We never really pay attention to how we flush a toilet. You just press down on the lever and wash your hands. That’s it, right?

Well, maybe not.

The right way to flush is with the lid down. There is scientific proof to back this claim. A study published in the Applied Microbiology journal in 1975 talks about ‘toilet plume’ in detail. Toilet plume is what happens when you flush the toilet with the lid open – the toilet water shoots a fine spray of feces and other germs into the air. Sometimes, the plume can reach fifteen meters in height.

This is why you need to shut the lid before flushing – especially if you have children and pets at home.

Germs or dirt can stay in the toilet even after you flush. Dirt from underneath the rim and seat can become a part of toilet plume. This means the same dirt and microbes could spread across the bathroom onto your sink, toothbrushes, the floor and more.

Recent experiments confirmed the details of the previous study. However, they also show that there is no evidence of toilet plume leading to a transfer of diseases from person to person.

This doesn’t mean that toilet plume is harmless. There is proof that bacteria like salmonella and viruses like hepatitis A can be transmitted by fecal particles through the human mouth. Needless to say, we must avoid toilet plume.

Just flushing with the lid down helps. But for better health and hygiene, here are some other tips:

  • Always use low-flow toilets. These don’t blast water as fast as other toilets do, reducing the intensity of toilet plume. Low-flow toilets are popular and affordable, so installing one is easy.
  • Clean your bathroom as often as possible. Be especially frequent if you have small children or sick family members at home.
  • Always wash your hands with a disinfecting soap after using the toilet.
  • Store items like toothbrushes, floss and tongue cleaners inside closed cabinets. It is safer and helps keep those products dry.
  • Avoid using public restrooms that are unclean or broken as much as possible. When you must use them walk away immediately after you flush. Carry hand sanitizer to use afterwards.

Sanitary hygiene is an overlooked but essential part of our lives. Small steps like these help us stay healthy and happy.

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