In spite of the popularity of this myth, the truth is that location doesn’t have very much to do with whether a drain or toilet spins clockwise or counterclockwise. – Mostly, the direction water spins as it drains depends on the appliance’s shape and the direction of the water as it came into the basin or bowl. (With the right amount of effort, you could get any drain to flow in whatever direction you wanted.)
The idea that drains spin differently depending on hemisphere comes from something known as the Coriolis Force, which is the force that pulls air counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. Although the Coriolis Force is strong enough to influence the spin of big things (like hurricanes), it is not strong enough to influence the direction of draining water in a sink or toilet.
Further informationWondering where the Coriolis Force comes from? It’s caused by the rotation of the earth!
ExplorationBeyond the Potty
Aside from toilets that may or may not flush in the opposite direction, what are some other things that you’ve noticed which are different when you travel to other places? For example, have you noticed that the money might be different? Is the food different? What about the way people speak, such as with certain accents or in another language??
What is your favorite country or new place that you have traveled to? What about that place made it your favorite??
Sources & links
“Does water go down the drain counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere?” Everyday Mysteries. 23 Aug. 2010. The Library of Congress. 23 May 2011 Fraser, Alistair B. “Bad Coriolis.” College of Earth and Mineral Sciences ”“ Penn State. 23 May 2011