When using the public toilet, do you find yourself lining the toilet to protect yourself from disease? If you do, then you may want to keep reading…
Don’t get me wrong, if you still want to continue doing it go right ahead but it is important to note that when it comes to reducing the number of germs you’re coming into contact with, you’re not helping at all. Dr. William Schaffner a professor of preventative medicine at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center actually told Huffington Post that the biggest reason toilet liners exist in the first place is because of the ‘ick’ factor.
You see when we flush those public toilets 9 times out of 10 they don’t have lids at all, the germs spew out everywhere. They spew out onto the toilet paper, the toilet liners, and anything else in reach. Sure, public bathrooms can be quite germy but our skin, especially the skin on our bum is a pretty good barrier, all on its own. Unless you have some kind of open wound on your tooshie you should be fine whether you’re sitting bare-bottomed on the toilet or on a seat liner.
Don’t get me wrong, if the seat is disgusting don’t use it but if it appears fine, it usually is. The chances of picking up any germs that will make you sick from the toilet are not as high as you think they are. The seat in itself is not the germiest part of the bathroom and probably won’t be in most cases.
But germs aren’t only found on the seat itself. “Where you find the organisms in larger quantities would be the underside of the toilet seat, because that is not cleaned as often [as the top]. As you flush, you bring up the contents in the bowl,” says Tierno. “It’s not just your germs, it’s germs from other people.” Some toilets can aerosolize the contents for quite a distance after being flushed, he says: “five feet or so, with lower-volume flushes.” Older toilets can spray as far as 20 feet! If you’re using a public toilet that doesn’t have a lid, Tierno recommends opening the door first before you flush, to get out of the way of the spray quickly.
And those far-reaching flushes may be responsible for another germ-ridden area of a typical public restroom: the floor. An ABC News investigation of the germiest spots in public bathrooms found that the floor has about 2 million bacteria per square inch! If you carry a purse or shoulder bag, avoid putting it down on the floor while you’re in the bathroom — hang it on the back of the door if possible.
What do you think? Is it worth it to you to still use a liner or will you be hovering from now on? I for one think I might just skip the public restrooms altogether just to be on the safe side. Maybe I’ll pack my own moist towelettes for my fanny for those emergency situations.
Image via David Wolfe