7 Ways to Say Bathroom in Chinese (+ 37 Bathroom Vocabulary Words)
Knowing how to say bathroom and ask where the bathroom is located is crucial if you’re traveling to China or learning Chinese.
Just like English, Mandarin Chinese has many different ways of referring to the bathroom or toilet. Read this guide to learn about all the different ways of saying “bathroom” in Chinese, including which terms you should use in different situations. You’ll also learn how to ask to use the bathroom in Chinese, as well as additional bathroom-related words and phrases to discuss your hygienic needs.
Let’s get started.
Bathroom in Chinese
In China, the three words that we use the most for bathroom are 厕所 (cèsuǒ), 卫生间 (wèishēngjiān), and 洗手间 (xǐshǒujiān).
Let’s start with the most basic one.
1. 厕所 (cèsuǒ)
The most common word for “bathroom” in Mandarin Chinese is 厕所 (cèsuǒ). Literally, 厕所 (cèsuǒ) is “toilet place” since 厕 (cè) means “toilet” and 所 (suǒ) means “place”. So in China, you can use 厕所 (cèsuǒ) to talk about any room with a toilet in it (and it doesn’t matter if it has a bath or not), and people will know that you are referring to a bathroom.
A 厕所 (cèsuǒ) can be anywhere – in a private home as well as in public. To specify it’s a restroom for public use, you can say 公共厕所 (gōnggòng cèsuǒ) – “public bathroom/restroom”.
You can also specify ladies’ or men’s room by adding the word 女 (nǚ) – “woman” or 男 (nán) – “man” to the beginning of 厕所 (cèsuǒ), like this:
- 女厕所 (nǚ cèsuǒ) – ladies’ room
- 男厕所 (nán cèsuǒ) – men’s room
While 厕所 (cèsuǒ) will be understood wherever you go in China, it’s not exactly the polished way to say “bathroom” in Chinese. Many people find the word a bit crude or low-class because it has the hint “toilet” lying under its meaning.
While it’s okay to use 厕所 (cèsuǒ) in a relaxed setting, you might want to use a less direct word to refer to the bathroom in more formal situations.
2. 卫生间 (wèishēngjiān)
卫生间 (wèishēngjiān) is the second-widely-used term for bathroom in Chinese and also the one I tend to use in most daily situations.
卫生间 (wèishēngjiān) literally means “sanitation room”. If you want to go to the toilet, but don’t want to say the word “toilet ”, then 卫生间 (wèishēngjiān) is a good option. It may give people an impression that you are a well-educated and well-mannered person. You can use it on any occasion without sounding too fancy.
3. 洗手间 (xǐshǒujiān)
If you want to be even more formal and polite than 卫生间 (wèishēngjiān), you can say 洗手间 (xǐshǒujiān) for a bathroom.
洗手间 (xǐshǒujiān) literally means a place to wash your hands, and you can use this word safely even during a meal without making people uncomfortable.
洗手间 (xǐshǒujiān) is mainly used in public, like in a restaurant, or your office, but you can use it anywhere. Some Chinese people refer to their home bathrooms as 洗手间 (xǐshǒujiān), so it wouldn’t be wrong to use the word for a private situation.
4. 浴室 (yùshì)
If you learn Chinese words with a dictionary or translation app, you’ll come across another word for bathroom: 浴室 (yùshì).
Though 浴室 (yùshì) is the most precise translation for the English word “bathroom” (浴 [yù] means “bath” and 室 [shì] means “room”), it’s not an equivalent term in Chinese.
This is actually where Chinese people make a distinction between a room with a bath and a room with no bath. In China, 浴室 (yùshì) refers specifically to the type of room that has a showering or bathing facility. You don’t ask for the bathroom with this word at your friend’s home or in a restaurant. Just imagine the puzzled look on Chinese people when they try to figure out why on earth you want to take a shower at their place.
To ask for the room where you “do your business”, use 厕所 (cèsuǒ), 卫生间 (wèishēngjiān), or 洗手间 (xǐshǒujiān) instead. (more on “how” in a minute)
5. 化妆室 (huàzhuāngshì)
化妆室 (huàzhuāngshì) means “powder room” in Chinese. It usually refers to a room for women to check their makeup, but it can be used to talk about the bathroom in an upscale location like a luxurious shopping mall since they are usually right next to each other.
If you are a bit posh (and you’re a woman), you can ask for the 化妆室 (huàzhuāngshì). However, this is not everyday Chinese and not everybody knows what it is. So, use it with care.
6. 盥洗室 (guànxǐshì)
盥洗室 (guànxǐshì) is kinda like the “Water Closet (WC)” in English. Sometimes you might see it as a sign on a bathroom door, and it just means that’s the bathroom. It’s not a word that anyone actually uses though. You can simply add it to your passive Chinese vocabulary.
7. 茅房 (máofáng)
Finally, we have the slang word for bathroom – 茅房 (máofáng), although this is something that we don’t ever say seriously in life as it sounds very crude.
茅房 (máofáng) originally means “thatched hut”. It got the meaning of “bathroom” because back in the old days, toilets in China (well, probably just a bucket or a hole in the ground) were often set up in those tiny makeshift thatched huts next to the main house to keep the smell away.
To this day, people still associate 茅房 (máofáng) with being dirty and stinky. It is fine to use it occasionally among friends as some kind of a joke, but people will be shocked if you ask for the toilet in this way at a restaurant or in a meeting!
Here’s a quick recap of the 7 Chinese words for “bathroom” and when to use each.
|厕所 (cèsuǒ)||anywhere (general/most common)|
|卫生间 (wèishēngjiān)||anywhere (polite)|
|洗手间 (xǐshǒujiān)||public/anywhere (more polite)|
|浴室 (yùshì)||home (with bath)|
|化妆室 (huàzhuāngshì)||public (posh)|
|盥洗室 (guànxǐshì)||public (sign)|
|茅房 (máofáng)||anywhere (crude)|
All right, now that we have cleared all that up, let’s get onto talking about how to properly ask “where is the bathroom” in Chinese. This is something that could come in very handy at any point in time!
How to Say “Where is the Bathroom?” in Chinese
The basic and most common way to ask “Where is the bathroom?” in Chinese is to say “厕所在哪里？ (Cèsuǒ zài nǎli?)”. 厕所 (cèsuǒ), as we’ve mentioned, means “bathroom”, and 在哪里 (zài nǎli) means “is where”. So this phrase literally translates to “bathroom is where?”. You can use it to ask where a public bathroom/restroom is, or where the bathroom is in a person’s house.
For some added politeness, you can add 请问 (qǐng wèn) – “excuse me” to the beginning of the phrase, like this:
Qǐng wèn cèsuǒ zài nǎli?
Excuse me, where is the bathroom?
In a formal setting, you might want to sound more polished. To achieve the effect, substitute 厕所 (cèsuǒ) with 卫生间 (wèishēngjiān) or 洗手间 (xǐshǒujiān) in the above phrases, such as:
Qǐng wèn wèishēngjiān zài nǎli?
(Excuse me,) where is the bathroom?
Qǐng wèn xǐshǒujiān zài nǎli?
(Excuse me,) where is the bathroom?
Can’t wrap your head around Chinese questions? Our Basic Chinese Grammar Guide is here to help you!
How to Say “Can I Use the Bathroom?” in Chinese
To ask “Can I Use the Bathroom?” in Chinese, you say 我能用下厕所吗？ (Wǒ néng yòng xià cèsuǒ ma?), literally “I can use briefly the bathroom?”
Note that it’s very common in spoken Chinese to use 下 (xià) after a verb as an informal request. It implies that the action will be done briefly.
Again, you can swap out 厕所 (cèsuǒ) with 卫生间 (wèishēngjiān) or 洗手间 (xǐshǒujiān) to sound more polite.
Wǒ néng yòng xià zhèli de wèishēngjiān ma?
Can I use the bathroom here?
Kāishǐ qián wǒ néng yòng xià nǐ de xǐ shǒujiānma?
Could I use your bathroom before we start?
If you’ve been taking some Chinese lessons, you probably know that there is more than one word that corresponds to the English “can” in Chinese.
能 (néng) is used in the “possibility” sense here. You may use 能 (néng) if you wish, but if you are at all concerned about being tut-tutted, you can replace it with 可以(kěyǐ). It’s the verb of choice for permission (similar to “may” in English), which makes you sound more formal.
Wǒ kěyǐ yòng xià xǐshǒujiān ma?
May I use the bathroom?
How to Say “Go to the Bathroom” in Chinese
The Chinese word for “go” or “go to” is 去 (qù), so to say “go to the bathroom” in Chinese, you can say 去厕所 (qù cèsuǒ), 去卫生间 (qù wèishēngjiān), or去洗手间 (qù xià xǐshǒujiān).
As we’ve discussed, it’s a good rule of thumb to add the word 下 (xià) – “briefly” after the verb (in this case – 去 [qù]) in a request. Here’s how to use the phrase in action:
Wǒ néng qù xià cèsuǒ ma?
Can I go to the bathroom?
Wǒ kěyǐ qù xià wèishēngjiān ma?
May I go to the bathroom?
Wǒ yào qù xià xǐshǒujiān.
I need to go to the bathroom.
Wǒ děi qù xià cèsuǒ.
I have to go to the bathroom.
Wǒ zhèng yào qù wèishēngjiān.
I am going to the bathroom.
Wǒ qù le xǐshǒujiān.
I went to the bathroom.
An alternative way of saying “go to the bathroom” in Chinese is to use the verb 上 (shàng) with words for bathroom, that is, 上厕所 (shàng cèsuǒ), 上卫生间 (shàng wèishēngjiān) or上洗手间 (shàng xǐshǒujiān). But using these phrases can imply that you are actually going to use the toilet, so better avoid them in formal situations.
More Expressions for Asking for the Bathroom in Chinese
Here are a few more useful phrases for asking for the bathroom or restroom that you will be able to use daily while walking around the streets of Shanghai or anywhere else in the country.
- Is there a bathroom here?
Zhèli yǒu xǐshǒujiān ma?
- There is no bathroom here.
Zhèli méiyǒu xǐshǒujiān.
- The bathroom is over there.
Xǐshǒujiān zài nàli.
- There is a bathroom on the second floor.
Èr lóu yǒu xǐshǒujiān.
- I can’t find the bathroom.
Wǒ zhǎo bú dào xǐshǒujiān.
- The restroom is closed.
Xǐshǒujiān guān zhe.
- There is someone in the restroom.
Xǐshǒujiān lǐ yǒu rén.
- The restroom is not very clean.
Xǐshǒujiān bú tài gānjìng.
- The restroom is quite dirty.
Xǐshǒujiān hěn zāng.
- Is there another restroom around here?
Fùjìn hái yǒu biéde xǐshǒujiān ma?
Chinese Bathroom Vocabulary
Now that you know how to ask to use the bathroom in Chinese, we’ll help you to build your bathroom vocabulary!
The below table includes all the major bathroom-related vocabulary words in Chinese you’ll likely want to know. We’ll start off by listing the items you interact with the most in your bathrooms such as the toilet, sink, and bathtub, and then move on to bathroom accessories.
|shower/bath curtain||浴帘||yù lián|
|shower head||花洒||huā sǎ|
|washing machine||洗衣机||xǐ yī jī|
|cold water||冷水||lěng shuǐ|
|hot water||热水||rè shuǐ|
|toilet paper||卫生纸||wèishēng zhǐ|
|bath towel||浴巾||yù jīn|
|shower cap||浴帽||yù mào|
|shampoo||洗发水||xǐ fà shuǐ|
|conditioner||护发素||hù fà sù|
|shower gel||沐浴露||mùyù lù|
|body lotion||润肤乳||rùn fū rǔ|
|face wash||洗面奶||xǐ miàn nǎi|
|mouthwash||漱口水||shù kǒu shuǐ|
|hair dryer||吹风机||chuī fēng jī|
|razor||剃须刀||tì xū dāo|
|bath mat||地垫||dì diàn|
|laundry basket||洗衣篮||xǐ yī lán|
|trash can||垃圾桶||lājī tǒng|
Here is a picture to help you visualize the key bathroom vocabulary. Simply move your mouse on the picture and the words will present themselves in Chinese.
máo jīn1 of 12 shelf
jiàzi2 of 12 shower
lín yù3 of 12 faucet
shuǐ lóngtou4 of 12 bathrobe
yù páo5 of 12 mirror
jìngzi6 of 12 cabinet
guìzi7 of 12 toilet
mǎ tǒng8 of 12 bathtub
yù gāng9 of 12 bath towel
yù jīn10 of 12 tile
cí zhuān11 of 12 sink
tái pén12 of 12
Survival Phrases in a Chinese Bathroom
Here are five super useful phrases for you to survive any bathroom situation in China.
Méiyǒu wèishēng zhǐ le.
There is no more toilet paper.
Mǎ tǒng dǔ le.
The toilet is clogged.
- … 坏了。
… huài le.
… is broken/out of order.
- There is a leak in the bathroom.
Cèsuǒ lòu shuǐ le.
FAQs about Bathroom in Chinese
1. What’s the measure word for bathroom in Chinese?
间 (Jiān). It’s the measure word for all types of rooms in Chinese.
2. How do you say “toilet” in Chinese?
The word for toilet (the actual bowl) in Chinese is 马桶 (mǎ tǒng), literally “horse bucket”. If you are referring to the room rather than the toilet itself, 厕所 (cèsuǒ) is the word to use.
3. What’s a squat toilet called in Chinese?
“Squat toilet” in Chinese is 蹲便器 (dūn biàn qì), which literally means “squat poop utensil”.
4. What’s a portable restroom called in Chinese?
Portable restrooms are called 移动厕所 (yídòng cèsuǒ) in Chinese. Sometimes the locks on the outside of the door will display “有人 (yǒu rén)”, which means “someone inside” or “occupied”.
5. How do you say “unisex/all-gender restroom” in Chinese?
In Chinese, a unisex or all-gender restroom is called 无性别厕所 (wú xìngbié cèsuǒ), literally “no gender restroom” – still a rare thing in China!
6. How do you say “pee” and “poop” in Chinese?
In Chinese, we say 小便 (xiǎobiàn) for “pee” and 大便 (dàbiàn) for “poop”.
7. How do you say “take a shower” in Chinese?
The primary way to say “take a shower” in Chinese is “洗澡 (xǐ zǎo)”. Other expressions like 淋浴 (lín yù) and 沐浴 (mù yù) are also used, but only in a formal context like TV commercials.
8. How do you say “take a bath” in Chinese?
To say “take a bath” in Chinese, you say “泡澡”. For example,
Wǒ qù pào zǎo le.
I am going to take a bath.
Summary: Bathroom in Chinese
There are mainly three ways to say bathroom or restroom in Mandarin, depending on the level of politeness you want to convey. The most common one in spoken Chinese is 厕所 (cèsuǒ). However, when referring to the bathroom in a more formal situation, most people prefer to use 卫生间 (wèishēngjiān) or 洗手间 (xǐshǒujiān) as they sound more polished.
To ask “where is the bathroom or restroom” in Mandarin, the most common phrase is 厕所在哪里？ (Cèsuǒ zài nǎli?). Other bathroom-related words and phrases are also useful to know when traveling in China or for just improving your Chinese skills in general.
Want to Speak Chinese for Real?
There you go! We’ve covered everything you wanted to know about bathrooms in Chinese.
Now, if you’re learning Chinese, you should make the best out of ImproveMandarin.com, one of the world’s largest sites dedicated to Mandarin learning.
Here are some of our top articles to get you started:
- Basic Chinese Words and Phrases to Survive in China
- Chinese Grammar Made Easy for the Overwhelmed Beginners
- How to Learn Chinese from Scratch – An Actionable Guide
By the way, if you’re serious about learning Chinese, we strongly recommend you take a structured course online. We’ve reviewed every Chinese course out there on the internet. Some are fabulous while others are a complete waste of time. Here are the best online Chinese courses we found in 2022.