Bathroom Bacteria Mythbusting – Time For a Rethink?

Shared bathrooms around the office will never be the kinds of places most people relish visiting. Even if they are kept in the best possible condition, it still doesn’t bear thinking about what others have been doing in there prior to your arrival.

Still, there’s really no alternative when it comes to answering the call of nature at work or in a public place, so we just have to make do with what’s available to us. Which is why you may find it interesting to learn that perhaps quite a few of your assumptions and perceptions with regard to the average bathroom may in fact be pretty far from the mark.

Here’s a quick rundown of just a few longstanding bathroom hygiene myths and the respective truths behind them:

1 – Toilet seats are a health risk

Wrong. The reason being that pretty much anything nasty you could possibly pick up from a toilet seat (bacteria, viruses etc.) die so quickly that by the time you arrive to take care of business, they probably died a long time ago and therefore pose no risk whatsoever.

2 – The cleanest and most hygienic cubicle is always the one furthest from the door

Wrong. In fact it’s actually quite to the contrary, as extensive studies have found that the cleanest and most sanitary bathroom stall is almost always the one closest to the door. As the masses assume that the furthest stall will be the cleanest, it ends up being overused and becoming the dirtiest.

3 – The floor is the most highly contaminated part of a shared bathroom

Wrong. Interestingly, the single most contaminated feature in the average shared bathroom is the sink, followed by the underside of the toilet seat, door handles and waste bins.

4 – Most people always wash their hands after visiting the bathroom

Wrong. A wide variety of surveys have brought to light evidence suggesting that it is actually rare to come across any person who doesn’t occasionally skip washing their hands after using the bathroom.

5 – You can tell a bathroom is clean if it has a pleasant fragrance

Wrong. Just as unpleasant smells do not necessarily indicate that a bathroom is unclean, pleasant fragrances have absolutely no bearing whatsoever on cleanliness or hygiene.

6 – You can prevent the spread of germs by using toilet seat covers

Wrong. Once again, research has shown that the use of toilet seat covers does not in fact have any real impact whatsoever on the spread of germs. In reality, they really only offer psychological comfort.

7 – Female public bathrooms harbour more bacteria than male bathrooms

Right. But contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t actually have anything to do with female bathroom habits or poor hygiene. Instead, it comes down to the fact that women generally spend longer in the bathroom than men, while female bathrooms almost always feature bins and containers for the disposal of sanitary products.

8 – It’s fine to flush while still sitting

Wrong. Even if you don’t feel any kind of unpleasant ‘splash back’, flushing releases a fine mist of water which has the potential to carry a wide variety of unpleasant bacteria and viruses. As such, it is always advisable to stand before flushing.

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