There is a right way to sit on a toilet and you've been doing it wrong your whole life.

From birth humans instinctively know how to eat, sleep, cry and expel waste. Within a few years we are taught how to eat the right foods at the right time, sleep in (hopefully) eight hour stints, use our words instead of crying, and use a toilet instead of going all over the place.

Well, unfortunately, when it comes to a public bathroom, the way most of us were taught to keep clean in there is wrong.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to go back to wetting your pants. Thanks to BuzzFeed writer Fiona Rutherford, who spoke to three toilet experts to find the best most hygienic way to sit on a toilet, there are some simple things you can change about your bathroom habits

Tip 1: Stop covering the seat in toilet paper

I’ll let that sink in.

According to Raymond Martin, the managing director of the British Toilet Association (Note: what a job!), “placing toilet paper on the seat actually increases the surface area for germs to multiply and therefore is considerably less hygienic.”

Toilet paper lets germs sink in.


Picture: iStock.

Tip 2: Avoid touching exposed rolls of toilet paper

Laura Bowater, professor of microbiology at the University of East Anglia, told BuzzFeed that the toilet paper rolls in a public bathroom might be just as bad germ wise as the toilet.

"If it is an exposed roll that might have encountered hands that are gripping it while a strip is being ripped off and those hands aren’t very clean then there is a chance that they may have transferred germs to the roll," she explains.

As if that wasn't gag-inducing enough, Bowater also explains that an exposed roll of toilet paper siting near a toilet may bet splashed with fecal microbes during flushing. She continues, "Flushing can create splashing opportunities that will enable small water droplets to be transferred through the air and land on toilet rolls and the toilet seat."


Tip 3: Master the hover or squat

Bacteria and viruses spread on objects that carry microbes on their surface. "When that surface comes into contact with us, [the microbes] transfer from that surface to us," Bowater says. Therefore making as little contact with that germy surface the better.

"Hovering over a toilet while taking a leak is the most hygienic way to use the toilet," Bowater explains, not only because it means less microbes are transferred to us but also we're avoiding transferring our own microbes to the seat.

You're welcome to the stall's next user.


Tip 4: Keep antibacterial wipes/santiser handy

As part of his work with the British Toilet Association, Martin works to install seat sanitiser units near public toilets.

“This allows users to spray the seat before use and thereby eliminate a large percentage of germs,” he explains.

But for those of us paying visits to toilets without those units, carrying antibacterial wipes or hand sanitiser with you so you can give the seat a quick wipe, is a good work around.

Tip 5: Close the lid before flushing

We already know an unclosed lid flush can mean fecal matter ends up splashing on toilet paper near by, but it turns out there's an actual name for it.

'Toilet Plume'.

Dr Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease specialist at Pittsburgh University, tells BuzzFeed that the force of a flush can cause everything in the bowel, including bacteria and viruses, to land on surfaces all over the bathroom.

“It’s not a big amount, and may not even be visible to the human eye, but it does happen when you flush the toilet because of the force,” Adalja says. “It does depend on the size, and type of toilet you use, as some toilets produce plumes and others don’t.”


Tip 6: Don't freak out too much

If you're currently sitting in a corner, hugging your knees, and rocking back and forth while repeating "unclean, unclean" under your breath, then take a deep breath because it's not as bad as you think.

"A lot of people get very nervous about how dirty, or not dirty, their bathroom is," Adalja explains. "In the grand scheme of things you have to realize that bacteria dominates this planet and they're everywhere, and the vast number of bacteria poses no problem to anybody. It's only a small proportion of bacteria that causes a problem."

But if you're a worrier, it's probably best to stock up on the antibacterial wipes none-the-less.

This post was originally published on our US sister site Spring.St and republished here with permission.