Avoiding germs in public restrooms

- It's likely your summer road trip will take you into a public restroom or two. If you're worried about germs, here's a few things you can do to avoid them. And it starts with your cellphone.

"A recent study showed that up to 20 percent of cell phones have more fecal matter than the toilet seat and more germs, which is disgusting, so you have to try not to bring your phone in," says Dr. Dan Allan of Cleveland Clinic.

If you do take your phone into the restroom, Dr. Allan recommends wiping it down with an alcohol-based wipe afterward.

Setting your purse on the restroom floor is another no-no. 

Dr. Allan says it's better to hang the purse on a hook and avoid setting it down on any restroom surface. One study of public restrooms showed traces of more than 77,000 types of bacteria and viruses, including plenty of staph. Staph is commonly found on skin surfaces but can cause dangerous infections. Washing your hands after using the restroom is important to get rid of germs and bacteria, but Dr. Allan says how you dry your hands makes a difference, too.  

"When you're drying your hands, I would definitely use paper towels, not the blow dryers in the public bathrooms because that air is full of germs from all of the multiple toilet flushes and so studies have shown that it's cleaner to use a paper towel," says Dr. Allan.

The air dryers are good for the environment  but there is some research that says air hand dryers blow germs around. However, some say the paper towels are covered in germs, too.

Dr. Allan says it's also a good idea to use a clean paper towel to turn the sink off and on, and also to open the door on your way out. The fewer surfaces you touch, the better. 

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