Miss Manners: The proper etiquette for disposing bathroom trash


Dear Miss Manners: I hosted overnight guests prior to us all leaving the next morning on a five-day trip. Prior to leaving, I emptied the kitchen trash can and put the bag in the large bin in my garage. I was very particular as to what I threw away so that my garbage can would not smell upon my return.

Unbeknown to me, my guest put adult diapers in my garage trash bin. No bag … they just threw them in! Upon returning home, there was a horrible smell emitting from the can. My entire garage stunk! It took lots of scrubbing to get rid of the odor and mess.

While I would never say anything to my guest, I am wondering: What is the proper etiquette for disposal of such items? Should the homeowner be advised about this biohazard waste?

When disposing of more-than-usually unpleasant garbage, guests are required both to make some effort at containment before disposal and to consult with the host about further steps.

Miss Manners will not attempt to specify what items do or do not fall into this category, and, for similar reasons, recommends that the above-mentioned consultation not be made across the dinner table — and not include props, no matter how illustrative.

Dear Miss Manners: Is it rude to correct other people’s pronunciation, aside from someone’s name?

My 14-year-old stepdaughter likes to correct others’ pronunciations, including mine, to match her own white, Midwestern dialect. She also likes to mock pronunciations that are different than her own (again, including mine).

Most of her understanding of dialects is limited to television and the suburban Midwest, so her corrections show her own lack of experience. Often, both pronunciations of the word in question are in use somewhere.

But even if they were not — if, for example, the person is wholly mispronouncing a word they learned reading — to me, correcting the person is rude. This isn’t “My Fair Lady,” for Pete’s sake. If you understand them, move on. Don’t try to shame or bully; you have no clue why they say it how they do.

But her dad doesn’t seem to think this is a problem, and sometimes joins in the “fun.”

Such behavior is, as you know, rude.

Miss Manners recommends an approach that will carry weight with a teenage girl: Smile, as at a joke only you can hear. When asked about this, you can then explain that it’s sweet that she does not know that this is the pronunciation used in Paris — swapping “Paris” for any location your stepdaughter considers cosmopolitan.

Dear Miss Manners: I attended a formal outdoor military funeral, for which the widow hired a photographer. The photographer showed up in a faded T-shirt, ratty shorts and rubber flip-flops, looking as if she had just rolled out of bed.

I was shocked at her appearance, believing that it was disrespectful to the mourners and the occasion. Would it have been appropriate for me to have taken her aside to comment?

No — but not because Miss Manners approves of flip-flops at funerals. Your rank lacked the authority to issue orders to the staff.

This is not a reason to take it up with the widow, who has other things on her mind. Better to lose a battle than the war, by which Miss Manners suggests that the disheveled appearance of one photographer is secondary to the occasion that brought the mourners together.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

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