For every woman who uses public toilets, here is an ultimate hygiene guide. You’re welcome!

Published on:14 February 2020, 12:34pm IST
Just squatting over the toilet seat in public washrooms is not enough. You’ve got to go the extra mile to prevent infections.
Sonakshi Kohli
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Squat, don’t sit! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

If there’s one thing that makes women envy men (apart from the fact that they don’t have to suffer period and labour pains), it’s the fact that they can stand and pee in public washrooms. 

Even Kangana Ranaut in her film Katti Batti says: “Kitna mushkil hai pot mein straight susu karna? Just hold the little soldier and aim.” 

Well, one thing is for certain: we can’t change biology. But we can offer you a guide to navigate public toilets without becoming a magnet for germs. Because guess what? According to a study conducted by the American Society for Microbiology, almost 77,000 distinct types of bacteria and viruses can be found on the toilet seats and soap dispensers of public washrooms. This includes a slew of germs like E.coli, Salmonella, Coliform, and rotavirus. 

And while this study was conducted in America, let’s face it: when it comes to hygiene, Indian toilets are even worse. 

The horrid state of public toilets can put women at a major risk of contracting diseases like dysentery, typhoid, urinary tract infection, and vulvar and vaginal infections, according to Dr Padmalatha V.V., consultant, obstetrics and gynaecological department, SPARSH Hospital, Bengaluru. 

Surely, there’s no stopping Nature’s call every time we feel the urge to pee while we’re not at home–because holding the urine in can also lead to infections. 

public toilet hygiene
Infographic by Safia Zahid

However, you can make your life easier by using public washrooms safely. So here is an ultimate guide for every woman who uses public toilets: 

Avoid the toilet seat like you would avoid your toxic ex
Because you know what? That toilet seat, with urine or fecal matter stuck to it, could be more toxic than that ex. Any contact with it can obviously make you prone to catching an infection. 

“Avoid direct contact of your body with the toilet seat of the commode as much as possible. Try squatting in a half-sitting position,” Dr Padmalatha suggests.

“In case you find that difficult, clean the toilet seat with a sanitizer and spread tissues on the seat before sitting on it,” she adds.

Also, read: Scared of using a vaginal wash? Try these home hacks for a healthy vulva

In fact, avoid direct contact with any part of the washroom
Even if you use peeing in public toilets as the perfect opportunity to tone that booty while squatting over the commode, you still can’t afford to be tension-free. There’s a high probability of you taking the support of the door handle or the walls while you squat. And that can backfire too as harmful bacteria and viruses are omnipresent in public toilets. 

Not to mention, when you reach out for the flush or the washbasin, you’ve got to remember that they are also not pure as the river Thames either, okay?

Hence, Dr Padmalatha warns against making direct contact with any area of the washroom and recommends using tissue paper to turn on the tap, twist open the knob of the washroom door, and dispense soap. 

public toilet hygiene
Keep a box of tissue or wipes handy. Image courtesy: Shutterstock.

Wash, but not everything
According to Dr Padmalatha, washing your hands before and after using the loo is an absolute must as is using the flush. However, washing your intimate area in a public washroom is a big no-no as it can increase your risk of getting an infection ten folds. 

“Just pat the area dry with a tissue paper to avoid moisture and maintain cleanliness down there,” she says.

Step out of your home well equipped, always
Padmalatha also advises women to always carry tissues and sanitizer when they step out, so that they can clean their hands before and after peeing and can avoid making contact with anything in a public toilet. 

She also recommends using stand-and-pee devices and fight nature and infections by peeing like a man.

Never put your belongings on the floor
If you’re lucky enough to be accompanied by a friend to a public toilet, you can hand over your precious belongings to her while you pee in peace. If not, then hanging the bag on the hook or simply squatting over the toilet seat while hugging your bag is your only resort because you absolutely don’t have the option of leaving your belongings on the floor. 

According to a study published in the journal PLOS One, the highest concentration of germs in public washrooms are found on the floor. And you really don’t want the germs to be spreading from your bag to your body, right? 

So ladies, that’s it for today. We hope that your peeing endeavours from here on out are as safe as they can be.

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Sonakshi Kohli Sonakshi Kohli

Twenty kilos down and struggling to maintain the weight loss by preaching healthy eating, while eating unhealthy every now and then.