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Many people consider toilet seats to be public enemy No. 1, aka the germiest place in the bathroom.

They are wrong. It's actually the sink.

Studies at the University of Arizona in Tucson found that sinks are the greatest reservoir of germ colonies in restrooms, thanks in part to accumulation of water that become breeding grounds for tiny organisms. That's why it's important to not only wash your hands, but use paper towels to act as a barrier against bacterial transmission when turning on and off the faucet. Other areas of concern are the door handles and manual paper towel dispensers. Again use barrier methods in preventing transmission of germs.

Wash your hands but be cautious not to touch handles or other objects after washing. Let's face it germs are everywhere. Some are even helpful, there is no escaping them. Be smart, be careful, but most of all, be reasonable.

But back to the toilet seat. Research has shown that the toilet seat it is not a common way to transmit germs. Fact is disease causing organisms can only survive for a short period of time on the toilet seat, and would have to be transferred to you through an opening or cut on your lower body. Possible? Yes. But highly unlikely. Interestingly another place that carries a high risk of germ transmission is the actual toilet stall. When you flush, a mist of water and germs gets sprayed up into the air. These germs can be deposited on your clothes, skin and inhaled.

So my best advice is after flushing, RUN!

When it comes to germs, you can run but you can’t hide. Here are some practical anti-germ practices:

  • Antibacterial soaps containing triclosan and hand sanitizers are great at what they were designed to do: kill a good percentage of germs. That being said, they should be used sparingly around the home and in the office as studies have shown they may not be as effective as we think in preventing disease and may even promote antibiotic resistance.

  • It is preferable not to leave your toothbrush near the toilet, especially if it an automatic or power flusher, since that is where the mist developers.

  • And while we are on the topic, never use the drinking glass in a hotel bathroom. Rumor has it they clean it with pledge or Windex.

And contrary to public perception, the germiest item in your house is not in the bathroom, but in the kitchen. It is your sponge. The one you use to clean your dishes. How’s that for irony?

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