Isn't it always safer and cleaner to lay toilet paper or a paper seat cover down on the toilet seat of a public restroom? Obviously, that's the most sanitary move… right?
Kelly Reynolds — a public health researcher from the University of Arizona — begs to differ, and she makes some compelling points. Guess what: everything you assumed about placing toilet paper between your bum and that plastic seat is likely dead wrong.
Toilet Paper And Toilet Seat Covers Fail As Germ Barriers.
Reynolds and other public health experts say sitting bare-bottomed on a public toilet doesn’t pose any real health risks. What's more, in USA Today, Reynolds says, “Toilet seat covers are absorbent and bacteria and viruses are tiny, able to pass through the relatively large holes in the cover’s paper." So, is that layer of paper actually keeping germs and bacteria away from your skin? Sorry, no.
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Putting Toilet Paper On The Seat Actually Can Worsen Your Germ Exposure.
Raymond Martin, managing director of the British Toilet Association (yes, that's a real association!), recently told BuzzFeed, “Placing toilet paper on the seat actually increases the surface area for germs to multiply and therefore is considerably less hygienic.” So more TP on the seat = more germs. Ewww!
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Here's What You Should Really Do To Maintain Good Sanitary Habits.
Apparently, while most of the world is trying to prevent the sharing of germs before they sit down to go number two, the real scattering of germs comes after the deed is done.
Germs tend to spread and attach to other things in the bathroom after you flush, when tiny particles of waste are shot into the air in aerosol form. It's gross, but tiny bits of fecal matter can land on nearby toilet paper and toilet covers, and on your hands. This unavoidable unfurling and distributing of germs makes it extra important to thoroughly wash your hands, and to seek out regularly cleaned bathrooms.
So Should You Ignore The Toilet Seat Cover, Or Use It?
Keep in mind, exposed toilet paper or covers hanging near a public toilet may indeed have tiny germs already clinging to it. And researchers have literally pooh-poohed the risk of contracting anything serious from sitting on the seat. Just take it from Dr. William Schaffner, professor of preventative medicine at Vanderbilt University, as he told the Huffington Post, “Toilet seats are not a vehicle for the transmission of any infections agents—you won't catch anything.”
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