May 31, 2005

British Peculiarities I: The Virtual Absence of Mixed Taps

Marte found this article on the issue. I’m not crazy! The issue is really alive! See, Churchill and Boris Johnson spent time pondering over it! Read for yourself.


Old-Fashioned Faucets:
Unique British Standard
Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal

From The Wall Street Journal Online

LONDON (Oct. 31, 2002)—During a wartime visit to Moscow in 1942, Winston S. Churchill discovered a marvel of modern technology: hot and cold water flowing from the same faucet.

The plumbing in the villa where he stayed as a guest of Stalin was unlike the primitive British standard of separate taps for hot and cold. Rather than having to fill up the sink to achieve the right blend, the British leader could wash his hands under gushing water “mingled to exactly the temperature one desired,” as he put it in his memoirs. From then on, he resolved to use this method whenever possible.

His countrymen have been slow to take up the single-spigot cause. Most bathroom sinks in Britain still have separate hot and cold taps today, 60 years after Mr. Churchill’s conversion and decades after nearly all dual taps were scrapped in the U.S. and most vanished from continental Europe. For reasons of thrift, regulations and a stubborn attachment to tradition, the British have resisted the tide of plumbing history. Even when they renovate old homes, many choose two-tap systems, and builders often install them in new, low-end housing. Separate taps account for an estimated 40% of all bathroom-faucet sales in the U.K.

“It’s very strange to me,” says Ayelet Langer, who moved to London from Israel last year and found two faucets mounted on the newly installed bathroom sink in her apartment. “I thought I couldn’t really cope with it at first, but now I do.” Worried that the water from the hot tap will scald the fingers of her one-year-old son, she washes his hands in the kitchen sink, which has a single spout.

Britons don’t understand why foreigners raise a fuss over this issue. “The British are quite happy to wash their hands with cold water. Maybe it’s character-building,” says Simon Kirby, managing director of Thomas Crapper & Co., a maker of bathroom equipment in Stratford-on-Avon.

Boris Johnson, a Conservative Party member of Parliament representing Henley, congratulates “the higher civilizations” that have adopted advanced plumbing technology. But he argues that having the choice of either hot or cold for washing hands “is an incentive to get it over and done with and not waste water.”

Separate faucets are only one of the peculiarities of the British bathroom. Another is electricity—or rather the lack of it. Regulations aimed at preventing shocks forbid the installation in bathrooms of electrical outlets, except those designed for shavers. One more antishock measure bans standard on/off switches in bathrooms. The lights are controlled by pull cords hanging from the ceiling.

None of these eccentricities causes as much annoyance among foreigners as separate taps. Renee Guinivan of Bath, N.C., a retired secretary whose daughter lives in London, finds them “unsanitary.” Ms. Guinivan could fill the sink with a mixture of hot and cold before washing. But what if the last person who used the sink brushed his teeth and spat? “I hate to be fussy,” she says, though she is tempted to tote around a small package of Ajax cleaning powder and a sponge when she visits Britain.

“Perhaps it’s something Puritanical about the English” that inclines them to shun modern luxuries, says Pam Carter, a spokeswoman for the Savoy Hotel.

In keeping with the grand style of a luxury hotel opened in 1889, the Savoy’s vast white-tile bathrooms retain a Victorian look. The huge shower heads, resembling upside-down pie tins, dump cascades of water on guests. Call buttons above the tubs read “valet” and “maid” (though the buttons no longer function and guests are expected to use the telephone if they want help). To appease its largely American clientele, the Savoy has converted many of its sinks to single hot-and-cold taps, but some of the sinks retain separate faucets. Ms. Carter points to a gleaming white double-tap sink from the 1950s, large enough to bathe a midsize dog. “It would be a crime to get rid of something like that,” she says.

Many in Britain keep separate bathroom taps to preserve the authenticity of Victorian homes. The force of habit also plays a role. As the commercial director of the Bathroom Manufacturers Association, Yvonne Orgill might be expected to favor frequent renovations, yet she is completely satisfied with the separate taps on her bathtub and sees no reason to replace them. “I can turn them on and off with my toes, being a lazy person” she says.

In their defense, some British cite red tape. Older British homes often have storage tanks in their attics that feed water heaters. Under certain conditions, those tanks could be contaminated – for instance, by the intrusion of a rat – and tainted hot water that flows into a mixer tap might get sucked into a cold-water pipe leading back to the public water supply, endangering the whole neighborhood. So regulations forbid mixing of hot and cold water streams inside a tap unless the tank meets strict standards or protective valves are installed.

Separate taps are also a bit cheaper. A midprice pair of chrome bathroom-sink taps from Pegler Ltd. costs about $87, or half the price of a hot-and-cold “mixer” tap of similar quality.

Even so, modernity is slowly imposing itself. British people who travel overseas often are impressed by single taps, not to mention the “lovely shower systems that blow your head off,” says Kevin Wellman, operations director at the British Institute of Plumbing. A U.S. company, American Standard Cos., is now the largest supplier of bathroom equipment in Britain and promotes modern fittings, including mixer taps.

Martin Phillips, a Londoner who sells car-industry forecasts and is married to an American, says his wife has converted him. Now when he encounters a sink with separate taps, he says, “it drives me potty.”

But there are many holdouts. One is Mr. Kirby, the managing director at Thomas Crapper. Of the mixer tap, he says, “I wouldn’t even consider it as a modernization—just a different way of doing it.”

Of course, he has a professional interest in the matter. Founded in 1861 by Thomas Crapper, the firm he runs makes replicas of Victorian bathroom equipment, including bathroom “basins,” or sinks, ranging from about $1,320 to $1,875. In a rare compromise with authenticity, the company does provide some sinks with mixer taps, but those are sold mainly to overseas customers.

Mr. Kirby says he doesn’t find separate taps inconvenient. He dunks his hands under the cold water tap when he wants a quick wash. “If I want to wash them properly, I put the plug in” and fill the basin, he says. Isn’t that less hygienic than washing under running water? “It’s a cultural difference,” Mr. Kirby says. “We’re less bothered about that.”

Despite their clashing views on hand-washing, Mr. Kirby keeps portraits of Winston Churchill in his home and office. He isn’t surprised that the prime minister liked fancy plumbing. “You have to remember that Churchill was half-American,” Mr. Kirby says, “so he was probably a bit more open to some of these innovations.”

- 110 comments by 0 or more people Not publicly viewable

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  1. Attila

    British people are self-denying.

    the only things that they do not deny from themself are holidays, alcohol, drinking and shopping. but they do not buy mixer taps, plaster for their walls, and they do not insulate their disgusting properties.

    17 Dec 2008, 12:23

  2. Kimberly

    I’m so glad it’s not just me who finds this quirk annoying and unsanitary…

    11 Jan 2009, 19:47

  3. Marco


    >>>>>>>>>>> *
    Corrupt Governments *
    UK should adopt the Euro *
    15 MILLION STRONG AGAINST THE BBC TV LICENCE (Sign The Official Petition) *
    Britain should complete metrication as soon as possible! *
    I want metric road signs in the UK *
    Schengen for the UK (Europe) *
    You are not an advanced country if you have separate water taps *

    24 Mar 2009, 15:05

  4. steve donnelly

    If anyone is looking for an adapter to combine hot and cold water taps into one, I can make them, contact me, here is an example. Maybe not the most attractive thing, but it works! And it’s non-destructive and takes seconds to install, so it’s great for renters or those who want to keep their antique plumbing intact. My email address is below the photo at this link:

    19 Jun 2009, 20:10

  5. Suzi

    Haha, I live in Britain, in an old Victorian house. The kitchen sink has seperate taps for hot and cold water. The tenants before me had found an amazing rubber and plastic invention to connect the two taps. sadly, that thing was invented in the 80s and they don’t sell them anymore. I’ve been googling where I can find another one of those plastic/ rubbery things because the one we have is too worn out now. Found your blog. Might contact this Steve Donnelly fellow to check out his product! :)

    24 Feb 2010, 12:13

  6. Pete Lorimer

    I am an American renting a modern flat in London that was built in the 1990’s. What I thought was a single mixer tap in the kitchen is, in fact, a tap with 2 separate waterways all the way to the end of the spout – one for hot and the other for cold. I first noticed it when washing dishes under the running tap, as my hands had the odd sensation of simultaneously being scalded and frozen. A single stream of water emits from the tap, but the front side is all hot, and the back side is all cold. Surely with the intricacies involved in manufacturing something like this you can’t argue that it’s less expensive than a mixer tap with it’s single waterway.

    20 Mar 2010, 10:30

  7. Dermot

    Yeah, the UK and Ireland are really backwards in their plumbing, domestic electricity and heat insulation practices. It is usually colder inside a house in Ireland or the UK, than it is outside! Ridiculous. And this is usually the case even in newly-built houses. I have never understood it, as these are two significant countries in Western society, you would think that they would have got basic standards of living practices up to scratch with the rest of the modern world. Housing is one reason why I moved from Ireland to Finland (which is where I currently live) =)

    05 Apr 2010, 00:05

  8. kat

    in my opinion the british are just not practical in most of things, not only the taps. what drive me mad about taps is not the fact that they are separate, but that most of them are so small that you cant actually wash your hands without touching the basin wall, yuck! and the press-down taps that dont run unless you are pressing them down so how are you ment to wash the hands ie rub them tugether to wash off the sticky soap in public toilets??

    19 Aug 2010, 23:56

  9. alex

    That’s retarded !!!

    22 Dec 2010, 11:54

  10. Lisa

    The other disgusting practice of Brits, to add to other ones mentioned already, is the washing up.
    Quite few people neglect to rinse the detergent off their plates. They simply leave the soap suds to dry off on the drying rack. I’ve been living here for a while for my career for past 5 years, but I’m ready to leave the so called “traditional style living” behind and to go back to the modern convenient world. If anyone ever mentions about their backwardness.. Brits are ready to defend themselves with “industrial revolution” originating from their proud country… It’s one thing to be stylish, but another thing to be practical. They just don’t get the idea of ergonomics in this country.

    28 Feb 2011, 17:04

  11. diana

    God… bitch bitch bitch … is it REALLY that important in the global sense of the word. I work as a designer and have installed thousands of taps and have been installing mixers for years so god knows where you guys are hanging out. Im not going to defend this country as ALL countries have their own ways of doing things and thats what makes them interesting and different. Human beings are very adaptable and maybe if you americans spent more time concentrating on not squandering the worlds resources, invading other peoples countries to satisfy your insatiable appetite for oil and trying to make everyone like you the world would be a more tolerant place … ... and of course if you don’t like it here you can always go home …..

    27 Apr 2011, 12:28

  12. Cara

    Well, if Britain spent less money on welfare for 80% of the population, they would have the resources to modernize like the rest of Europe!

    03 May 2011, 22:57

  13. James

    Cara, unfortunately most of our money has gone towards dragging the likes of Spain, Greece, Portugal and Ireland up to our economic level, and then bailing them out once they screw it up.

    This tap thing is such a non issue.

    11 May 2011, 16:36

  14. joel

    Its the most retarded thing Ive ever seen, if tradition is so important then why use electricity. Its so unhygienic much like the washing up habit, in oily and dirty water so what you get is a dish with oil and Fairy liquid. Its not a question of money or even aesthetics its a basic sense of ‘frankly my dear I just dont give a damn’ attitude the Brits have towards their own comfort and their own health and well being (check out the cuisine) deep down they see no difference, hence Diana (comment 11) says ‘is it really that important?’, no, you know what? keep stuffing yourself with stodgy puddings and oily chips, lick the fairy liquid and grease off your plate and rinse your teeth with dirty water, you’ll still live till youre old and get to fight out against terrible injustice in the world, but why not have some respect for yourself?

    12 May 2011, 03:33

  15. Maged Mestrah

    Just stumbled upon this post, having the same problem with the separate taps in a new place I’m moving in to. Is steve donnelly still around? Facebook picture is no longer available and there’s a looong list of steve donnellys on facebook!

    02 Aug 2011, 07:30

  16. Another

    moving into a new property.. very annoying o find separate taps for hot and cold water.. did they stop thinking logically here?

    21 Sep 2011, 14:11

  17. Blackandyellow

    My biggest pet peeve is the separate taps issue invented by plumbers for the deranged, closely followed by electricity for the insane and house building by chimps for chimps “red bricks for your house madam?”. I won’t even begin to tell you how much I cringing I do watching Brits do the “washing up”. Every time I see this bizarre practice the first thing that comes to mind is, Why does everything have a rinse cycle except the Brits? Whenever I’ve asked about why on earth anyone would choose to have double taps I get answers which exemplify what makes up the typical British character, namely that they are backward, obtuse and pompous…and, secretly feeling inferior as most have traveled and seen for themselves how everyone else lives which 99% of the time is far better than themselves. This is why most feel the need to defend their horrible, ugly house-building practices.

    27 Sep 2011, 07:23

  18. FatalException

    Wow, there are some small minded bigots posting in here. Most of us (British people) would like mixer taps in sinks, especially ones used for washing hands. Sadly old houses come with separate taps, or already have separate taps installed. Sadder still is new houses are built by developers for the cheapest price and best return on their investment.

    Stop being so bigoted.

    01 Oct 2011, 14:15

  19. Tony Ryan

    We have seperate taps because we want them, we drive on the left because we want to, millions of people come to our country every year because they want to. if you want to have a mixer tap pay for one to be installed if you dont want to pay for it then go back to your own perfect country and stop whining.

    02 Nov 2011, 09:16

  20. Josh.

    To be fair, the British did invent almost everything. And without the British Industrial Revolution you would all be living in the Dark Ages. Foreign people are clearly jealous of us and want to be us. So what if we have two taps? We designed it that way so we didn’t all get Cholera or Legionnaires disease. We have old houses, and what?! I bet some of our taps are older than your continents, so don’t hate us because we actually have a national history. Whichever country you are from, I’m sure I can think of many reasons why it isn’t as good as Britain. Also, to all those people posting comments in ‘English’ (another thing we have given the world) at least learn how to spell and use correct grammar before you try and slate us.

    19 Dec 2011, 01:17

  21. Laura

    I second everything said by Josh, Tony Ryan and FatalException. If you believe that us having separate taps means us having to endure horrendous and backwards lives (which is a joke because British people are proud of their nationality) then you must have a screw loose! I apologise if you can’t find a translation for that expression on Google Translate as that seems to be what you non native speakers have been using.

    Britain continues to be an extremely popular tourist destination, more so that your countries with so called “superior” taps. Get a grip people and concentrate on real, more serious issues!

    19 Dec 2011, 16:34

  22. Laura

    *than your countries. Whoops, must have made that error because I washed my hands in cold water before typing!

    19 Dec 2011, 16:37

  23. Sam

    Hilariously ironic that this is written in English – you know, that language we gave to the world. Maybe we were too busy inventing all that stuff we invented (world wide web, television, calculator, steam engine, jet engine, steel production, penicillin) to actually give a shit?

    19 Dec 2011, 16:59

  24. Matt

    Thank you Britons for all you have given to the World. You forgot to mention the rock music, BBC and colonization. But in some cases you are not catching up. And inventors are all over the world. So don’t hang on your industrialization that happened 200 years ago … Other countries are taking you over slowly and surely.

    If we find separate taps inconvenient and brag about it, it’s our own opinion. Most of my UK friends love mixer taps but don’t have the possibility to install them in UK (renting). The first thing I did in the house I rented: changed separate taps with a mixer one in the kitchen after asking the landlord.

    But don’t and DON’T make fun of people’s language mistakes! People who make grammatical mistakes SPEAK at least TWO languages. While most of Briton’s don’t. So don’t get on this level “Oh they bitch over our taps … look, they can’t even spell right … hahahaha … let’s tell them”. It’s simply retarded.

    11 Jan 2012, 19:56

  25. Adopted Brit

    People.. look behind a tradition or a habit and you will always find a practical reason why most things are designed in the way they are.. Until well after the II world war, the UK had a huge problem with water. Even though the mixer tap was actually invented in the UK (check Wikipedia), the dual tap was designed and kept being installed to force people to close the hole and mix the water, and by doing so “save water” .. this is also behind the habit of soaking and not rinsing dishes .. The UK no longer has water shortage problems (most summers) but the “tradition” of separate tap remains!

    11 Jan 2012, 22:40

  26. Bloke

    Well I’m British and I actually like the 2 tap system. The reason for this is simple: I prefer to wash my hands in cold water because it saves on gas which is good for my pocket and good for the environment. I also don’t want to be soft by having to wash in warm water. You may like a mixer-tap and if so then good on you, but personally I would always choose 2 taps!

    P.S. for all those bitching about UK hygiene standards, it can’t be that bad: people in the UK live longer lives than Americans so I don’t think a little bit of cold water is killing us.

    P.P.S there are a number of practical reasons why mixer taps are not always practicable, for example low water pressure.

    22 Jan 2012, 20:48

  27. Tom

    wao hateful.
    Backwards style of living? Because many places dont have mixer taps?! Jesus. To most Brits they just dont care that much, it isnt a huge deal.

    As to driving on the left, we have done historically because Japan we have a history of Knights (Samurai) and one would pass on the left to be ready to draw a sword. Europe was the same under Papal rules, but changed to the American idea of being on the left -stemming from coach riding and its horses.
    So if youre American, youre on the correct side, British youre on the correct side, Europe, youve turned your back on your history for no good reason.
    Britain is a place of fantastically rich history and we like to preserve the little quirks.

    Washing up, most people I know rinse and then leave to soak, some dont, regardless Ive NEVER met someone who doesnt rinse the soap off thats retarded.

    BBC is the worlds highest quality news service, and we also get the Proms, the BBCs five orchestras and “tv of Hollywood movie quality” -quoted from a visiting JPNS friend. Why should we sacrifice that, has anyone ever actually compared the BBC to FOX news, dont make me cry.

    The Monarchy provides HUGE income to the UK, and the amount it lives off is less than it makes and what the government chooses. Take a look at the Democracy Index, Constitutional Monarchies are consistantly more democractic owing to it being an extra check balance.

    We like our pound, we have a long history of it, we have no wish to join a new currency for a small benefit -ps EU costs 10billion pounds a year to be in and they took our fish stocks with a annual market value of around 20billion pounds. Most of the pro EU stuff doesnt suit Britain because we use Common Law not Civil and we believe in Individual rights such as Innocent until proven guilty. Also, what benefit will giving control of our currency to the EU give us, look at the PIGS, if they could devalue theyd be fine, but they cant.

    Electric in the bathroom, almost always unneccessary, battery shavers give a fine shave and people are happy with that. As to drying hair and such, dont you ladies have a dressing table?

    Insulation, all British houses have a double wall insulation system, means the house internal temperature doesnt vary so much, if you dont have your heating on at all it will keep chillier in the day from nighttime, if you dont have the cooling on at night, it will be warmer at night from the daytime. Thats we created Central Heating. You wannna go in an uninsulated house, try a wooden single wall one.

    Touching the sink someone else has used maybe “unhygienic” but its good for the immune system. Take hygiene too far and youre only making yourself weaker. As to those big old shower heads, they have a way of completely drenching you that is much kinder on the skin that a strong blast from a power shower. Ive found they both wash equally as well, the big shower heads drench the body and wash everything away quicker, but the power showers tend to blast dirt away more.

    Finally, metric, whats the point in throwing away our fine set of measurements, so what if Johnny foreigner doesnt quite understand it all, do we really want every country to be identically similar just for convinience? The EU makes all European countries culturally poorer. On that line of reasoning I proclaim all languages should be thrown away and everyone uses English, its more convienient -stupid idea.

    Can I rant about something completely stupid but use it hatefully against you Europeans and Americans?
    Why is your electricity supply so pathetically weak and small, I cant run powerful gadgets, music mixing is of a lower quality, and everything from hairdryers to hairstraighteners are weaker.
    And dont get me started on the Washing machines that you load from the top, 50 litres per drum, and some 3 or more rinses, what a ridiculous waste of water. And the clothes cant be hot washed “how unhygienic”....

    24 Jan 2012, 09:18

  28. Mark

    Most British people dont speak two languages well erm, seeing as the UK doesnt have an official language, and theres Welsh and Gaelic I think thats quite offencive if Im honest.
    And lets not forget sheer common sense, most of the world uses English so even though every British student learns a foreign language at school they rarely get the chance or need to use it, not to mention Britain is an Island, not a European country with different languages being used commonly within just a few miles drive or even walk.
    If the world language was French the British would undoubtably speak English AND French.

    24 Jan 2012, 09:31

  29. Mick

    Well said Tom !
    I’m a plumber and the reason that the UK have two taps is that:
    UK regulations do not allow mixing mains (drinking) water with heated water in the body of the tap. They must be kept apart.This avoids drawing warm, potentially harmful (bacteria sustaining) water into the drinking water if the mains is turned off or loses pressure.

    24 Jan 2012, 19:56

  30. Carl

    Agree with #26 / Bloke comment.

    In many heating/water systems without tank, the boiler kicks in when there is draw on the hot water outlet. It is much more efficient to wash ones hands in cold water from the cold tap without using the boiler/gas.

    You don’t make a cup of tea from the hot tap… You don’t put hot water in the kettle to make a cup of tea… why is the rest of the world maintaining it’s hot water to scolding temperatures then? Hot water is used for showering and washing, so there’s no reason to have it coming out of the hot tap unsuitable for human touch…

    29 Jan 2012, 14:30

  31. Grow Up

    MY GOD! I absolutely hate two taps! Mixed taps is so logical and I find it ridiculous that anyone is debating against it! Lets also not forget that the Britons are also famous for their extreme health and safety regulations that don’t make sense. Hence the bacteria crap some people have been going on about with the mixed taps. Look grow up and accept that mixed taps are better…and concerning low pressure… only in the uk is there low pressure. Everywhere else in the world mixed taps have full pressure.

    What makes me want to throw up personally is the fact that they do not rinse their plates and cups!!!YUCK!!! I bleach all the mugs at work weekly when no one is looking! dirt bacteria and oil clings onto soap, if you do not rinse your plate with CLEAN water then the oil and bacteria just stays on the plate…its simple…

    25 Feb 2012, 02:00

  32. Grow Up

    Oh by the way….the English language was stolen off the Romans…and the Romans stole latin off ancient Greek…so please stop using stupid excuses if you feel inferior to the fact that you do not speak a second language.

    25 Feb 2012, 02:03

  33. Ben

    Grow Up: if you really want to get picky about where the English language came from, you will find very little of it came from the Romans at all. It was a Germanic language originally, with very little stolen from anywhere else in particular, but it has had the better part of 1500 years to evolve into it’s own language.
    Also more people tend to speak English, because it is easier to learn, so more foreigners learn English, and fewer English people learn foreign languages.

    26 Feb 2012, 19:43

  34. Ramona

    I am an American and I cannot believe the discussion. I have always had separate taps. One for the hot water and one for the cold water. If you mix them you only get warm water and what is the point of that? Sometimes you need cold water and sometimes you need hot. But you know I would love one of those boiling water taps.

    11 Mar 2012, 00:00

  35. Samantha

    Ramona…thats a stupid comment you just left…you do realise this yes???

    On a mix tap you can have cold, hot and warm…. depending on the side you turn the handle….Where in the USA do you actually live?? A CAVE?

    And ben

    I dont know where the english language comes from… I also thought it was mainly Latin based. The fact is that you learn a second language to increase your knowledge as a human being. Therefore it is absolutely stupid to say that english people dont bother learning a second language because everyone speaks english! You either crave knowledge or you dont…you either crave moving forward in life and technology and getting mixed taps …or you dont :P

    11 Mar 2012, 10:12

  36. Luke

    I am an TEFL teacher in London, and I’ve lived abroad for some years too. This ‘two taps’ issue is without doubt the most common gripe that my students have about the UK. I have spent a lot of time considering this question and discussing it with foreigners. Here’s my balanced opinion (for what it’s worth):
    -Mixer taps are better. You can grade the temperature, etc. Churchill was right. I would like to get a mixer tap when I get a new bathroom as long as it’s not too expensive or impossible due to the plumbing in my house.
    -However, the presence of 2 taps in the bathroom is just not a serious enough issue to incite such passionate anger and frustration from those who are not used to them. People who get so uptight about this really just need to take a massive chill pill, take a good look around at the world and realise that it doesn’t all make perfect sense. It perfectly reasonable that in the UK we do some things slightly differently, just like in many other countries around the world. Don’t even get me started on the ‘driving on the left’ issue. Build a bridge and get over it. If seeing two taps in a bathroom screws up your mind that much, your priorities are skewed.

    16 Mar 2012, 15:30

  37. Lukle

    Just realised the glaring error I made at the beginning of my message. Both ironic and embarrassing. “I am a TEFL teacher” or course…

    16 Mar 2012, 15:38

  38. Luke

    I can’t even spell my own name either (see the previous message). This is clearly because I’ve been washing my hands in cold water, or perhaps because the washing up liquid is rotting my brain.

    16 Mar 2012, 15:41

  39. Mia

    So much fun to read this comments :) its kind of cute how Brits love their old fashion Victorian tradition I say let it be ..every nation needs its own bullshit to be specifically theirs..of course l don’t doubt most of the Brits would gladly swap and get mixer taps if it was for free…coz if they so much love to wash their hands in cold water …with this modern thingy they still could :)
    Funny to jump from this subject to defensive position talking about hey we gave world language ..well same thing was done by Roman empire and look who speaks Latin now…
    I m afraid common language for future generations ll be mandarin ..
    And to say that most of English ppl don’t speak other language because they don’t need to anyway is pretty ignorant..l learned Spanish when l lived in Mexico and ability to speak more languages is just beneficial for me.. Many taxi drivers around globe don’t speak English even in NY :)
    Problem with Brits is when they r too snobbish and they don’t want to understand American English or English with non native accent..
    Then they r not less rude as French :)
    Every country invents something good ..and smart ones won’t be too nationalists to not accept it only because it didn’t come from theirs country.
    And l m not calling Brits stupid :) I just thing once they grow up with washing hands with cold water it’s pretty natural for them and they don’t mind it same as they don’t mind wearing shorts since first sunny day in February ..
    And we who are spoiled by more comfortable way of washing hands…if we live in uk…bitching about it wont change thing…get used to it or do something ..
    It’s easier then live in Mexico hating mariachi music..that’s real problem (coz of that only ..not because it’s dangerous country with no social security or security what so ever)why l had to leave :)
    As l noticed at public washrooms many ppl…grr ladies don’t bother to was their hands
    So the moral of all this should be…no matter hot or cold or perfect medium …just wash your hands well hehe

    16 Mar 2012, 19:42

  40. FromAbroad

    #20 Josh you rude boy.. I may speak broken English but at least you can understand me, can’t you? I could speak in my mother tongue about this… But there is no need for this because in most countries outside UK people are making fun of things like your double taps – so I have to speak in English ‘bout this to English people
    #27 Tom all languages thrown away in favor of one… YES THAT WOULD BE GREAT!

    Two taps are stupid
    Yes, they”re too close to the basin wall so it’s very easy to touch it… And please remember that basin is one of the dirties place in your home! If you”re OK with that then don”t use towels, instead rub your hands on toilet seat it”s cleaner than basin!
    Putting the plug LOL we used to do like that in wait, like 1930 or so… Less hygienic… LOL I would say it”s better not to wash your hands than wash them this way… British people less bothered about this? LOL so why there are adverts that show how to sneeze properly everywhere in UK? Maybe this is the reason of hospital contaminations that happen so often here

    26 Mar 2012, 02:33

  41. Jack

    Bizzare? My girlfriend is welsh and lives in london she has seperate taps but its a modern combi system so hot water but not scalding? Infact if any hot tap has scalding water surely you have an issue with leaving your boiler setting non? Now talk sbout sanitisation have any off you people lived where i lived in NYC you’d realize in terms of infrasture were years behind the uk and europe thanks to our republican governments. My view of the city is hampered by overhead telephone cables (uk is underground).. I slso believe they dont have the ancient sewer system and hence waft we have here. Compare the roads coming out of jfk and heathrow and you realise the lack of expenditure we put into our infrastructure in US.

    31 Mar 2012, 13:30

  42. PrussianFrank

    Do mixer users like banging their heads off the mixer trying to get their face low enough into the basin to rinse their face properly without soaking the floor, or do they just not care about cleanliness and going about with unrinsed soap scum over their faces?

    01 Apr 2012, 02:42

  43. i hate two taps

    Are you trying to reason with a Brit? Have you not all learn’t that british people have all the right to critisize other nationalities but do not take critisizim on themselves??? Brits are always right and perfect!!!God forbid you are not british and express your views on their country or culture

    How many times have you mentioned the two tap thing to a brit and in exchange you have gotten some lame excuse about small pipes, health and safety or attachment to the past traditions?

    How many times have you expressed your views on the binge drinking and in exchange gotten an answer like ” this is our culture! we like getting wasted if you don’t like it leave”

    How many times have you talked about the horrible veg and meat available and again been told that they trust uk food compared to overseas food???hahaha! My mum is a food technician and has worked for Kingsmill and Heinz…trust me…your eating worse than the pigs….the machines are dirty and people don’t wear gloves many times even after toilet breaks…. Oh and i worked in Zizzi’s…your 9 pound main course comes frozen, half cooked from Thailand and is heated in the microwave !”BUT HEY we don’t want to know! We like living in our ignorance and I don’t accept your constructive criticizim…because…you are not british!”

    NO ONE is perfect… every country has it’s good and it’s bad. But we live in 2012 …I would expect everyone would want to exceed themselves and become the best they can rather than get offended when people from other countries express their views. Try to learn from others rather than get offended

    05 Apr 2012, 18:31

  44. Jill Andrews

    What’s wrong with you guys? Why do you all feel that you have to attack Britain? There are lots of other countries with their own plumbing quirks and does it matter? No. Relax and enjoy life. Don’t worry about it.

    08 Apr 2012, 09:33

  45. Russ

    Dont really see it being a big hygiene issue.

    Americans – compare it to the shedloads of rubbish you shovel into your fat mouths everyday whilst driving pointlessly oversized cars and never getting off the ‘couch’ unless it’s to drive to the drive-thru to get another supersize. Then consider that if you don’t have a job, when all that junk food catches up on you you’re gonna struggle to get the operations you need.

    It’s also an interesting point now because; at a guess, I’d say London is now installing the dual taps en masse and guess which part of England is now not allowed to use a hosepipe?

    13 Apr 2012, 19:32


    err… actually…. why would anyone want to wash hands/face in hot water??

    06 Jun 2012, 16:53

  47. Hermione

    Americans should just shut up. Anyone who comes from a country where people think medical care should only be given to the wealthy should basically just shut up. And don’t get me started on your shopping mall culture, your obsession with weapons, and the huge amount of morbidly obese people….yuk.
    Mixer taps are better, but the the UK are a fantastic place to live if you are looking for tolerance, diversity and culture.
    And I am not even British.

    30 Jul 2012, 23:02

  48. Dinky

    I love living in the UK and find separate taps inconvenient. Installing a mixer is pricey when your’e renting. Now does anybody have a practical solution? Someone mentioned rubber tubes.. .

    24 Aug 2012, 21:27

  49. helen

    >>I love living in the UK and find separate taps inconvenient. Installing a mixer is pricey when your’e renting. Now does anybody have a practical solution?

    I do:

    In fact, I only just discovered the fact that the British don’t have mixing taps when I saw this image (captioned with something like “Mixing tap, British-style”) today.

    20 Sep 2012, 23:11

  50. Cakin

    My sister showed me this solution many years ago, now I know she isn’t the only nut in the jar! Has anyone developed a compact version of Helen’s solution? you know for when you visit other two tap bathroom!!!

    03 Oct 2012, 14:13

  51. Heiko

    Separate taps, electric heating, pull strings instead of switches, on the other hand absurd electric plugs with switches on them, vynil floors in bathrooms,... I guess the Brits stopped innovating some time ago, declaring poor standards an achievement. No wonder the country has lost most of its manufacturing industry. What’s regarded an achievement in the UK is regarded obsolete in most other countries and hence does not sell.

    03 Oct 2012, 14:17

  52. alex

    This is utterly ridiculous. Honestly I prefer having two different taps than a bloody great ugly pipe pointing at me from the middle. The tepid water in the pipe actually the most unhygenic being the optimal temperature for bacteria to breed at. Not that I particularly care about that. The real issue I’d like to point out is that the British are quite happy with our practices, and in many British people’s opinion the US and to a lesser degree the EU are just a bunch of drama queens when it comes to this issue. None of the complaints raised here actually constitute genuinely dangerous hygiene issues, they are mostly to do with weak willed psychological phobias and hang ups. Like the “thought” that someone may have cleaned their teeth in the sink you are washing your hands in? So what if they have? Are you that phobic of bacteria and trace amounts of bodily fluids?

    Historically Britain had hot boilers in our houses over 50 years before most of the world. The practice of two taps is a tradition from when hot water tanks were not considered particularly hygienic as old boilers could be contaminated, the mains water in England has been drinkable for a very long and two taps prevents hot contaminated water entering the mains supply, even though this is now no longer the case many still prefer two taps as being more aesthetically pleasing. If you find washing your hands in cold water so awful I suggest you take some time out to live in Kenya and stop being such a pathetic product of modern convenience.

    Furthermore instead of taking shots at our national practices perhaps many of you could excuse your own countries for not adopting our level of hygiene practices until post-WW2. Continental Europe still has more smokers and the US eat some of the most unnatural damaging things in the world and has more obsesity by miles. I cannot tell you how many times travelling around Europe I have been confronted with the “standing toilet” (a hole with two handles either side) or how many Americans I have known that rarely if never consume anything but processed unnatural food.

    Frankly the British public of largely reject the American import of being a “convenience” culture. We don’t have 30 minute adverts selling us the latest useless pieces of Kitchen equipment because the British public isn’t so fool enough to be suckered into believing they need these innovations in the same numbers. Advertisers cannot use hygiene as a way to pressure sales (by implying those that do not uptake the new practice are unhygenic) because we are grounded in our traditional hygiene practices which we know work just fine. Brits have other ways of showing off if we need to, as to people here an antique sink would be far more impressive than a really modern convenient one by far.

    Honestly most the people in this thread are a bunch of morons who would do well to strip away the unnecessary dependence on luxury technology for the sake of their own mental well-being. Not being able to live without these things is not only going to make travelling a far less enjoyable experience, but it is also incredibly offensive when a guest finds some hygiene practice to be untoward where the host does not. When someone in an Arab state offers you a bed on the floor you accept it gratefully and don’t moan, when Vietnese fishermen offer to share with you their freshly caught fish you eat heartily and not complain they are using dry twigs from trees to scewer it. If you the type of person who would freak out in any of these situations would do well to psychologically harden yourself, and I’m sure much of the British public would also agree so that might explain why we’re so slow on the uptake regarding the fruits of your “superior civilisation”. Simply put to your typical Brit if you find the lack of these mod-cons so unbearable then there is something psychologically wrong with you (much akin to being a hypochondriac) not the bathroom facets you despise.

    17 Oct 2012, 20:17

  53. alex

    Oh and I just want to make this perfectly clear. It is considered totally abnormal in the UK to not rinse your dishes (under the hot water tap!) after you’ve got cleaning liquid on them! The only people I think who might do this are young students who have no clue about domestic living or people who are just generally trampy which frankly every nation has plenty of. Bleaching dishes in actual bleach on the other hand is archaic and dangerous even if you do do water it down correctly.

    17 Oct 2012, 20:56

  54. Marco l

    If you Brits like the separate taps so much, why do you actually have mixing taps in most kitchens? But the worst thing for me is that most windows are still as badly made as in Victorian times… and single glazed. If only greedy landlords spent some money to install double glazed windows in most houses, gas bills would be cheaper and the environment greener!
    At least you have recently realised that it’s not a great idea to put carpets in the toilet! I hate carpets so much!!! they are unhygienic and utterly ugly!

    18 Oct 2012, 19:00

  55. fredflange

    Thank you, alex (comment 52 & 53) for proving comment 43 to be right.
    @49 Helen, you would expect a solution like that in slums of some third world country.

    22 Oct 2012, 12:51

  56. SillyMimi

    I just returned to the U.S. from a two-week holiday in York, Edinburgh, the Highlands and Glasgow, all of which I thoroughly enjoyed. My only complaints are the frigging faucets and the “filtered” coffee (yuck). I have become so obsessed with trying to figure out why they still have faucets with water that either takes the skin off your hands or turns your fingers into icicles, I Googled the conundrum. Voila, I found all of the above! What a joy to realize I am not the only person bothered by this primitive plumbing. It reminds me of when I joined Al-Anon and came to find out I was not the only person in the world who was married to an annoying drunk.

    Anyway, here’s my theory: the bathroom sinks sold in building supply stores in the UK don’t have a hole drilled in the center back for the spigot. Somehow or other, people just keep putting the old taps in without giving it a thought. I mean, their kitchen sinks and their bathtubs have single spigots. Why not have double taps in the loo? When the owners of the B&B I stayed in in York proudly pointed out the complete renovated WC in my en suite, I expected to see a single spigot with all the other shiny new accoutrements. No way! At least all the sinks have a stopper attached to the cold water tap so I could waste lots of water just washing my hands. Oh well! There were lots of other things about the UK I loved, so I guess I shouldn’t grouse about the faucets.

    25 Oct 2012, 05:35

  57. Alex

    Fredflange you are pathetic and overtly insecure. I think it’s pretty sad many of you have got the whole of the UK to explore and all you can do is whine about minor differences in plumbing. This is the country that took up indoor plumbing well before the rest of the world, we don’t need to change simply because you are too weak bodied to withstand washing your hands in cold water. I suggest you look at the positive aspects of being in country with so much to offer rather than whining, and if these differences pose so much of a problem why not leave?

    04 Nov 2012, 00:47

  58. fredflange

    Thank you, Alex, for proving comment 43 to be right. No Brits are not good at accepting criticism. Also hilarious that your immediate response is to tell people to leave. I don’t live in the UK, and I definitely never will. The riots, the phone hacking scandal, the Jimmy Savile scandal. One might think that British society has some real problems.

    05 Nov 2012, 10:20

  59. Alex

    Fredflange you consent to a post that labels the British pigs with poor food hygiene standards,this makes you nothing more than a fool. If you have to mention “phone hacking” as one of our gravest ills then I’m not really worried at all. I’m sure wherever you live is Utopian, or much rather I’m sure I could point to hundred of deficits in any one country compared to the UK. FYI I’m not against criticising the UK no country is perfect, but if you are this irritated by the lack of tepid faucets I seriously worry for your mental condition.

    08 Nov 2012, 22:52

  60. fredflange

    “I’m sure I could point to hundred of deficits in any one country compared to the UK.”

    I know, that’s a British speciality. :-)

    10 Nov 2012, 18:10

  61. Zahed

    I come from Afghanistan. A country that currently is receiving part of its budget from other (“friend”) countries including the UK. Once arrived here on 2011, I was shocked facing absence of mixed taps! For anything you name it, either history, economy or whatever, I cannot understand that why in a multi-cultural society, many (including English people) should be tortured this way! Even a very old house in my country (if it has plumbing) all sinks come with mixed taps… Anyway… I enjoyed reading this article. :)

    16 Nov 2012, 12:45

  62. A UK Reader

    I haven’t laughed so much for ages.

    The idea that the US is well-qualified to teach the rest of the world, or just Britain, how to do things defies belief. The country that is the world leader in junk-food, obesity, diabetes, killing its own citizens, killing anyone else’s citizens, making a vast profit for a few from it (Google ‘Why we fight’ or ‘industrial military complex’), polluting, grossly excessive consumption of the planet’s resources (5% of global population, 25% of resource consumption and pollution), gun crime, murder, etc., etc., would seem to have one or two little issues of its own to sort out before getting too wound up by a different preference for mixing water.

    But, hey, just like politicians and bankers the real purpose of Americans is to entertain the civilised world, is it not?

    17 Nov 2012, 22:47

  63. PolarBear

    It’s a cold country. Colder than Scandinavia.

    Cold houses with poor insulation and poor heating.
    Cold water to wash your hands. (My house surprisingly has mixer taps! The wonders of “advanced” technology!)
    Cold water to shower. (Sometimes there is not enough hot water in the house!)
    Cold sandwiches, crisps, and other snacks for lunch. (And people say the Americans eat bad. There are so much fat people around here…)

    It’s as if nobody cares for anything in this country, not even themselves.

    Poor housing standards.
    Poor architecture. (Red, beige, grey, brown brick. Every house a carbon copy of the other. puke.)
    Everything a bit dirty by western standards. (The 200 year old bricks that nobody bothered to plaster and paint in bright colours. Toilet floors. Shared housing that nobody cares to keep clean, small flats being rare and prohibitively expensive.)
    Bad food. (That said, some traditional dishes can be very good! It’s just that much of the food, including bread, is of low quality…)
    A lot of fat people.

    18 Nov 2012, 21:38

  64. Aleksandra

    I spent in Britain 9 months in 1987/88. Then I went for some shorter visits. My last visit was in 2002 (If you do not count short visit in Gibraltar which is a little different, although in some aspects very British). I read all the messages and I can see that the discussion becomes emotional. I must say that generally I have very good memories, but here I would focus just on strange things:
    I can note:
    - already mentioned taps – in the place I lived there was no shower and the bath had 2 taps. I prefer washing in running water so first I used a mug to mix water, then I had the already mentioned plastic device.
    - cold – it was cold in my room, heating consisted of one electric heater. I complained and they solved the problem by providing me extra blankets ;)
    - People dressed very lightly – women with no stockings in winter, short sleeves in temperetures around freezing
    - Very strong tea drunk with milk – this is actually something I like very much
    - plugs – different than in Continental Europe – no problem when you buy an adapter
    - Using the word “please” every time. When someone askes: ‘Tea or coffee?’ it is not enough to say ‘Tes.’ or ‘Coffee’. You have to add ‘Please’.

    01 Dec 2012, 10:20

  65. Ev

    Such hate towards Britain from people apparently living, working or studying there. It’s fortunate that the vast majority of students – whether from Europe, America or elsewhere – at Warwick were much friendlier in my experience than some on here. I find it very odd that some people feel the need to go online and spew such vitriol about any aspects of the culture of another country – let alone that country’s plumbing customs!

    I’m now a Brit overseas and am an avowed champion of the mixer tap. But so what if people want to go their own way?

    To the vitriolic ones here present: If it matters so much to you there are plenty of British companies who’ll sell you your desired plumbing solution. And how boring would it be if we were all the same, and if countries lost their own quirks and nuances? In short, calm down.

    18 Dec 2012, 03:49

  66. Betty

    Hello…love so many things about the UK from the rich history, landmarks, monarchy, architecture…
    But I can not understand the 2 tap system. It’s an important issue because hygiene is important. When I wash my hands I want them washed thoroughly. I can not do that when I’m jumping from hot to cold streams.
    Please for the love of God, get rid of your 2 tap system!!!!

    Also PLEASE someone share where we can buy a portable tap adaptor.

    22 Dec 2012, 05:39

  67. Nemo

    Yep, British taps suck. And no, I’m not American and I’m not out to criticize everything British or to tell anybody how to live.

    The fact that absolutely no-one has proposed a single rational argument in favor of separating taps (“the British have invented lots of good stuff” and “you’re not British, so STFU” are not arguments) proves that it’s a nonsensical habit maintained for no reason other than “it’s always been this way”.

    Why is it so hard for some to admit that a particular aspect of their culture is objectively, unequivocally crap? No sane grownup is going to defend chavs or fried mars bars, so why the hangup abut bad plumbing?

    29 Dec 2012, 21:18

  68. BM

    Fried Mars bars are delicious.

    08 Jan 2013, 18:42

  69. Johnny

    Someone mentioned that there hasn’t been a rational argument in favour of separating taps, but nobody has actually said separate taps are the way to go. Most people prefer mixers (although some prefer separate) but what some people seem to forget here is that there is one key factor in this: Money.

    It costs money to change taps, but even more so it costs money to renew plumbing systems, many of which were fitted a long time ago. The UK used to have only separate taps due to regulation. As somebody else already mentioning, this was to stop the potentially infected water from the old fashioned hot water tanks from back-filling the drinkable water and infecting the water supply. I believe ti may also still be a standard that at least one cold tap in a house must connect directly to the water mains and therefore not be a mixer. However, regulations aside, for me it is simply a case of cost and habit. When people replace bathrooms, sometimes they choose mixer taps, sometimes they don’t. Quite often they don’t because it costs more money. Wouldn’t it be great if we all had enough money to buy everything that we wanted?

    I’ve heard that roughly 60% of taps in the UK are mixer taps, but unless regulation states they all have to be, there will be many houses that don’t have them fitted. Some people choose not to, some people cannot afford it, whilst many houses are now owned by people making money out of the housing boom and they have no desire to replace taps for their tenants.

    I haven’t seen anybody on here claim that separate taps are better. I’ve seen some say they prefer them. But then isn’t life full of preferences? What’s the big deal if somebody does it differently to you?

    I’m no one bit surprised at the vitriol on this thread because I see it frequently on many international message boards. Many of us still haven’t got over past hatred and bigotry and love nothing more than to be able to point at another country and say hey, all you 60 million people there are all deluded because I’ve seen a few examples of something I don’t agree with.

    To the person before asking why the hang-up about plumbing. Indeed, why the hang-up about a few separate taps? Is it really going to ruin your visit that much?

    I’ve lived in various countries, visited many more and dealt with life there by embracing whatever differences there were, and there are many. Some of those differences are good, some of them are bad. I have yet to come across a perfect society and I can tell you one thing now: We will never get anywhere near to a perfect society while we continue to hang on to historic stereotyping and hatred. Yes people are influenced by what is around them and grow up feeling that what they are used to is right. But at the end of it all, we are all human, regardless of the country we come from, and need to get rid of this kind of critical judgement of huge masses of people just because some of their fellow countrymen/women do certain things.

    Live and let live folks!

    17 Feb 2013, 09:23

  70. Tom

    Britain colder than Scandinavia? Youre a fool or a liar.
    Its just a hangback to the old hygiene regulations for old boilers. Ive never really cared about washing my hands in cold water or even thought about it, Im sure many Brits feel or non-feel the same. Besides, its wasteful waiting for the hot water to come through just to wash your hands. British houses are insulated usually, and carpeted bathrooms… All these gripes sound just like the problems cheap or old housing, and cheap or old housing in Europe is far worse in my experience.
    The French piss in the street, the Germans are incapable of standing and peeing without making a mess. Dont see whole pages from Brits complaining about that…
    With all this hatred its no wonder the Brits want to tell Europe to bugger off and stop milking it for all its wealth. Perhaps then we can spend our money updating our older/cheaper housing instead of Spanish motorways.

    26 Mar 2013, 11:43

  71. fredflange

    “Dont see whole pages from Brits complaining about that…”
    Apparently you have never read expat forums full of whining complaining comments by Brits about the Germans, the Swiss, the Swedish, the Danes, the Dutch, the French, the Czech, etc, etc, etc. Try toytowngermany as a start.

    30 Mar 2013, 22:46

  72. Linda

    Every time I´m in the UK those taps irritate me so much it almost spoils my staying there. Also the, sorry to say, dirty toilets and facilities of many cafe´s, houses, etc. And what’s with the coins for gas and electricity in houses. I mean, hellooooooooo this is 2013, not 1800. And why does it look so often as a huge mess? Even the houses themselves look like the only solution is to wipe it of this earth. I see so many beautiful things but so many disappointing too. And why wash your hands with warm water? How about hygiëne? Ahh, that’s the problem, because imo, English don’t know about that.

    29 Apr 2013, 11:02

  73. Lida

    This is just too funny so I must comment! Firstly, two taps??? It’s the year2013!!!! Secondly, I must mention that the disgusting ‘no rinse’ habbit is unhygienic. I have experienced this at someone’s house and was horrified! All the bacteria from the soapy water sticks to the plates, the washing-up liquid also does….all bacteria, chemicals and toxins! You’re better off not washing your dishes…. just wipe them with a tissue, yuck!!! Thirdly, to those who like washing their hands with cold water…have you considered that cold water does not wash away dirt and grime? So you’ll have a pocket full of money, hands covered in bacteria, which when you touch your mouth and ingest will give you some nasty bug which then you’ll have to treat at the doctor’s and buy medicine, thus ending up with no money in your pocket…. Happy washing everyone!

    03 May 2013, 07:38

  74. Simon Munt

    I bought a kitchen mixer recently which, unknown to me, isn’t separate to the end of the spout and the fact it is always full of the wrong temperature water drives me to distraction and I’m going to change it. It was googling for mixers that brought me to this sight. Interesting people think one can wash under a running tap, if hands are dirty then one has to put the plug in and fill the basin and scrub! If your basin is dirty try cleaning it. I suppose you foreigners all think bathing is unhygienic but a soak is the only way to get clean. Also why is touching the basin disgusting but touching the tap ( faucet ) okay? Similarly with showers what about the door/ curtain, soap dish, shower tray, shower controls, shower head, etc. it’s all nonsense and just a matter of taste it’s actually the rest of the world that needs to catch up with us!

    07 May 2013, 16:55

  75. Alex

    What I can’t understand is how so much delusion and general misunderstanding is going on here. Somehow England has become colder than Scandinavia (what happened to reason?), English people suddenly universally fail to rinse their dishes (most rinse), and the sink is now the most dangerous thing in your bathroom (the faeces in the toilet obviously isn’t more dangerous, more bacteria doesn’t mean worse bacteria…), moreover British people all pay for electricity with tokens (probably less than 1% do, certainly not since the 80s). All many of the comments here are testament to is the fact that some people who come to England are whingers with no love for the English. These people must resent having to study here in order to achieve the best education available to them so much! It’s no wonder they whine so viciously.

    “But I can not understand the 2 tap system. It’s an important issue because hygiene is important. When I wash my hands I want them washed thoroughly. I can not do that when I’m jumping from hot to cold streams.”

    This attitude worries me, this is nothing more than something you’ve invented in your own mind. Your own foible. As a Brit I have to say I find some of the attitudes foreigners have to hygiene, especially some city dwelling americans (notice I say some not all), terribly neurotic, usually accompanied by the “eeeewww” sound when faced with anything bar shining perfect cleanliness. When I’ve stayed in America I found people socially judge others much more harshly by their hygiene standards. English people already have the class system to do that and I actually think the two could be related. If you look at Hollywood there is a real emphasis on being unnaturally perfect (to the point where people who have decent but inperfect teeth have them replaced with shining veneers). As a Brit I simply can’t consent to this idea of pushing hygiene standards higher and higher, simply because you state a slogan like “hygiene is important”, I can only agree that hygiene is important to the point where it either endangers your health or is interfering with other’s perception of you.

    Interfering with another’s perception of you here means something like if you were to smell to the point people can notice, or your teeth are so noticeable bad (not merely off-white) . What shouldn’t influence hygiene practices is the fact that some people would judge another to be a disgusting human if they knew that they washed their hands in cold water, or had no qualms touching the sink. Generally people aren’t good judges of these matters, many people are simply naturally overly phobic and try to use social pressure to convert others so they feel normal about their own beliefs. If you let these people control hygiene standards things simply get silly. Just like those ridiculous people who carry antibacterial wipes 100% of the time and use them immediately after touching virtually an surface or shaking hands. Surely some ancient culture’s crazy notions about hygiene (sending menstruating women out the house, banning foods that are perfectly safe when correctly prepared etc.) are proof enough that some people will always terminally overreact. When it becomes like this hygiene ceases to be good for you and starts being an impairment, something that stops you from being able to do certain things normal people should be able to do. (cont)

    08 May 2013, 01:02

  76. Alex

    Find me one study showing the increased dangers of separate taps or touching the basin and I will heartily consent to the notion that separate taps should be phased out. However I can assure you no such study exists because the dangers of separate taps and ‘basin touching’ are either negligible or non-existent. More people should accept that they are a mere individual human who does not have the capacity to make these types of judgements, by trying to they are simply opening themselves up to phobia and mental hang ups. Taking a default “minimise contact with all bacteria” attitude is foolishness too, hypothetically if you lived in a sterilised bubble for too long you would die very soon after you left it.

    Britain has no crisis with mass (or even any) deaths as a result of cold tap hand washing nor basin touching. Getting grossed out by such things is not psychologically good for you. I can understand some people appealing to mixer taps on the grounds of “convenience”, but that’s all it is, and a minor convenience at that. If you were a landlord would you start ripping up plumbing over a convenience? Not unless you’re renting to a seriously high end market! A valid point would be that England isn’t such a convenience culture as America, this is absolutely true. Since the people in Britain value convenience less than Americans on average it’s perfectly natural that ensuring all houses have “all the mod-cons” as British people sometimes say isn’t such of a focus. There isn’t such a demand to modernise housing especially if doing so would compromise the authenticity of the building e.g painting the bricks bright colours!?! Knowing something of the British housing market I can tell you most Brits are most concerned with things like the location of the house, the size of the house and how pretty the house is. To many Brit’s conservative aesthetic tastes modern housing is ugly as sin, I also like red bricks and think they are great, some of the most beautiful Victorian buildings in the UK are made of red brick as well as plenty of university buildings.

    The people complaining need to either a) accept that they are paying for cheap housing and therefore can’t expect the landlords to go ripping up the plumbing just to suit their tastes, they should therefore find a solution within their budget like a home-made mixer (or one ordered online) b) find an alternative property that has mixer taps and suits their very specific demand – at a guess at least 30% of properties have them, even cheap places. If none of these work for you the only option is c) leave England.

    Telling someone to leave England sounds harsh but it is necessary since you obviously have some type of disagreement with the British people at the cultural level, as reflected by their cultural tendencies. If you don’t like England and think the English are a bunch of backward unhygienic pompous idiots then quite simply why are you here? Anyone who suggests that this is cultural insensitive or that the people complaining need to live here and have no choice is being foolishly accommodating, there are plenty of places you can work and study abroad that have universities and job markets of equal calibre, even within merely the English speaking word, if you hate the British way of life you evidently made a mistake in coming here and genuinely should find somewhere more to your tastes!

    08 May 2013, 01:10

  77. James

    I think the UK should have a new border control measure. People are presented with two taps, one hot, one cold, and a sink. If they can’t successfully manage to mix the two to a reasonable temperate then they aren’t allowed into the country. Whether or not they think two taps or a single tap is the best option isn’t up for discussion. Yeah I see your point, it is pretty complicated – let’s be kind and give them the best of three attempts.

    Genocide, poverty, battles for fuel and resources, wars, people being killed for being homosexual, land grabs, genital mutilation female and male, cancers, religious fueled hatred political corruption, psychopaths running loose amongst the human race… if the worst thing in your world is that the British have two taps instead of one your having a charmed life.

    My name is James, I am British, and I am proud to say I mixed my first sink of warm water using two taps at around age three.

    16 Sep 2013, 22:54

  78. James

    Correction for above post:

    If the worst thing in your world is that the British have two taps instead of one you’re having a charmed life.

    16 Sep 2013, 22:57

  79. fredflange

    Okay James, I agree. But does the same apply to whining British expats?

    25 Sep 2013, 12:56

  80. Tony

    Plumbing aside, UK also has the worst Acoustic Building Regulations in whole Europe!

    01 Oct 2013, 15:31

  81. Linda

    I’m Always surprised again seeing those weird double taps. Even in new houses. And why are so many houses too filthy to enter? And friends of mine use COINS FOR THEIR ELECTRICITY and another needs a key for the gas. LOL, something we had a hundred and fifty years ago!! And what about the trains? Sometimes you have to hang out of the window to open the doors from the outside!! RIDICULOUS and VERY dangerous in times of emergency. And why are so many men wearing suits that are one size too small? Trousers too short, etc. And those idiotic uniforms kids are wearing. They’re too big, too small, TOO FILTHY and I’ve seen girls wearing very expensive NIKES at their feet while wearing a skirt. So to say those uniforms are to make kids ‘uniform’ so no one knows who’s wealthy or poor is totally ridiculous. Just look at their feet. Also kids know anyway. And yes, the UK has it beautiful things too, but every time I go there I feel like going back in time!

    11 Oct 2013, 10:46

  82. Linda

    Oh and let’s of course not forget those weird ‘electric’ showers. I mean, what ARE they thinking???? Lol, it’s really going back in time.

    11 Oct 2013, 10:57

  83. George

    Mixed taps are clearly better. They have at least the same function as separated taps, but can do more. Comments 19 through 23 clearly demonstrate why the rest of the world thinks the British are assholes. This is your argument: “We don’t need mixed taps because we’re better than you”. This is not an argument. Comment #67 sums it up pretty well.

    I understand that this system is hard to change, and that it’s not really /that/ big of a deal, but defending it out of a misplaced sense of national pride means that some people clearly have unresolved issues with themselves. I could go on my way to argue that I’m better than Brits because my Greek ancestors invented democracy, philosophy and the fundamental science on which everything today is based on, but I’m not doing that. Why? Because claiming credit for something I didn’t do is moronic.

    12 Oct 2013, 14:36

  84. Alwaon

    enjoyed reading comments )))

    #77, James, excellent observation on paragraph 2.
    #69, Johnny, thanks for being cool headed and approaching the question objectively.

    currently I`m living in Tokyo, and, many houses here have similar 2 tap sinks.
    And yet i haven`t seen such a number of people complaining as they are doing about the UK style, though here americans are not less than they are in the UK, maybe ))

    16 Oct 2013, 06:16

  85. Tom

    These comments are funny and filled with the most pathetic of people (Nationalists).
    Do you want to know the reason why my bathroom has two taps?
    Because it came that way and I have better things to do than waste my time changing something as trivial as the fikkings taps. The hot water comes out warm not boiling kettle temperature. If I could have the house the way I wanted it than yeah I would have mixer taps in the bathroom but quite frankly I have better things to do.

    Furthermore everyone I know has mixer taps on most of their sinks, wash their plates of soap or use a dishwaser and also have well double-insulated houses so don’t assume the entire country is backwards just because you hang out with a bunch of weird luddites. It’s like me assuming all of Sweden is a 3rd world country because my swedish friend lives in what can be described as a shoebox made of planks. In fact most friends I have visited in Europe have lived in old shoddy looking places, however I know full well that every country has the odd old area and that it would be idiotic and nationalistic to label the entire country written-off because the odd street hasn’t been updated.

    06 Nov 2013, 11:49

  86. PCL

    My method of choice for dealing with dual taps is (or was) to wash my hands on the cold side until they were uncomfortably cold, then flap them under the hot side to warm them up and hopefully disinfect them. Problem solved. I picked up this habit not in the UK but in the USA where many public buildings were still built with dual taps until the mid 1960s. That said, installing new sinks with dual taps in this day and age is dumb unless one is trying to preserve an antique building in its original form. Filling a sink up with water just for hand washing (unless you just overhauled a car engine) seems even dumber; even Americans don’t have the time to waste that much water. Anyway, another dumb practice that we Americans seem to have picked up in recent years (thanks to the Consumer Product Safety Commission) is setting our water heaters to 120 degrees F, which doesn’t kill bacteria and allows it to thrive as the pipes cool down. Another dumb habit is the use of low-flow faucets 200 feet away from the water heater so it takes 20 minutes to get hot (or lukewarm) water. The combination of these dumb ideas has led to an epidemic of contaminated taps in public buildings within the USA and probably in other countries that have swallowed these gimmicks without thinking. So, the Brits have no monopoly on dumb ideas that take on a life of their own because of their association with one “whore goddess” or another (national pride, “safety” , environmentalism, etc.).

    16 Nov 2013, 18:50

  87. westmountwaterworks

    It’s very informative and i am sure it will help many other people like the way it helps me. Thanks for the information.

    30 Jan 2014, 11:01

  88. sue lyons

    I have a life but I’ve just lost the will to live

    21 Mar 2014, 11:24

  89. Linda

    It’s about time the UK enters the 21st century. Double taps, electric showers, keys and coins for gas and electric (WHAT????, we had those in 1900!), several living rooms in one little house (why? what a total waste of space), seperate dining room (again, a total waste of space) etc. Come on guys, you’re not living in 1900 anymore, it’s 2014!

    20 Jun 2014, 10:42

  90. Raquel Joseline

    What a chuckle it was reading all these comments. Ahhh, the memories. I love visiting Britain and I love my cousins, the Brits, but I have to admit I hate the two-tap system. In the places I’ve stayed (vacation renting/no chance to change it), the water is either scalding or freezing. If you Brits like it that way, fine. That’s okay. Personally, I don’t. I rejoiced to finally get into a place that had a kitchen sink with a single tap, only to find out later that the water came out BOTH freezing and SCALDING at the same time. Wonderful! My problem is, because of neck problems, I wash my hair under the sink, which is totally impossible in England. I have to use a bucket to pour water over my head instead of just sticking my head under a faucet to rinse. Kind of like being in a “Sense and Sensibility” movie minus the porcelain pitcher. It’s doable, but it’s just not as convenient or pleasant, and takes longer and doesn’t work as well; and my personal theory is, if there’s a simple, better, faster, and easier way, then why not? But I respect your right to your own preference. I just wish that some hotels, B&B’s and vacation rentals would put up a big sign outside, or in their advertising, that says: “We have single-taps with mixers for spoiled foreigners”. I know it’s not an issue of major world importance, but in the hospitality industry it should matter, because, obviously from this thread, it seems to matter to a lot of visitors bringing their money into your economy. Still, it’s your call…

    (I do appreciate Mick’s comment (#29),which was probably the most useful thing said in this thread. Still, I’m wondering why other countries don’t have that same problem he mentions with their mixed taps.)

    With all that said, if conserving water plays such a major role in the 2-tap argument, why do you have toilets that do not dispose of “matter” with a single flush. I’ve stayed in places where we had to flush 15 or more times, and “it” just spins around and around, and around and around, but never goes down the hole. Spending 20 minutes every morning flushing the toilet is not a great way to start your day. Then, double that if there are two of you. Your country wouldn’t have a water shortage problem if you outlawed toilets that simply do not do the one thing they are designed to do: dispose of fecal matter. (What dunderhead designed those things, anyway?) (Yours may work, but many do not.) Just sayin’.

    To those of you British who feel that mixing the hot and cold is unhygienic because of the germs that grow, how can you stand to get into that germy shower two feet away that has mixed water? And to PrussianFrank #42, who can’t rinse his face without banging his head on the single mixer-faucet: Hahahahaha. :) I’ve been doing it for 50 plus years, and have never had that problem, and I am very well-rinsed. Alex calls a single tap a “bloody great ugly pipe”. I never thought of them that way (but the British ones may be). I’ve seen some gorgeous fixtures in other countries that would be difficult to call “ugly”, but I guess it all comes down to what you’ve grown up with and are used to. To each, his own. But MY personal request is, if you run a hotel/B&B/Vacation apt, please put in a proper mixer faucet. And personally try out your toilet to see if it REALLY works (with something in it). Your guests probably won’t tell you. We never did. (But now we wish we had.) Looking forward to my next visit… knowing full well that nothing will ever change in England. Then for proper, “divine” (and gorgeous) plumbing that actually works and is a joy to use, we’ll head for Germany and Switzerland.
    Love you guys :)

    16 Aug 2014, 20:43

  91. paul

    cant believe your all having this discussion !!!!

    01 Oct 2014, 23:51

  92. Sue

    I googled the question “Why the two tap system in the UK” and I’m delighted with the diversity of answers. I definitely have to re-read because I’m still not sure “Why” but had a great time reading. I think, basically it has to do with the added expenditure of the change but, really, the way my water pipes in Canada are configured, how expensive would it be as it merely consists of soldering two pipes into one. That cost is given back (more or less) when you only need one spigot instead of two. If you’re a bather like me and you wish to rinse your hair ( perhaps under the tap of the tub….) you may want only one tap with warm water for the chore – rather than the alternative of hot or cold.

    30 Oct 2014, 11:33

  93. Mike

    Mixer taps have been around for decades, the fact that people still buy sinks with two holes must tell people something?
    But I digress.
    It’s actually far better for you to wash your hands with detergent & cold water since a warm water will open up the pores and allow the ‘dirt’ to enter. The same also applies to washing up stainless steel blades – hot water will dull a sharp blade.
    In fact, THE best way to get the smell of garlic, onions etc off your fingers is to wash it off under the cold tap whilst washing the blade you used to chop said product – obviously some care must be taken.
    Many chefs have known this ‘trick’ for years. My dad taught me & he was a chef before WWII. In fact, you can now buy stainless steel blocks for washing your hands.

    30 Nov 2014, 13:59

  94. Jenny

    Oh for goodness sake… least we have water on tap! As for having two taps or one tap, quite frankly I don’t give a damn!

    05 Dec 2014, 22:31

  95. Jenny

    Oh for goodness sake… least we have water on tap! As for having two taps or one tap, quite frankly I don’t give a damn!

    05 Dec 2014, 22:33

  96. Duncan Hill

    Americans shoot each other at school and then defend their right to carry arms. You guys wanna moan about taps….?

    14 Apr 2015, 22:06

  97. Alex

    For all those who are American and complaining so vehemently about the mixer taps, why don’t you address you own problem? Namely, the problem of there being a sodding 3 cm gap between the door and the cubicle in public toilets? I’d rather wash my hands in cold water than have someone watch me having a shit.

    03 May 2015, 13:25

  98. mini

    It has been discovered that there is more to life than mixer taps!!!

    06 Jul 2015, 05:46

  99. mini

    It has been discovered that there is more to life than mixer taps!!!

    06 Jul 2015, 05:46

  100. Jules

    Reasons why I hate mixer taps – and always install two taps in my home:

    1) When rinsing my teeth, I don’t want someone else’s warm water.

    2) Not environmentally friendly;
    If I’m washing my hands (unless they’re covered in engine oil – not often), I will have finished before the warm water arrives – which is a waste of energy as the heated water is now sitting in the pipework unused.

    3) Which way is hot or cold is often guesswork. Anything less than an arrow can be ambiguous.
    If the tap hasn’t been used for a while the “hot” might start cold – and if I’m expecting cold (e.g. for drinking), I don’t want warm arriving.

    4) If I want a drink, I don’t want to a) wait b) guess

    5) Mixer taps are WAY more expensive than (most) separate taps.
    Which is presumably why all retailers and adverts display them ….....

    Worst of all, some hotels/restaurants I’ve visited recently have one mixer tap – in a FIXED position.
    Please don’t tell me what temperature water I should have. Let ME choose.

    In short, if I want warm water (which is normally only for a bath) – I’ll use the designated hot tap.

    28 Sep 2015, 10:49

  101. Sebastian

    This is my solution. My basin has 2 taps! I have on the left a mixer tap with hot and cold water from storage tank. Plus: on the right a single tap for mains permanently cold water, which is untainted by having been warm and possibly breeding germs. I can safely drink from this mains cold tap or use it for rinsing mouth! I also can safely wash my hands under the mixer tap safe temperature water
    To be safe hot water has to be originally at something over 60 C (140 F ), can’t remember precise figure.
    Hot water that becomes gradually warm then cold in the mixer tap could be dangerous to drink or use for rinsing mouth. The risk of Legionnaires’ disease is not a “Health and Safety” joke!
    Otherwise bathrooms have to have separate taps marked “Drinking Water”.
    W Churchill would approve

    02 Oct 2015, 19:10

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  • fine job keep it up by Samson mwita simangwi on this entry
  • This is my solution. My basin has 2 taps! I have on the left a mixer tap with hot and cold water fro… by Sebastian on this entry
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