Among bathroom appliances, there’s nothing that can inspire as much fear and loathing as the good old-fashioned toilet, especially when located outside of the home. Why? Well, there are a lot of myths out there when it comes to toilets, from being incomparably dirty to carrying diseases—just to name a few. Below, we restore some dignity to the bathroom’s throne by debunking some of the more common toilet myths.
1) Toilet Seats Are Filthy
You may think that toilets are the dirtiest part of a bathroom, but studies have shown that bathroom floors, sinks, and hand dryers (in commercial restrooms) are far dirtier than the actual toilet seat. Indeed, the truth is that most bathroom germs end up on your hands (which the ladies might want to consider while attempting to hover over a toilet seat). Air dryers, for instance, blow bathroom germs directly onto your hands, while toilet handles have been touched by hands that have likely been everywhere you can imagine. By contrast, most toilet seats are clean enough to eat off, although we wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. Urine itself is sterile (sterile enough to wash clothes with in ancient Rome), so no need to worry about germs there.
2) You Can Flush Anything
Toilets are built to dispose of waste, right? Well, yes and no. Human waste yes, but anything else besides toilet paper and maybe an occasional tissue is a big no. A toilet is not a garbage; you shouldn’t flush sanitary products, other waste materials, or deceased pets. While your toilet probably isn’t going to explode (as one urban legend has it), it’s a good rule of thumb that if it isn’t a human byproduct or piece of toilet paper, than it shouldn’t go down the toilet. Otherwise, it may clog, break, or overflow, and require professional toilet repair.
3) Toilet Seats Carry Disease
One fairly common myth about toilets is that you can catch sexually transmitted diseases or even AIDS from sitting on a toilet. There’s absolutely no truth to this idea. These diseases need a warm, wet environment (not including urine) to survive, and so are not able to live outside the human body except for in carefully regulated medical settings. They also need a method of being transferred into the body. In case you were wondering, women also cannot get pregnant from sitting on a toilet, since the fluid would likewise require a method of being transferred deep within the body.
4) Plungers are an “Easy-Fix” Solution
The plunger is a pretty common household tool, but it should be used with caution. For one thing, you should make sure the plunger has the appropriate shape designed for a toilet–not a sink. If not used carefully, a plunger can actually cause damage to your toilet by uprooting the toilet from its seal on your floor. That’s why it sometimes best to let a clog sit a while and see if gravity will work it out, assuming it isn’t overflowing. If it is overflowing, don’t hesitate to contact a professional plumber.
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