Public Bathrooms Give You the Creeps? Read this

Is using a public bathroom your worst nightmare? Whether you find yourself at a rest stop, airport, or the mall, public restrooms often invoke a sense of fear. Toilet seats in particular stand out as a significant source of disgust for many. A prevailing fear is that sitting on them may lead to disease transmission due to the perceived abundance of germs and bacteria. We’ll shed light on why it is, in fact, safe to sit down on public toilets and identify the genuine hygiene hazards that you actually need to worry about. Read on to find out some of the do’s and don’ts of using public restrooms to make sure you have a comfortable and hygienic experience.

Public bathroom with grey cement walls.

How Dirty are Public Bathrooms?

There can be plenty of germs breeding in public bathrooms, including streptococcus, staphylococcus, E. coli and shigella bacteria, hepatitis A virus, the common cold virus, and various sexually transmitted organisms.

Studies have shown that of all the surface areas in the bathroom, the floor is by far the dirtiest. That’s because when we flush the toilet germs spread everywhere, and land on—you guessed it—the floor.

Is it safe to sit on a public toilet seat?

Most toilet seats however are actually pretty clean with fewer than 1,000 bacteria per square inch. 

According to studies, the middle stalls are to be avoided if possible. Apparently, people tend to choose the middle one because of the “centrality preference.” On the other hand, the first stall, which is the least used, is likely to be the cleanest.

Even if many public restrooms look gross, sitting on toilet seats cannot transfer germs if the skin is intact, meaning you don’t have any cuts, scrapes or open wounds because pathogens are not transmitted via skin contact.

The safest bathroom, of course, is your own. Using the facilities before heading out might be a no-brainer for adults, but if you have kids, they might need to be reminded to go before you leave the house.

Dirty public bathroom with white tiles.

Public Bathroom Tips

Public bathrooms can be a breeding ground for germs, and it’s important to take precautions to avoid getting sick. Whether you’re at work, in a restaurant, or traveling, here are some tips on how to stay germ-free in public bathrooms:

  1. Wash your hands properly: The best way to avoid germs in a public bathroom is to wash your hands properly after using the facilities. Use soap and warm water to lather your hands for at least 20 seconds, making sure to scrub under your nails and between your fingers. Then, rinse thoroughly and dry your hands with a clean towel or hand dryer.
  2. Use a paper towel or tissue to touch surfaces: When using public bathroom facilities, try to avoid touching surfaces with your bare hands. Use a paper towel or tissue to open doors, flush toilets, and turn on faucets. This will reduce your risk of picking up germs from surfaces that other people may have touched.
  3. Use hand sanitizer: If you’re unable to wash your hands properly after using the bathroom, use hand sanitizer to kill any germs that may be on your hands. Choose a sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content and rub it into your hands thoroughly.
  4. Avoid touching your face: Once you leave the bathroom, avoid touching your face until you’ve washed your hands or used hand sanitizer. This will help prevent germs from entering your body through your mouth, nose, or eyes.
  5. Be mindful of high-touch surfaces: In addition to the surfaces mentioned above, be mindful of other high-touch surfaces in public bathrooms, such as door handles, soap dispensers, and hand dryers. Use a paper towel or tissue to avoid direct contact with these surfaces whenever possible.
  6. Practice good hygiene: Finally, practice good hygiene to avoid spreading germs to others. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and dispose of used tissues properly. If you’re feeling unwell, stay home and avoid using public bathrooms if possible.

By following these tips, you can reduce your risk of picking up germs in public bathrooms and stay healthy. Remember to always wash your hands properly and be mindful of the surfaces you touch, and you’ll be well on your way to avoiding germs in public restrooms.

What is Toilet Anxiety?

Toilet anxiety, also known as toilet phobia, relates to two conditions: paruresis, the fear to urinate, and parcopresis, the fear of having a bowel movement in public (e.g., worry about smells, noises). Research into these conditions is limited, despite the anecdotal evidence that they are quite common.

What is Shy Pee Syndrome?

A person with paruresis (shy bladder syndrome) finds it difficult or impossible to urinate (pee) when other people are around. Paruresis is believed to be a common type of social phobia, ranking second only to the fear of public speaking.

What is OCD fear of toilets?

What is OCD fear of toilets? OCD focused on a fear of toilets falls within the Contamination OCD subtype and involves fears about anything associated with using a toilet. A person with Contamination OCD related to fear of toilets may avoid using public bathrooms, or even bathrooms in their own homes.

What is the fear of germs?

Mysophobia also known as germophobia, and bacillophobia, is the unreasonable fear of germs, bacteria, dirt, contamination, and infection. This phobia manifests itself by a compulsion to excessively wash one’s hands.

Adrienne Carrie Hubbard
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