Public toilets can be really dirty. I mean, who hasn’t opened a bathroom stall door and instantly realized how rank the smell is? Not to mention all the people who previously sat on that toilet seat to meet their needs… The solution seems obvious: cover the seat with a few pieces of toilet paper so you at least create a barrier between your body and all that nasty bacteria. Hopefully, this layer of paper will save you, right? Well, it’s probably time to reconsider. According infection specialists, covering the toilet seat with a layer of paper is not only useless—it may actually increase your risk of coming into contact with bacteria.
The truth is you should never put toilet paper on a toilet seat. Although many people believe that public toilets are teeming with bacteria and intestinal diseases, modern toilets are designed to prevent just that.
Gastrointestinal or sexually transmitted infections were once thought to spread through toilet seat-skin contact, but science has refuted this. In fact, the skin on our butts is an effective protection against bacteria, according to scientists.
“Toilet seats are not a vehicle for the transmission of any infectious agents—you won’t catch anything,” William Schaffner, professor and infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, It’s also a good idea to rethink placing toilet paper on the toilet seat. Unlike toilet seats, paper is an ideal carrier for all kinds of bacteria. So you when you lay down some paper, pick it up again when you’re done, and then probably touch your face, you’re likely exposing yourself to more bacteria.
The same applies to flushing the toilet. The handle is used by people who have just completed their “business,” making it a breeding ground for bacteria. Additionally, people forget to close the lid when they flush the toilet, which can spread bacteria around the bathroom.
Studies have also shown that electric hand dryers spread bacteria much more than paper towels. Hand dryers spread germs up to six feet (1.8 m).
So what can you do to minimize the risk of becoming ill for using a public bathroom? Wash your hands properly. According to researchers, this can reduce the risk of stomach diseases by about 50 percent.