I work in a small company with a small office, we are just 10 employees and a boss. Recently two new workmates have been hired and we had to change the office distribution and now my workplace is really close to the toilet, but this is not the problem.

Every morning my boss goes to the toilet and then, when he finishes, he leaves the door open and a really disgusting smell comes out from the toilet (because of his business). Every workmate goes to the toilet and nobody does that.

I can't understand why he can't close the door and turn the restroom extractor on, so the smell can progressively disappear without disturbing others. For me, this is really disrespectful. I discussed this issue with my closest coworker and he also smells it.

How can we handle this situation? Would going to the toilet after my boss finished and close the door look weird? Should I talk to my boss?


Telling the boss to close the door when he comes out in front of the whole office may put us in a weird situation, as I said before, the office is really small, so going and close the door will also look weird, is really an option talk with him and say, 'hey Mike, we need to talk about something is affecting me?' and tell privately the issue?

Edit 2

I suggested to my boss today to install something that automatically closes the door, because of the smell issue and he told me that that was not needed, he is going to tell everyone to close the door and he's going to put a sign. I think the problem will be solved soon, but I am worried he doesn't realize that the problem is his fault.

  • 10
    You could theatrically spray excessive amounts of air freshener around as he leaves the toilet. You could put pegs on your noses. You could make a big show of doing this pre-emptively as he approaches, maybe someone could initiate the action by shouting "pegs on lads!". If you're not willing to spend money on props you could simply start gagging and gasping and slump out of your seat apparently unconscious as as he exits; with a bit of practice you can learn to foam at the mouth quite convincingly. Mar 3, 2017 at 12:43
  • David, does your boss have a private office with a door? If you ask to talk to him briefly and close the door, there's no risk of embarrassing him in front of the office.
    – David K
    Mar 3, 2017 at 13:14
  • 2
    Possible duplicate of How should I approach a co-worker on matters of personal hygiene?
    – mcknz
    Mar 3, 2017 at 22:05
  • @mcknz Again, that question is about a smell coming from a person. This question is about a smell coming from a room. Also, your question is about a coworker while this question is about a boss. I think this is not a duplicate.
    – David K
    Mar 3, 2017 at 23:19
  • I'm facing a similar issue in my current job. When the coworker exits from the toilet I go outside to the terrace to take a break and breath some fresh air. I'm new in the office so I don't have enough confidence to tell him.
    – Gerard
    Mar 6, 2017 at 15:04

5 Answers 5


I think Glorfindel's suggestion of installing something to automatically close the door would be the best course of action.

However, I don't think you should accuse your boss specifically as they might get defensive which risks them belittling the problem or dismissing your suggestion out of hand.

It might be better to say something like:

Hey boss, could we get something installed to automatically close the toilet door? People are leaving it open and it smells.

This has the advantage that it doesn't accuse anyone specific, so your boss should be a lot more amenable.

  • 2
    Is leaving an anonymous note on his desk a good idea ?
    – Mark
    Mar 3, 2017 at 11:34
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    @David It is a terrible idea. This is a sort of passive-agressive behaviour that will not get the message across throughly. Anonymous communication in workplace should be avoided, if possible. Rob's idea, of generalyzing the issue to "someone" allows the boss to save face and gets the message across. Mar 3, 2017 at 12:41
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    @Mindwin: The described office is rather small. Mentioning "someone" might well backfire if, at the sound of that word, the entire staff glances into the same direction. Mar 3, 2017 at 12:57
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    The point here is the politeness that lets us all get along like civilized beings. yes it may be very obvious who the 'someone' is to everyone however not naming / shaming the person by name is one of the ways to deal with it more politely and less confrontationally, even if everyone knows who. If we didn't practice careful politeness around shared offices we couldn't work in them. Figuring out how to bring up difficult stuff like this is one of the challenges you have to master to work in professional places. btw this is not anonymous communication as you say it yourself. Mar 3, 2017 at 13:14
  • 2
    @David I wouldn't leave an anonymous note. Not only does it seem passive-aggressive, it could also come across as an accusation. If you want to avoid an out-loud conversation then send an email. The fact that you are the closest to the toilet adds context to the request, which would be lost if you went down the anonymous route.
    – Trebor
    Mar 3, 2017 at 13:15

I think the easiest thing to do would be to put a sign on the inside of the door that states "Please shut the door on your way out".

No hardware to install and can be completed in minutes. This also should address the issue of the smell.

Another option would be to purchase a product similar to the link below. It works very well and could remove some stress for all of you in the office.



It's probably fine just to tell him, the next time he leaves the bathroom without closing the door:

Could you please close the door behind you? We suffer from the smell.

Your boss might not realize at all that his behaviour causes problems for you; the simplest way is often just to tell him.

Would going to the toilet after my boss finished and close the door look weird?

Yes, that would look weird, but it might work to get the message across.

Alternatively, install a door spring so that the door gets closed automatically.

  • 1
    +1 for the door spring, But rather than installing it yourself, ask to have it installed. I believe the average price for them would be around $50 though. It's a normal and good practice to have these devices installed in nearly all bathroom areas exactly for the reason the OP mentioned.
    – Migz
    Mar 3, 2017 at 10:44
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    I'd leave the we suffer from the smell part though. Mar 3, 2017 at 12:33

This one is easy. You sit close to the toilet, so when the boss leaves the toilet with the door open, remind him politely at a level of volume barely audible to him.

Boss, you forgot to close the door.

There! Done. Do this a couple of times and he will break his habit.

Always give the other person the chance to save face. There is no need to make a song and dance about another person's mistakes.

So don't get up and shut the door yourself right after he leaves. Your action will be easily noticed by everyone in a small office and people can put two and two together, even if you don't say anything. There is no need to embarass your boss before everyone, nothing good ever comes out of such passive aggressive actions.

There is also no need to setup a chat specifically to tell him about the smell. He should already know that human excrement has a disagreeable smell, no need to make him feel silly by reminding him.

  • 1
    Though after 3 attempts you become 'that ennoying worker'.
    – Martijn
    Mar 3, 2017 at 13:39
  • 2
    @Martijn I assume that the boss is a reasonable person, not a jerk, because I have no reason to assume otherwise. If the boss is a jerk, your work life is in deep sh** anyway, and closing a toilet door doesn't really help much. :)
    – Masked Man
    Mar 3, 2017 at 15:19
  • @MaskedMan "Your work life is in deep sh**". No pun intended. LOL
    – Neo
    Mar 3, 2017 at 16:04
  • 1
    @MisterPositive Yeah, that was pretty much intended. I had originally intended to write "... you have bigger problems to worry about", but then I thought "here's a great opportunity to amuse myself". I spend way too much time on The Workplace, and the stink from all these poop questions is affecting my thinking. ;-)
    – Masked Man
    Mar 3, 2017 at 16:11

Doing it yourself should be enough to send the message. I know it's pretty gross, but if he sees you doing that, he might understand without having to discuss it.

  • 8
    I rarely find such actions convey the message, without telling the boss, the OP will forever be closing the door after them
    – Draken
    Mar 3, 2017 at 9:37
  • 1
    In a small office like this, the action would be noticed, especially if you close the door a little more firmly than is strictly neccessary. In a big office, I'd completely agree with you.
    – user44108
    Mar 3, 2017 at 9:39
  • If the OP is worried enough about the issue as to ask here, being unnoticed when closing the door is not a problem.
    – Pere
    Mar 3, 2017 at 14:01
  • 6
    @Pere - People often seek complicated answers to simple questions.
    – user44108
    Mar 3, 2017 at 14:18

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