Using a Paper Towel to Avoid Public Restroom Germs
When I was a kid, my mother would line the toilet seat in a public bathroom with toilet paper to protect from germs. The preferred method of using a public toilet was to learn to straddle and hover, but that was a lot easier said than done. When I was done, I learned to flush with my foot all to avoid germs.
I learned early on to always wash my hands when I used the bathroom, and for years I’ve used a paper towel to open the door when leaving a public restroom. After all, even though I religiously washed my hands, I’ve regularly witnessed many people who don’t. I figured the door handle had to be full of germs. But according to one study, I was wrong.
According to a test conducted by Chuck Larson Gerba, PhD, a professor of environmental microbiology at the University of Arizona in Tucson, “Door handles actually have the least bacteria of any surface in public restrooms.”
Dr. Gerba’s tests showed that 68% of people do wash their hands before leaving the restroom, but in my mind that still leaves almost 30% who don’t. The fact is that most bacteria need a warm, moist environment to survive and can live on hard, dry surfaces like the door handle, but only for two hours.
This has me rethinking my public restroom strategy. Perhaps I need to use the paper towel to turn the water off. After all, the faucet handles are often moist because our hands are dripping when we turn off the water. Or maybe I should just carry a supply of wipes, clean my hands and then use it to open the door.
Photo credits: TerryJohnston