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Navigating Bathroom Germs

As Maddie’s approaching the start of potty-training, I’ve been reading up on bathroom germs and dealing with public toilets. I found out some interesting facts and thought I’d pass them on –

The biggest shocker is where the most potential for disease spread exists. I know most mommies are worried about toilet seats and their ability to cause urinary tract infections, pass on sexually transmitted diseases, and more, but from what I’ve uncovered you can relax. As long as the toilet seat is dry (no liquid or –ew- crusty stuff), then your chance of catching a disease is lower than your chance of getting hit by lightening. In the bathroom. Even liquid is less scary than you think – urine is remarkably sterile (though please don’t sit in it.)

So where is the biggest disease threat lurking? Still in the toilet stall, when you flush. The number one thing you can do to prevent contamination is close the lid of the toilet before you flush, since flushing causes an invisible spray of fecal matter all over the bathroom. And when you do flush, feel free to not hover over the toilet seat lid. Sounds self-evident, but don’t most of us flush while or before bending over to pull our pants back up? Maybe this will make you think twice about which direction you face.

Personally, I come from a family that ALWAYS put the toilet seat lid down before flushing, so I’ve always found public restrooms – most of which don’t have lids – to be repugnant for that very reason. Now, I can’t get the image of all those invisible geysers spraying all over the stall multiple times a day. I’m very grateful that we’ve got the excuse of needing to keep the bathroom babyproofed; it forces guests to put the lid down so the lock kicks back in. And p.s., we’ve got the kind of toilet seat lock that self-locks when the lid goes down so a guest doesn’t have to lock it back up with their dirty hands. I HIGHLY recommend it.

Stepping outside the stall (quickly), the biggest risk now is the hand-germ spread. Obviously you should wash your own hands, but experts also caution that especially during the height of cold and flu season, you should use a paper towel to handle faucets and doorknobs after you’ve washed. Statistics place the percentage of people who don’t wash their hands right around 35%, though I’d swear it was higher from what I’ve seen.

So there you go. Put the lid down and be careful what you touch after you wash your hands. Makes sense, but it’s always good to be reminded.


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