Is it safe to use a public restroom?

is it safe to use public restrooms coronavirus
Photo via MrTinDC/Flickr (CC BY ND 2.0)
  • Experts say you should avoid public bathrooms if possible
  • Hand dryers can blow viral particles both in your face and around the room
  • If you must use a public restroom, make sure to wear a face mask

There are a myriad of reasons why public bathrooms are an unpleasant topic of conversation. There are just as many reasons why you should avoid them during coronavirus. 

Before many restaurants and bars reopened, bathrooms posed a significant obstacle in managing cleanliness and social distance, creating jobs like bathroom monitors and attendants in many places they had not existed before the pandemic. 

“You’re basically going in, to use a cute term, ‘a bioweapons factory,’ so there is no safe,” Mayo Clinic professor of medicine and infectious disease Greg Poland told BuzzFeed. “There’s only things you can do to mitigate the risk.”

COVID-19 spreads in close contact, where it’s possible to inhale respiratory droplets from others who may be carrying the virus. 

Hand dryers also spread coronavirus. The hot air pushes viral particles across the space of a lavatory and into the faces of users. Eric Feigl-Ding, a visiting scientist at Harvard’s School of Public Health, said this is not the only way to spread coronavirus in the air.

“The hand-blowing dryer is a wonderful machine to spread germs and aerosols and droplets throughout the room,” Feigl-Ding told CBS Philly. “Another key thing is that when you flush a toilet, the act of flushing a toilet is actually an aerosol-generating device.”

To combat the spread of coronavirus via public bathroom, businesses are removing doors, only allowing one person in at a time, wrapping alternating sinks in plastic to maintain social distance, or even closing them altogether. As always, health officials and doctors recommend that if there is no other option, you should wear a mask when using public restrooms. 

It is also advised that people use a paper towel or napkin to open door handles or to touch faucets. Also make sure to carry plenty of hand sanitizer just in case bathrooms are out of necessary supplies. 

Increases in public bathroom anxiety have driven demand for touchless bathroom fixtures, like sinks, soap and hand sanitizer dispensers, and toilets, according to 91% of people in a recent national survey

Is it safe:

Sources: CBS Philly, BuzzFeed, Forbes, Washington Post

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