To avoid what is known as the toilet “plume,” the traditionally accepted practice has been to close the lid. Unfortunately, that’s not as effective as you might think.
Ask anyone his or her least favorite room to clean and chances are you’ll hear “the bathroom.” And, really, who wants to clean the icky toilet, scrub the soap scum from the shower or wipe all those water spots off the mirrors?
Despite the lack of enthusiasm over bathroom cleaning, we all know it’s important to keep the bathroom spic and span. You’ve heard the warnings about germs flying from the toilet and spewing all over your toothbrush.
To avoid what is known as the toilet “plume,” the traditionally accepted practice has been to close the lid. Unfortunately, that’s not as effective as you might think. A study in 2005 revealed more information about how this toilet plume forms (hope those researchers were paid well).
Because of gaps between the lid, seat and rim, it turns out the same amount of bacteria escaped from the toilet whether the lid was open or closed. Interestingly, the greatest dispersal actually happens when the water from the toilet flush meets the water in the toilet bowl. That means closing the lid does help some – at least it gives you a chance to move away from the toilet so particles don’t land on your skin.
Tips for keeping your toilet germ-free:
- Clean the toilet immediately after a user has vomited or had diarrhea (just when you thought cleaning the bathroom on a normal day was bad …)
- Clean your toilet regularly to keep bacteria and viruses from sticking to rings in the toilet bowl.
- Be sure to clean the underside of the lid, seat and rim.
- Use an acid cleaner inside the bowl and a disinfectant (not just an all-purpose cleaner) on the rest of the toilet.
- From time to time, clean the walls and ceiling near the toilet.
Try this trick to see just how far a toilet plume can go: put some food dye into the toilet water, flush it and hold a piece of white paper horizontally across the seat of the toilet. Or in this case, maybe you don’t want to know.