Friday, May 3, 2013

How clean is your bathroom? A look at how flushing a toilet spreads bacteria

Whether or not you're a germaphobe, you probably want your bathroom to be clean. No matter how sparkling you keep your toilet, the simple act of flushing it might spread bacteria into the air of your lavatory. 

The germ-spreading power of a toilet flush

A recent Medical Daily report explains how technology has increased the spread of bacteria and germs. The flushable toilet, though not necessarily a new innovation, is one of the tech advances that contributes to high germ counts. 

According to the source, Charles Gerba, a microbiologist from the University of Arizona, has studied the effect of the toilet flush since 1975. The scientist, also known as "Dr. Germ," recently published research on the phenomenon of bacterial spray after a flush.

Gerba explained that flushing the toilet creates an aerosol of contaminated water that instantly spreads across the entire bathroom, from the shower curtain to your toothbrush. After each individual flush, according to Gerba's findings, these tiny germs linger in the bathroom air for up to two hours. 

This may sound frightening, but Gerba's studies show that when compared to other parts of the house, the toilet bowl is actually close to immaculate on the germ-scale. In fact, according to the source, a toilet that's been recently flushed has less bacteria in it than the sink in your kitchen. 

"[The toilet's] one of the cleanest things you'll run across in terms of micro-organisms," Gerba said, quoted by the source. "It's our gold standard - there are not many things cleaner than a toilet seat when it comes to germs."

So, don't let bacterial spray stop you from flushing. Even with this projectile of contaminated water, the bathroom is still clean in the big picture. 

The effect of a toilet seat's shape

Still worried about the cleanliness of your toilet? The St. Louis Dispatch recently reported that for women, U-shaped toilet lids may be more hygienic. Sure, this style of toilet seat is more typical in public restrooms, but if you're concerned about germs, you might consider the U- over the O-shaped lid for your home.

According to the source, U-shaped lids allow ladies to wipe without touching a potentially germ-ridden seat. Even if the seat is cleaner than you might assume, avoiding contact with it may offer you some peace of mind.