Because we in the developed world have a safe water supply and efficient waste disposal, and we live in clean, well-ventilated homes, we can be lax about hygiene, and many people have developed some pretty unsanitary habits that are so ingrained we don’t even think about them. Take for example, toilet flushing.
What’s the Big Deal About Toilet Seats?
It’s strange that the argument about whether the toilet seat should be left up or down is cause for so much conflict in relationships and families, when the answer is obvious. It should be down. And the only reason it should be down is that you can’t close the toilet lid when it is up. Unlike the seat issue, there is no gray area here, no wiggle room, and no argument. Except when you’re actually using the toilet, the lid should be down—especially when flushing.
What Happens When You Flush the Toilet?
When you flush the toilet, a large volume of water is directed into the bowl, swirled around to clean the surfaces, and siphoned out through a pipe that washes it into the main sewer system or into a septic tank. Obviously, you need quite a bit of pressure and movement to get all the stuff out, which is why you get that unmistakable sound that you never want to hear on the other end of the phone. And all that swirling, whooshing water creates aerosols—tiny droplets, and not-so-tiny droplets of water—and all the other stuff that’s in the water that rises up from the toilet bowl in an invisible plume, only to settle all over your bathroom. That includes your toothbrush, your washcloth, and your towels.
Can Toilet Plumes Really Spread Disease?
A 2013 study published in the American Journal of Infection Control states that many pathogens, including noroviruses and—yes—coronaviruses can be spread by toilet plumes. Of course, that was before SARS-CoV-1. But it’s not a big leap to think the SARS-CoV-2 would do so as well, especially as numerous studies show that it can be spread via the fecal-oral route.
This one is a no-brainer. Keep the toilet lid closed. It may save your life, and—as it’s a totally non-gendered issue—it may even save your relationships.