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Do you flush with the lid open or closed? When it comes to germs, it might not matter

In the ongoing debate about proper toilet etiquette, the question of whether to keep the toilet lid up or down has taken a new twist. A recent study led by microbiologist Charles Gerba and his team at the University of Arizona delivers some disappointing news – whether you’re a fan of the lid up or lid down approach, it seems it might not have a significant impact on preventing the spread of germs.

The study, which found its way into the American Journal of Infection Control, reveals that closing the lid on a toilet doesn’t seem to be the game-changer we hoped for in stopping the dispersion of viral particles during flushing. Gerba, a veteran in the field with almost half a century of experience studying toilet germs, explained that the air carries viruses from the toilet bowl when you flush, no matter whether the lid is up or down.

While previous studies hinted that closing the lid could reduce bacterial contamination on nearby surfaces, Gerba’s team decided to focus on smaller viral particles typically found in residential restrooms. The verdict? It doesn’t make a significant difference.

The researchers conducted their study in both a public restroom in an office building and a regular home. They intentionally added viral particles to the toilets and measured contamination on surfaces one minute after flushing. The results suggested that closing the lid before flushing didn’t show a noticeable decrease in overall viral contamination.

Interestingly, when the lid was closed, contamination was slightly higher to the left and in front of the toilet but slightly lower to the right. The study emphasized the importance of regularly disinfecting all restroom surfaces to effectively reduce the spread of germs.

So, what’s the takeaway for keeping your bathroom germ-free? According to Gerba, it boils down to regular sanitization of toilets and nearby surfaces. He recommends keeping disinfectants and wipes within arm’s reach of the toilet, cleaning the handle after use, and ensuring thorough handwashing. For households dealing with a member experiencing diarrhea, Gerba suggests stepping up the game by disinfecting high-touch bathroom surfaces twice a day.

As the lid debate rages on, it’s clear that good hygiene practices, including regular cleaning and handwashing, are key players in minimizing the risk of spreading germs in both residential and public restrooms. So, in the battle against bathroom germs, it’s not just about the lid – it’s about adopting healthy habits and maintaining cleanliness.

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