The Truth About Toilet Seat Covers on Public Toilets

March 18th 2017

Danielle DeCourcey

You have to go to the bathroom and holding it is not an option.

You work through how long it would take you to get home, but the calculation reveals the truth: You have to use a public bathroom. Public bathrooms have a bad reputation for cleanliness, and one way Americans try to mitigate their concerns is by using a toilet seat cover to keep the seat from touching their skin.

However, the covers probably aren't actually effective.

A toilet seat cover.

Experts say that toilet seat covers are too thin to stop the transmission of germs, and it's unlikely that you would catch an infection from a toilet seat — unless there is a cut on your skin, and it's unlikely that the bacteria will be able to enter the body.


“That’s because toilet seats are not a vehicle for the transmission of any infectious agents — you won’t catch anything,” Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center told the Huffington Post. Asap Science breaks it down in a helpful video:

However, there is a source of bacteria in the bathroom you may not know about.

As ATTN: previously reported, there is a plume of airborne bacteria that escapes your toilet when you flush it, and it could get you sick if lands on your toothbrush.

"Droplets produced by flushing toilets were found to harbor both bacteria and viruses which had been seeded," wrote Dr. Charles Gerba and his colleagues in their landmark 1975 study. "The detection of bacteria and viruses falling out onto surfaces in bathrooms after flushing indicated that they remain airborne long enough to settle on surface throughout the bathroom."

Gerba told ATTN: it's a good idea to flush the toilet with the lid down and keep your toothbrush on the other side of the room.

"Flushing with the lid down would be a good idea," he said told ATTN: in April last year. "Also keep your toothbrush at least three feet from the toilet or you will be brushing your teeth with what was in the toilet."

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