Public restrooms are essentially a germophobe’s nightmare because of the dirty door handles, toilet bowls that are used by different people and the usual lack of toilet paper. The COVID-19 pandemic adds another layer of risk as well. So when is it actually safe to use one?

When To Use A Public Bathroom Amid The Pandemic

From close proximity to strangers, the usual lack of toilet paper and toilet bowls that have heavy traffic to non-sanitized door handles, it’s no wonder that a lot of germophobes consider public restrooms as one of their worst nightmares. Unfortunately, that nightmare might just be all the more scarier, given that the pandemic we’re currently living under adds another risk.

When exactly is it safe to use a public bathroom and when is it best to steer clear of them?

The risk that COVID-19 adds has been recently highlighted in a study published in Physics of Fluids, where it states toilet plumes – or the clouds of droplets that can rise up to three feet from a flushing toilet – poses a clear danger because they can be inhaled by an unsuspecting user. Of course, aside from the fact that the plume came from the toilet, simulations made in the study also found that remnants of the coronavirus can get carried into the plume and into the person who has the unfortunate luck to inhale it.

Thankfully, there are things you can do to avoid them and stay safe.

“What’s the most hazardous part of using a public restroom? It’s the people in it. It’s not necessarily the inanimate environment,” William Schaffner, MD, a professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, said.

As such, he recommends wearing a mask, as well as to scope out ahead to check how crowded a bathroom is. From there, it’s best to wait until the bathroom has fewer people or even empty to be sure. Keep contact with objects to a close minimum as well and make sure to properly wash your hands once you’re done using the toilet.

New study shows that public toilets can now pose COVID-19 infections as well. Pixabay, public domain