ECUADOR: Using The Bathroom and TP Etiquette

Bathroom Sign: Quito Airport, Quito

Bathroom Sign: Quito Airport, Quito

In Ecuador, toilet paper is rarely in the individual bathroom stalls except at the airport. This can come as a shock to people from other parts of the world. It certainly was for me.

Women's Bathroom Sign, Quito Airport, Quito, Ecuador

Women’s Bathroom Sign, Quito Airport, Quito, Ecuador

Men's Bathroom Sign, Quito Airport, Quito, Ecuador

Men’s Bathroom Sign, Quito Airport, Quito, Ecuador

Oops I Forgot!

I can’t tell you the number of times when I first arrived, and even now, that I am  already in the stalls in the middle of peeing before I realize  and/or remember (DUH!) that the toilet paper is not in the stalls. This has been over and over very embarrassing and uncomfortable for me.

And it’s not like in the U.S. where you can call out to the person in English in either of the stalls next to you and ask them to please pass you a wad of toilet paper under the stall. In Ecuador, it’s every gal for herself.

(And I still don’t quite even know how I would even ask in Spanish for toilet paper from a complete stranger whom I cannot see.)

Always Bring Your Own

So please let me save you this discomfort: Always bring a wad of your own toilet paper and keep it in your pocket or purse just in case you forget to grab it at the front of the bathroom in a restaurant or public place.

Gas Stations and Parks

Many places that you would expect have toilet paper do not – like gas stations or park bathrooms.

The Mall and Restaurants

And in The Mall bathrooms and in many restaurants, look for one large roll of toilet paper in the very front or outside the bathroom stalls as you go in. And remember it’s try thin toilet paper so grab a larger wad than you think you will need!


In the airports there is toilet paper in each of the stalls. There is even a sign in each stall telling women to put their toilet paper actually into the toilet as old habits run deep and there are no garbage cans inside the stalls.

Bathroom Stall Sign: Quito Airport, Quito Ecuador

Bathroom Stall Sign: Quito Airport, Quito Ecuador

Bus Stations

Toilet paper at the main bus stations is sold to you in a handful as you go in and you pay $.25 to use the toilets.

The Garbage Pail and Why Is It There?

In most bathrooms in Ecuador, including in people’s homes, the septic systems ordains cannot handle toilet paper. So unless you are at the airport where there actually is s sign telling you to put the TP in the toilet, use the small garbage can that you will see in every bathroom to dispose of your TP.

In Asia and parts of Europe and The Middle East this custom of using a garbage pail for used TP is more the norm. But for people from the U.S., Canada and the British Commonwealth, these new bathroom habits may be a little more challenging to adopt.

Odd Blog Topic?

This may be an odd topic for a blog about Ecuador, but I sure wish someone had clued me in on “TP Etiquette” before I got here!



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Related Links and Posts:

Ecuador: My First Impressions:

Becoming A World Citizen and Why It’s Important Part One:

Becoming A World Citizen and Why It’s Important Part Two:

The Many Faces Of Ecuador:

Tranquility And The Drama In Your Head:

Moving To Ecuador: Where Do I Fit In As An American Woman?

  • Note: All photos in “Footprints in Ecuador: An American Woman’s Life Changing Journey” have been taken by Mary Anne Dorward. All photos and writing on this blog are protected under the U.S. Trademark: Words To Thrive By.  For more information, to schedule an inspirational speech or interview, please contact Mary Anne at

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