Using Public Bathrooms in the Covid-19 Era?>
Wellness Tip

Using Public Bathrooms in the Covid-19 Era

by Andrea Klausner, MS, RD  

Wary of using public bathrooms in the time of Covid-19? Here are some quick tips to make your bathroom pit stop safer, based on the knowledge that coronavirus particles may linger both on surfaces and in the air. Though it’s unknown if public toilets play any role in the transmission of the coronavirus, it still makes sense to be cautious.

  • When possible, use restrooms that are less trafficked, and wait to go in until a stall opens up.
  • Wear a face covering (even if you are the only one there), remain physically distanced from other occupants (if present), and limit touching surfaces with bare hands. If you must touch something, use a paper towel, tissue, piece of toilet paper, or disinfectant wipe.
  • Close the toilet lid before flushing to prevent the release of potential virus-containing aerosol droplets in the “toilet plume” (there is preliminary evidence that Covid-19 could be transmitted via fecal matter). This may help protect others as well as yourself. For toilets without a lid (including urinals) or those that flush automatically, step away as quickly as possible.
  • Wash your hands after, for at least 20 seconds, with soap and water. If the faucet is not touchless, use a paper towel or tissue to turn it off so as not to recontaminate your hands.
  • Dry your hands with a paper towel or tissue—not a hand dryer, which might spread aerosolized virus particles around.
  • No soap available? Use that alcohol-based hand sanitizer that you should have with you at all times when you leave home. It should contain a minimum of 60 percent alcohol.
    If you have to touch the door handle when exiting, use a paper towel or tissue as a barrier.
  • Lastly, spend as little time inside as possible—a public bathroom is not a place to linger.

Also see Can You Get the Coronavirus Through Food?