Public bathrooms are like good insurance policies: we’re happy to know they’re there, but we cross our fingers that we’ll never have to use them. It’s simply impossible to enter a communal restroom without thinking of the thousands of people who’ve been there before you…and the germs they’ve left behind in their wake.
Most of us think that we take precautions to keep ourselves safe in the bathroom, but in reality we’re doing things that could be increasing our contact with germs!
One of the most infected things in a bathroom is the one object you actually need to touch: the toilet paper. This is the source of one of the most common germ-related mistakes people make when they use the restroom.
As it turns out, toilet paper is a hotbed for bacteria, while the seats we sit on are relatively clean! Toilet seats are designed to not to pick up bacteria. Their curved shapes and smooth surfaces don’t make very inviting environments for germs, so it’s highly unlikely that you’d get sick from sitting on a dry public toilet seat.
In contrast, the surface of toilet paper is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, and when a toilet flushes, it spreads germs all around the stall…including onto the paper itself. So, if you use toilet paper to cover your toilet seat, you’re actually coming into contact with way more germs than you would if you left the seat alone.
Also, if you blow your nose or wipe your hands with toilet paper, you’re actually spreading these particles all over your face and body. Talk about gross!
The other culprit for most bacteria found in public bathrooms? Believe it or not, low-mounted electric hand dryers are to blame. The germ-filled water collects at the bottom when you put your hands inside, only to get circulated back throughout the bathroom when the airflow turns on.
So even though you aren’t touching anything, you’re still vulnerable to the effects of the viral particles in and around the machine. These dryers may be eco-friendly, but they’re definitely not as healthy as good old paper towels.