Commercial airliners often have a sign in the bathroom that reads:

As a courtesy to the next passenger may we suggest that you use your towel to wipe off the wash basin

  • What exactly is the courtesy that is being done by wiping off the wash basin?

I've never really figured it out.

I have never felt disrespected by water left over in the wash basin by the person before me.

What's the deal?

2 Answers 2


The courtesy is as simple as leaving the basin dry and tidy for the next passenger. The last thing you want to see is a piece of booger in the sink, a giant spit with some blood or some other bodily fluids there. Other reasons might be:

  • Dry sinks make the lavatories look cleaner, while wet sinks make the lavatories even when are clean they look dirtier.
  • Leaving the basin dry and tidy is indeed a courtesy to passengers who put their stuff next to the basin (mobile, watch, etc.).
  • Flight Attendants can not just leave everything and get busy wiping water and other fluids off basins, so this is better for passengers and airlines, because people will simply blame the airlines if lavatories found wet/dirty.
  • The more wet the place is, the more better it is for bacteria to grow, and vice versa.

note: I assume basin here means the basin and the attached table.

  • 2
    Another factor is that airplane lavatories are often not well lit and have metal wash basins that make it hard to tell whether any liquid on them is water or something else.
    – supercat
    Commented Mar 1, 2015 at 20:54
  • Interesting to learn there are people who do not wash hands after toileting, instead they use basins as a temporary storage for handy. Commented Jun 18, 2017 at 18:15

I have always felt that it is a subtle way of saying:

"If you sprinkle when you tinkle, be a sweet and wipe the seat"

  • 6
    The wash basin isn't what I pee in, it's what I wash my hands in....
    – CGCampbell
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 2:29
  • 6
    @CGCampbell You'd be surprised...
    – Karlson
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 3:24

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