Glossary of terms

Do you find yourself scratching your head when it comes to the meaning behind some of the most used washroom words? From W.C. to sanitary ware to cistern, we provide an explanation of all the washroom terms you may need to know about in an easy-to-understand way.


An anti-ligature product is carefully designed to help prevent a ligature (something that is used to bind or tie) from being attached to it to help keep people safe from self-harm.

Automatic flush
Usually controlled by an infra-red sensor, automatic flushes trigger a flush in a toilet or urinal without the user having to manually press a button or handle. The sensors usually detect heat from a user and when the person moves away the thermal energy can no longer be detected, activating a flush.

Automatic dispensers
Auto, hands-free or touch-free dispensers are operated by a sensor and can be controlled by detecting the close movement of a hand without requiring the user to actually touch it. Automatic dispensers help to reduce cross contamination being reducing the number of surfaces touched by washroom users, thereby reducing hand to surface transmission of bacteria.


Back to wall toilet
This type of toilet conceals the cistern between behind a wall or piece of furniture leaving just the pan visible. This type of toilet design aims to support the aesthetics of the washroom keeping it simple and minimalist.

A basin or washbasin is a plumbing fixture that is usually bowl shaped and designed to hold water for handwashing. Whereas a sink, which serves the same purpose is usually used to wash crockery and glasses etc.

Behind the mirror dispensers
Behind the mirror dispensers are usually installed in a cabinet positioned above the washroom basins and that has a mirrored front. This aims to utilise wall space efficiently whilst supporting washroom décor by minimising the number of dispensers needed on different walls. Behind the mirror dispensers are concealed by the cabinet which also works to keep them safe and free from contamination and pilfering.

Brushed stainless steel
Brushing is a term used to describe a finish to metal that is achieved by brushing the surface constantly in the same direction with a fine abrasive. This produces a dull, matte finish. The very fine lines created don’t reflect light but instead provide an attractive durable finish.


A tank for the storage of water that can usually be found above a toilet for the purposes of flushing. The water is released into the toilet bowl by triggering a valve that is activated when the flush handle or button is pressed.

Combination units or recessed units use the space available in a wall cavity to recess dispensers so that they appear flush with the wall. Different types of units can be combined such as paper towel dispensers and bins or hand dryers etc. They are ideal for smaller commercial washrooms due to the fact they can save space.

These are products that are designed to be used frequently and will require refilling. In commercial washrooms they usually refer to the items that go inside dispensers such as soap, toilet rolls, paper towels and hand sanitiser.

Concealed cistern urinal
Urinals that are designed so that only the pan is visible to the user and the cisterns and other mechanisms are mounted on a wall behind the unit. The cistern is usually made from a different material such as plastic as this isn’t visible whilst the urinal will be ceramic or another attractive material.

Found in public washrooms, cubicles are small partitioned, individual spaces with a door and lock where people can use the toilet safely and privately.


Double toilet roll holder
A toilet paper dispenser designed for two toilet rolls.

Dual flush
A dual flush features two options and are designed to save water when flushing. The bigger button can use a larger amount of water to flush away more waste while the smaller button is designed to use less water for the flushing of liquids.


Exposed cistern urinal
The opposite of a concealed urinal, the cistern can be visible with an exposed urinal.


A faucet is a common North American term also known as a tap. It is a valve that controls the flow of water from an inlet pipe.

Flush valve
The flush valve controls the movement of water stored in the cistern. When released (usually by pressing the flush button or handle) it releases the water into the toilet bowl for the purpose of flushing the toilet.

Flush handle
The handle that users usually press down on to activate the flush valve. They are usually found on the right-hand side of the cistern however more recent designs feature a button on the top of the cistern or are automatically operated.

Free-standing dispensers
Dispensers that self-supporting and not fixed to the wall. For example they can be flooring standing.


Grab rails
Designed to support individuals with reduced mobility, grab rails (or grab bars) can often be found in accessible washrooms. They are designed to help users with mobility and balance issues to support themselves when changing position or when they require help with leverage.


Heating element
Found in hand dryers, a heating element converts electrical energy into heat to allow users to dry their hands effectively and efficiently.


Installation height
This is the recommended height that washroom fixtures and fittings should be installed at. It differs for adult, children’s and accessible washrooms.


Jumbo toilet roll
Ideal for commercial washrooms a Jumbo toilet roll provides a much longer length of toilet paper than domestic rolls. They are usually available as midi, midi and maxi sizes, increasing the amount of paper respectively.

Jumbo toilet roll holder
A holder that is specifically designed to fit jumbo toilet rolls.


Locking toilet roll holder
A locking toilet roll holder is a toilet roll dispenser fitted with a common locking system to ensure only cleaning teams have access using a key to re-fill the units. These can often be found in public places to help deter theft & vandalism and provide an increased level of security.


Manual dispensers
The opposite of automatic dispensers, manual dispensers are operated by the end user often using a button, lever or push cover to dispense the consumable.


Push cover dispenser
A push cover dispenser is operated by the user and involves pushing the whole cover (as opposed to just button) to dispense the product.


RADAR stands for The Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation. A RADAR toilet is a scheme that provides a network of locked accessible toilets across the UK. The toilets remain locked to ensure they are reserved for only those that need them also helping to prevent vandalism and misuse. A RADAR Key is available to those with a physical and mental disability and designed to open and close RADAR toilets in commercial environments.

Recessed units (see also combination units) are installed in the wall cavity and sit flush with the wall surface so that they do not protrude into the washroom. They are designed to be a space saving solution for smaller washrooms.


Sanitary ware
Sanitary ware is a term generally applies to all fixtures and fittings inside a washroom that are made from ceramic.

Single toilet roll holder
Dispenser designed to hold a single toilet roll.

Stainless steel
Stainless steel is composed of a combination of carbon and iron, the stainless properties are achieved through the addition of chromium, nickel and other metals. When chromium is added to carbon, stainless steel is given anti-corrosive qualities. Due to its formation, it is extremely robust and long-lasting.


Unisex toilets
Toilets that can be used by all genders.

Usually found in washrooms used by males, urinals are sanitary ware that are designed for the purpose of urination.


Vandal proof dispensers
Vandal proof holders are designed to reduce vandalism that often features a locking mechanism to deter theft.


Wall-mounted Dispensers
Dispensers that are fixed into place safely and securely on a wall.

WC stands for Water Closet, referring to a room with a toilet and basin and whilst this is largely obsolete in everyday language, WC signs are still common across many European countries and North America. It is often deemed a more discrete term rather than referring to the ‘toilet’. Not to be confused with a bathroom which would normally refer to a room with a bath as well. A term more often used is ‘washroom’.

Wudu (Wudhu)
A washing and purification ritual that is performed before Islamic prayer and worship. The process requires the washing of face, arms, head and feet in preparation for prayer.

Wudu wash unit
A washing unit specially designed to aid the washing of hands, face, arms and feet in the process of Wudu.

Washroom Dispensers
Dispensers are a fixture that store consumable products to be dispensed to the end user. Typical washroom dispensers can include soap, paper towels and toilet rolls.