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Lavatory vs. Sink: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on December 31, 2023
Lavatory is a room or compartment with a toilet and basin; Sink is a basin for washing, often fixed to a wall or on a pedestal.

Key Differences

A lavatory typically refers to a facility equipped with a toilet and often a washbasin, serving as a restroom. In contrast, a sink is a basin installed in kitchens, bathrooms, or utility rooms, primarily used for washing hands, dishes, or other small objects.
Lavatories are associated with hygiene and privacy, often found in personal or public restrooms. Sinks, however, are more versatile, found in various settings and designed for tasks ranging from hand washing to dish cleaning.
The design of lavatories usually includes a toilet and sometimes a bidet, emphasizing personal hygiene. Sinks, on the other hand, are designed with faucets and drains, focusing on the practicality of washing and rinsing.
Lavatories often include additional features like mirrors, storage cabinets, and sometimes shower facilities. Sinks, in contrast, may come with features like soap dispensers, garbage disposals, and drying areas.
In terms of usage, lavatories are primarily used for toileting and personal grooming, whereas sinks are integral to tasks related to cleaning, cooking, and maintenance in homes and commercial settings.

Comparison Chart

Primary Function

For toileting and personal hygiene
For washing hands, dishes, etc.


Usually in bathrooms or restrooms
Kitchens, bathrooms, work areas


Toilet, sometimes a bidet
Faucets, drains, sometimes disposals

Usage Context

Personal hygiene, privacy
Cleaning, cooking, maintenance

Design Focus

Hygiene, convenience
Practicality, efficiency

Lavatory and Sink Definitions


A room or compartment with a toilet and washbasin.
The airplane had a small lavatory at the back.


A basin used for washing, attached to a water supply and drain.
She filled the sink with soapy water to clean the dishes.


A fixture consisting of a water basin fixed to a wall or floor.
He washed his hands in the lavatory before dinner.


A low-lying, hollow place where water accumulates.
Rainwater collected in the natural sink in the backyard.


A bathroom or restroom in a public place.
The restaurant's lavatory was exceptionally clean.


A basin in a kitchen or utility room for washing.
The plumber fixed the leak under the sink.


A room containing a toilet and sink for washing.
The office building had a lavatory on each floor.


A depression in the ground or a container for liquid.
The sink in the lab was used for disposing of chemical waste.


A toilet facility in a vehicle, like a train or plane.
There was a queue for the lavatory during the flight.


A fixed bowl with a faucet, used for washing hands and dishes.
He rinsed his coffee cup in the kitchen sink.


A room equipped with washing and often toilet facilities; a bathroom.


To go below the surface of water or another liquid
We watched the leaky inner tube slowly sink.


A washbowl or basin, especially one permanently installed with running water.


To descend to the bottom of a body of water or other liquid
Found the wreck where it had sunk.


Is a lavatory the same as a bathroom?

Often, but a bathroom might also include a bath or shower, whereas a lavatory focuses on the toilet and sink.

What materials are sinks made of?

Sinks are commonly made of stainless steel, porcelain, ceramic, or composite materials.

What is a lavatory?

A lavatory is a room or compartment with a toilet and often a washbasin, used for personal hygiene.

What is a sink?

A sink is a basin connected to a water supply and drain, used for washing hands, dishes, or other items.

Can a lavatory have a sink?

Yes, many lavatories have a sink for handwashing.

Can a sink be used for cooking purposes?

Kitchen sinks are often used for food preparation tasks like washing vegetables.

Is it common to have multiple sinks in one house?

Yes, it's common to have multiple sinks in different rooms for various purposes.

Where are sinks commonly found?

Sinks are commonly found in kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and sometimes in workshops.

Do public lavatories always include sinks?

Yes, public lavatories typically include sinks for handwashing.

Can a lavatory be part of a bedroom?

Yes, en-suite lavatories are common in master bedrooms.

Do all sinks have taps/faucets?

Almost all sinks have taps or faucets to control the water flow.

Are sinks in lavatories and kitchens different?

Yes, kitchen sinks are usually larger for dishwashing, while those in lavatories are smaller for handwashing.

What's the difference in cleaning a lavatory and a sink?

Cleaning a lavatory often involves disinfecting the toilet, while cleaning a sink focuses on the basin and faucet.

Can a lavatory be used for laundry?

Generally, no. Lavatories are meant for personal hygiene.

Are lavatories present in all homes?

Most homes have at least one lavatory, though the size and facilities can vary.

Can a sink be outside?

Yes, outdoor sinks are used in gardens or outdoor kitchens.

Is a sink necessary in a lavatory?

While not absolutely necessary, a sink is commonly included for handwashing.

Are there different styles of sinks?

Yes, there are various styles, including pedestal, undermount, and farmhouse sinks.

Is it expensive to install a new lavatory or sink?

The cost can vary depending on the style and plumbing requirements.

What is the main purpose of a lavatory?

The main purpose of a lavatory is for using the toilet and washing hands.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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