For many of us, it is simple, use the toilet – and then flush. You can’t help but feel proud after seeing that bowl spick and span with all that clear and clean water running through…or is it?
I hate to break it to you, but experts say flushing creates an invisible cloud of yucky stuff called “toilet plume”.
About toilet plume
Toilet plume is hurled into the air by the force generated from flushing. According to experts, toilet plume may contain fecal bacteria, as well as other microorganisms that may be present in these substances, such as viruses.
Therefore this means that when you lean over the bowl to flush, you could be shooting poop particles and germs directly into the air around you. Picture that!
And this is not a new phenomenon; toilet plume was first discovered in 1975 by microbiologist Charles Gerba after he put germs in a toilet to test if they still survived after flushing.
The average person flushes the toilet five to six times each day, adding up to nearly 2,000 flushes per year. With all that flushing, you might think toilet bowl germs are regularly getting swept to the sewers, but they’re not. Many different types of germs stay in the toilet bowl after you flush.
The main bacteria found in the plume is E. coli, which can cause bacterial gastroenteritis, a.k.a. abdominal pain and diarrhea.
If someone in your house has a stomach infection or running stomach, it might be best to convince them to stick to using just one toilet and to clean it after each use.
Why? Because there are always going to be “residual remnants” in the bowl that are not reached by the water stream after someone flushes. With time, those remnants can slide into the toilet bowl and wind up in the plume, causing you to get sick, too.
Some of these germs could reach sinks and toothbrushes. Meaning, you might want to start keeping a lid on your toothbrush holder if it is near the toilet.
But before you completely disinfect your bathroom after every flush, keep in mind that there’s a much easier solution: flushing with the lid down can minimize the size of the plume.
So remember to always flip it down before you flush.
- Move your toothbrushes far away from the toilet. Your toothbrush should be at least 3 feet away, or you’ll be brushing your teeth with whatever was in the toilet.
- Clean your bowl. A disinfectant that constantly cleans your toilet bowl can cut back on the amount of germs that spew toward you during a flush.
- Be extra cautious when you flush in public toilets. “Valve-type” toilets like you often find in public restrooms are the worst offenders when it comes to spray.
- Wash your hands. You hear it all the time, but it is worth repeating. Because otherwise, you’re part of the germ-spreading problem.
- Clean around the toilet. The germs sent into the air after a toilet flush don’t levitate forever. They eventually find their way to the floor, where you walk all over them and eventually trasnfer them them to other rooms.
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