Bathroom Safety: A Guide for Health

By Rob Chernish
Last updated: September 23, 2014
Key Takeaways

Learn some helpful tips on how to keep you germ free in public washrooms.

You have no doubt heard horror stories about disgustingly unclean bathrooms. In fact, there is probably one particular experience you had or story you heard that sticks out in your mind. Any place where multiple people are coming and going, adds a possible risk of transferring germs, diseases, and other bacteria. The concept of a clean bathroom is not new, and has plagued homeowners, business operators, plumbers, maintenance workers, disposal specialists, and pretty much every one who has ever had to use a bathroom.


Chances are good that you have went to the bathroom in an airport, in an outhouse at a public campsite, or in a port-a-potty at a ball tournament or a work site. Sometimes the experience is pleasant, with a fresh odor, hand sanitizer, and other toiletries to help you clean yourself and freshen up. Other times, there may be a partially flushed toilet, urine or feces on the walls, floors, or toilet seat, or even blood or vomit, fresh or dried, in areas that you may come in contact with.

The bottom line? A lot can go down in a bathroom. It is one of the most versatile and most commonly used rooms worldwide, and to be ready for anything, you should make sure to keep some of these helpful hints in mind.


Don’t Be Afraid

If you are in places where the plumbing uses small pipes, and a toilet backup or flood may occur, be considerate of where you place your toilet paper. Some places may not even have toilet paper, while other places sometimes require that you place your used toilet paper in a waste bin rather than in the toilet. If plumbing is not an issue, then be liberal and grab plenty of toilet paper and use it as a barrier between you and any germs that may lie on the toilet seat. When done, simply throw the toilet paper in its proper disposal location: a garbage bin or toilet. In some facilities, paper disposable toilet seat covers are available that may simply be set on the toilet seat while in use, and thrown away when done.

Don't Reach

Some people may accidentally drop something in the garbage such as a ring or other personal item. Rather than digging through the trash, call a custodian, or empty the bin carefully to ensure that you are not putting yourself at risk. Bathroom sites can be subject to poisons, and other blood borne diseases. You never know what hazards await in a garbage bin like needles or bloodied garments. If you drop your cellphone or other personal item into a port-a-potty, call the company that handles the waste disposal rather than reaching in. Reaching into a garbage can, toilet, or port-a-potty is an unnecessary risk. There is a risk of cutting yourself, or even worse, infecting an already existing cut.

Wash Your Hands

We all know that it is important to wash your hands after using a bathroom, but this can not be reiterated enough. With many common illnesses such as flus, colds, and other items being transferred at bathroom sites, washing your hands is an essential item to breaking the chain in the transfer of germs.

Why are bathrooms so risky anyway? Most bathrooms are extremely sanitary, but on occasion, people may have to put themselves into a bathroom that is not sanitary. The risks posed by bathrooms are mostly due to their high use, the high variations in visitor traffic, and the release of bodily fluids that can occur there. In fact, there is some research to show that the airborne germs that are released by flushing the toilet are significantly reduced when the toilet is flushed with the seat down. But most people aren't aware of these secret cleanliness tips.

Know you're going to be somewhere where the bathrooms are sub-par? Here are some tips so you may always be prepared to deal with an unclean bathroom.

  • Always carry a small hand sanitizer. There are a variety of options available for portable sanitation, from hand sanitizers with a clip, to ones small enough to easily conceal in a pocket. If you always be sure to carry one when going to the job site, sporting events, etc., you will never have to worry weather or not there is soap available.
  • Carry a spare roll of toilet paper. Whether you keep it in your vehicle, your work bag, or your sport bag, if you carry a spare roll with you, when the bathrooms are dirty, or poorly maintained and lacking in toilet paper, you will rest assured knowing that you have some extra TP with you. Always be sure to check if there is toilet paper available before sitting down. Save yourself some grief by doing a quick scan.
  • If you're really affected by smells, carry a small air freshener with you. Sometimes it's not the physical state of the bathroom that is disgusting, it's the smell. If you find it difficult to stomach these situations, having a small freshener might help you get through your bathroom visit.

Remember, bathroom safety starts with you. Be sure to always wash your hands, and do your part in breaking the germ cycle.

Share This Article

  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • X

Written by Rob Chernish

Rob Chernish
A writer from Canada with firsthand experience in Oil, Gas, Mining, and environmental safety.

Related Articles

Go back to top