Leaving the seat up when you flush isn’t just a habit the females in your household find annoying – it’s a sure way to spread germs.
Flushing with the seat up is not just inconvenient, it’s downright unsanitary, as the toilet can send bacteria flying all over the bathroom, experts have warned.
Faecal matter from the toilet can spray up to two metres when the loo is flushed, meaning airborne poo particles can catch on nearby bathroom products including in the bristles of toothbrushes, which we put in our mouth.
Researchers even have a name for it: “the aerosol effect”.
“An aerosol is created due to the rush of water into the bowl,” Scientist Jason Tetro, and author of The Germ Files: The Surprising Way Microbes Can Improve Health and Life (and How to Protect Yourself From the Bad Ones), told realtor.com.
When you consider the average person flushes the toilet five to six times each day, that’s almost 2000 flushes per person, per year.
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Experts say using a toothbrush cover won’t safeguard your brush from the gross bugs commonly found in the bathroom like E.coli, streptococcus and salmonella, which can cause food poisoning.
“Using a toothbrush cover doesn’t protect a toothbrush from bacterial growth, but actually creates an environment where bacteria are better suited to grow by keeping the bristles moist and not allowing the head of the toothbrush to dry out between uses,” Lauren Aber, lead researcher at Quinnipiac University in the US state of Connecticut, told Yahoo Health.
There can be an even greater spread of germs, especially if brushes are stored in the same holder, she added.
“That can allow for lateral transfer of bacteria, because toothbrushes could get knocked together or water sprayed in between brushes,” she said.
Previous studies have suggested soaking your toothbrush in mouthwash for 20 minutes, shielding it by keeping it upright inside a medicine cabinet, closing the toilet lid before you flush and allowing your brush to completely air-dry before using it again.
Aside from flushing the loo with the seat down, ensuring your toothbrush is kept more than two metres away from the bowl, and using a “drop-in” toilet cleaner are a few other options in minimising bathroom germs.