Med thumb bedpan cropped

Today is World Toilet Day, created by the World Toilet Organization. Although it sounds like a joke, this is actually one of the more important fake-sounding holidays, meant to raise awareness about the billions around the world who lack clean plumbing.

Being Van Winkle’s, our minds are always on the bedroom. Which brings us to the bedpan, a seeming artifact our society has never abandoned, despite the arrival of indoor plumbing and other nifty inventions. Of course, bedpans are necessary for the ill and the elderly who are confined to their beds and need a convenient way to dispose of their waste. In the U.S., they’ve been used formally since at least the 18th century; shameless historians even managed to preserve George Washington’s, decades after his last bed-ridden evacuation.

In 300 years, bedpans haven’t changed all that much, but there have been a few innovations. The pots were initially made out of metals, glass, porcelain and china, but the 20th century saw the arrival of stainless steel and, then, plastics. Nowadays, people use stainless steel and plastics, with disposable and non-disposable versions of each. There are also bariatric bedpans for extra-large users. There’s even a man who collects bedpans. As of last year, he had 250 of them.

So what makes a good bedpan? Luckily there are thousands of internet reviewers (Amazon has an entire bedpan department) to share their thoughts on the issue. Here’s what the bedpan community has to say about picking a proper pisspot.

1. Size

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Size matters. A bedpan must be able to support the person using it, which makes things tricky if you do your bedpan shopping online and can’t try it out beforehand.

2. Durability

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Unless you’re using a disposable bedpan, it’s important to have a strong, sturdy pot that can endure your most shameful moments. Two words: no cracks.

3. Aesthetics

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You’re going to be spending a lot of time with your bedpan. Might as well have something that’s pleasant to look at.

4. Comfort

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Nobody likes an uncomfortable toilet. Why would a bedpan be any different? When choosing one, make sure it’s one you can place your bum on without any pain.

5. Ease of Transport

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Hey, don’t forget about the caretaker. A good bedpan should be easily movable so that it can be transported and cleaned without any struggle.