When you are using a public toilet seat, most people either use a toilet seat cover or the hover method. Although you might feel good about using one of the covers, be aware that such a flimsy piece of paper is not going to keep the germs away from you. That’s the bad news. The good news is, it isn’t likely that a public toilet is going to be a source of illness.
You might be asking at this time why people even bother using toilet seat covers. At one time, it was thought the toilet seats were one method that sexually transmitted infections and gastrointestinal problems were transmitted. According to TIME, not much evidence exists to back up that theory. The liners continue to be something that is used in many public bathrooms and it can make you feel a little cleaner, even if it isn’t doing the job.
“Toilet seats are not a vehicle for the transmission of any infectious agents-you won’t catch anything,” Dr. William Schaffner, MD, and a professor of preventive medicine at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center told HuffPost.
Don’t let this news lull you into thinking that germs don’t exist on toilet seats. The majority of the toilet seat germs are common skin microbes, and you likely have them as well so they are not too much of a risk. When you flush the toilet, you are also releasing germs into the air and those germs can travel as much as 6 feet.
What if you are in a restroom and there are no toilet seat covers available? Don’t worry too much about sitting directly on the toilet seat because the seat cover wasn’t going to do much for you anyway.
“Toilet seat covers are absorbent and bacteria and viruses are tiny, able to pass through the relatively large holes in the cover’s paper,” Kelly Reynolds, a public health researcher at the University of Arizona, told USA Today. In other words, a toilet seat cover doesn’t stop germs from spreading but it’s not likely that you’ll get sick if you come in direct contact with the toilet seat anyway.
It is still necessary to protect yourself from the germs that are lurking in the bathroom. The best way to do it is to wash your hands using soap and warm water.
As far as the coronavirus is concerned, it is highly unlikely that you would catch the coronavirus from coming in contact with the toilet seat. Diarrhea is not a common problem associated with coronavirus and if it were possible for it to be transmitted in that way, a toilet seat to rear-end contact would not be the reason you would catch it. You may be able to catch it by touching the toilet seat and not washing your hands. Not everything is known about the coronavirus, so you should be washing your hands regularly to disinfect them anyway.
The bottom line is, seat covers do provide somewhat of a barrier, although it is hardly worth worrying about. Most people tend to make a number of serious mistakes that compromise the effectiveness of the toilet seat cover if they use it wrong, according to lifehacker. Avoid these things:
1. Tearing off the flap in the middle and throwing it out.
2. Putting the cover on wrong, so the flap hangs down in the back, not the front.
3. Not poking the flap out. The point is to have the flap dip into the water, so it will be whirled away when you flush, no hands needed.