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The Etiquette of Farting at the Urinal

Some hold ’em in and some let ’em rip, but what’s the correct approach?

Farting at the urinal ranks among the top public restroom power moves — right up there with firmly placing your hands on your hips while peeing, or audibly groaning in the stall. But just as the unspoken rules of saddling up to the stall right next to someone else (or worse, taking a peek), audible farts in restrooms have an unspoken stigma. Here then is a look at what factors into whether men do or do not fart, and what the true bathroom-farting etiquette is.

Why You Fart When You Pee

Before we get into the social politics of farting at the urinal, let’s first sort out the science of why it happens in the first place. Simply put, as you begin to urinate, your brain assumes it’s time to take out the trash, and relaxes all the muscles in your pelvic floor. Meanwhile, the same pressure applied to expel urine applies to everything sitting in your intestines, so if you’ve been sitting in a meeting, clenching your butthole to keep a fart in, it’ll be released in a holy fury when you start to pee. This is also the reason you pee pretty much every time you poop. Good stuff.

Those Who Shan’t

People who argue against farting at the urinal, then, are arguing against the biological will of our natural bodies. They’re the abstinence-only people of the farting world, but they do it out of respect: It’s simply human nature to carry a certain association with loose morals or sloppiness when someone rips monster ass in a quiet bathroom. It’s all about context: In the same way you wouldn’t masturbate on an airplane, you should be aware of your surroundings when farting.

Redditor scottread1 says in the AskMen subreddit, “If you’re in a Boston Pizza bathroom then yeah, let’r’rip my man. But if you’re somewhere classy like live theater or the White House you should probably reconsider. Or at least wait until the coast is clear.” Those with contextual fart trepidation will only fart when the time is right: They will get one loaded in the chamber, do some shaky mental math to make sure it’s just gas and wait ’til they wash their hands or run the hand dryer (the noise providing appropriate cover).

Fear of Shitting Pants

Others who hold their farts in do so not out of embarrassment, but because they don’t trust themselves. As Reddit user TheFirstUranium puts it in the same r/AskMen thread, “Do NOT let her rip. A controlled release is necessary, your pelvic floor muscles are already doing shit so do not assume you have more dexterity than you do.” He’s right — there’s a lot going on down there, and even if you consider yourself one with your butthole, you never know: Once those gears are put in motion, it’s pretty hard to pull the emergency break.

In sum, hold out until the coast is clear, or at least pop into the stall and let loose just in case.

Those Who Fart

Those who let ’em loose at the urinal find the bathroom the most appropriate place to fart, plain and simple. “I can’t see why it should be a problem. Farts smell like shit, and shit literally happens in a bathroom,” argues MakesMeCringe in r/AskMen. “Anyone who has a problem should put on a top hat, pop a monocle under one of their eyes and state, ‘Ah, cheerio then. I shall be leaving until such time as the gaseous emissions have dissipated.’”

Beyond that it just happens, some might even respect you for it. As Reddit user Chilton_Squid notes in CasualUK, “You’re not demonstrating that you want to fart in front of everyone, it’s the opposite; it’s showing that you have the decorum and manners to not fart in the bar/restaurant you were in. I respect someone more if I hear them fart in a bathroom for this reason.”

The Ground Rules

The bathroom is a jungle, void of most established social rules, and people’s innermost instincts and flaws rise to the surface. To assume you should fart in the bathroom because it’s the bathroom is overly simplistic — people are weird about their butts. Just as society needs evolving laws to work and grow within, so too does the bathroom.

So here goes, some simple ground rules to farting in the bathroom (feel free to tear us apart in the comments):

  • Do not, under any circumstances, acknowledge a fart — your own, or someone else’s. Of the extensive research done for this piece, this was the #1 no-no to farts in the bathroom. Treat farts in the bathroom like you do anything else happening in there and ignore it. “If I [farted at the urinal] and someone complained I would hold them down and fart directly into their mouth,” notes Reddit user mrsamdick in the subreddit AskMen.
  • If you have to fart, fart: It will be a blip on everyone else’s conscious radar. No one will go home that day and remember, Jesus, I can’t believe Quinn farted in the bathroom. What a freak. The fart will linger in their brain for five seconds before the real world reminds them of the 10,000 more important things to be thinking about.
  • If you don’t have to fart, don’t force it: No one wants a mess on their hands.
  • If you’re in a classier establishment, cramped bathroom or standing right next to a guy, maybe just hold onto it for a few seconds until the coast clears. Get it loaded in the chamber and, as we advised earlier, wait ’til you wash your hands or run the hand dryer.
  • If a fart it slips out, no big. See ground rule #2.

Hopefully with these rules in place, timid urinal farters will know where they stand, and bathrooms will become judgment free fartopias, where men can fart free and fart proud. Hasta la victoria siempre!