Sanitised for your protection
August 3, 2006 8:37 AM   Subscribe

How bad for your health are toilet seats?

I got thinking about toilet seats being 'sanitised for your protection'. I know that loo seats are crawling with bugs and bacteria but what real nasties are there on them and does having a sanitied loo seat (or wrapping it in loo roll) actually reduce the chances of catching something nasty?

How dangerous are loo seats compared to (for example) the taps/faucets on the bathroom basin - which everyone covers in germs, washes their hands and then collects the germs again?
posted by twine42 to Science & Nature (23 answers total)
 
This was just asked.
posted by gramcracker at 8:39 AM on August 3, 2006


... and before.
posted by bunglin jones at 8:41 AM on August 3, 2006


*sigh*

I searched for the question before gramcracker's callout but somehow missed bunglin's one.

Hohum.
posted by twine42 at 8:46 AM on August 3, 2006


How dangerous are loo seats compared to (for example) the taps/faucets on the bathroom basin - which everyone covers in germs, washes their hands and then collects the germs again?

I don't believe the second part of your question has been asked. I've always wondered that myself so I hope some people do answer.
posted by necessitas at 9:02 AM on August 3, 2006


Some people have a fancy paper towel scheme which involves having a waste bin by the washroom door:

1. wash hands
2. dry hands with paper towel (note: water is still running)
3. turn off taps w. paper towel
4. open door w. paper towel
5. hold door with foot
6. discard paper towel

which seems to get around the issue of double-dipping on the taps.
posted by GuyZero at 9:04 AM on August 3, 2006


Germs make you stronger, unless they kill you. No bathroom germ in a first world country is going to kill you. Therefore, get germy.
posted by dame at 9:05 AM on August 3, 2006


If they drop that blasted paper towl on the floor than some employee has to pick it up. I'm glad I don't work at a place with a restroom any more, but if I did, I'd start standing outside the door of the bathroom sneezing on everyone who drops the paper towel on the floor.
posted by drezdn at 9:06 AM on August 3, 2006


I didn't comment in other threads, but welcomed the opportunity to see another one.

What I think is funny is all the germs on the floor / ground of everywhere I walk, and then when I get home, I track in the germs into my home. AND, I typically take off or put on my shoes using my hands, and then don't wash afterwards.

The key is, don't worry about the germs, because they're everywhere, and they're gonna getcha. They're in places you wouldn't normally think about, and no matter how fastidious you are, someone else isn't and you're going to get the germs from them.

Unless you decide to live in a bubble, or live like Mike Monroe (Northern Exposure)
posted by indigo4963 at 9:07 AM on August 3, 2006


GuyZero, that is my EXACT method.

I don't worry about germs making me sick. I just am neurotic about the icky factor.
posted by necessitas at 9:08 AM on August 3, 2006


It's true you can not get VD from toilet seats.

There was a story in the news a short while ago, it may even have been posted to MeFi, where more germs were found on faucets than on toilet seats primarily because the faucets remained damp I believe.
posted by caddis at 9:16 AM on August 3, 2006


The toilet seats themselves are surprisingly clean. The door handle and faucets are the nastiest. At work we have sensors for the faucets, and a wastepaper basket by the door, so open the door with paper, then throw paper out.
BTW, the grossest area in a work environment are actually your keyboard and mouse, assuming you don't dip them in bleach regularly!
posted by defcom1 at 9:23 AM on August 3, 2006


argh. grossest areas
posted by defcom1 at 9:24 AM on August 3, 2006


This reminds me of research I saw once that showed that floors would typically have fewer bacteria than tabletops. Probably because people don't eat off of floors or touch them.
posted by grouse at 10:23 AM on August 3, 2006


I always open the door with my hand inside my sleeve / jacket / coat. No problems that way. Most 'faucets' in public places here in the UK seem to be sensors or 'push' ones now, so no problems there.. just those darn door handles. I'd rather push to get out, not in!
posted by wackybrit at 10:32 AM on August 3, 2006


There's a lot of talk about to hover or not to hover on that other thread. But to me, the key factor isn't what's on the seat, or what's on your butt cheeks, but what's on your hands.

Your hands are probably way germier than your butt cheeks already. And your hands touch your mouth, ears, eyes, and other orifices, as well as almost everything you come in contact with, while your butt cheeks do not. Then if you put a seat cover on the toilet seat, or go nuts trying to wipe it down, you're much more likely to actually touch the seat with your hands. Hopefully, seeing as how you're using the restroom in this situation, you'll be using toilet paper on yourself between touching the toilet seat and washing your hands. Think about that. If you get germs on your butt cheeks, well...that's just skin. It may be near important parts, but it doesn't touch them.

With all this....here we all are. We've survived public restrooms.

Generally, whatever your bathroom habits are, the best thing you can do in my opinion is wash your hands with soap after using the bathroom or otherwise touching toilet seats, and try not to stick your hands in your mouth in the meantime. And clean up after yourself so the next person doesn't have to agonize over these things.
posted by lampoil at 10:37 AM on August 3, 2006


Millions of people do not use paper towels to turn off faucets & open doors, and they are fine. This "icky factor" thing is all in your head and is, IMHO, a small neurosis, ie, not based on fact. It is not necessary to get caught up in these little things.
posted by cahlers at 11:02 AM on August 3, 2006


Tangentially related: New York City's Z100 yesterday relayed the story that cell phones can carry more microbes than the seat in question.
posted by NYCinephile at 11:11 AM on August 3, 2006


I worked with a mean old nice guy once whose son asked him, 'Dad, can you get VD from toilet seat?'.

He responded, 'Sure. But it's a helluva place to take your girlfriend.'

True story. (He probably heard it somewhere else, though.)
posted by FauxScot at 11:32 AM on August 3, 2006


And before, slightly differently.
posted by agregoli at 11:56 AM on August 3, 2006


I was under the impression...although it's very unlikely..you can in fact catch STDs from toilet seats.

There have been a few cases of herpes transfer from tanning beds, though this isn't likely to happen unless you have broken skin.
posted by skinnydipp at 12:09 PM on August 3, 2006


Our toilet seat is dangerous: it's wooden and has a crack in the front. If you sit down incautiously, it can pinch things that'd really rather not be pinched.

I think that's about the only realistic health risk from toilet seats though.
posted by polyglot at 7:36 PM on August 3, 2006


Bravo, Dame and Cahlers.
posted by raider at 8:28 PM on August 3, 2006


Our toilet seat is dangerous: it's wooden and has a crack in the front. If you sit down incautiously, it can pinch things that'd really rather not be pinched.

Ouch

It could be worse.
posted by caddis at 8:47 PM on August 3, 2006


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