The ‘Eww Factor’ of Public Restrooms

A public toilet

Public restrooms are a hotbed for bacteria.  High traffic and moist environments create a breeding ground for all types of germs.  Bacteria that have been found lurking in public restrooms include the following: Rotavirus, Shigella bacteria, Norovirus, E. coli, and Salmonella which are all from the gastro tract and can cause intestinal viruses.  Hepatitis A virus and Staphylococcus (MRSA) are skin bacterium that spread through surface contact.  Also found is the common cold virus, although that can usually only cause illness if exposed in high amounts.

The Hot Zones for Bacteria

  • The Sink:  One of the largest reservoirs for bacteria, the sink contains the highest level of germ colonies.  The moist atmosphere allows germs to survive for long periods of time.  One of 10 sinks harbors salmonella and fecal bacteria!
  • Refillable Soap Dispensers:  In a recent study, 23 to 25% of samples taken from refillable soap dispensers in public restrooms were contaminated with unsafe levels of bacteria.  Sixteen to 22 percent of the samples contained Coliforms, which is illness causing fecal based organisms.  As many as 1 out of every 4 soap dispensers is contaminated with bacteria.
  • Toilet Handle: Since you flush before you wash your hands, germs are unambiguously present on the toilet handle.  People who try to avoid these germs by flushing with their foot are transferring germs from their shoes onto the handle.
  • Toilet Seat:  Generally found to be one of the ‘cleanest’ surfaces in a restroom, the toilet seat surface is usually too dry for bacteria to thrive.  However water dislodged from flushing can cause fecal bacteria settle on the seat and last up to 17 days.
  • The Air: A single toilet flush can emit bacteria into the air where it can remain for up to 12 minutes.
  • Hot-Air Hand Dryers:  When in use, these eco-friendly devices blow germ filled air directly onto your hands.  A study at University of Westminster found that bacteria increased by 194% on finger tips and by 254% on palms after using a hot-air hand dryer.  On the contrary, paper towels actually reduce the amount of bacteria found on your hands by roughly 75%.

It may seem like a scary world out there for not just germaphobes but for all of those who have ever used a public restroom.  If you are wary about the bacteria situation in your workplace restroom, call Envision Commercial Cleaning to schedule your free quote today.  Envision specializes in restroom odor control as well as proper disinfecting techniques to avoid cross contamination.

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