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Do toilets spin backwards in Australia? It’s a commonly held myth. Although toilets can be made to spin clockwise rather than counter-clockwise, they do not do so by default. (Yes, even in the Southern hemisphere!)
This popular claim is based on a real phenomenon called the Coriolis force, but it’s important to note that said phenomenon is not strong enough to change the way a toilet flushes.
Why don’t toilets spin backward in Australia?
In short, the Coriolis force is exerted on moving masses relative to a rotating system.
On the Earth, this means that moving masses in the northern hemisphere are deflected to the right while moving masses in the southern hemisphere are deflected to the left.
However, it is important to remember that the Earth rotates no more than once per day, meaning that its Coriolis force is so weak that its effects cannot be seen except over long distances and across large distances.
For example, the effect of the Coriolis force can be seen in the formation of hurricanes but not in toilet bowls. In fact, the Coriolis force is so weak that its effect is uncertain even when it comes to tornadoes.
How can toilets be made to spin backwards?
However, the water in toilet bowls can spin backwards through a number of other means. It’s simply physics.
It’s possible to make the water in a container spin a particular way by introducing a rotation through manual means like. Once the rotation has been introduced, the water will continue to rotate that way even once flushed.
Of particular note is how this method can be used to make the water in a container flush straight down as well, though this can be more complicated and time-consuming because it has to have no rotation when it is flushed.
Unsurprisingly, it can be a real challenge to pour water without introducing a rotation to it, while waiting for the rotation to stop on its own can be rather stressful if the container is being held up by hand.
Summed up, demonstrations of toilets spinning backwards in Australia and the rest of the southern demonstration are fake, though they can be surprisingly believable because of how they conform to expectations.
So while the Coriolis force is real, its effect on the water in a toilet bowl is quite small. As a result, toilets don’t spin backwards in Australia, though certain methods can be used to make them do so.
And hey, if you remain skeptical, try it out for yourself next time you visit the Southern hemisphere.
Want to know more about toilets?
Now that you’ve learned the answer to the question “Do toilets spin backward in Australia?”, learn more unusual facts and history of these vital modern appliances.
Read up on When did toilets become common?, How did toilets work in castles? and Why did toilets used to be outside?
And if you’re shopping for a new toilet, be sure to look at our Top 10 Best Toilet Reviews to choose the right one for your home.