Is Your Bathroom Hiding a Dirty Secret?

Let’s talk about your bathroom. You probably spend much of your day there, from your morning routine to your evening wind-down.

But how clean do you really keep it?

Maybe you’re a neat freak, scrubbing every surface until it sparkles. Or perhaps you’re more of a “clean enough” type, giving things a quick wipe when they start to look questionable.

But here’s the real question: do you close the toilet lid before you flush?

If you’re like most folks, you probably assume that shutting the lid helps contain the, well, “stuff” that swirls around when you flush.

But brace yourself because a new study has revealed a dirty little secret about your porcelain throne.

Researchers from the University of Arizona decided to investigate how much closing the toilet lid really matters when trying to prevent the spread of viruses in your bathroom. They focused on toilets commonly found in U.S. households and public restrooms.

The team added a harmless virus called MS2 (often used as a stand-in for nastier bugs like norovirus) to the toilet bowl water. Then, they flushed with the lid up and down and sampled various bathroom surfaces to see where the virus ended up.

The results were eye-opening, to say the least.

It turns out that closing the lid made almost no difference in terms of viral contamination. MS2 was found on every surface tested, from the toilet seat to the floor to the walls, regardless of lid position.

In fact, the toilet seat itself was the most contaminated spot, likely due to the way the air flows around it during flushing. And public toilets, which often don’t even have lids, showed consistently high levels of MS2 on the seat.

They also looked at what happens when you clean the toilet bowl with a brush, with and without disinfectant. While using a disinfectant significantly reduced the amount of MS2 in the bowl water and on the brush itself, it didn’t completely eliminate contamination on other bathroom surfaces.

So, what does this mean for your health? Well, while MS2 is harmless, the viruses it represents aren’t. Norovirus, for example, can cause nasty bouts of vomiting and diarrhea. And it only takes a tiny amount of these viruses to make you sick.

When you flush, those germs can linger in the air and on surfaces, just waiting for you to touch them and then touch your face or food. It’s a recipe for a sick day (or week).

But don’t panic just yet. There are steps you can take to minimize your risk:

  • Add disinfectant to the bowl BEFORE flushing, and let it sit for a few minutes.
  • Regularly disinfect ALL bathroom surfaces, not just the toilet.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after using the bathroom, and avoid touching your face.
  • If someone in your household is sick, be extra vigilant about cleaning and disinfecting.

Your bathroom may never be 100 percent germ-free, but you can drastically reduce the spread of nasty viruses with a little extra effort.

P.S. Avoid THIS other public restroom hazard. [GROSS!]

Source:

Goforth, M. P., Boone, S. A., Clark, J., Valenzuela, P. B., McKinney, J., Ijaz, M. K., & Gerba, C. P. (2024). Impacts of lid closure during toilet flushing and of toilet bowl cleaning on viral contamination of surfaces in United States restrooms. American Journal of Infection Control, 52(2), 141-146. [doi. org /10.1016/j.ajic.2023.11.020]

Dr. Scott Olson, ND

Written By Dr. Scott Olson, ND

Nearly 25 years ago, failed mainstream medical treatments left Dr. Olson in constant pain – and his health in ruins. And that’s when he did something REVOLUTIONARY. He began his career in medicine – and dedicated his life to uncovering the true, underlying causes of disease.
Through his innovative medical practices in Tennessee and Colorado, Dr. Olson has helped cure countless seniors from across America of arthritis… heart disease… diabetes… and even cancer. All without risky prescription drugs or painful surgeries.

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