How did Victorian ladies go to the toilet?

Answered by Randy McIntyre

During the Victorian era, the topic of bodily functions, particularly those related to going to the toilet, was considered quite taboo. As a result, discussing the specific methods employed by Victorian ladies can be a bit challenging. However, historical records and accounts do shed some light on how they managed their bathroom needs.

Victorian ladies typically had access to a private room known as a “dressing room” or a “boudoir,” where they would attend to their personal hygiene. These rooms were often furnished with a variety of items to assist them, including a commode chair and a chamber pot.

A commode chair, also known as a close-stool or close-stool chair, was a portable piece of furniture resembling an armchair. It featured a hole in the seat, covered with a hinged lid, which could be lifted when needed. The chair itself was often upholstered and decorated, making it a more aesthetically pleasing option compared to a plain chamber pot.

When nature called, Victorian ladies would discreetly retire to their dressing rooms and sit on the commode chair. The chair provided a comfortable and private place for them to relieve themselves. To ensure cleanliness and avoid any mess, they would often use a chamber pot placed beneath the seat. The chamber pot would catch the waste, which could then be emptied and cleaned later.

However, it is worth noting that not all Victorian ladies used a commode chair or a fixed chamber pot setup. In some cases, particularly when traveling or staying in unfamiliar places, women would have to adapt to different facilities or make do with makeshift arrangements. Holding a chamber pot in their hands, as described in the question, may have been one such option.

In situations where a commode chair or chamber pot was not readily available, Victorian ladies would have had to rely on other means. Some may have utilized bedpans, which were shallow, flat-bottomed containers designed to fit under the body while lying down. Others may have used outdoor privies or public facilities if they were available.

It is important to remember that the practices and experiences of Victorian ladies in relation to going to the toilet would have varied depending on factors such as social class, location, and personal circumstances. The information presented here provides a general overview, but individual experiences may have differed widely.

Victorian ladies had access to private dressing rooms where they could attend to their bathroom needs. Commode chairs with built-in chamber pots were often used for a more comfortable and discreet experience. Holding a chamber pot in their hands may have been a practical solution in certain situations. However, it is important to consider that practices varied, and individual circumstances would have played a significant role in how Victorian ladies went to the toilet.