“Today my wife caught me peeing in the sink for the first time.”
So begins a confessional post on Reddit‘s r/Sinkpissers, a forum that advertises itself as a haven for those who prefer to save seven liters of water by urinating in the sink instead of flushing pee down the toilet. Yet for this particular member, that conservationist cause didn’t factor into the lifestyle choice: “The look of shock and disgust on her face was priceless,” the redditor said of their startled wife. “I fumbled for excuses, but really I just like pissing in the sink. It’s that simple.” Lower in the thread, a commenter replied, “First thing I told my [girlfriend] when we got serious was how I pee in the sink. She never asked why, I never explained.”
After a few minutes of scrolling through such content, the rational skeptic might be tempted to conclude that r/Sinkpissers is just an elaborate joke, if a long-lived one. (The group was formed in 2013, and over 27,000 have joined). After all, the internet has proud tradition of virtual roleplay, from the Facebook page “A group where we all pretend to be boomers” to Reddit’s r/LoveForLandlords, where users once posed as self-aggrandizing landlords who despised their lazy “rentoid” tenants.
Surely, then, the sink-pissing community can’t be taken at face value. And a lot of what you read there is patently unserious, like this story that begins, “So I was pissing in my sink as usual and then a frog came out of the drain and started sucking my cock.” Upon deeper inspection, though, you’ll find that some people are making truly impassioned arguments for the lifestyle — and occasionally posting photographic evidence of it. While NSFW pictures are forbidden, you can still get away with a shot of your stream. Ever wonder if someone has urinated in an airplane bathroom sink? Wonder no more:
Rolling Stone contacted two of the group’s moderators to discuss the history and philosophy of this movement. The first, a 26-year-old married man who specifically requested that we note his username — ShrekMemes420 — is a regular sink-pisser. The other, a 29-year-old man who asked that we keep his username private, has “done it once or twice, but not seriously,” and holds his position on the board “because I just enjoy Reddit, and it was the first time I got offered to moderate a subreddit.” For simplicity, we’ll call these two guys Shrek and Donkey.
The two men agree that the humor of the forum is what initially draws redditors’ interest, and that some only regard sink-pissing as fodder for memes. “Most people find our subreddit as a joke, then join and actually try it,” says Shrek, calling it a “gateway” akin to subreddits for meal prep and fitness. Donkey alludes to a time when the page was more serious about the water-conservation message, but says it’s now “a fair mix” of sincere justifications and ironic riffing.
Regarding the practice itself: “As a kid I just thought it was fun,” Shrek says. It wasn’t until he got on Reddit that he discovered others were doing it for environmental reasons, at least in part: “You use almost no water when doing it, cheaper water bill, and it’s almost never any cleanup.” He believes it can be something you come to casually, almost by accident. “You do it once when you’re drunk, then it becomes part of your life,” Shrek says, claiming he pees in sinks “wherever he goes,” from his workplace to his friends’ houses.
Shrek’s wife, he says, is aware of and unfazed by this. “When we started dating, I told her about it, she has no issues with it,” he says. “She doesn’t like if it splashes up and makes a mess, but it doesn’t, you just squeeze and it goes right down the drain, with no evidence of you doing it.” Asked if he thinks he’s fortunate to be married to such an understanding woman, Shrek says, “I consider myself lucky every day for my wife.”
In a separate Twitter DM from Shrek’s wife — which she sent to confirm that Rolling Stone was really going to publish this story — she confirmed that his sink-pissing habit is not a problem for her. In fact, she supports it. “Boys are messy when they pee in a toilet,” she says. “I don’t know if it’s the depth perception or aim or what, but it’s a lot cleaner with him using the sink.”
“Let he who hasn’t pissed in the shower cast the first stone or however that Bible verse goes,” says Shrek. “Women pee all the time in the shower, it’s no different than peeing in the sink.” But the subreddit, he adds, has an obvious male majority. “I think a lot of women would have difficulty” peeing in the sink, he explains. “My wife has in the past, but it’s just a bit too cumbersome to do it multiple times a day.”
Although he’s loyal to the toilet, Donkey believes in the collective benefits of sink-pissing. “Well, even if half of our member count, 13,500 people, use a sink just once, they’re saving 6 liters of water each,” he says. “Coming in at 81,000 liters saved if half the sub did it once, that’s pretty substantial. Minus the small bit of water used to rinse and clean, I reckon that’s still around 75,000 liters saved,” he calculates. “So imagine if the majority did it just once, that’s an astounding amount of water saved. I’m pretty sure that may have an impact, albeit a minor one?”
Whatever its validity, the water-waste argument seems to be a post-hoc defense. As Shrek and many members of the page openly admit, sink-pissing tends to derive not from any moral premise, but curiosity or simple pleasure. Only when the group seeks to collectively normalize the behavior does this environmental narrative emerge. Shrek recalls that the creator of the subreddit, who bequeathed it to him when he quit social media, embraced both the silly and serious sides of the topic. “He was nice, environmentally conscious and loved memes about sink-pissing,” Shrek says.
Of course, as with anything on the internet, there’s a sordid element to watch out for. “We actually used to have a subreddit called r/sinkpissersgonewild, which was a pornographic subreddit that was born of out of necessity, because some people have a fetish for this kinda thing,” Shrek says. “I think that’s gross, but the subreddit recently got banned, so now we have a larger influx of people posting their genitals peeing.” He and the other mods delete such images from the main sink-pissing board and give users a warning, with some eventually banned. (A visit to the Internet Archive confirms that the fetish page did exist, with graphic photos of men — and a rather surprising number of women — urinating in sinks.)
“The subreddit was originally intended to be a serious subreddit,” Donkey insists, but acknowledges that lots of men took it as an excuse to post their dicks. “We try our best as mods to remove those posts and actively ban users who do so, as well as temporarily ban people who come here who think it’s a place to take the piss — no pun intended there.”
So, this much seems beyond dispute: there really is an entire demographic of dudes who abide by a policy of pissing in the sink whenever they have the chance. And while they certainly understand what’s amusing about it — hence the memes — they also see it as an expression of who they are, and they will not apologize, no matter how often someone regales the subreddit with an embarrassing story of how they got busted. Of all their priorities, this is number one.