Is it Rude to Use the Handicap Stall?

We’ve all done it once or twice in our lives (or maybe some of us are simply rude); all of the bathroom stalls (or bathrooms) are occupied except for the handicap one and we go ahead and use it. 

No harm, no foul, right? 

But, is it? Or is it rude to use the handicapped stall? Read on below and discover the truth!

Is it Rude to Use the Handicap Stall?

Most of the time, using the handicap stall is not going to result in anyone thinking you are rude… because no one will be there to see you and judge you for your action.

However, if you are interrupted, while using the stall, by someone who is disabled, you will be seen as extremely rude most of the time (especially if there are other stalls you could have used, or another bathroom nearby).

How Rude Is it?


On a scale of 1 to 10, using the handicap stall when you are not handicapped rates 8 on the rude meter

You should never use the handicapped stall, even if it is available and you are the only person around. 

A disabled individual in need of a stall may show up at any time, and it would be extremely rude to be in the stall designated for them.

That is why the only exception for when it is ok for you to use the handicapped stall is if you are trying to change a kid’s diaper/clothes, or you have an emergency that just can’t wait.

Why is it Rude?

The main reason that it is often considered so rude to use the disabled stall (which doesn’t really seem like such a big deal) is that you may keep a disabled person from being able to use it for some time. 

If there are other stalls that are empty, it is even ruder to use the often larger and more comfortable stall reserved for the disabled.

In our book, you should only ever use this stall as a last resort when you just really have to go and there is no other option but this particular stall.

Other Options to Do Instead

A few of the best options to do instead of using the handicap stall are:

  • Look for another bathroom
  • Wait in line for another stall
  • Go somewhere else

If you must use the handicapped stall, but do it as quickly as possible (and if you are interrupted, apologize for using it)

Common Questions

What is unethical about using a handicap stall?

The act of using the handicapped stall itself is not exactly unethical, or even rude.

Using the handicapped stall, when the bathroom/stall is empty, becomes rude only when someone who genuinely needs the handicapped stall comes in and it is occupied by you (who doesn’t legitimately need it).

Why shouldn’t I use the disabled toilet?

You shouldn’t use the disabled toilet because it is reserved for people that have serious disabilities.

If the other stalls are in use, you should wait until one becomes vacant, rather than using the handicapped stall (unless the bathroom is very busy – then all bets are off).

Can you legally use the handicap stall if you aren’t disabled?

Yes, may absolutely use the handicapped stall, regardless if you are disabled or not.

The major concern about someone who isn’t handicapped using the disabled stall is that the stall may be occupied (by you, who doesn’t actually “need” it) when a disabled person comes in to use it.

In other words, yes you can legally use the handicapped stall and people do it all the time. But, that doesn’t make it right.