Gentlemen, have you ever noticed that you brand new suede shoes have started become discolored after just a few uses? You might be chalking up the change of color to abuse, rain, or even to that greasy burger you had for lunch. But the answer may shock you because the reason may be actually be urine!






No, I’m not talking about your dog, cat, or even child using your precious new pair of blue, brown, or beige suede shoes as their personal bathroom. I am talking about your own urine splashing over its delicate leather!

You’re probably saying, “How dare you insinuate that I pee on my shoes!” And while I am saying that it might be your urine causing the discoloration, I am not saying that it is your fault. On the contrary, this may actually be the doing of the building you frequent.


Like Using a Saucer

Have you ever felt the splash of urine on your legs whenever you use the restroom? You may have felt it on your thighs when wearing long pants or on your shins when wearing walking shorts. Well, the bad news is that it is most likely your urine, mixed with the previous person’s, splashing all over you.

If you try to observe the different urinal designs, the splashing of urine is the least when it is deep and more like tube. The near-vertical walls promote a lower angle of deflection wherein streaming liquid is bounced onto the urinal walls until gravity pulls it down into the drain.

By contrast, the worst type of urinal has a flat floor. Urinating in it is sort of like trying to wash a saucer, or platito, under a kitchen faucet. If you hold the saucer horizontally, like when it is set on a table, the water ends up splashing everywhere else but the sink.


Telltale Signs

Since you can feel the splashing urine on your legs, you can bet your bottom dollar that your precious suede shoes are also getting a light bath every time to you visit the restroom.

[Actually, your fuzzy shoes may be getting more urine one them than your hairy legs.]

Apart from feeling wet, one telltale sign that your urine is coating your precious shoes is when a dry shape resembling your shoe is left on the floor after you step away.

Another indication may be that the smell of urine seems to follow your around, even after exiting the restroom. It is possible that you may have picked up some at the bottom of your shoe, in which case the odor should disappear after wiping the soles on a welcome mat or walking around. But if it lingers, it may be worth checking if the odor emanates from the top of your shoe.


Widespread Use

A few years back, it was very rare to come across a flat and shallow urinal. Today, just about every building has one of these saucer sprayers hanging on their restroom walls.

Given building owners’ penchant to cut costs, I assume their proliferation is due to a combination of purchasing and operating costs. Compared to typical urinals, you may notice that these saucer sprayers are a lot tinier. Being smaller means less materials were used to create it and thus, most likely, cheaper to buy.

You may also have noticed that many of these saucer-sprayers are waterless urinals. And if the sign on the wall is to be believed, each one is supposed to save thousands of liters of water. While the sign advertises it as being good for the environment, what the sign doesn’t mention is that all that water saved cuts down a building’s water bill by a substantial amount.

While I am happy about a win-win situation wherein companies save the environment and expenses at the same time, I am not happy that it is costing me, the customer, my shoes.





Testing is Simple and Cheap

The thing is, there is actually an option for a win-win-win solution, where the environment, building, and customer are happy with urinals. All that malls need to do is conduct product testing before they buy.

You’re probably thinking that if companies already want to cut cost, then they wouldn’t spend a time to send it over to an expensive laboratory run by a team of scientists. No, what I am saying is they can run a cheap and simple test that won’t break the bank.

You may be asking, “So how cheap is cheap?” Well, how does less than PhP 50 in materials grab you? Broken down, this is composed of one paper towel, one plastic bottle with a spout, and colored water. Of these three, only the bottle has to be purchased once so its cost can be spread out over time.

[Heck, if a reusing a bottle isn’t cheap enough, one can just use tap water!]

Based on the testing done by a European country, a tester simply attaches a white paper towel to the front of one’s pants then squeezes a bottle with a spout to spray blue liquid into a urinal to simulate urination. If the paper towel turns blue, then the urinal is flagged as having a problem. But if the towel stays white and dry, then it passes.

[One good thing about this test is that anyone can conduct it, male or female!]

With such a simple test available, I wonder if building owners ever use the same restrooms as their customers do. If they did, I am pretty sure they would notice their expensive suede shoes changing color and may be persuaded to find better urinals. And since I these saucer-sprayers haven’t been replaced, I am guessing they are either oblivious to the plight we plebeians face every time we relieve ourselves or they have special restrooms reserved only for building royalty.





Final Thoughts

Back when I was still in high school, I remember my father mentioning that using a urinal causes less splashing compared to standing in front of a toilet; and he’s been right. However, this new wave of saucer-spray urinals has turned my father’s observation on its head. Based on my own experience, toilet splash, which can be more than I would like, is now comparatively less.

Unfortunately, there is no solution to this problem from the point of view of consumers. Other than peeing on a tree, which results in a heck of a lot of splashing in case you’re wondering, the only alternative is to use the toilet instead. Sure, the liquid splash from toilets are huge but their size might make it a little easier to avoid if you hop around while reliving yourself

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