Study looks at best way to minimize backsplash while peeing (seriously)

Four physicists at Brigham Young University thought it would be interesting to study the uniquely male problem of “backsplash.”

And who says Mormons don’t know how to have a good time?

For the uninitiated, backsplash is the mixture of urine and water that gets throw in the air (and sometimes on slacks) when men pee standing up.

backsplash-pee-study

It’s a problem that has vexed women for centuries.  And while I won’t name any names, I did get asked by a certain “wife of” this August if I had peed on the toilet seat.  Now, I’m no expert on how women pee, but I’m not sure any man past the age of 12 leaves the toilet seat down while peeing standing up.  (Though I did find it ironic that I was finally being blamed by a woman for leaving the seat down.)

Suffice it to say, it’s clearly a problem whose time has come.

All kidding aside, it’s kind of fascinating what they did – starting with making a replica of a male urethra with a 3D printer (just in time for Christmas!) – and what they found.

What they discovered first was that part of the problem is that at a certain distance the pee stream breaks up into individual large droplets as it nears the water, and each drop causes its own backsplash.

Second problem: As the individual drops hit the water, each ones forms a dent, an impression, in the water, that gets bigger and deeper as each subsequent drop hits it (see image above).  Finally, at a certain point, the rather larger hole in the water fills up and creates its own large backsplash.  This rather cool video demonstrates the phenomenon using high-speed cameras:

The physicists also studied the angle at which one pees and, sure enough, they found that the least backsplash occurs when a man is sitting while peeing. They also found that when standing at a urinal, the more horizontal the stream the more splash.

They did a second video, showing the particular problem of peeing at a urinal, and how different angles of incidence could help to avoid the embarrassing splash:

The big takeaways from the study are:

1) If you’re really worried about backsplash, sit while peeing.

2) Get as close as you can to the urinal, as the stream doesn’t break up into droplets immediately, so the more streamy and less droplety, the less backsplashy.

3) Aim low and strive for low-impact angles. Meaning, if the stream hits the wall of the urinal at a right angle, kiss your suit pants goodbye. If the stream arcs down before hitting the urinal wall, things go much more smoothly.

4) But don’t aim too low. Avoid any pool of liquid at the bottom of the urinal and/or that funny disinfectant cake thing. Both give you major backsplash.


(I’m told that in order to actually see my Facebook posts in your feed, you need to “follow” me – so say the experts.)


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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48 Responses to “Study looks at best way to minimize backsplash while peeing (seriously)”

  1. Whitewitch says:

    Oh my you made me giggle….thank you.

  2. Dribler says:

    That’s what I do; sit. But I’ve found that some of the urinals are not too comfortable and for some reason a lot of people entering the room give me a strange look when I do it.

  3. Thom Allen says:

    I think it’s guys who don;t want to touch the toilet seat with their bare hands to lift it. There are also those who stand three feet away and pee and leave that wonderful yellow puddle for us to wade into.

  4. BillFromDover says:

    My problem is with the ceiling.

  5. BillFromDover says:

    I stand to the side and pee on the porcelain in the front of the bowl.

    Voila, no splash.

    How much do I get paid for this soultion?

  6. vickif says:

    Thanks for the laugh.

  7. JPL says:

    After several summer jobs that included cleaning restrooms, and 25 years of managing facilities, I’m not at all convinced women’s rooms are worst that men’s. My limited anecdotal experience tells me the exact opposite, that women are generally cleaner in the rest room than men. And there are enough men (and they are probably a minority) who are such pigs that men’s rooms quickly get to be disgusting.

  8. fry1laurie says:

    Sitting down while peeing would be a great convenience, if my balls didn’t hit the toilet water when I sat down.

  9. acoolerclimate says:

    Oh there are problems with sitting while peeing too. If I don’t hold my penis down into the bowl while sitting, the urine stream is apt to go out the space between the seat and the bowl, and then all over my pants that are around my thighs. Then you end up with urine stains on the back of your pants. Try explaining that one!

  10. Chia says:

    Women sneaking in to use the cleaner restroom.

  11. Jim Olson says:

    I just spent a year working as the janitor at a large church. The women’s rest rooms were far and away more trashed and disgusting than the men’s rooms. I have no idea what women do in there, but like nicho says, it looked like a freakin’ war zone on Sunday afternoon. And these rest rooms were spotless in the morning.

  12. Fentwin says:

    The dribbles. When I was 13, I could micturate across three rows of corn.

    Somedays I’m lucky to get past my shoes. For those that say we were designed, I’d like to talk to the tech who thought running the urethra through the prostate was a good idea.

  13. Whitewitch says:

    it felt good too

  14. karmanot says:

    Take it from a former teacher who wore khakis!

  15. karmanot says:

    And thus, God also gaveth yellow snow.

  16. karmanot says:

    Simple, if you wear a PA, never visit yo momma’s house without sitting down on the Loo.

  17. ComradeRutherford says:

    Of course, they made an uncircumcised ‘penis’ because America LOVES mutilated male genitals.

  18. LanceThruster says:

    Two words – Astronaut diapers.

  19. Whitewitch says:

    I love this story…it is beyond cute. thank you!

  20. Whitewitch says:

    I have a solution…sit! There you go!

  21. dula says:

    Just pee on the part of toilet before water begins. It’s quieter too.

  22. JPL says:

    I see it all the time in public restrooms. Don’t know if they’re over-confident about their ability to aim, but I regularly see a toilet seat down, with pee dribbled all over. I’m not OCD, but sometimes really wish I carried wipes w/bleach with me.

  23. docsterx says:

    From the biblical point of view:

    “Readers might like to know the source of the genitourinary disparity
    that has kept women seething in a jealous rage since the dawn of human
    history. Oddly enough, the best available evidence comes not from
    evolutionary biology but from a theological event that dates back to
    3,949 B. C. The material that follows was taken from a revised version
    of Genesis based on the Dead Sea Scrolls:

    God approached Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and said
    unto them, “There remain of my gifts to mankind only two items, but I
    have yet to decide how they shall be divided between man and woman.”

    And Adam said, “Tell me of these wondrous things, for I am
    the man, and by virtue of my closer resemblance to Thee, I must be given
    the first choice.”

    “Well,” said God, “the first item is an extraordinary
    arrangement of tubing and erectile tissue that will allow you to urinate
    while standing up.”

    “That’s it!” said Adam. “I’ll take it.”

    “But this other item . . . ”

    “No, no,” said Adam, “that’s what I want, God, and I want it right now.”

    The moment the item was installed on his person, Adam gave a
    gleeful shout, then rushed off to urinate on trees and write his name in
    the sand, feats that to this day have eluded every woman on earth.

    God and Eve stood alone in silence, looking one another in the eye.

    “OK,” Eve said at last, “what’s left for me?”

    And God said, “It’s called a brain.””

  24. douglas01 says:

    Too much information. . . lol

  25. Fentwin says:

    Being a bachelor, I just hit the drain in the shower. :)

  26. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    If you’re wearing light gray slacks, you really do need to sit .

  27. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    I seldom get up in the middle of the night, but my husband sure did. And he was loud! Sometimes I would wake up thinking there was a sudden downpour outside.

  28. Monoceros Forth says:

    I’m going to make a humiliating admission: unless I’m micturating against a tree or a wall because there’s no better place around, I sit down to pee. Partly it’s because I seem to get less dribble that way; partly it’s because I like to read in the bathroom even if it’s only for a minute or two.

  29. Indigo says:

    O quam decorum est!

  30. Zorba says:

    No kidding, nicho. Moms who don’t bother to wrap and throw away their kids diapers, they just leave them on the changing table. Feminine hygiene products that……..sorry, too disgusting to even describe. Toilet paper all over the floor.
    And probably many of these women yell at their husbands at home for leaving the seat down when they pee.

  31. magster says:

    That’s because women fling poo at each other. It’s true. I read it on Wikipedia.

  32. nicho says:

    When I was in college, I worked in an amusement park during the summer. I used to have to clean restrooms. Men may have had trouble with aim and “backsplash,” but the women’s restrooms were like a war zone. They were disgusting.

  33. Zorba says:

    You should try peeking into the women’s restrooms some time, Dave. Trust me on this, women can be real pigs, too.
    Many women don’t like to sit on the toilet seat, even though many women’s toilets provide paper seat covers (or you can always cover the seat with toilet paper). So they have to squat over the seat to pee. The problem is, many of them do not raise the seat while they do their business, so they tend to leave drops of urine on the seats. And they don’t bother to wipe it off! Disgusting.
    I once saw a sign in a woman’s restroom that said “If you sprinkle when you tinkle, Please be neat and raise the seat.”

  34. Dave Bright says:

    So very true! I do like not needing to turn on the light in the middle of the night.

  35. magster says:

    Sitting down is also much quieter so that you don’t wake up your wife during the middle of night pee with the roaring cascade of standing pee thunder. Also you can keep the light off because you don’t have to aim and can fall back asleep easier.

  36. nicho says:

    Well, Father Kelly was wrong. Official church doctrine is: “Semper duo; numquam tres.” “Shake it twice to clean the bore. Shake it thrice, you’ve sinned some more.”

  37. Dave Bright says:

    After testing various methods years ago, I found reverse-sitting to be the best since you don’t have the added concern of getting splash-back from hitting the front or rim of the bowl. I’ve found that there are a number of additional advantages to sitting as well: full muscle relaxation, no “handling” needed, or aim required- stress-free peeing! (but in public I still prefer standing at urinals or toilets to prevent unnecessary contact- b/c men are pigs!)

  38. Uncle Arthur says:

    Finally science does something useful.

  39. Indigo says:

    I was going for the PG version.
    ;-).

  40. LOL took me a second :)

  41. Really? I mean who does that? Or are they afraid to touch the seat that’s been used by others? Weird.

  42. Duke Woolworth says:

    Some of us older gents do what we can with what we have. Horizontal streams are historical streams. Avoiding the mints in the urinal? Not so easy.

  43. Tatts says:

    “…but I’m not sure any man past the age of 12 leaves the toilet seat down while peeing standing up.”

    Come visit the men’s room at my office; the toilet seats will beg to differ. Cretins.

  44. Indigo says:

    3. More than that is masturbation. Father Kelly said so.

  45. Buford2k11 says:

    Ummmm. As a country bumpkin, I pee out side…backsplash only happens on hard surfaces and your shoes…Now I know why dogs prefer to pee on the lawn…no back splash…

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