For many of us, using a public toilet is the last thing we want to do. Public restrooms have to be one of the filthiest places around. We will hold it for hours just to avoid the often disgusting experience. However, there are times when that is your only option. So you bite the bullet and head for the bathroom.
Your first line of defense is to touch as few surfaces as possible. You push open the stall door with a knee or flush the toilet with your foot. The only way many of us feel like we are keeping the bacteria at bay is to build a wall of toilet paper between you and the seat. Unfortunately, of all of the safety measures you can take in a public restroom, this one is actually the worst thing you can do.
Toilet seats are actually the cleanest surfaces in the bathroom. They are designed to keep bacteria from clinging to them. Toilet paper, on the other hand, can occupy just as much bacteria as a door handle, sink or hand dryer. When you use toilet paper as a barrier between you and the seat, you are essentially inviting the bacteria to the party.
All forms of germs reside on toilet paper. For instance, if you sneeze while in the stall, those germs will adhere to the toilet paper. Or, when you pull paper from the roll, bacteria from your hands can be transported to the toilet paper roll.
Many people assume a hand dryer is the most sanitary space in a public restroom. But, studies have found that the force of the hot air actually blows the bacteria from your hands into the air. It can contaminate you, the people around you and cling to the surfaces close by, just waiting for its next host. If the dryer is low mounted on the wall, water can drip into it from hands and spread bacteria further.
The nest time you use a public restroom, think about the area that is made to be clean, the toilet seat. Try to avoid everything else. Bring your own sanitizer wipes with you to use, instead of the sink and hand dryers. You will feel much better about the experience if you are doing everything you can to stay bacteria free.