At one point or another we have all had this thought cross our minds Why does the toilet water spin clockwise as it flushes? Interesting question. Chances are you have probably heard the very interesting answer. It flushes clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere, but counter-clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere because of the Coriolis Force.
The Coriolis Force
The Coriolis force stems from the spin of the Earth. Because the spherical world turns on its axis, a floating object pushed in a straight line will appear to veer to the right. If you imagine standing in the Northern Hemisphere facing South and push a floating object due South it will veer West because the Earth beneath it is always moving and as you move closer to the equator, the world becomes wider in diameter.
It is nearly impossible to notice over small distances, but if an object is pushed far enough, the effect can be measured. This (supposedly) applies to toilets because in the northern hemisphere, the water on the northern end of the toilet has less distance to travel than the southern end. As a result, the water spins clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and opposite in the Southern.
In truth, a toilet would need to be well over a mile wide to be affected by the Coriolis Force.
So Why Do Toilets Flush Clockwise?
Well, the truth is that not all of them do. Also the reason for the direction of their flush is much less exciting than the force of the Earth. Toilets have spigots in the bowl underneath the rim that shoot water into the toilet when flushing. In addition, many toilet bowls are design to flush a certain way. This is all to prevent splashing as the toilet flushes waste away. Yep, that’s it. It is just the spigots of water that refill the toilet bowl.
Some people say ignorance is bliss. The myth supplies the toilet with a level of intrigue– a connection to the larger forces of the world. Really, it is just engineering. Sometimes the truth is boring.
Dave Gaudio graduated Illinois State University with a BA in English Publishing Studies and a minor in Creative Writing. When not shattering the hopes and dreams of toilet enthusiasts worldwide he works as an SEO Copywriter for Four Seasons Heating and Air Conditioning. Sometimes unable to contain the hyperbole storming the beaches of his mind, his writing style manifests as a unique fusion of the professional and the ridiculous. Visit his blog at HeatingCoolingService.com and his Google+ page.