Avoiding Bacteria in Public Restrooms

Public restrooms are not typically known for their cleanliness.

The good news is there are ways to limit coming into contact with bacteria that’s lurking in the bathroom.

Dan Allan, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic said a good place to start is by limiting what we take into the restroom – starting with our phones.

“A recent study showed that up to 20 percent of cell phones have more fecal matter than the toilet seat and more germs, which is disgusting, so you have to try not to bring your phone in,” said Dr. Allan.

If a phone has to be taken into the restroom, Dr. Allan recommends wiping it down with an alcohol-based wipe afterward.

Setting a purse on the restroom floor is another habit to avoid. Dr. Allan said it’s better to hang the purse on a hook and avoid setting it down on any restroom surface.

One study of public restrooms showed traces of 77,990 types of bacteria and viruses, including plenty of staph.

Staph is commonly found on skin surfaces but can cause dangerous infections.

Washing hands after using the restroom is important to get rid of germs and bacteria, but Dr. Allan said how folks dry their hands makes a difference too.

“When you’re drying your hands, I would definitely use paper towels, not the blow dryers in the public bathrooms, because that air is full of germs from all of the multiple toilet flushes and so studies have shown that it’s cleaner to use a paper towel,” said Dr. Allan.

Dr. Allan also recommends using a clean paper towel to turn the sink off and on and also to open the door on the way out of the restroom– the fewer surfaces touched, the better. Contact: Cleveland Clinic News Service, 216.444.0141

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