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Should a Bathroom Door Swing In or Out?

So, let’s talk about bathroom doors — should they swing in or out?

If you’ve noticed, most bathroom doors require a ‘push to enter’ and a ‘pull to exit.’ But why?

Having common design standards would make this question irrelevant.

However, when there are none, figuring that out can be the most confusing part of any bathroom design.

If you’re on your wits end about whether your bathroom door should swing in or out, this article will guide you.

Consider the advantages of swing-in and swing-out doors, and choose which one complements your bathroom design the best.

bathroom door

While there are some ‘pull-to-open’ bathroom doors, most of the bathroom doors are swing-in doors. It means you have to push the door to enter the bathroom, and as it turns out, this design is not just a random thing.

There are many reasons and advantages to this bathroom door setting.

Corridor or Hallway Are Not Blocked

The main reason why you should design your bathroom door for it to open inward is so that it does not block the hallway.

Especially if you have a tiny hallway, opening a bathroom with the door swinging outward can only hijack the space and cause disruption when people are walking down. This bathroom door design can be a nuisance, particularly in a high-traffic restroom.

Moreover, a bathroom door swinging outwards is a hazard in emergency cases as it blocks people from moving through the narrow corridor during evacuation.

Odor Control

Another notable reason why you might want to have a bathroom door that swings in is odor control. You wouldn’t want the smell from the bathroom going out. 

A swing-in door somewhat keeps the ‘bathroom smell problem’ under control. In this door setting, fresh air gets sucked inside the bathroom while keeping the smelly air from going out every time you open the door.

Meanwhile, if you have the door swinging out, the opposite happens. The smelly air gets sucked out of the bathroom, and everyone in the house will know your business. No one wants that happening ever.

Improved Safety and Privacy

If you have a swing-in bathroom door, the hinges and the lock are placed on the inside. It means you can lock the door if you want privacy. In another sense, there’s no way you can get locked inside the bathroom unless you meant to.

A bathroom door that swings in is also safer for people walking past the doorway. They won’t have to worry about the door suddenly flying open and knocking them down.


If you’re locking yourself inside the bathroom for security purposes, you’ll want to have a door that swings in because the lock and hinges will also be inside. It means you can remove the hinge pins to make it impossible for anybody outside to come in.

Also, when you have a faulty doorknob, it’s still easy to secure the door by simply holding it tight until you finish your business. Otherwise, it would be difficult to hold and secure the door if it swings out if someone accidentally yanks it open.

Convenient When You Are in a Hurry

You would often be in a hurry to go inside the bathroom rather than going out of it. So, it will be more convenient if you can simply push through the door to enter the bathroom and do your business. This bathroom door setting can save you a few precious seconds to avoid any possible embarrassment.

Option to Place the Bathroom Adjacent a Staircase

Having a swing-in bathroom door is the most convenient and safest option if you have a bathroom adjacent to a staircase.

If the door swings inward, you can see the steps outside and calculate your movement. Meanwhile, if the door opens onto the stairs, you might expect a level floor, which can lead to accidentally stumbling down the stairs.

Moreover, you won’t be inconveniencing or causing accidents to anybody walking up or down the stairs with a swing-in bathroom door.

Pros of Swing-Out Bathroom Doors

Although it’s most common for bathroom doors to swing inwards, the opposite setting is not without some advantages. There are many cases where a swing-out bathroom door is a more favorable and safer option.

Convenient Placement of Bathroom Fixtures

One of the notable advantages of a bathroom door that opens outwards is that you can free up more space inside the bathroom, allowing trouble-free placement of your bathroom fixtures and fittings.

This setting is especially convenient if your bathroom is tiny and you want to maximize the space to add extra room for a vanity unit, a shower bench, basins, and other fixtures.

Hygiene And Sanitation

Another reason why a swing-out bathroom door makes more sense is cleanliness.

If you just finished washing your hands in the bathroom, you wouldn’t want to hold onto the germ-laden doorknob to go out, but that’s what you need to do if you have a ‘pull to exit’ bathroom door.

If your door swings outwards, it means you can use your leg or shoulder to push the door open. You won’t have to touch the door handle, keeping your freshly-washed hand clean and reducing the risk of contamination.

Easy Access in Case of Emergencies

Another instance that makes a swing-out bathroom door a safer option is when you have kids or older adults living at home.

A bathroom door that swings outside gives you much easier access in case of emergencies. For instance, if smaller kids get stuck inside the bathroom, getting them out will be quicker with a swing-out door with the lock placed outside.

If you live with older adults, a swing-out bathroom door also makes it more convenient to get to them if the worst happens, like if they suffer an attack or accidentally collapse.

Should Your Bathroom Door Swing In or Out?

As you know by now, both swing-out and swing-in doors each have their advantages and drawbacks. There’s no easy way to answer the question as there is no bathroom door setting that fits all.

In many instances, you can consider getting a bathroom door that swings in if:

  • You have a narrow corridor, and you don’t want to block the space or anybody passing through it

  • You want to keep the bathroom smell from spreading into adjacent rooms

  • You require utmost safety, privacy, security, and convenience while inside the bathroom

  • You have a bathroom adjacent to a staircase

Meanwhile, a bathroom door that swings outwards will be more favorable if:

  • You have a tiny bathroom

  • You want to save more space for other bathroom fixtures

  • You want to avoid contamination or touching germs and dirt left on the door handles

  • You live with kids and older adults at home

Ultimately, your door setting will depend a lot on your house’s layout and the occupants, so choose what is safer and more convenient for you and your space.

Mandy Phillips

As a frequent contributor to top US magazines and publications in the home improvement niche, Mandy has been known for sharing her expertise on how to clean, organize, and decorate bathrooms.

Additionally, Mandy has immense experience offering lifestyle tips and tricks to her readers.

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At Loo Academy, our mission is to offer trusted advice for everything related to bathrooms (design ideas, plumbing advice, showering & bathing tips, remodeling guides, and more) — a place where we all spend a great deal of time.

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