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According to a 2013 review of studies published by the American Journal of Infection Control, it’s clear that flushing your toilet with the lid wide open can threaten potential risks. The specific act is called “toilet plume aerosols,” which occurs during flushing. When the toilet contains feces or vomit, the flush can produce potentially infectious aerosols that will live in your bathroom for hours.

Now keeping your bathroom clean isn’t a new idea, especially since bacteria can easily contaminate toilet seats, lids, surrounding floors or any nearby surfaces. But flushing your toilet probably isn’t in your immediate list of disease-ridden activities. If anything, flushing the toilet feels like a clean activity.

 

Keep Your Toilet Lid Closed

Here are the specifics: When you flush the toilet, some fraction of the aerosol droplets produced while flushing could contain microbes. Microbes come from infectious diseases from whatever is in that toilet bowl. Vomit and feces can contain high pathogen concentrations such as Shigella, Salmonella, and even norovirus. These pathogens can actually survive on surfaces for weeks or even months.

The study says, “Research suggests that this toilet plume could play an important role in the transmission of infectious diseases for which the pathogen is shed in feces or vomit. The possible role of toilet plume in airborne transmission of norovirus, SARS and pandemic influenza is of particular interest.”

So for future reference, you may want to start closing the lid when you flush. Especially if that toilet is anywhere close to your toothbrush.

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