Unless you're really good at controlling your bladder, chances are that you've encountered a public restroom or two during your lifetime and the ubiquitous fixture of every bathroom stall: the toilet seat liner. However, in case you are under the impression that these liners are a de rigueur part of urinating outside your home, we're here to blow your mind with the fact that toilet seat covers are absolutely useless. Don't believe us? We did some digging and got to the bottom of this issue (pun intended).
1. They're Counterintuitive
You may reach for a cover, hoping that it will protect you against any lingering bacteria that may be hanging around, but here's a fun fact for you. Porcelain thrones themselves are actually made to repel bacteria. That means that their smooth surface is not ideal for bacteria to remain on to begin with, and, even if it was, the kinds of bacteria that causes STDs or even AIDS, cannot survive the chilly temperatures of a deserted toilet seat.
In fact, when you use a paper liner, you're actually creating a more habitable place for bacteria to hang out, as these covers absorb water or urine droplets from the seat. They are also made super-thin so that they won't clog pipes when flushed. So, think about it. How can this porous-flimsy-waxy paper protect you against any bacteria lurking on the toilet seat? At most, a cover is good for mopping up any stray urine sprinkles on the seat, but you wouldn't want to sit on a moist one, now would you?
2. They Harm the Environment
Did you know that they make nonporous plastic toilet seat covers too? These are made to "protect" you when the waxy-porous ones cannot. But the bad news is that these disposable covers harm the environment, as the plastic from the flushed cover seeps into the ground and contaminates the soil and water that surrounds it.
3. You Have the Same Bacteria as Most People
We live in a world of microbes. They are everywhere. On objects, on clothes, on our bodies and skin. When you visit a well-maintained bathroom with a reliable source of water and you have no cuts on your bottom (say, from shaving or otherwise), then you have NO reason to think that you need to use a toilet seat cover.
4. Your Skin Protects you
You're unlikely to pick up anything from a toilet seat. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that if a person who has a Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) positive open wound sits on a toilet, then the only way the next person can get infected is if that person also has an open wound. Now think for a second. How many people with open and bleeding wound visit public restrooms? Very few. And those with MRSA positive diseases, even fewer. The skin on our bottoms provides a good protection against any bacteria lurking around.
5. Toilet Seats Are Cleaner Than Your Kitchen
Yep. You read that right. You've probably heard it before too. There are several things dirtier than toilet seats, such as your work desk, your kitchen and even your phone! The sponge in your kitchen, for instance, has 200,000 times more bacteria than a toilet seat! That makes the toilet seat safer to eat off of. Not that you should eat off a toilet seat, but this just proves how pointless toilet seat covers are.
Protect Yourself Without a Liner
Bathrooms are filled with bacteria. The air, the floors, the doors and handles-everything has bacteria on it, since, each time you flush, bacteria can land on surfaces within six feet! Women often hover over the toilet seat as a prevention measure, but, more often than not, they miss and leave a mess for the next person. So if you are concerned about visiting a public bathroom, instead of using a toilet seat cover, you can use these tips as your line of defense:
- Use the first cubicle you see. Many go to the back for privacy, so the ones up front are the cleanest.
- Wash your hands with soap.
- Dry your hands with paper, not the hand dryer. The hand dryer sucks the bacteria-filled air from the bathroom and spills it back into your freshly cleaned hands. That's just disgusting.
- Flush with the lid down. Six feet, remember?
- Use a hand sanitizer after you open public bathroom doors. It's likely the last person had unwashed hands or used a hand dryer.
- Take a probiotic regularly; they help you respond better to pathogens.