For many of us the most dreaded place to go are public bathrooms…the sticky floors, the weird stains on the toilet, the dirty sticky handles, the dreaded brittle like toilet paper that feels like blades on your skin, the broken soaps, I can go on and on.
What I have done is to create my own “public bathroom routine” to tried to trick my brain that I am not picking up any germs. Did you see what I just wrote? To try to trick my brain into thinking that all these extra steps are helping me, my kids, my family to not bringing unwanted germs to my house…yeah right? Whatever…
In other words, I want to share with you this “routine” and I want you to help me improve my “routine”. Maybe you have thought of better ways to do things!
I decided to write about this very delicate situation because it is something that we may have to deal with on a daily basis and sometimes more than once. I know for a fact, that there are people that have so much anxiety about going to public bathrooms, that choose not to go out at certain times or certain places. And everything becomes even more complicated if you have KIDS!
But before I go into details I want to clarify something. As a healthcare professional this is how I was taught to look at body fluids such as urine and stool: normal, a window to your health. When I say window I mean, urine and stool are ways for you to tell how is your body doing. A lot of illnesses can be diagnosed through body fluids and waste. In other words, talking about body fluids should be as normal as when talking about any other part of your body. After clarifying that, here is the routine:
- Most bathrooms you can just push the door with your body or elbow to open. If it has a handle, well too bad I have to touch the handle to open.
- I think with most young/middle age women hovering is the standard when urinating. If I must sit, I use the spray from Young Living essential oils, “Thieves”, I spray the toilet seat with it and wipe it with toilet paper (this was a trick that two of the moms I know taught me). I do have two whole posts (Part I and II) about being careful with essential oils that are a must read if you are into essential oils! Then cover the seat entirely with toilet paper or paper towels if available. Now, I am careful to throw away the paper towel that I have used to cover the sit in an actual garbage. I don’t want to flush it in the toilet and clog it. If using a ton of toilet paper to cover the sit and there is not an actual garbage can, then I flush little bits at a time so I don’t clog the toilet. The Thieves spray comes really handy when kids have to sit in the toilet, I usually spray the sides of the toilet as well because they usually have to hold themselves and they put their hands in the actual seat. I used to carry a portable children’s seat with all these covers for the toilets, but most of the time you don’t really have the space to have your diaper bag in the small bathroom and it is just too bulky. I still cover the toilet seat and all the above steps.
- When using toilet paper to clean yourself, I usually waste a piece of toilet paper the whole length of the circumference of the role and then take a second piece and use that. The reason is because usually people touch that top part of the toilet paper roll to unroll it and their hands are not clean at that moment when touching it. Yeah and good luck with those humongous rolls that are very low to the ground and you can only get a tiny piece at a time!
- Flushing can be easy if you have room to lift your foot and flush it with your foot. If there is a button instead of a handle, then using a piece of toilet paper to cover the button or handle and then flush would be the next best thing. Now, for those automatic flushers that spray the hell out of you, yakkk… just move as far back as you can…run…
- If you experience the treat of doing #2 in a public bathroom, I follow all the steps mentioned above about cleaning the seat and cover it with toilet paper. After I am done with #2, I spray the air with any bottle of perfume or body sprays. I feel I am being nice to everyone else in the vicinity. Stool is not supposed to smell good so I feel better about it. And yes, I carry a lot of little sprays in my purse.
- After washing your hands the best thing is not to close the valve with your clean hands but to grab a paper towel and close it with it. Nowadays a lot of bathrooms have paper towels near the exit door to grab the handle with paper towels and open it; next best thing I think is using your elbow. The newer bathrooms have some type of ultraviolet light that cleans the handle of the exit door automatically, but I have only seen that once. And of course I love those bathrooms that everything is electronic and you don’t have touch anything. There is not even an exit door to touch. Kudos to those bathrooms!!
- Sometimes after getting out of bathrooms you feel all the way dirty (like when you go to gas station bathrooms). In those cases I use my hand sanitizer. I have tried very hard to get away from “antibacterial wet ones” and I have been using more natural ones. Most antibacterial gels or wipes have triclosan, an ingredient that has become very controversial.
The FDA explains that triclosan is an ingredient that is used in many consumer products to reduce or prevent bacterial contamination. It has been found in animals that it alters hormone regulation and may contribute to bacteria’s resistance to antibiotics. It has also been found that triclosan in hand soaps or antibacterial products does not provide extra health benefits compared to just using soap and water. The FDA states that “Triclosan is not known to be hazardous to humans.” In my opinion, if it can harm animals I would not like to take a chance. So I personally try to stay away from this ingredient. The environmental working group (EWG) scored it a 7 (score of 1-2 is low hazard, score of 3-6 moderate hazard, score 7-10 high hazard). Here is the post were I explained a little more about the EWG and scoring.
I have used in the past Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Hand Sanitizer Spray, the environmental working group (EWG) skin deep score is a 2:
Currently I am using Everyone hand sanitizer spray coconut and lemon which has a score of 2 on EWG. Both of these sprays have as main ingredient ethanol, which has been proven that it does help to diminished infections in hospitals and schools according to a few study abstracts of PubMed. Hand washing with soap and water is the best way to prevent infections and germ transmission.
Here are the EWG scores on Wet Ones antibacterial wipes:
My sister shared this picture with me and it summarizes the truth, I guess…
Please, share your thoughts!