Public restrooms can be hit or miss. Some of them are kept incredibly clean, and other are… well… disgusting, to put it bluntly. No one wants to sit on a toilet seat while knowing that hundreds of other strange, potentially dirty rears have sat on before you.
So, what do we do? Line the toilet seat with a liner or toilet paper, of course! It’s cleaner than the seat itself, right?
Toilet paper and seat liners actually make the seat dirtier
That’s right. Toilet paper and seat liners actually make the seat dirtier than if you had sat directly on the seat itself. I know, I was shocked to hear this as well; how can this be?
Believe it or not, toilet seats are actually designed to stay clean. Their shape and the material they are made out of were chosen purposely for its ability to kill germs. Bacteria simply cannot survive on a toilet seat.
Seat liners and toilet paper, however, are another story. The soft, spongy material they’re made out of is a breeding ground for germs and bacteria. By sitting on them instead of the seat, you’re actually sitting on more bacteria than were on the seat itself! To put it into perspective, your dish sponge can actually hold up to 200,000 times more bacteria than a public toilet seat.
Science Proves It
“Sitting on a toilet isn’t going to cause an infection,” William DePaolo, assistant professor of immunology and microbiology at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California (USC), notes in a BuzzFeed video. “A lot of those bacteria present on the surface of the toilet or other parts of the bathroom are not so easily transmitted by skin.”
Basically, bacteria needs a moist (and preferably warm) place to live. A toilet seat has neither of those things. It isn’t porous, so it doesn’t hold water, and they’re never warm (as we all know).
How to Stop Germs: Wash Your Hands
If you really don’t want germs, the simplest and most effective way of avoiding them is not putting toilet paper on the seat, but instead simply wash your hands. It’s also important that you dry them thoroughly.
Oh, and that electric-powered hand dryer? Much dirtier than the toilet seat. The reason being people touching the “on” button with wet, germy hands.
There Are Germier Places to Worry About
Besides the bathroom and your kitchen sponge, there are far dirtier places out there to worry about (you know, just to give you some perspective).
- The kitchen sink, where you rinse raw meats and other foods that carry plenty of germs. Have you ever cleaned your sink drain? Germ central in there. Not to mention the faucet, handles, and basin. Believe it or not, you should clean your sink at least twice a week.
- Airplanes ― including the bathrooms, window shades, and tray tables. Tiny spaces, especially bathrooms, are full of incredibly hard-to-clean parts. Which usually means they simply don’t get cleaned.
- Your cell phone. Cell phones carry 10 times more bacteria than most toilet seats, according to Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona.
- Wet laundry. Most notably, underwear. When you move wet clothes from the washer to dryer, E. coli germs can get on your hands. A single germ-carrying pair can taint the entire load and the machine. It’s a pain, but the best way to keep the germs down is to use bleach on all your white clothes and to wash your underwear separately. Gross, I know, but at least you know now, right?
There you have it ― toilet seats, not very dirty. Will that stop you from using the toilet paper and seat liners? I’m not sure. But at least you can put things in perspective now!
Featured photo credit: Gabor Monori via unsplash.com