Lonely Planet Writer

Flush app helps travellers find public toilets in their hour of need

It’s happened to all of us when travelling in an unfamiliar city … caught in desperate need of a toilet but without a clue as to where the nearest public one might be.

New app helps travellers locate public toilets.
New app helps travellers locate public toilets. Image by macaron*macaron(EstBleu2007) / CC BY 2.0

That was precisely the problem that spurred the creation of the Flush App, brainchild of UK developer Sam Ruston, who reckoned everybody has those moments where they find themselves at a loss for a loo.

The database of bathrooms has now grown to more than a quarter of a million, with that figure rising every single day.

“I can’t remember the exact moment the idea [came to me],” Sam Ruston told Lonely Planet, “but I think we’ve all been in that situation where we need a public toilet and couldn’t find one so it’s really just an app to solve that specific problem.

“However, as I’ve come to find from some thankful emails, there’s people out there with disabilities that need a service like Flush, and I’m just happy to provide that service for them.”

Ruston said most of the over 250,000 public facilities listed are in the UK, USA, and Canada. The app is available for Apple devices and for Android, with users adding their own listings to help to constantly improve it. Public facilities are listed according to if you have to pay, whether they are wheelchair accessible, or when a key is needed.

Public toilet, London.
Public toilet, London. Image by Cristiano Betta / CC BY 2.0

The more widely used the app is in a city, the more authoritative its listings and like many such databases, it works off the wisdom of the crowd.

As one reviewer said: “This app saved me from having a disaster!”

It works perfectly well offline so a Wi-Fi connection – or the use of expensive mobile data – is not required when travelling. If on less familiar terrain, the app also plugs into whatever mapping software is available on your phone and will give you directions.