Public Bathrooms: Gross or Not?

By Thornton Plumbing and Heating

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Blog Highlights

  • Most people minimize their hand-use in the bathroom
  • Unfortunately, when you flush the toilet germs and microbes fly up into the surrounding air.
  • Paper towels are the most hygienic hand-drying option

Have you ever wondered how dirty public bathrooms in Salt Lake City and Park city actually are? Most people assume that pubic bathrooms are dirtier than their private bathrooms. While there are definitely some strange habits and behaviors in public bathrooms, the truth is that public restrooms have the same amount of bacteria as the bathroom in your home. In fact, while some bacteria found in the bathroom could make you sick, most pose no immediate health threat.

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Let’s look at some of the statistics:

Don’t Touch

Most people minimize their hand-use in the bathroom. In public restrooms 45 percent of Americans shut the door with their backside, over 50 percent flush the toilet with their feet, and over half of people re-open the door with toilet paper. People really don’t like touching anything in public restrooms and this may be a worthwhile habit to adopt.

Toilet Seat

Many people struggle with the decision: to cover the toilet seat or to hover over it. As you consider your options, know that the toilet seat is not a vehicle for the transmission of infectious diseases. There may be some microbes on the toilet seat, but typically, they are common skin microbes and are of little threat.


Unfortunately, when you flush the toilet germs and microbes fly up into the surrounding air. These microbes have been known to reach six feet above the toilet. Maybe using your foot to flush the toilet isn’t such a bad idea if it gets you a little further from the toilet bowl.

Hand Washing

It’s commonly believed that when you wash your hands, you’re in the clear. However, soap dispensers harbor a lot of fecal and coliform bacteria. Your hands may end up dirtier than they were before. Even when people do wash their hands, most don’t do so thoroughly enough and fail to kill the germs.

On the other hand, more than 50 percent of people surveyed admitted that they don’t bother washing their hands every time. What’s more, 32 percent of food-handlers and preparers don’t follow the required hand washing techniques.

Drying Your Hands

Paper towels are the most hygienic hand-drying option. Hand-dryers spread bacteria through the air, resulting in 27 times more bacteria in the air near hand-dryers. If you can, use paper towels to dry your hands.


Believe it or not, 75 percent of people use their cellphones in the bathroom. This means that one in six cellphones may be contaminated with fecal matter and bacteria. In fact, some research has shown that cellphones have 10 times more bacteria than toilet seats. Think about that for a minute…

So, keep these facts in mind the next time you use a public restroom.

Do you have a problem with your toilet or sink? Call us today!

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