How Dirty is Your Toilet?

Toilets: Are They as Dirty as You Think?

In Bathrooms, General by Calgary's Neatfreak

If you were to ask a friend whether or not they would cut their vegetables on their toilet seat, they’d probably fix you with a look of absolute revulsion. But really, are toilets that dirty?

It makes sense that you might think so, but realistically, toilets are more thoroughly cleaned than anything else in the house. Let’s take a more scientific approach and have a look at exactly how dirty our toilets really are.

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Under the Microscope

The cleanliness of bathrooms has gone under inspection a huge number of times, by a wide variety of parties, and while claims of the amount of bacteria per square inch (a common measure of dirtiness) varies hugely from study to study, there are consistently several orders of magnitude between the toilet seat and, for example, the toothbrush.

And the toothbrush is not at the flattering end of the scale.

What we’re saying is that there can be thousands of times more bacteria huddled up in the fibres of that little brush that you use to clean your teeth and gums every day, than in the bowl where the bad stuff goes. The bathtub and your faucets usually complete the podium, while the floor – which again is cleaned regularly – has far fewer bacteria.

Your Bathroom Isn’t Even the Dirtiest Room in the House

The bathroom is generally considered the most bacteria-harbouring of all the rooms in the house, probably because of what goes on in and around (though preferably in) the toilet. In fact, while the toilet certainly has the potential to be a bit nasty, it is so thoroughly cleaned on such a regular basis that it remains quite sparkling.

If you bleach the toilet and the drains, scrubs down the surfaces with antibacterial cleaner and generally maintain a clean bathroom, you could probably eat your dinner off the seat. That would be weird, and we’re not saying it’s a good idea, but it might actually put you at a smaller risk of falling foul of bad bacteria than the least clean room in your house – the kitchen.

That’s right. The sheer amount of cross-contamination means that the potential for pathogen growth is huge compared to the rest of the house. Of the entire home, your kitchen sponge is likely to be the most packed with live bacteria, including faecal matter.

Second place often goes to the chopping board – that toilet seat isn’t sounding so bad now, right?