Surveying Canadians on Public Washrooms

A header image for a campaign about public washrooms in Canada.

Public washrooms can be a bit of a gamble. Some are intentionally well-manicured and often downright pleasant to be in, while others are left to their own devices and have users wanting just a bit more. That, of course, begs the question, where would you find the best public washrooms?

To find out, we surveyed 1,000 Canadians and asked them to rank eight common public washroom facilities from the one they’d be most to least comfortable using. We also got an insight into the most important factors of a public washroom, if they have any anxiety using them, and even the convenience stores that have the best washrooms for pit stops on road trips.

Read on to find out where Canada’s favorite (and not-so-favorite) public washrooms are.

Canadians Rank Public Washrooms

A graphic showing the public washrooms Canadians are most and least comfortable using.

In our survey, we asked people to rank eight different types of public washrooms based on how comfortable they would feel using them. To come up with a final ranking, we used a weighted system where higher ranks received more points. The highest score a public washroom could get was 8,000, which would mean that every single respondent chose a particular option as the best public washroom.

It's not surprising that sit-down restaurants took the top spot for having the nicest public washrooms in Canada. Many of us have had at least one experience of using a restaurant washroom that was spotless to the point where we wondered if anyone had ever actually used it before. Plus, the fact that restaurants are often held up to higher cleanliness standards by health codes means that they're likely to have more rigorous cleaning protocols in place.

In the second place, we have airport washrooms. This ranking makes sense, given the sheer volume of people that pass through airports on a daily basis. To keep up with the demand, airports often have multiple washrooms scattered throughout their terminals. Furthermore, many airports have invested in touchless technologies, such as automatic flush toilets and soap dispensers, which can reduce the spread of germs. 

The third place is the trusty shopping mall. These centers of commerce tend to have a large number of washrooms that are conveniently located, but did you know that many malls also use high-tech cleaning solutions, such as UV lamps and nanotechnology, to keep their washrooms in pristine condition? In fact, many mall washrooms are cleaned multiple times a day to keep up with foot traffic.

As we move down the list, we see that stadiums and bar/club washrooms score lower in terms of how comfortable people are using them. This is likely due to factors such as low lighting, high amounts of foot traffic, and the fact that patrons may be more focused on having a good time rather than the state of the washrooms.

Lastly, train/bus stations, convenience stores, and public parks clock in at the bottom of the list. It's possible that the lack of comfortability for survey takers in these environments is due to the higher foot traffic volume and less consistent upkeep. Train and bus stations may have limited cleaning schedules due to the constant flow of travelers, while public parks and convenience stores may not have the same level of staffing to keep washrooms as well-kept as users may like. 

The Best Washrooms on the Road

To get even more insight into how Canadians would rank public washrooms, we asked survey respondents to tell us the places they are most likely to make a pit stop in when on long road trips. We analyzed responses and came away with a clear top-five on-the-road washroom ranking.

  1. 7-Eleven
  2. Circle-K
  3. On the Run
  4. Shell
  5. Mac’s

7-Eleven was a bit of a run-away, with 30% of write-in responses citing the popular convenience store as their ideal washroom stop when on the road.

Canada’s Thoughts on Public Washrooms

An infographic showing survey results about how Canadians feel about using public washrooms.

We came across some interesting insights when we got more specific to learn more about Canadians’ perceptions of public washrooms by asking them about their anxiety levels, and what goes into a welcoming washroom environment.

  • The factors that most influence Canadians' choice of public washrooms are convenience/proximity (41%), appearance/ambiance (34%), and previous personal experiences (25%).
  • The biggest public washroom pet peeve Canadians cite is a lack of cleanliness (74%), followed by a lack of privacy (12%), and insufficient supplies (9%).
  • 81% of Canadians agree that cleanliness is the most important factor when it comes to using public washrooms, followed by privacy (14%) and convenience (4%).
  • 48% of Canadians always take extra personal hygiene precautions when using public washrooms, 26% do it frequently, 20% do it sometimes, and only 6% never do.
  • 61% of Canadians are more willing to visit a restaurant if the washroom is especially aesthetically pleasing, like the Cactus Club Cafe, for example.

Additional Survey Findings

  • 3 in 4 Canadians (75%) would "hold it" while traveling to avoid stopping at a public washroom on the road, compared to only 48% who would "hold it" when traveling to avoid using an airplane washroom.
  • While out and about, 87% of Canadians would wait longer to use the washroom if they knew there was a better public washroom they could use later on.
  • The average number of minutes Canadians are willing to "hold it" to avoid using a public washroom is 87 minutes.

Closing Thoughts

After conducting our study ranking the best public washrooms in Canada, it’s clear that cleanliness and accessibility are top priorities for people, whether out and about or even when deciding where to eat. 

At Mr. Rooter Plumbing, we understand the importance of maintaining high-quality commercial plumbing systems to ensure businesses have washrooms that are in tip-top shape.


To learn more about how Canadians view public washrooms, we surveyed over 1,000 people from Canada over a 5-day period in October 2023. We asked them questions about their typical public washroom habits, the most important features of a public washroom, and whether or not they try to avoid using them altogether.

We also asked them to rank 8 regularly used public washrooms from the ones they'd be most comfortable using to least comfortable and which convenience stores are home to the best washrooms on the road.