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A reader sent me a Daily Mail article yesterday which gave tips on how we can avoid picking up germs in public washrooms. I’m not sure if it was produced to coincide with Global Handwashing Day, which happened to be yesterday, but it certainly brought home the need for us all to thoroughly wash and dry our hands before leaving the washroom – and if we’re able – not touch the exit door when we leave.
Reading the comments that followed, it’s clear that some readers have an OCD about picking up washroom germs… many won’t touch anything unless it’s with toilet tissue or a hand towel and someone even confessed to flushing the loo with his foot – and no, he wasn’t referring to those with a foot flushing mechanism but the handle set into the cistern, so he must be a contortionist! Others mentioned using a sleeve, which I found odd as it means they’ll be carrying dirt and germs around with them, rather than avoiding them! Others said they don’t bother washing their hands because a few germs don’t do anyone any harm and if we don’t build up our immune systems we’re more likely to become ill.
There’s a link to a video too, which enforces the message, warning us that there are more germs on the toilet tissue dispenser than the toilet seat and that women shouldn’t put their bags on the floor. It even discusses the ‘sneeze effect’, whereby flushing the loo sets off this rushing, centrifugal action that sends miniscule particles and droplets of faeces and urine flying from the toilet bowl and into the surrounding air – as well as your mouth and lungs.
I first wrote about the sneeze effect 10 years ago and I thought it was common knowledge – which is why I’m surprised that so many washrooms no longer have seats on the individual toilets, so we can close them before we flush.
Is this to save the cost of the sanitary ware I wonder, or to save time on cleaning? If it’s the latter, it’s a false economy, for while it may mean there are fewer surfaces to clean, everything will be a lot dirtier than need be.
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16th October 2014