A lot of people have a fear of public restrooms. Some feel nervous and self-conscious using someone else’s bathroom, while others have just seen too many disastrous ones to trust them at all. You roll the dice whenever you use a public restroom. Who knows what you’ll find behind those doors - or if you can even close the doors. Busted toilets, filthy seats, grimy floors - it’s never a pretty picture. However, sometimes when nature calls, public restrooms are our only option.
So, what do you do when you're forced to use a public restroom toilet? Do you lay down one of those protective seat covers? What if there aren’t any; do you build a toilet paper barrier instead? If the answer is yes, you need to stop.
People assume that toilets are covered in bacteria, but the actual seats themselves are designed to not pick up any. Their deliberate curve and smooth surface prevent bacteria from sticking around, so they’re rather safe to sit on. Germs cannot multiply on bare skin alone, so don’t expect to get sick from sitting on a dry public toilet seat. Where are the real germs in public stalls? On the toilet paper.
Unlike toilet seats, nothing else in a bathroom stall is designed to prevent bacteria from sticking to it. Germs get spread all around the stall when we flush the toilet. They latch onto the walls, the door handle, the toilet paper dispenser, and, of course, the actual toilet paper. Unfortunately, toilet paper's surface is perfect for collecting bacteria. Germs settle right into the paper - which we tend to have no reservations about putting on our bodies, often using it to blow our noses or wipe our faces. By doing so, we make it awfully easy for these nasty germs to get into our bodies.
In fact, almost every surface of a public restroom is festering with bacteria, including the sink and the hand dryers. According to a study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology, aside from flushing toilets, electric hand dryers are largely responsible for distributing high amounts of bacteria around a restroom.
The problem with electric hand dryers is the airflow. While blowing water off your hands, they're also blowing bacteria and viral particles up into the air. This gets circulated throughout the room, contaminating just about everything in sight. While the air blowing from the hand dryer may be clean, low-mounted hand dryers will collect pools of bacteria-infested water that drip off the user's hands. Not to mention, many of us are too impatient to wait for our hands to completely dry, thus walking out with damp and dripping hands - further spreading bacteria. While it may be cheaper for a business to invest in an electric hand dryer, paper towels are actually more beneficial to everyone's health.
So, what should you do if you have to use a public restroom? For one, don't build a toilet paper barrier. Secondly, close the toilet lid before flushing to prevent germs from flying around. Also, think about investing in carrying your own baby wipes or hand sanitizer. These little things can help you avoid catching any harmful bacteria.
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