Names, numbers, pictures and dirty words are scattered across the walls. Trying to focus on the messages in a futile attempt to ignore the gagging scent radiating from the other unflushed stalls, you choose a stall. This one is the cleanest, though the seat is decorated with beads of urine. After flushing, you dash from the room to escape catching any additional germs.
Whether called a men’s/lady’s room, crapper, toilet or restroom, going to a public lavatory can be quite a terrifying experience. The above scene is all too common in San Francisco’s bathrooms, indicating only one thing;many Bay Area residents have never learned what to do once inside these fortresses of stink.
Not to fret, there is help. Whether a novice of the porcelain throne or a moderately experienced participant, simply follow this easy, step-by-step guide to master the realm of public excrement.
Step #1: Select and enter stall. Upon entrance into the facilities, peer into each stall as you pass it. Enter the first available, clean station. Avoid those with no toilet paper, unflushed bowls or liquid on the seats or floors. If options are slim, you may need to flush a dirty toilet, which can be dangerous. Seemingly ignored johns might be clogged and may flood with a push of the handle. This is rare, take the risk, but have an escape route ready just in case.
Step #2: Use protection. Contrary to popular belief, the chances of catching a venereal disease from a public restroom are extremely low.
“Many disease-causing organisms can only live for a short time on the surface of the seat, and for an infection to occur, the germs would have to be transferred from the toilet seat to your urethral or genital tract or through a cut or sore on the buttocks or thighs which is possible, but very unlikely,” according to the Website WebMD. Regardless of any real danger, sitting on the same surface other people have just peed on is just plain icky.
To keep clean, use a seat cover. The pre-packaged ones are simple. Just remove from the cardboard box on the wall, lift at the top, punch the pre-cut area out and place on the seat in the appropriate direction.
If that option is not available, there is always the do-it-yourself method. First, grab a large pile of toilet paper and wipe the seat down. Then, take three or four more strips from the roll and arrange on the seat until surface is covered. DO NOT HOVER. Hovering is one of the main causes of contaminated toilet seats. In addition, it is a dangerous position, likely to cause a loss of balance and a potential injury or fall-in.
Step #3: Do Your Business: You already know how to sit on the toilet and do your thing. So do it. When wiping, ladies should always go front to back to avoid “cross contamination,” which can result in bladder or yeast infections. Redress yourself completely before moving on to the next step.
Step #4: Flush: Now here is where the germs attack. Obviously, lots of people use public bathrooms. Germs on their hands go straight onto the toilet lever. If at all possible, flush with your foot. If you must use your hand, bundle a wad of toilet paper together and use it as a shield. If the stall is equipped with an automatic flusher that fails to go off, it is your responsibility to remove the waste. Most have a small button next to the sensor, but others have buttons on the floor for shoe use. Just look around, you need to find it. Make sure everything goes down like it’s supposed to, if not, flush again.
Step #5: Come Clean: The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), says that one out of three Americans do not wash their hands after leaving the restrooms. Do not be one of those people; washing hands is one of the easiest ways to prevent catching a cold or flu from disease-causing germs.
To wash hands correctly, turn on the water in the sink, wet hands and apply soap. Rub hands together for at least 10-15 seconds, or long enough to sing most of the theme song from “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” It’s the soap combined with the scrubbing action that helps dislodge and remove germs, according to the CDC Website. If the bathroom has paper towels, dry hands with one, hold on to it and use it to turn off the sink and open the door. If towels are not an option, turn off the sink and open the door, touching as few items as possible in the process.
That’s all there is to it. Now you too can be relieved and clean without making the bathroom anymore unpleasant for the next visitor. Go spread the word!