4 Tips about toilets in Chile - 4 things you need to know about going to the toilet in Chile - Woodward Culture

You probably found this article while scrolling on your phone on the toilet right now, didn’t you?

Well, it’s better than reading this while at the dinner table. But wherever you are, let’s begin our delightful conversation …

How do you say TOILET / RESTROOM in Spanish?

If you are going to go to Chile I highly recommend learning some Spanish before arriving, even if it is a few words – Just so you know, that is a link to OUR website. The Spanish word for toilet (or restroom) is Baño. That squiggly thing over the letter N sounds like NY like in ONION so you would pronounce it as “BAHNYO“. Below is a photo I took in Tierra del Fuego in Patagonia, Chile. You can see it is a sign pointing to the baños públicos (public toilets/restroom). Yes, in more touristy places, you MAY find the sign in English too as in the photo but it’s best to learn the word BAÑO in Spanish … it could save you in an “emergency.”

Baños Públicos | Public Restrooms Sign in Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia, Chile | Woodward Culture

Here are four tips about Chilean toilets that you should know before you sit on the porcelain throne.

1. Take your own toilet paper!

A word of advice … always carry your own toilet paper with you in Chile. No, not all the way from your own country but whenever you go out in Chile. Fortunately, you don’t have to do the bush survival raspy-leaf swipes here. There IS toilet paper in Chile, BUT quite often you won’t find it in public places, either because it has run out, been stolen or just wasn’t there in the first place. There’s nothing worse than having to rush to the bathroom and once finished you can’t find any toilet paper anywhere. So it pays to have a stash of it in your purse or bag … just in case.

2. Don’t get caught with your pants down!

You will find that in malls and cafes they will usually have some toilet paper in a padlocked dispenser. Problem is that sometimes this dispenser isn’t in your private cubicle but on one of the walls where you wash your hands. You can tell who the foreigners are because they’re the only ones waddling to the dispenser with their pants around their ankles and their butts flashing in the air as they quickly grab some toilet paper.

A common problem when the dispenser is outside of your cubicle is that you need to calculate how much you will need before you sit down (three wipes or four… hmm tough!). You need to bring into the equation whether you fold it (the public toilet paper is never two-ply), how absorbent it looks (it’s often shiny and spreads more than absorbs – imagine wiping your bum with a glossy magazine, it’s not the best) and whether you’re going to be doing a few plops or an after-curry splatter. Before you sit down and relax make sure you have plenty on hand.

3. Paying for Toilets

Many places charge you to use their toilet unless you are a customer. However, shopping malls have good bathrooms and you don’t usually have to pay to use them. The only exception I can recall where you do have to pay for the toilets are the ones at Mall del Centro which is near the Santiago Plaza de Armas (the main square).

There ARE normally public toilets outside of malls but they are all paid affairs. In some places there may be a person standing near the door with some toilet paper which often means there isn’t any inside (because THEY took it to sell it to YOU). If you want some toilet paper, you give them a tip. Even if you have your own toilet paper, they still expect you to give them a tip. (Learn more about Tipping in Chile)

Baños Públicos | Public Restrooms Sign in Playa Negra, Concón, Chile | Woodward Culture

This is a photo I took in the beach town of Concón in the 5th region of Chile. Notice how there is a blue sign leaning about the wall. It says Baños $300 (don’t worry, that’s pesos, not dollars!)

On the same note, don’t expect to see much soap anywhere. About half the time the soap dispensers are empty (or is that just because of the dodgy type of places I visit).

4. Don’t flush the paper!

Another thing that surprises many foreigners is that you will see a little bin or plastic container next to the toilet. It’s not just for your normal trash but is to put the used toilet paper into. Sounds unhygienic, doesn’t it? That’s right; you aren’t supposed to flush toilet paper down the loo/toilet,/w.c./the throne or whatever you call it. You have to put it in that little bin next to the toilet. Basically if you don’t, it clogs the sewage system or mostly that toilet itself yet I haven’t figured out why it happens so much here but this is often the rule in older places / houses. Having said this, in some ‘nice’ hotels you can put it straight into the bowl. (I hope there isn’t some guy lurking around with rubber gloves that comes in after you’ve finished that fishes your toilet paper out with a bent coat hanger wire).

Now you know the reason most Chilean women carry toilet paper in their purse. If you are up for an experiment, ask a woman if she has some loo paper on her and I bet she has.

Such a lovely conversation this, anyone up for lunch now?