There’s only one way to flush a toilet, right? Well not according to this microbiologist.
Philip Tierno told Business Insider that we’re actually flushing our toilets the wrong way if we leave the lid up.
He says: “When you flush a toilet, the swirling water that removes your waste from the bowl also mixes with small particles of that waste, shooting aerosolised faeces into the air.”
This rather disgusting phenomenon is known as “toilet plume” …yuck! This “toilet plume” can actually reach a height of 15 feet when the toilet is flushed.
Not only that, but potentially harmful bacteria and viruses can be transmitted by toilet plume as far as the sink, floor and even your toothbrush.
So, it’s a good idea to keep a cover on your toothbrush or keep it in a cabinet rather than on the sink.
It’s still unclear whether diseases can be transmitted in this manner, more research into “toilet plume” is required before scientists can determine this.
So, don’t panic if you accidentally forget to put the seat down before you flush.
“If you have unbroken skin, you’re likely to be okay," Tierno said. He did, however, point out that bacteria like salmonella which causes food poisoning and viruses like norovirus and hepatitis A, are transmitted by faecal particles entering the mouth.
If someone in your family has been unwell, it’s probably prudent to put the seat down when you flush.
If you have a newer toilet, you don’t need to worry as much as this is less likely to happen with newer low-flow toilets. Older toilets are more likely to spread “toilet plume.”
On the topic of shared bathrooms, the microbiologist advised: “It is a good idea to lower the seat, especially if the bathroom is used by multiple people.”
When it comes to using a public bathroom, he advises that if there is no lid on the toilet, leave immediately once you flush it and always wash your hands thoroughly.
This gross nugget of information also serves as a reminder to clean our toilets regularly because apparently flushing only removes a certain amount of microbes, the rest can only be removed by scrubbing the bowl.
Hmm, now to get the kids to practice this good habit!