I have always been amused by people who walk into a public restroom stall, see a failed flush and walk out. What’s it going to do? Jump out and attack you? Someone needs to flush it – so grab a paper towel and hit that handle.

The paper towel is your friend. Next to washing your hands – in hot water with an actual cleaning product – using a paper towel or
bit of clean toilet paper or tissue to open public restroom doors, turn water faucets off and on and other near-automatic tasks is the best way to minimize the chance you’ll pick up germs that make you sick.

Public bathrooms are germ magnets. Unless you never leave your home, they are hard to avoid. One study of college students and dorm bathrooms identified three problem areas for bacteria: floors, toilet seats and handles, and surfaces frequently touched by hands, such as counter tops.


Disturbingly, toilet handles harbored bacteria usually found on floors, suggesting some folks flush with their feet.

Glad I don’t spend the bulk of my day on a college campus, but risks come with any public facility. You have no control over who uses
it or, more importantly, how it is used.

The floor is, frankly, a mess. Bacteria found in soil, bacteria linked to skin, bacteria from fecal matter. Busy bathrooms spread
germs around – germs associated with the gut and urine were everywhere, not just in the usual spots.

Paper towels, pocket wipes, hand sanitizer. Use them.

by Pam Coyle

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