You’ve got a hot, steamy deuce cooking up in your colon. It’s gonna reek beyond belief, but you can’t hold it any longer. Maybe you’re in the office commode or at your girlfriend’s place for the first time. Whatever the shit-uation, you can’t afford to ruin the moment with your horrific stank.
The solution is to courtesy flush.
There’s a lot of controversy around courtesy flushing these days, so we’re stepping in to explain the history of this gesture and why it’s the right thing to do.
What Does Courtesy Flush Mean?
“Courtesy flush” is a slang term for flushing while you’re still sitting on the toilet, rather than waiting until the end of your bowel movement. Ideally, you should courtesy flush as soon as your poop splashes into the water.
The longer your fecal matter sits in the toilet bowl, the more time the smell has to infiltrate the bathroom. Accordingly, a courtesy flush helps prevent unpleasant smells in the bathroom by minimizing the amount of time your poop is exposed to the air.
As you can guess, it’s called a “courtesy” flush because you’re doing a favor for the next person who uses the bathroom by sparing them from your stank. It’s like pooping in stealth mode.
Let’s also not forget that courtesy flushing is an insurance policy against skid marks in the toilet bowl. If you take a particularly sticky or massive dump, one flush may not do the trick.
Many DUDES are familiar with the courtesy flush, but few have articulated its better than actor Chris Pratt.
Why Chris Pratt Is Right About the Courtesy Flush
In 2018, Chris Pratt won the MTV Generation Award at the MTV Movie Awards. His acceptance speech included perhaps the best breakdown of the courtesy flush ever:
"If you have to poop at a party but you're embarrassed because you're gonna stink up the bathroom, just do what I do and lock the door, sit down, get all the pee out first, OK? And then, once all the pee is done, poop, flush, boom! You minimize the amount of time that the poop is touching the air, because if you poop first, it takes you longer to pee and then you're peeing on top, then it's stirring up. Just trust me, it's science."
Chris proves you don’t have to be a molecular biologist to understand how this stuff works. You see, the smell of feces isn’t some invisible vapor—it consists of tiny poop particles floating in the air. As soon as poop exits your rear, those particles start wafting into your nostrils.
The more time poop sits, the more time the particles have to spread. But as Chris correctly points out, flushing immediately sends those particles down the drain instead of up your nose.
How Did the Term “Courtesy Flush” Originate?
The courtesy flush was introduced into pop culture in the movie Austin Powers, when Tom Arnold mistook the sound of Austin getting strangled by Dr. Evil's henchman in his stall for a massive dump.
The scene is so influential it clocked in at #6 in our Most Epic Poop Scenes in Movie History.
From here, the phrase became a staple of bathroom vocabulary. It even made its way into an episode of South Park, when Butters Scotch questioned Cartman's use of the courtesy flush.
“Hey, who’s dropping bombs in there? How about a courtesy flush?” Cartman asks Butters.
“Up yours, Cartman,” he responds.
However, courtesy flushing has generated plenty of controversy too.
Are Courtesy Flushes Safe?
The short answer is yes—courtesy flushes are a safe way to protect your bathroom from poop smell, as long as you have the proper wiping material handy.
A big concern with courtesy flushing is “toilet plume,” which is when toilet water shoots into the air when you flush, carrying poop and pee particles with it. (Of course, this depends how much water pressure you’re working with.)
The theory is that flushing while you’re on the toilet seat sprays your undercarriage with dirty toilet water. That might be a problem if you’re wiping with dry toilet paper. But if you clean up with flushable wipes or spray yourself down with a bidet, you’ll leave the bathroom cleaner than when you came in.
Another concern about courtesy flushing is that it’s a waste of water. For example, Dirty Jobs' Mike Rowe is a staunch anti-courtesy-flusher, citing wasted water and overworked sewer systems as reasons not to do it.
Frankly, the anti-courtesy flush brigade seems a bit...anal about all this. If you're that concerned about wasting water, there are plenty of ways to make up for the couple of gallons you’re using. For example, showering less frequently.
The Final Verdict on Courtesy Flushing
We took a poll at DUDE HQ and we're in 100% agreement that the courtesy flush is a necessary part of bathroom etiquette, especially in shared or public restrooms.
Whether you're pooping at a friend's house or taking your morning constitutional at work, an extra flush is worth protecting your fellow DUDE (or even yourself) to the horrors of your worst bowel movements.
Yes, everybody poops—but not everybody needs to be exposed to your special flavor of sulfur. If you need to take a #2 in enemy territory, have your flush hand ready as soon as there's a splashdown.
Of course, there are more efficient ways to combat the stench of your turds, like DUDE Bombs Toilet Spray. But in a pinch, courtesy flushing can cover up the evidence of your crime and help you make a clean getaway from the crapper.