How Much Do Toilet Seat Covers Actually Protect You?

The answer will have you second-guessing taking the time to protect your bum.

Sorry, but a thin, flimsy piece of paper isn’t going to protect you against germs. But don’t worry too much; there isn’t a high chance that a well-used public toilet is going to be the source of your sickness.

“Toilet seats are not a vehicle for the transmission of any infectious agents—you won’t catch anything,” Dr. William Schaffner, MD, and a professor of preventive medicine at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center told These are etiquette rules you should always follow when using a public restroom.

How-Much-Do-Toilet-Seat-Covers-Actually-Protect-You- Ryazantsev Dmitriy/shutterstock

The reason that many people feel the need to use toilet seat covers is because it was once believed that toilet seats were a way of transmitting gastrointestinal and sexually transmitted infections. Research has proved that to be false. So now, those liners continue to be used in public bathrooms so that people feel a little bit cleaner when relieving themselves.

This doesn’t mean there aren’t any germs on toilets. The majority of the bacteria on toilet seats are common skin microbes, which most people already have, so they don’t pose a risk. Also, whenever you flush the toilet, germs are put in the air (they can travel as far as six feet!).

Because germs are essentially lurking all over the bathroom, the best way to protect yourself from them is to wash your hands. Using soap and warm water to scrub your hands can go a long way.

So, next time you go to the bathroom, feel free to skip the toilet seat cover. Besides, there are other things you use every day that are much dirtier than a toilet seat. One example: your phone screen.


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