Are you the type of person who panics if you enter a public restroom only to find there aren't any toilet seat liners left? What do you do? Do you sit down and hope for the best or do you squeeze your cheeks until you can find another restroom? If you think those toilet seat liners are helping prevent disease, I've got good and bad news for you.
First, the bad news. According to a recent article by the Huffington Post, toilet seat liners do little more than comfort the person using them. The good news is there isn't a whole lot you can catch from toilet seats. While they are indeed covered in the germs you've been worrying yourself sick about, your skin acts as an effective barrier between the germs and your body. Unless you have cuts or open sores, you're fairly-well protected as long as you wash your hands on the way out.
Most of us grew up hearing horror stories about the poor guy or gal who contracted herpes or syphilis or any of a number of STD's and diseases from sitting on a dirty public toilet seat. As it turns out, it's highly unlikely the toilet was the culprit, but it makes for an almost foolproof scapegoat...Until now. Herpes, HIV and most sexually transmitted diseases won't last long enough on a cold toilet seat to infect the next person who sits down and, even if they did, they would have to enter the body through a break in the skin or a mucous membrane like the rectum. I'm not going to go as far as to say it's never happened, but the odds are extremely low.
Besides, the toilet seat isn't even the dirtiest place in the restroom. According to an article by ABCNews.com, the floor and the sanitary napkin disposal unit are the two dirtiest areas in the bathroom. Those of you who set your purse on the floor while you go are picking up far more germs than you would by sitting down on the seat. Not to mention the girl I recently saw set a half-unwrapped cheeseburger on the floor in the stall next to me while she went about her business and walked out of the restroom chomping down the burger. Now, that's a recipe for disaster!
If fact, the toilet seat ranked as one of the cleanest areas of the bathroom. It was cleaner than the surface of one of the reporter's desks that was tested.
Those looking to stay safe should wash their hands on the way out. You should also wash your computer keyboard once in a while. It's up to 7 times dirtier than those toilet seats you're scared of!