Locker Room Etiquette

We have all been drilled on the basics of gym etiquette, rack your weights bla bla bla, but I want to cover a very advanced topic – Locker Room Etiquette. I’m not making this stuff up, I’ve seen this all in the locker room at the gym where I do cardio. Lets start off our discussion of locker room etiquette with a little quiz, what is the purpose of this device:

crotch dryer

  • A) foot dryer
  • B) crotch dryer
  • C) sock dryer
  • D) pee drip on your pants dryer
  • E) butt dryer

I know this device is really, really confusing to many people because I rarely see this device being used properly. This was a trick question, none of the above answers were correct. Its actually a *hand* dryer, to dry your *hands* after washing them. If you want to dry any of the above things, its probably best if you bring your personal hair dryer.   When people use the hand dryer for any of the above purposes, it diminishes its value for its primary function.

OK, for those of you new to gyms there are two devices that look very similar but have very different purposes. Its important you memorize what they look like and their uses. It might help to make flash cards and quiz yourself while taking the bus to work.

Device A is garbage can. It is for putting paper towels and garbage in, not for peeing into. Often they are not water-tight so if you pee into them, it leaks out making a smelly mess.

Device B is a urinal, its for peeing into, not for putting garbage in. If you put garbage in here, it clogs the urinal and pee flows all over – again , a smelly mess. As you can see in this photo, someone didn’t do their homework and thought this was a garbage can.  You can see where the confusion comes from, the garbage can and urinal look so similar –  they are both wall mounted roughly rectangular devices.  With some hard work on the flash cards you will be able to tell which device is which instantly.

OK, lets look at another area of the locker room.  Again, a pop quiz.  What is the purpose of this area?

hair salon

  • A) an area for cutting your long beard off
  • B) an area for shaving all your hair off with electric clippers
  • C) an area for clipping off all your body hair
  • D) a toenail clipping counter

Another trick question!  None of the above!  Although this area LOOKS like the one in your own bathroom, its not.  This is a high traffic shared facility and even the most meticulously cleaned locker room is only mopped a few times a day.   The clumps of hair you shave off will stick to everyones damp shower feet as they walk past leaving them with fuzzy bunny-slippers on their feet by the time they get to their locker – kinda gross actually.   Please do these activities at  home.

Marking your territory

I know humans are a territorial species and its natural to want to stake out your space in the locker room by spreading your pile of belongings all over the floor in a 3×3 foot pile in front of your locker.  Please don’t do this, it blocks all eight lockers in the area.  The locker room is a shared space, you can’t ‘reserve’ the space in front of your locker by piling  your belongings all over the floor while you are taking your 30 minute shower.   All that does is frustrate people and force them to walk over pile of things to get to their lockers.  If you must mark your territory, you might consider doing it as dogs do – this is far more effective than the pile technique and will cause your locker mates to run out of the locker room in terror freeing up lots of space for you.


In Roman times, men spent entire days lounging around naked in the gymnasium complex socializing, having business discussions, and relaxing while going from steam room to cold plunge to the massage rooms.  Like it or not, these are not Roman times and this kind of behavior is frowned upon in the modern locker room.  Some people have mastered the art of functional loitering.   They amazingly find a way to remain completely naked for 30, 40 or 50 minutes while appearing to be busy doing productive things the whole time, truly amazing.  The locker room is a crowded, shared facility.  Please don’t putz – do your thing and get out.    I know I’m a weird efficiency minded engineer but I can shower and change in under 5 minutes without hurrying, or in 3 minutes if I hurry.    Its one of the reasons I keep my hair shaved off, it saves incredible amounts of grooming time.   I certainly dont hold people to my 5 minute standard, this isnt a submarine, but really guys, 50 minutes???  The locker room is not a hookup place either, nor is it a place to show off or a place to oogle either.  Any of these activities tend to make others uncomfortable, if you want to do any of these activities please use any of the thousands of  hookup websites on the internet as that is a much more appropriate location for this activity.  Its also good etiquette to wrap yourself in a towel if you are going to remain naked for any extended length of time, like shaving at a mirror or brushing your teeth.  Dragging your jewels all over the counter or benches is frowned upon.


Locker rooms are notoriously poorly ventilated and stuffy. Please, please, please do not use spray deodorants and colognes in the locker room. It makes peoples eyes water and leaves them gasping for air like fish drying on a dock.


Even if you are a very busy, important person please do not hold the people in the locker room hostage to your conversation. Most locker rooms echo horribly and as nosy as people are, they still would rather not hear about your diverticulitis.


How to put this delicately, well, I can’t.  Mucous (hawkers or stuff coming out of the nose) does not belong on the gym floor, the steam room floor, the shower floor, or the locker room floor.  The proper way to dispose of snot is with a handkerchief or kleenex tissue.  If you are sick and coughing up  lots of phlegm, the polite way to dispose of it is to do it quietly in the toilet bowl.  If you want to blow snot into your own living room, thats fine, but dont make other people walk barefoot in it.  The tile floors in locker rooms are slippery enough, putting slippery snot on them increases the slip hazard.  If you want to clog your own bathroom sink with phlegm, thats fine too, but if everyone did that in the gym all the sinks would be clogged within 10 minutes.

In Summary

I’m the furthest thing from a neat-freak and I’m actually very easy to get along with.   I love getting dirty and love excuses to stay dirty.  Multi-week backpacking or cycling trips without shower facilities don’t bother me. Dirt is dirt, who cares.  But please remember that a locker room is a high volume shared facility, think about what you are doing and how it affects the one hundred people per hour that use that area.

46 thoughts on “Locker Room Etiquette”

  1. As a 50 year old I can report that being all freaked out about changing and showering in a locker is something that was unheard of a couple of decades ago. They made us change and shower every day for four years of high school PE. When my father was in school in the 1950’s, they swam naked in gym class, and same practice at the Y years ago. After a while you don’t notice.
    At my school the only guys that wouldn’t suit up were really weird, i.e. super fat or a total sissy type. Notice guys freaked out by seeing a guy naked are usually the non-jock , sort of wussie types; I don’t see any NFL players having a problem with it.
    You have to ask yourself , what are they afraid of? Maybe it’s because, like they said it the movie “Fight Club”, it’s a generation raised by women.
    Thou protests too much, Meeko

  2. It’s very funny how sensitive some men are about the idea of seeing other men naked. I’d like to know if they had the same problem with women instead.

    Besides, why should you care about how long people are naked if you are not going to be there to see them?

  3. Once I was changing in the locker room and this complete stranger started talking to me out of the blue. He continued to show me his burnt foot on which he spilled hot water at home while cooking. His foot was covered in skin bubbles the size of quarters!! This guy is standing there talking and showing me his damn blisters like it’s some kind of art exibition even pressing on it with his fingers while telling me how it happened. I nearly threw up all over his freaky foot! To top it all off, he was standing there wearing nothing but a small hand towel like Ben Stiller in Starsky & Hutch!

    It would have made a great scene for a comedy movie! :D

    Great post Scoobman!

  4. ripped for the summer

    I laughed reading this especially at the part where you suggested cue cards for a garbage can and a urinal! I may have laughed but everything you said here is true people really do this at my gym all the time and its disgusting. Especially when they walk around naked half the day! Like if you want to be naked wait until you get home don’t strut around the locker room with your saggy man parts hanging for everyone to see

  5. At my gym they don’t allow the use of a cell phone in the locker room. Their reason is protecting the privacy of others. Apparently there was a issue of people taking pictures of others changing. So now for some reason I’m a little paranoid (not that I’m much to look at)

  6. I guess whatever you do people will do this, as theres alot of attention seeking or just generally weird people in todays society, and they are unfortunately getting more numerous, if it bothers people so much then i suggest you workout at home, but i agree about some of those things, but if people want to stand around nakid and waste there day they can go for it lol, just ignore them.

  7. I had to laugh about your loitering point. Couldn’t agree more. I’m showered, dressed and outta the gym change room in around 10 minutes. There are others in my gym that see fit to hang around (semi naked) chatting and taking their time. Those that also bring up mucus in the shower and spit grose me out too.

  8. People who: 1. Utilize gym lockers for temporary storage while they’re in class (to avoid the on-campus locker fees in the appropriately designated areas – NOT WHERE PEOPLE NEED lockers for their clothes!). 2. To a lesser extent, people who take up half the bench space because their underwear and other assortments are spread across the entire area…

  9. Thanks so much Scooby,
    Your post is much appreciated as always not that I need to work on any of these things.
    Also it works as a great appetite suppressant. I’m not hungry anymore…

  10. I’ve got a nice and easy way to avoid all that unpleasent stuff in the locker room. I don’t shower over there and don’t spend much time changing over my clothes. That’s because I jogg to the gym and from the gym when I go back home. All I change in the gym are my trainers (and when is cold outside my runnig jacket). Simple way to do a 20 min. worm up before the workout and 20 min. cardio after and you avoid all the germs and other nusty stuff living in the shower room.

  11. Under “Loitering”: The word should be FUTZ, not PUTZ. “Futz” is aimlessly milling about pretending to do work: “My Dad would futz around the house every Saturday afternoon”. “Putz” is a Yiddish word for the male genitalia: “The guy who doesn’t re-rack his weights is a complete putz.”

    T’is a common error.

  12. Two of my biggest pet peeves of the locker room are:

    • Old dudes that walk around naked everywhere and dry naked under the blow dryers. I’d like to go an afternoon without seeing your wrinkled sack, thanks.

    • Guys that listen to their music off their phone or iPod without headphones. A guy I bump into at the gym occasionally, told me that he kindly asked a twenty-something man to turn down his loud latino music down a little bit because he had a headache; the guy blew up about it and threatened to throw down there in the locker room. What is wrong with people?

  13. I actually can’t be bothered with locker rooms anymore, people behave like wild orangutan’s too much for it to even be funny. I tend to go in get changed, then go train, the come back get my rucksack (without changing back into every day clothes) and get out. Walking home or going to work in sweaty gym gear is unpleasant, but I’d actually take that than some of the ridiculous things I have to put up with in the locker room.

  14. I get annoyed by gyus that dress in a unatural way like, putting sock, shirts etc etc and last put on underwear. And stragely this is always guys that are well endowed. Get a feeling this is to show off. But i do not like having penises in my face as i get dressed.

  15. I’ve seen socks left behind on the floor, shoes as well. Towels all over the floor. I also seen a huge roach come out a someone’s bag and find a new home in the locker room. Lot of men fail to cover up their genitals and let it hang freely. I bend over to tie my shoes and look up seeing some old man droppin his boxers in front of me bareing it all. Somedays the locker room is very hot and musty. People there must have digestive dysfunctions because the bathrooms stink of shit. Hard to enter the bathroom with that stench.

  16. My biggest pet peeve is when people think its ok to hang out butt naked in the locker room. Having conversations in your birthday suit while in the captain morgan stance and not even attempting to get dressed is not ok. Brushing your teeth or shaving naked in a public locker room is not ok. Put some £#€king underwear on at least! Nobody wants to see your bare ass and genitalia any more than they have to. There is absolutely no reason why that area of your body should be exposed for more than 5 seconds. When you get done with a shower put a towel around your waste (not around your shoulders), go back to your locker, and get dressed; underwear first! I once saw a guy put on his shirt, watch, and socks on before his boxers… WTF?! NO, I was not watching him! I turned around and he had on all of the items I mentioned, but no boxers! Some of you might say “well then don’t look” but it really is unavoidable. You can’t expect people to walk around

  17. Another big BIG one that makes me soooo mad: People who spit or snot into the sinks or shower drains. I’ve seen this happen more times than I can count, and some people are even lovely enough to add a nice loud hocking sound as they concentrate their spit and/or snot into one disgusting ball to spew onto a the shower floor where other people walk. I called a guy on this once, and he actually tried to convince me that his hocking a loogie onto the shower floor was no less hygenic than me washing off my sweat. Really?! Okay, rant over.

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