Is it really illegal to flush your toilet in Switzerland after 10pm?

Is it really illegal to flush your toilet in Switzerland after 10pm?

It’s not often that Switzerland gets a headline story read around the world, but when it does, writers abroad have a habit of sensationalising or even stretching the truth around parts of Swiss culture. This is certainly true when the Daily Mail, among other news sites, report that people in the alpine nation are unable to flush their toilets after 10pm. The truth however, in the words of author John Green, resists simplicity.

Daily Mail claims Swiss households can't flush toilets after 10pm

"If you want to go to the toilet in your apartment in Switzerland at night, the following applies: Flushing is forbidden!" the German newspaper Bild wrote gleefully in January 2023. It followed the British newspaper Daily Mail mentioning Switzerland in its list of the world’s most bizarre laws, which included gems like it being illegal to fall asleep in a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. 

In the words of the British tabloid, “It is illegal to flush the toilet after 10pm in an apartment building in Switzerland as the government considers it noise pollution. It is common for landlords to impose house rules whereby residents are not allowed to flush their toilet between the hours of 10pm and 7am as it may disturb their neighbours.” 

Flushing toilets after 10pm not illegal in Switzerland, but some rules still apply

Sadly, those hoping the rule is real are in for a disappointment, as flushing a toilet after 10pm is by no means illegal in Switzerland. Fabian Gloor, from the Swiss Tenants’ Association, told Blick that "a general ban on using the toilet flush during the night's rest would interfere too much with the personal rights of the tenants," and that if a neighbour is woken up by a flushing toilet or running shower, they have no right to call the police.

However, as Marisha Pessi wrote: “Within every elaborate lie, a kernel of truth” - so too with the 10pm rule. While it is certainly not illegal to flush toilets, the Swiss government did state that it is forbidden to "be loud and disturb your neighbours" between the hours of 10pm and 6am, often referred to in Switzerland as the curfew - or when residents’ inner Bünzli comes to life. However, authorities were quick to point out that this is also a law in Germany and other countries.

What's more, while restricting the use of showers and toilets is not common, some rental contracts do restrict the use of louder appliances like washing machines, dishwashers and dryers. Also, while it isn’t a universal rule, let’s just say that no one likes to be woken up by the neighbours' washing machine clattering about in the late evening.

Where does the Swiss flushing toilet ban come from?

So why is the Swiss flushing toilet myth so frequently mentioned among members of the global media, despite not actually being true? It likely stems from the flexibility in agreements between landlords and tenants in Switzerland, which, in theory, could allow landlords to attempt to impose the rule. However, speaking to The Local back in 2013, lawyer Thomas Oberle noted that enforcing a ban would be near-impossible.

This, combined with Switzerland's reputation for stringent rules and regulations, makes the idea of a blanket ban on flushing toilets all the more plausible to those outside the country looking in.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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