The Paradox of Putting the Toilet Seat Down

Determining when to put the seat down by data



Robert McKeon Aloe




I recently saw a TikTok video where a woman explained that men shouldn’t have to put the seat down. She explained how it becomes normal for men to put the seat up and women to put the seat down, so why should the onerous be purely on men to put the seat down? As I thought about this proposition more, I started to consider some data and the frequency of bathroom use.

All images by Author

Let’s start with important bias information. I’m a man, and I’m married to a woman. I have habitually put the seat down, and we teach our kids to do the same. So I’ve been in the pro-SeatDown camp for some time now.

Putting the seat down or lifting it up takes a certain amount of time, and one could argue that that little bit of time could add up in certain scenarios. Does this time tax depend on the gender ratio in a house? Let’s use some theoretical data to have a better understanding.


I made a simple model to estimate how much time each policy takes. I went across a variety of Female to Male ratios, and I assume it takes 3 seconds to open or close the lid. I also assume people pee 6 times a day and poop 1 time per day.

  • Seat Down means everyone puts the seat down after they use the toilet.
  • Leave as Used means that if you put the up, you leave it up. If you put the seat down, you leave it that way.
  • Seat Up means everyone puts the seat up after they use the toilet.

We can then plot the time per person per year across these ratios, and the trade-off point is near the 1:1 ratio.

We can look at the difference between a Seat Up and Seat Down policy, in time over a year per person.

For our household, with a 0.25 Female:Male ratio, we could save 1.25 hours per person so 6 hours total a year by changing to an Seat Open only policy.

We can sweep the frequency of urination variable to see that in a household with more males than females, the time savings per year increase relative to the daily frequency of urination.

So while my household could save a few hours in the year by switching to leave the toilet seat open, I still prefer everyone put the seat and the lid down. I don’t like looking at the dirtiest part of the toilet nor do I like risking stuff dropping into it. This solution is also fair across the board because both men and women have to lift a lid or seat and put a lid or seat back down.

Also, I get it. This is a little weird. Data is weird like that and so is curiosity, but this is where I’m at in my level of curiosity. Data is a constant theme and obsession, and if you’re a data scientist and don’t put data towards something obnoxious like saving a few hours a year related to your toilet, maybe you should.

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