Public restrooms. They are hated by most and feared by many, but sometimes, there are no other options.
Thankfully, the disposable toilet seat cover, like the one pictured below, was patented in 1977:
First of all, it is unlikely that bacterial infections, viruses, or sexually transmitted diseases can be transmitted by sitting on the toilet seat. As Donald G. McNeil, Jr., science and health journalist for The New York Times, explains:
“Realistically, toilet seats are relatively low risk compared to many other surfaces. The first thing to stop worrying about is sexually transmitted diseases. There is no medical evidence that anyone has ever picked up a venereal disease from a toilet seat.”
Dr. William Schaffner, M.D., a professor of preventive medicine at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, concurs:
“Toilet seats are not a vehicle for the transmission of any infectious agents — you won’t catch anything.”
Secondly, according to Today, the bacteria on toilet seats is mostly harmless:
“The bacteria often found on toilet seats are common skin microbes that most people already have.”
In fact, many household objects contain much more bacteria than a toilet seat:
- A cellphone contains ten times more bacteria than a toilet seat.
- A kitchen cutting board contains twenty times more fecal matter than a toilet seat.
- A dish sponge has two hundred times more bacteria than a toilet seat.
Thirdly, as the AsapSCIENCE video notes, the product you’re using to prevent exposure to bacteria on the toilet seat may actually have more bacteria on it than that toilet seat itself:
“Simply flushing a toilet creates aerosolized bacteria, meaning that that the toilet paper [or cover] itself is likely contaminated.”
Even equipped with this knowledge, some may still be hesitant to use a public restroom, and that is perfectly understandable.
So what can you do to protect yourself from the germs that may be lurking? The answer is simple: always, always wash your hands.