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Tips for Using a Public Toilet Safely, So That You Don’t Have to “Hold It”

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The majority of bacteria that contaminate public restrooms generally perish on their own. However, we should not be careless or negligent with our hygiene when using public toilets, and make sure to use them properly.
  • Tensing your thighs and buttocks, or doing squats, means that your buttocks don’t have to be directly exposed to the toilet seat. In addition to your health and safety, squats also help to strengthen your legs and buttocks.
  • Don’t use tissue paper to cover the toilet seat, as that tissue may have been in the bathroom for long periods of time and absorbed a lot of dirt and bacteria.

 

Public toilets: Just thinking about having to use them makes many people feel they have to hold in their urine, to the point that they can actually develop cystitis—an infection of the bladder wall. In reality, public toilets are not all that bad. When Jack Gilbert, a microbiologist from Illinois, U.S.A., conducted a research on the types and quantity of bacteria in public toilets, he found that despite the large number of people using the same restrooms, the microbial environment in the restrooms themselves means they are not as dangerous as we might think. This is because the majority of bacteria that contaminate public restrooms generally perish on their own, and would also have a very low probability of entering a person’s body.

Regardless, prevention is always better than cure, so let’s take a look at some simple tips for using a public toilet safely.

  • Avoid areas that are often touched by hands, such as faucets, sinks and doors. When you have to touch these, wash your hands thoroughly with soap every time after you do so.
  • Always flush the toilet before you use it in order to ensure its cleanliness one more time.
  • Use toilet-seat covers. Despite research stating that toilet-seat covers available in public restrooms are designed to be safe from germ contamination, the best option is to carry your own paper toilet-seat covers. You should also be careful not to get them wet, as the water can soak up bacteria and viruses from the toilet seat to your bare skin. Also, don’t ever use tissue to cover the toilet seat, as that tissue may have been in the bathroom for long periods of time and absorbed a lot of dirt along with a wide variety of bacteria.
  • Don’t stand on the toilet seat. In addition to the danger of falling, if any water splashes up from the toilet, that is a source of a lot of dangerous, disease-causing pathogens.
  • Squats can help. Tensing your thighs and buttocks, or doing squats, means that your buttocks don’t have to be directly exposed to the toilet seat. In addition to your health and safety, squats also help to strengthen your legs and buttocks if your posture is correct.
  • Don’t use water left in a bucket or ceramic basin to wash private parts. You should never use water that has been left out for washing yourself. If you wish to wash instead of using toilet paper, you should turn on the water faucet and use clean water coming directly from the faucet. Alternately, if you must use the handheld bidet sprayer, you should first spray water out of it for a short time before using it to wash yourself.
  • Always carry wet wipes with you. Handheld bidet sprayers in public bathrooms are yet another source of pathogens. Using wet wipes or disinfectant tissues is a good way to help reduce the risk of disease.
  • Always wash your hands after using the toilet. Germs and bacteria can easily get on your hands after you touch a contaminated object. Because of this, you should wash your hands thoroughly with soap every time you use the restroom. If there is no soap in the restroom, you can wash your hands with clean running water directly from the faucet by rubbing your hands together well a number of times and then wiping them dry with a clean paper or cloth towel.

If you are well-prepared, using public toilets need not be such a scary thing anymore.

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