You probably think that you’re doing the right thing by putting down a nice, safe layer of toilet paper on the toilet seat before using the toilet in the public restroom, right?
I mean, not a single one of us is crazy about sharing a toilet seat with thousands of strangers, many of whom have less-than-perfect personal hygiene habits. Just the thought of using a shared bathroom with strangers is pretty gross.
It’s only natural to want to avoid touching anything in a public restroom, especially a place where strangers have sat with their pants down. Believe me, I feel your pain.
However, what if I told you that putting toilet paper down and then sitting on it is one of the most unsanitary things that you could do?
The dirtiest place in the bathroom
Other than the handle of the toilet itself, the roll of toilet paper is the most germ-infested surface in the bathroom. Think about it. How many time per day does the toilet seat itself get cleaned? Probably not as often as you’d like, but it does receive a regular cleaning every once in a while. Plus, the surface of a toilet seat is hard and non-porous. Meaning that it is less likely to harbor germs and more likely to stay clean than a porous surface. A porous surface like absorbent toilet paper.
Yuck, right? Yes, the roll of paper is the dirtiest place in the bathroom.
It is well known that in a public bathroom, no one is going to bother to put the seat down before flushing. So that means as the toilet is flushed, all that filthy water is going to release a mist up into the air to settle on everything around it.
In fact, studies have shown that bacteria can be sprayed up to ten inches above an open toilet, landing on everything close by, like the roll of toilet paper that you’re about to use because you think that it is going to make a barrier between you and germs.
Add to the fact that toilet paper is porous, meaning that it is going to absorb any liquid it comes into contact with, and you can imagine what must be on it by the time you get to it. Everything that gets on it stays on it.
Also bear in mind what the last person had been doing right before touching the paper to use it on him or herself and you can see how the roll of toilet paper is the most germ infested item in the bathroom.
And you’re seriously going to put it down and sit on it? By now, I hope not.
Toilet seats are designed to repel germs, and often they are treated by the manufacturer to be anti-bacterial to begin with, so they are actually quite safe to sit on.
Public bathroom best practices
Germs can only enter your body through your eyes, nose or mouth. So a wise thing to do is after using the toilet paper, go immediately to the sink and without touching yourself anywhere, wash your hands for at least one minute with hot, soapy water. Use an air powered hand dryer if one is available. If not, dispense any hand towels prior to washing your hands so that you won’t have to touch anything. Open the door to the restroom to exit using a paper towel.