time. Even though 730 homes already had access to indoor plumbing, only 370 of them had installed an indoor toilet, compared to 720 who had invested in what was then the latest entertainment technology.  

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Dirt cheap ideas for bathroom decor improvements
Posted on Tuesday, January 29, 2013

There are those who may be bored or just generally dissatisfied with the state of their bathroom decor but assume they'll have to spend a lot of money to do anything about it. Their situation isn't nearly as dire as they think. There are plenty of ways to boost the quality of ambiance in bathrooms without draining a bank account. 

Bathroom additions that only cost about buck

For example, Nebraska-based newspaper the Journal Star scrounged up some thoughts on how you could spruce up your bathroom for only $1 or thereabouts. Specifically, the news source points to retail outlets specifically designed for people trying to avoid depleted their finances. You might not find a worthwhile contemporary bathroom vanity at Family Dollar, but the Journal Star points out that such chain stores could be good places to look around for minor items such as shower curtains or towels. 

Not unlike thrift stores or even record stores, the journey can be its own reward when it comes to wandering around large stores for budget-conscious shoppers. The source notes that going in to a shopping mission while knowing exactly what you want and where to find it isn't as much fun as having a vague idea that leads to lots of searching. 

Organization may be key to improving bathroom

Then again, some practices that could make your bathroom feel more spiffy don't necessarily need to cost a dime. In fact, they don't even require you to leave your home. SheKnows.com encourages individuals trying to amp up the decor of their small bathrooms to, first and foremost, focus on making the best use of space, organization and not leaving clothes or empty shampoo bottles or other clutter in a bathroom. 

While you could meet this goal with a little time and elbow grease, the source notes that it might not necessarily hurt to reexamine how you use your vanity and whatever shelve space is available. If you're already planning on replacing your vanity, for example, think about grabbing one with more shelves.

Also, changing up the lighting arrangement could be a big plus for a small bathroom. Decrying "dull ceiling light[s]" that were popular during the 1970s, Sheknows.com advises installing a more contemporary track lighting fixture. If that sounds out of your price range, consider making better use of light already coming into the room by putting up new curtains. 

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Virtually everyone who ever had to take a bath as a small child was likely overjoyed while floating a rubber ducky around the bathtub, whether or not they can remember that far back.

Mythic puppeteer Jim Henson could take much credit for making these toys as popular as they are, points out Quaker Gift Shop (QGS). The first reference that may pop into many people's minds when they think of rubber duckies is the now iconic anthem sung by Ernie from Sesame Street who was voiced by Henson. Ernie famously described his yellow bath time companion as "cute and yella and chubby," before adding, "Rubadubdubby." 

But who originally had the clever idea of creating a cute toy duck specially designed for kids to play with during bath time? The origins of the rubber ducky are surprisingly shrouded in mystery.

Rubber duckies: a product of the industrial revolution

Three reputable sources on the topic of rubber duckies report ignorance in regards to who invented rubber duckies or their specific place of origin. However, although there may be more to the story, they all confirm that the bath toys probably first appeared alongside many other mass-produced rubber products during the industrial revolution of the early-to-mid 19th century. The Quaker Gift Shop notes that originally rubber duckies were composed of heavier materials and did not squeak. 

Rubber ducky enthusiast website Rubber Duck Pond dug deeply enough into the creation of rubber duckies to learn that  patents were being filed for inventions that bore similarities to contemporary rubber duckies from 1886 to 1948. Each patent up until the later ones contained elements of what we currently think of as rubber duckies. Saying that Peter Ganine of Los Angeles or Robert Y. Allen and F. Melvin Shaw of Beverly Hills, California invented rubber duckies may be a stretch, but the patents they filed in the late 1940s could indicate that they pieced together already existing concepts into the creation of the toy Ernie would eventually sing about.

Rubber ducky trivia

Like many other children's toys, rubber duckies have evolved into a collector's item for some quirky adults. Ezine Articles point out that rubber duckies resembling the devil and various celebrities have been created with these hobbyists in mind.

Take the duckies displayed on Celebriducks.com, where someone so inclined could purchase a rubber ducky that looks like President Obama, Marilyn Monroe or infamous KISS bassist Gene Simmons, to cite just a few examples. 

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More celebrity bathrooms to ogle
Posted on Friday, January 25, 2013

Famous people are just like you and me - they take showers, floss and brush their teeth in front of their bathroom vanities just like all human beings must. However, they often do so in far-more luxurious bathrooms than many people could ever hope to afford. 

Take, for instance, the lavatory of former NBA great Shaquille O'Neal, which appears in a compilation of pictures of celebrities' bathrooms on the website Bath Tubs and More. As Shaq is noted for being very, very tall it could be assumed that his bathroom  has higher ceilings than most. It's also got windows circulating the room, to give anyone inside a nice view of the backyard of Shaq's estate.  

But if you're looking to be impressed by sheer elegance instead of size, look no further than Jenny Craig's bathroom, featured on the website of Home and Garden Television (HGTV). Under a domed ceiling, Craig's selected a classical painting and a fireplace as objects to install beside her bathtub. Next on HGTV list is a decisively modern bathroom design from the New York home of Oscar nominee Julianne Moore. Although the celebrated actor - whose credits include major supporting rules in "The Big Lebowski," "Boogie Nights," and "The Kids are All Right" - also includes a fireplace, it otherwise projects a far sleeker, more contemporary look with a soaking tub in the middle of the room. Strangest among the list that appears on HGTV is the bathroom of noted golfer Phil Mickelson, whose shower stall appears to be a teleportation chamber from a science fiction film.

Other actors' swanky bathrooms

Meanwhile, while some people have mocked Nicolas Cage for his somewhat goofy performances in films like "The Wicker Man," no one would ever give him any flak for the bathrooms in his multiple mansions, as displayed on Bathtubs and More. One features walls of marble with a pattern that looks like red and purple cracks, while the other one is even bigger than Shaq's bathroom, if you can believe that. 

Contrary to what some people might expect, "Genie in a Bottle" singer Christina Aguilera's bathroom is extremely minimalistic compared to some other celebrity bathrooms. Although, the view from the window is a picturesque image of what appear to be tropical trees on the horizon. Unexpectedly, this might be one of the few things Aguilera has in common with "Antichrist" star Willem Dafoe - the shot of his bathroom appearing on the web source somewhat resembles a jail cell with a gorgeous forest view.   

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Update on worldwide toilet news
Posted on Thursday, January 24, 2013

While many major news outlets are too prudish to report on the breaking toilet stories from around the world, we refuse to back down from the hard-hitting events in the world of toilets. This week's toilet news comes from Africa, where a shortage of sanitation services has been a problem in some areas. Meanwhile in San Francisco, some confusion has arisen as to what qualifies as a "historic" toilet. 

Kenyan innovators find possible solution to toilet shortage

Al Jazeera recently reported from the slums of Kenya, where some residents have resorted to using "flying toilets" - that is, relieving themselves in plastic bags and throwing them as far as they can away from their homes - in lieu of having to travel some distance by foot to use one of the community lavatories that, sometimes, consist only of a hole in the ground. 

In light of the obvious sanitation issues this trend has brought about, an organization based in the village of Kibera known as "Peepoople" has created single-use toilet bags that reduce waste to ammonia and carbonate, which is in line with World Health Organization hygiene and disease prevention standards, states the news source.

The bags' double-layer design helps keep hands clean during use and prevents animals and flies from being attracted to the remnants. The contents of a Peepoople bag are dissolved by five grams of a chemical called urea, and a single bag only costs the equivalent of three American cents, according to Al Jazeera. Some people use them as fertilizer, while others throw them away into a designated drop off for collection. 

The Peepoople website echoes statistics from the World Health Organization, showing that more than 2.5 billion people worldwide don't enjoy the immediate access to toilets that we tend to take for granted in the United States. 

Historic toilets identified in San Francisco City Hall

Back in the states - although some toilets recently removed from the San Francisco City Hall may not be as "historic" as a sign announcing their replacement claimed, according to San Francisco Weekly, a few genuinely historic toilets can be found on the premises. Some are in the Board of Supervisors chambers and behind hearing rooms that were formerly used as judge's chambers. These johns were originally installed sometime between 1913 and 1915, when the building was first constructed. 

While city officials have a comparatively easy time doing away with toilets that are mere outdated and inefficient, the news source reports that replacing 100-year-old toilets with "Water Efficient Toilets" would need an okay from the City Hall Preservation Advisory Commission. 

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Some advice for bathroom safety
Posted on Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Some people may take it for granted that their bathroom is one of the safest places in the house, but this is not necessarily so. Although slipping in the shower is generally thought of a more significant injury risk for older people and children - really, is there any reason why it couldn't happen to anyone? 

Most likely, you don't really have to worry about your safety next time you're brushing your teeth in front of your bathroom vanity, but just for the sake of covering all your bases, here are some tips from experts to make sure you never get injured in the bathroom. 

Put sticky mats on the floors

We don't mean "sticky" as in dirty - we mean "sticky" as in rubber mats or carpets with non-skid undersides that won't be easy to slip on when water gets on them. The Home Depot's blog recommends putting such sticky mats down on the floors of the shower and bathtub area, as well as the rest of the room. The news source also strongly advises against implementing glossy floor tiles, which are said to be especially slippery. 

Keep an eye on the water heater

Especially if you've got children or older folks roaming around your household, it may be a good idea to make sure the water heater never goes beyond 120 degrees, according to a list of advice appearing on JustInCase911.com. Anti-scald devices may also help prevent burning injuries. 

Lights!

It's not too difficult to trip and harm oneself on one of those late night treks to the bathroom when the darkness prevents you from finding a light switch. For this reason, Home Depot recommends installing a motion detector light in your bathroom, while JustinCase911.com calls for a night light. Either could help ensure that you'll be able to find the toilet, no matter what time of day it is. 

Don't leave electrical items on floor or anywhere near the tub

This one almost feels like it doesn't require an explanation, but electrical devices that aren't water proof could seriously harm you if you use them while they're wet. 

Lock up shampoo and mouth wash

Again, this really only applies if you have kids - but some children might be curious what the mouthwash you use every morning tastes like, for one example. Some people keep even more harmful materials in their bathroom, so it's important to make sure any potentially toxic chemicals or cleaning products are locked up under the sink, out of the reach of little hands. 

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While some people might consider a themed bathroom tacky, others may actually prefer to add a little kitsch and gimmickry to their bathroom decor. Examples of this are all over the web. In fact, there's an entire Tumblr dedicated to the subject.

The unnamed person who maintains the site describes themed bathrooms as possibly the "most underrated and heartwarming remnant of the '70s," and that they "represent the absolute peak of American interior design."  There's a good chance that not everyone shares that opinion, but most people could agree that the photos of rubber duck-, cowboy-,  and beach-themed bathrooms he or she provides are lots of fun. One particularly elaborate bathroom setup on this site features bathroom accessories that all relate to decks of playing cards. For example, the shower curtain displays a king and a queen, while the bathmat on the floor shows a "royal flush" hand of cards alongside several poker tips. 

An exploration of "nerdy" bathrooms

Frankly, the themed bathrooms on the aforementioned Tumblr look downright conventional compared to some of the bathrooms NBC News pointed out in their list of the 10 nerdiest bathrooms in the world. The difference is some of the nerdy bathrooms are located in businesses, not individual homes. For example, a bar called the Way Station in Brooklyn, New York, has installed a bathroom based off the time traveling police box - a.k.a. the "TARDIS" - used by the Doctor and other characters on the British science fiction series "Doctor Who." The news source explains that, in this instance, "TARDIS" is an acronym for "Time and Relative Drinking in Space" instead of "Time and Relative Dimension ..." NBC News does not clarify whether, like the Doctor's space and time hopping vessel, the Way Station's bathroom defies physics by being bigger on the inside. 

On a similar note, a Spider-Man bathroom put together by Riley Replicas is highlighted by NBC. It's made to look as though the villains Dr. Octopus, the Sandman and the Green Goblin are crashing through a faux-brick wall, presumably to attack the hapless bathroom user. But not all the themed bathrooms on the NBC article are that elaborate, or presumably expensive to set up. For one especially creative example, one bathroom stall has the the first chapter of a Harry Potter book transcribed onto one of its walls. Later, a Star Wars-themed shower stall - featuring the likenesses of C3PO, R2D2 and Chewbacca - looks like all it required was a set of multicolored tiles.    

 

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Wall Street Journal delves into toilet seat art
Posted on Monday, January 21, 2013

Based on innovations like the TOTO company's motorcycle toilet, you might assume that all the quirky toilet-related trends come from Japan. However, a couple of Americans appearing in the Wall Street Journal have also applied their creativity to toilet seats. But these Americans used toilets as an inspiration for artistic innovation instead of technological weirdness.

Most people would rather drive their local art store for painting supplies than the hardware store. But the Wall Street Journal reports that this isn't the case for 91-year-old Barney Smith of Alamo Height, Texas.

"If it's not a lid, I won't paint on it," Smith, who has been painting toilet seats for approximately 50 years, told the news source.

Smith - a retired expert plumber - has turned more than 1,035 toilet seats into bona​fide works on art, all of which are on on display at the Toilet Art Museum in Alamo Height. Many of the toilet seats have been crafted to commemorate a specific historic event or a person. One of the toilet seats - designed in honor of the eruption of Mount St. Helens - uses ashes from the volcano in the painting, as is the case with a toilet seat memorializing the fall of the Berlin Wall, notes the Wal Street Journal.

The news source also profiled Macedonia, Ohio small business owner Celeste Massullo, who runs the Toilet Tattoos removable toilet seat covers. Her company offers an impressive selection and variety of toilet decorations includes flowers, patriotic, holidays, and nature themed garnishes.

"It really turns your toilet lid into a frame for artwork" she told the Wall Street Journal.

The news source reported that her company currently rakes in approximately $6 million a year.

More instances of toilet art

However, Smith and Massullo aren't the first people to think of aiming their artistic sensibilities towards objects found around their bathrooms. The website ​Zazzle has quite a bit of toilet-themed art, meant to be framed or posted on a wall, on its website. One of these paintings is meant to ape Andy Warhol's famous prints of celebrities that would replicate the same picture over and over again in different colors...except it's a toilet, not Marilyn Monroe. Several other humorous posters are send-ups of the male/female signs often pointing people in the right director when they're on the lookout for a public bathroom. Perhaps the most useful of all Zazzle's strange posters is one that's simply a pointing finger, with a caption reading "We Want You to Lower the Lid!"

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Shocking revelations about hotel bathrooms
Posted on Friday, January 18, 2013

Here's some information that might blow the mind of many people who travel regularly - a study has found that if you have to eat a meal in a hotel room, you're best bet for sanitation is to eat it in the steam shower.

According to research released by the hotel consumer advocacy group Check Safety First, as reported on by the U.K. Daily Mail, the relative light units (RLU) researchers used to determine how much potentially harmful bacteria was present on average in the bathrooms they examined showed that the typical hotel lavatory's sinks contained 535 RLUs. Meanwhile, the toilets displayed less than 35 RLUs, and showers generally had less than 45.

Now, let's compare this to some of the objects typically found in hotel bedrooms. The news source reports that the agency usually found about 128 RLUs on TV remote controls, more than 200 on telephones, over 125 on light switches and more than 60 on door handles.

This means that, much of the time, you're better off eating your dinner while sitting on the toilet than you arewatching TV.

"People often associate illness and their stay with the hotel food, but our auditing finds that the room can also be a major cause," the chairman of the organization, Steve Tate, told the news provider. "With a high turnover of hotel cleaning staff, maintaining high standards is difficult, with some of the most reputable hotels not living up to these standards."

Some good news about hotel bathrooms

But not all the hotel bathroom-related information coming through the news wire sounds scary. In a more encouraging article, USA Today pointed to some of the best bathrooms in Las Vegas hotels.

The majority of things that happen in Vegas, you'd probably prefer stay in Vegas. But such is not the case with these luxury bathrooms, which many visitors to the City of Sin may want to take home with them. The Mandarin Oriental is at the top of the news source's list. Though the name of the hotel may be considered antiquated - even a little inappropriate - by today's standards, there's certainly nothing inappropriate about the polished wooden floors and raised basins in its bathrooms. Third on the list is the Venetian Report Hotel Casino, with bathrooms that include walk-in glass shower stations and gold-framed oval mirrors.

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The wild side of bathroom decor
Posted on Thursday, January 17, 2013

You might not expect bathroom decor to boggle your mind - but sometimes, everything needs to get a little crazy. Even toilet paper. Here are some of the strangest bathroom accessories found on the web.

Strange and hilarious toilet paper

Most people probably don't put a lot of thought into their toilet paper, but apparently some individuals aren't happy unless they can clean themselves with something amusing. For instance, Trend Hunter's list of "Bizarre and Beautiful" bathroom decor items features a toilet paper roll meant to resemble a series of paint-by-numbers drawings. Meanwhile, Designs Magazine features a similar compilation of bathroom decor oddities, including glow in the dark toilet paper. Why a person would ever need glow in the dark toilet paper is anyone's guess. On a more practical level, there's also such a thing as toilet paper with a different Sudoku puzzle on each sheet.

For those whose taste is decor leans toward the morbid side, there's also a toilet paper holder meant to resemble the Grim Reaper, presenting you with a roll inscribed with black skulls. The yellow tape often used to wall-off crime scenes also inspired a brand of specialty toilet paper possibly marketed to fans of crime drama television shows.

Odd spins on shower curtains

It goes to show how bathroom decor can be educational - Designs Magazine displays a shower curtain that shows the entire Periodic Table for science enthusiasts who want to refresh their knowledge of the elements while they wash their hair in the morning. Another shower curtain on Trend Hunter depicts an elaborate city skyline during a lightning storm. For fans of horror films, there's a curtain showing the silhouette of Norman Bates, so the user can imagine he or she is being stalked just like Lila Crane in Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 landmark film, Psycho.

Rumor of celebrity's quirky toilet habits

In what might be the strangest bathroom decor tidbit of all, several news providers have reported that former American Idol judge Jennifer Lopez flatly refuses to use any toilet seat aside from her custom-made, jewel encrusted toilet seat that may or may not have been a gift from Ben Affleck sometime during their ill-fated romantic relationship about 10 years ago. Either Lopez is pathologically particular about her lavatory routine, or one celebrity reporter has an impressive imagination.

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This week in bathroom news
Posted on Wednesday, January 16, 2013

For some reason, curious crimes and legislation tend to revolve around bathroom-oriented matters. Here are some of the biggest stories that popped up on news feeds this week. One almost feels like a retelling of a tale we've grown all-too familiar with, while the next puts a bureaucratic spin on the age-old debate about where it is and isn't okay to relieve oneself.

Toilet handles ripped off from Milwaukee colleges and fast food restaurants

According to Southeast Wisconsin police who spoke with ABC News, a suspect known for wearing a backpack, jeans, a black jacket and a black knit cap has been identified as the main suspect in a string of toilet valve thefts. The handles from toilets and urinals have been vanishing from fast food restaurants like Arby's, as well as colleges such as the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, ITT, the Waukesha Country Technical College and others since September.

"This is the first time we've ever experienced this or even heard of it. As you can imagine, initially it was a little bit odd," a representative from the police told the news source. "But as we found out that there were more and more thefts that were occurring it became quite serious."

Police went on to state that they believe the suspect is selling the valves, as they doubt thesewould be of much value as scrap.

Colorado legislators battle over places to pee

A story that recently appeared in the Denver Post details ofa controversy it describes as "PeeGate." At the Colorado State Capitol building, many of the unmarked restrooms state officials had grown accustomed to using, without warning,requireelectronic passes for entry. Formerly, they only needed a numerical code that had gone unchanged for as long as officialscould remember.

The news source goes on to explain that the legislators were not informed in advance that their favorite bathrooms would be locked due to a miscommunication with the Department of Personnel and Administration. House Speaker Mark Ferrandino balked at a suggestion that staffers and aides should not have access to the electronically locked bathrooms, noting that legislators often need their assistance at extremely short notice. That is to say, they're greatly inconvenienced if their right-hand man has to run up a floor to use the bathroom.

As of now, more bathrooms are available to government officials and policy makers, according to the Denver Post.

"This was just bureaucratic pigheadedness," lobbyist Ben Waters said to the news source.

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Some tips for a spa-like experience in your bathroom
Posted on Tuesday, January 15, 2013

While many people might assume that creating the calming conditions of a spa in their home bathroom would be either financially infeasible or just downright impractical, an editor from the website Networx scrounged up some ideas for relatively inexpensive ​bathroom accessories​ that could create a soothing aura similar to the conditions of a good spa.

The writer - Chaya Kurtz - noted that most people don't have the time or money to make regular visits to the spa and explained that decor plays as much of a part in a mentally-centering spa experience as mud wraps or other treatments. In fact, the first thing she recommends is organizing toiletries. Having lots of clutter in any room makes it a less relaxing place to inhabit. Therefore, old toiletries should be discarded, plastic bottles should be banned from the countertops and every member of the household should have his or her own designated space for toiletry storage.

In addition, neutral colors are the best choices for painting the wall or selecting the colors of other items. Likewise, the colors of shower curtains and towels should match, and the accessories should be washed regularly. Lastly, faucets should be spray painted to avoid the "cheesy 1980's shmatlz" feel of aging metal faucet handles and sink spigots.

Other ideas for adding some zen to your bathroom

If that advice sounds too simple, someone wanting to overhaul his or her bathroom into a spa-like environment could consider purchasing a soaking bathtub, stated Better Homes and Gardens. Yoshiko Sato of New York City's Morris Sato Studio told the source that many traditional Japanese people make a point to spend part of their day relaxing in a soaking tub. Wooden soaking tubs - sometimes known to be pricey and difficult to maintain - aren't necessarily recommended by experts.

But if you can't afford in install a hot tub in your home, there are plenty of other steps you could make to turn your bathroom into a better place to chill out. Incense candles could fill the room with a pleasant aroma during a long bath. Certain brands of shampoo and soap are said to have relaxing qualities. Plus, within recent years, some companies have started producing waterproof iPods and other music players for people who want to enjoy their favorite mellow tunes while they take showers or baths.

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While it's usually obvious when something in your refrigerator has outlived its expiration date, it might not be so easy to tell when certain items in your bathroom need to be thrown out. Luckily, experts have provided some tips for what kind of bathroom accessories you should keep an eye on.


On the syndicated daytime talk show, The Doctors, the four experts described items people typically keep in their bathrooms that should, contrary to many people's assumptions, be thrown away after certain periods of time.


Specifically, the experts pointed to bottles of hydrogen peroxide. While some people keep the popular cleaning liquid in the shelves under their sinks for years on end, opened bottles should be tossed out after six months. Unopened bottles, on the other hand, can sit for three years without becoming unsanitary.


In addition, The Doctors explained that disposal shavers should be discarded after three uses, regardless of how thoroughly they've been washed between shaves. This is especially true for women, who may be at risk of certain infections if they overuse the same disposable razor for shaving their legs. Unlike wine, rubbing alcohol doesn't grow better with age - it needs to be thrown out after two years if it's been opened, and it only lasts three years if the seal has never been cracked.


Lastly, as should go without saying, The Doctors explained that a luffa sponge should be thrown in the trash once it starts to smell funky.


A quick way to make your toilet shine

Meanwhile, cribbing from a how-to book called Joey Green's Cleaning Magic Book, The Huffington Post described how, if one were so inclined, he or she could use two cups of Gatorade to clean the toilet bowl.


The news source explains how this method consists of pouring two cups of any flavor of Gatorade into the bowl, and letting it sit for two hours. Then, leftover Gatorade should be brushed off the sides. Once the flush is complete, the toilet should be displaying a far higher degree of radiance.


Oddly, this isn't the first instance of someone discovering a double-use that a common beverage has for cleaning. The Huffington Post also notes that for washing stains off toilets, a similar method calling for Coca Cola instead of Gatorade is said to be effective.

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It's been said many times that bathrooms might be the most important room of a household. But what about a restaurant?


Ed Zimmerman, founder of wholesale food sales and marketing company The Food Connector, recently wrote that a poorly-maintained bathroom vanity or other unclean conditions in an eating establishment's restroom could be a deal breaker for customers thinking about whether or not they'll return. On QSRweb.com, he explained how even those who enjoyed their meals could see a filthy bathroom as an indicator that the kitchen might not be in much better condition.


He intended to provide guidance for restaurant owners and managers, but of course, there's no reason why the rest of us can't make use of the same advice. Those who enjoy throwing dinner parties now and again but also don't have the cleanest restrooms might experience the same problem a restaurant would have with guests hesitant to return.


Radio pundit calls out news station for dirty bathrooms

Some would say political pundits in this day and age may take their arguments over-the-top now and again. But when conservative radio talk show host Alex Jones appeared on CNN to be interviewed by Piers Morgan, the experience got him so riled up that he made sure to insult the news station's bathrooms on his way out the door.


"When I was at CNN a decade ago, it was glistening," he announced on his show, according to Media Bistro. "[Today] It looks like Hitler’s bunker… torn-up carpet ... It’s rotting. It literally looked like a gas station bathroom in the worst part of town. It was rotting and those people were in hell."


The article on Media Bistro did not say whether or not anyone from CNN has offered a defense of the condition of the cable news provider's bathrooms.


Myrtle Beach has serious bathroom problems

In other bathroom-related news, the police in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina are investigating more commode crime than most law enforcement agencies generally deal with, according to reports from Myrtle Beach Online.


The news source reports that officials are, as of Wednesday Jan. 9, looking into a case of possible arson, where a fire destroyed two outdoor public bathrooms in the very early morning. In addition, approximately 100 rolls of toilet paper may have been stolen from the Grand Strand Senior Center on Tuesday, Jan. 8.

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What are the best colors to paint a bathroom?
Posted on Wednesday, January 9, 2013

When it comes to painting a wall, people are probably going to have some very different opinions about what colors are attractive and which aren't. Some people might like the idea of establishing a subtle light blue hue on the walls of a lavatory to compliment a white bathroom vanity. Others may prefer the notion of a garish neon green bathroom, simply because it makes their lives more fun.


But those are two extreme examples. It's worth checking in with some experts on bathroom decor to get their insights into the subject.


When it comes to bathroom colors, white is most popular

Speaking to Better Homes and Gardens (BHG), Bob Garder, a certified master kitchen and bathroom designer and President of the National Kitchen and Bath Association, admitted that white remains the most dominant color in the realms of toilets, sinks and bathroom walls.


However, the plus side to making use of the color white is that, like black, it goes with anything. For example, the news source depicts a bathroom where the walls are painted half white and half metallic blue. In another picture, white balances out some of the kookiness of an otherwise off-green bathroom arrangement. The next bathroom BHG displays has a combination of tan walls, marble tiles and lacy tan curtains all grounded by a white bathtub.


Reasons to keep bathroom colors subtle

Meanwhile, the San Francisco Chronicle published an advice piece focusing on small bathrooms with limited lighting. It said that a gloomy aura could develop in a room without a lot of illumination. The mood could be offset by colors falling within a happy medium - not too "cool" to make the bathroom feel dreary or too "warm" to be aesthetically overpowering.


The news source lists white, pearl gray, pale pink, yellow and aqua as its highest recommended colors to paint a bathroom, while cautioning against using an excessively loud shade of yellow. Pale pink is said to "combine the best of cool and warm color effects," while pearl gray could create an air of refinement in any bathroom.


Some colors to avoid

Whether they're covering the wall of a bathroom or virtually any other area of the household, some colors are to be avoided outright. Apparent Therapy strongly advises against painting any wall pancake batter yellow, bubble gum pink or kelly green. Even though that's just the writer's opinion, some colors are, at least, more polarizing than others.

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Easy steps to to improve the look of your bathroom
Posted on Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Perhaps you've noticed your bathroom - potentially one of the most important rooms in your house - could use a little bit of touching up. One way to overhaul its appearance would be running out and purchasing a new bathroom vanity or other furnishings, and there are a number of cheap, quick additions and actions that may complement these. Here are a few to consider.


Cleanliness and minor repairs

The online information resource Newlywed Survival offers some general guidelines for improving bathroom conditions, starting off with a somewhat obvious truism - you've got to keep your bathroom clean. After putting all your towels and other objects in another room for the time being, scrub the bathtub, toilet and floor until they sparkle. Newlywed Survival points out that after a thorough general cleaning, it might be easier to notice hitherto hidden blemishes in your bathroom, such as faltering towel bars, shower heads, faucets and other bathroom fixtures. You might even see that your bathroom could use a fresh paint job.


Small purchases with large results

Going from general advice to very specific thoughts, Bath Vanity Experts published no fewer than 100 ideas for improving a bathroom. For example, those who collect interesting matchbooks from hotels and restaurants they've visited may want to consider displaying them on a shelf. Putting grip tape on your bathroom floor could help reduce your chances of ever slipping and getting injured, and many waterproof electronic items like radios or cell phone chargers might enhance your convenience and entertainment options in the bathroom. Incense candles also could add a little more of a romantic atmosphere to your lavatory. The source also explains that rubbing shaving cream on your bathroom mirror may prevent it from getting foggy for a few weeks. Some readers may want to think about asking a friend to lather up his or her mirror before they do, in case it doesn't work.


You can't spell "decorate" without "decor"

It's also worth remembering that many items you already have around your house could simply be moved to the bathroom. If you have too many posters cluttering your bedroom wall, it makes sense to move one or two of them into the bathroom to give it a homier, more individualistic appearance.

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Large reward offered for return of stolen toilet
Posted on Monday, January 7, 2013

While toilet theft is by no means unheard of, one Canadian victim of a heartless criminal has taken to the internet and offered $500 to anyone who facilitates the safe return of an outhouse he built himself. The outdoor lavatory, along with a picnic table, was pilfered from his farm last month, according to the Edmonton Journal. While the picnic table was not homemade, the outhouse took 50-year-old Randy Nemirsky four days to build.


The news source reports that his ad on the eBay subsidiary Kijiji has been viewed nearly 1,500 times, yet Nemirsky has not received any word yet regarding the whereabouts of his toilet.


“You don’t steal a toilet. You maybe tip it over on Halloween, but why would you steal a man’s toilet?” Nemirsky told the news source. "It was so unique to have it there."


The outhouse was closed off with an 80-year-old door from Nemirsky's mother's basement, and was otherwise constructed with plywood and two-by-fours. At 8 feet tall and weighing, Nemirsky guesses, between 800 and 1,000 pounds, the outhouse was used often during pit stops on mid-afternoon trips with his all-terrain vehicle, he told the Edmonton Journal.  


"If someone can find me the toilet, I’ll pay,” said Nemirsky, according to the news source. “It’s worth it to me. The biggest thing is my time.”


News source highlights bizarre toilet seats

On a lighter note, The Huffington Post put together a list of the top 25 strangest toilet seat covers it could find. Some feature terrifying depictions of snakes and monsters - the last kinds of things most people would want to see when preparing to relieve themselves. Other seat covers are meant to be homages to vintage culture like pinups, King Kong and Elvis Presley.


It seems there's a toilet seat cover that caters to every imaginable taste in aesthetics. Some toilet seat covers designed for children depict Sesame Street characters, the kids from High School Musical or SpongeBob SquarePants and his pal Patrick Star. Others are geared toward animal lovers and show dogs, cats, seals and turtles, as well as one nature scene of wolves running through the snow.


Possibly the most amusing on The Huffington Post's list of strange toilet seat covers is a cartoon Army drill sergeant shouting "Private! I said put down that lid!"

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News sources highlight best public bathrooms in the US
Posted on Friday, January 4, 2013

We've all had unfortunate experiences with public bathrooms - often at locations such as roadside gas stations or fast food restaurants. There's nothing worse than when nature calls, and you're forced to make do with a unclean, half-functioning toilet, sink or even an unappealing bathroom vanity.


However, other public bathrooms in the U.S. are a pleasure, if not an honor, to make use of. So if you're on-the-go and gotta-go, keep these news sources' picks for best public bathrooms in the U.S. in mind.


Unique bathrooms

Some people might not generally think that bathroom decor can be art, but a few of the participants in Cintas' America's Best Restroom contest speak to the contrary. Business Insider compiled photos of a few outstanding public bathrooms. Some are doozies. 


For instance, the bathrooms at Mie N Yu, a Washington D.C. restaurant, are meant to evoke the conditions of a Singapore flea market's washrooms. However, the designers put a luxurious slant on the rustic concept. Even though the sinks resemble large wooden buckets, an attendant makes sure they're clean and comfortable 24 hours a day during the weekends, according to the news source.


The washroom at the Radisson Blue Aqua Hotel in Chicago is another standout. Flesh flowers are placed next to every elevated-basin sink, and the mosaic of mirror tiles that cover all the walls give the lavatory a surreal vibe. But almost nothing tops the lavish bathrooms at the Las Vegas Vanity Night Club. Combined, the decor in the men's and women's rooms is worth more than $1 million.


News source points to best in-store bathrooms in NYC

Not too surprising, many upscale shops in New York City have been highlighted by The New York Times as locations its readers should be eager to relieve themselves in - especially if they need to find a storefront with facilities that are open to the public. One washroom on Times's list of best New York City bathrooms you might not expect is the lavatory at Restoration Hardware on Broadway Street. Although, as the writer notes, it follows that a retail store where bathroom faucets and linens are on sale would have a pleasant place to go potty.


Also among The Time's picks are the bathrooms at Pottery Barn Kids on 2nd Avenue, The Shops at the Plaza and Mackenzie-Childs.

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Advice columnists weigh in on public toilets
Posted on Thursday, January 3, 2013

When using a public restroom, some hyper hygiene-conscious individuals opt to hover over the bowl or spread toilet paper around the seat, as opposed to sitting. They may be onto something, if we consider statistics from the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IFSA) cited by Everyday Health. According to the news source, the medical organization has found more bacteria than its charts were able to quantify in some public restrooms.


Meanwhile, in an advice column that recently appeared in the The Chicago Reader, a reader asked if there's any credence to an old statistic showing that only 2 percent of women dare to sit directly on public toilets, choosing to hover or put paper down instead.


The writer of this syndicated column, "The Straight Dope," confirmed that a study showing these results did, in fact, appear in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in 1991. However, an informal survey he took on a message board indicated nearly the opposite - more than 80 percent of the almost 150 women who responded said, under the right circumstances, they wouldn't have a problem sitting on a public toilet seat.


Some information provided by other experts indicates that that 80 percent of the Straight Dope's survey has the right idea - especially if these women are more concerned about washing their hands.


Ways to avoid catching a disease in a public restroom

Ironically, a different advice column appearing in the Mother Nature Network (MNN) points out that the toilet isn't necessarily the most disease-ridden object in a poorly-maintained public bathroom. Author and blogger Chanie Kirschner pointed to a 2008 report from CNN where University of Arizona microbiologist Charles Gerba called toilet seats one of the cleanest things in most bathrooms.


What people should really watch out for, according to Kirschner, are public bathroom floors, door handles and sinks. She advises rigorous hand washing after public toilet use - at least 20 seconds of scrubbing with soap - and using the same paper towel used to dry the hands to turn the doorknob on the way out. In addition, it's best to avoid touching anything that's been on the floor of public bathroom.


Although it seems like an obvious rule of thumb, washing your hands after you use the bathroom is not a practice to take lightly. Diseases one can catch from an unclean bathroom as cited by MNN include hepatitis A, salmonella, and less severe illnesses such as colds and flus.

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Some advice on sharing a bathroom
Posted on Wednesday, January 2, 2013

For new college students, or even older people who've spent years living on their own, sharing a bathroom with a roommate or significant other might be an awkward adjustment. After all, the bathroom is generally thought of as a sanctuary to take care of private hygiene needs. Luckily, a handful of prominent news sources have compiled tips for organizing the bathroom vanity and other steps one could take toward peaceful cohabitation.


Make the best of your storage space

Remember, the more people are sharing one bathroom, the more space is needed to store accessories and toiletries. The online information source Add Space To Your Life explains that each resident should be allotted an equal amount of space after all the drawers are emptied out and it's determined exactly how much storage space is available.


In addition, it's best to limit items stored in the bathroom to towels, toilet paper, nail and hair maintenance supplies, feminine hygiene products, soap and shampoo. While some people keep their medicine behind their vanity mirror, the source says these should be stored in the kitchen. Shower steam, it's said, isn't good for medications.


Remember to buy plenty of toilet paper

It's something everyone needs, but some people are uncomfortable purchasing at the store. As Ideal HomeGarden points out, the only thing more uncomfortable than handing a cashier a product you plan to use on your nether regions is reaching for a roll of toilet paper and coming up empty handed. Because it's not fair to expect one member in a household of adults of provide TP for everyone else, all residences should make a point to pick up a package of rolls once every week or two.


Take out the bathroom trash

For some reason, many people find it easier to remember to take out large garbage cans in the kitchen than they do the smaller waste receptacle in the bathroom. It can be a pain, but Ideal HomeGarden notes that an easy way to help keep everyone happy with the condition of the bathroom is to empty the bathroom's garbage can at least once a week. In addition, make sure not to let those empty bottles of shampoo or cans of shaving cream pile up.


Apart from that, the best general advice is to pick up after yourself. The source rightly notes that chores should be shared, sinks should be cleaned after use and towels should be washed regularly.

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