My living situation is as follows: I live in a two-story house with my mother and no one else. Our Bedrooms are upstairs, together with a small bathroom without a toilet. The toilet is downstairs. We live in the middle class of a first world country. I'm a 16-year-old girl.

My mom has to use the bathroom almost every night, but she is, in her own words "too lazy to go downstairs". So she goes to the upstairs bathroom, empties the bowl with our showering supplies and reliefs herself in it. When I get up in the morning to take a shower she is still sleeping and the entire place will smell of the bowl. It is a four square meter bathroom so the bowl is always forced up into my personal space.

She sometimes forgets to remove it, so when I come home from school and go to the bathroom to eg. wash my hands, the bowl will stand there in all of its at this point 12-hour old glory. When she cleans it, she just empties the bowl, rinses some water through it and puts our showering supplies back in.

I told her (not very compassionately) that I find it disgusting and unhygienic and that we need to find another way to solve this. She said that, as mentioned, she's too lazy to go downstairs and I shouldn't be such a squeamish baby and just bring it down and pour it away myself.

Eventually, she bought a bowl with a lid, but guess what - She says she's too lazy to put the lid on cause she just wants to go to bed again after she relieved herself.


How can I get her to use the bathroom? Or how do I not have to share a bathroom with a bowl of loo? This probably includes the consecutive question "How do I convince a person to do something if they deem everything inconvenient and inconvenience as enough reason to not change? eg. I can't convince her to use the bathtub and rinse it away cause it's not so convenient.

I'm in Germany, and the cultural context is just the German one (no religion, no immigration background). It is definitely unacceptable in our culture. This is not a joke/trolling question and while I have an account on Stack Exchange I don't want this question to be related to my account.

  • Bed pans were quite common usage for many many years. Is there a problem with her using this method beyond giving you the heebee jeebees Commented Aug 31, 2017 at 17:30
  • 2
    It looks like you have two separate accounts. Please use the "contact" button at the bottom of the page to get them merged so that you can claim this question with your newer account, which will allow you to comment on the question and answers.
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 31, 2017 at 23:06
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    Is it urine or poop? Important distinction, because if she's old and her knees hurt and stairs are not her friend, she could squat and pee in the shower then wash it off with the showerhead without any problem. But if its poop... Ickkk?
    – user2135
    Commented Sep 17, 2017 at 20:25
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    Just in case: Have her check her blood sugar level. Untreated diabetes makes you urinate multiple times through the night. This can be hard and may lead someone to feel lasy about going to the bathroom. Commented Oct 9, 2017 at 11:18
  • Seems like replacing all the bowls and buckets upstairs with baskets is the way to go. Baskets don't hold water (at least most of them don't).
    – user4574
    Commented Dec 19, 2022 at 5:08

3 Answers 3


This isn't so much an interpersonal skills answer as a common sense one, but maybe there's enough overlap.

How can I get her to use the bathroom?

You can't, unless there's something you have that she wants, and it would be so valuable to her that she'd be willing to navigate the stairs for it. This route necessitates negotiation and compromise.

Do you have that? It could be: money (do you pay rent? Would you withhold it?), transportation (do you drive your mother around? Would you stop?), time (Does she cook? Does she hate it? Would you be willing to cook several times per week or on weekends if she stops this behavior?), etc.

Clearly respect is not a bargaining chip for her.

Another option is to physically aim to make the whole thing less distasteful. Examples: Put a spray bottle of plain bleach in the bathroom. Ask her to spray her bowl with a few squirts of bleach after she rinses it. If a spray bottle is too hard, a squirt bottle is easier. She might even be able to substitute the squirt bottle for the rinse, so no extra steps involved. Or, scrubbing the bowl every morning might inhibit a biofilm from forming which hastens the growth of bacteria in the residual urine in the bowl.

Alternately you can get her a "potty chair" or basin for her room, or ask her to keep the bowl in her own room.

Boundaries. Are you upset enough about this to find alternate accommodations? Boundaries are hard to set if you have no significant consequence.

Finally, I would suggest that she might be depressed. Fatigue and ignoring hygiene are common signs of depression. Can you make a convincing and caring case for her to see her doctor? That might get the ball rolling in the right direction for both of you.


The best I can offer is agree with her. Generally agreeing with the person first helps them be more accommodating to your request. So you could say something like

I know I shouldn't be so squeamish. I can't seem to get past it though.

Then if she really wants the convenience with minimal change I could offer a suggestion that you probably won't find ideal, but perhaps better than now. They do make lids meant to fit buckets that are actual toilet seats. They also make bags you line them with and then you fill the bucket with kitty litter or even saw dust and you can shake it to cover any exposed wetness. These are often used where I live for cabins and places that have no indoor toilet. You could also see if she may be willing to keep that in her own room if having out is an issue for space, but it will get rid of smell and such. These should not be used for excrement as that is not something you should be placing in trash, ever, due to sanitation laws.

There are people that live totally with just a bucket toilet, so there are ways it can be done that might make you far less grossed out.

I do not think it's likely you would get her to agree to stopping entirely, so I was hoping perhaps if I showed you an option it might be a compromise you could see if she was open to. I think being her child is likely to also be a disadvantage in such a situation as she doesn't have to try to accommodate you. If it were a roommate you would have more influence perhaps, or at least be old enough to move out if they wouldn't stop.


Hey mom I just found out urine is bad for you.

Untreated urine is dangerous to human life and should be handled with care.

While what she is doing might not have lethal effects (I avoided researching too thoroughly to avoid knowing exactly, wink wink), here is a list of interesting facts:
1. Urine smells like ammonia
2. breathing ammonia is bad for you
3. the longer urine sits the higher its actual ammonia content

I mentioned that I stopped doing research before I found out exactly how long it takes for stored urine to become dangerously toxic, and you might save that research until after you talk to mom just to keep things on-topic.

More Fun Words: Tracheal burns, nasopharyngeal, alveolar edema, bronchiolar edema and airway damage–leading to respiratory distress or malfunction.

Without going into too much detail with mom, just let her know that you found out that urine can have serious affects on your health and hers, and could she please stop doing that.

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