Using the bathroom is an essential, daily activity. But toilets can also be breeding grounds for germs and bacteria when not properly cleaned. Practicing good toilet hygiene is critical for reducing the spread of illness-causing pathogens.
This ultimate guide covers everything you need to know about proper toilet hygiene, including:
- The most concerning germs in toilet environments
- How pathogens spread from toilets
- The right way to clean toilets and disinfect properly
- Tips for maintaining toilet cleanliness between deeper cleans
- Odor control for toilets
Follow these toilet hygiene practices to keep yourself and your family healthy.
Most Concerning Germs in Toilets
Many types of dangerous bacteria, viruses, and parasites can be passed through contact with poorly maintained toilets. Some of the most concerning include:
- Salmonella – Causes salmonellosis food poisoning with diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. There can be up to 1010 salmonella bacteria per gram of feces.
- Norovirus – Leads to severe gastroenteritis. Feces can contain up to 1012 norovirus particles per gram. It’s also highly contagious through surfaces.
- E. coli – While most E. coli are harmless, strains like O157:H7 cause bloody diarrhea and kidney failure in humans.
- Shigella – Causes shigellosis with diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps. There can be up to 109 Shigella bacteria per gram of feces.
- Hepatitis A Virus – Causes liver infection leading to jaundice, fatigue, nausea, and diarrhea.
- SARS-CoV-2 – The virus that causes COVID-19. It has been found in feces and urine of infected patients.
These and other pathogens can spread directly through contact with contaminated toilets or indirect contact with surfaces and hands.
How Germs Spread from Toilets
Toilets provide a direct route for fecal-oral transmission of pathogens shed in feces and urine. But germs can also spread through:
Aerosols Generated During Flushing
When a toilet is flushed, aerosolized droplets containing microbes eject from the bowl. These can float in the air and settle on surfaces. Salmonella and norovirus have been found up to 6 feet from the toilet after flushing.
Pathogens can spread through contact with contaminated toilet seats, handles, sinks, and other surfaces near the toilet. In one study, E. coli was found on over 25% of surfaces near hospital toilets due to transfer from the toilet.
Sponges, rags, and other tools used to clean the toilet can pick up germs and transfer them to countertops, faucets, and additional bathroom surfaces.
Improper Hand Hygiene
Hands that directly contact soiled toilets or contaminated surfaces can further spread pathogens if not washed properly with soap and water.
Proper Toilet Cleaning Techniques
To prevent germs from spreading, daily cleaning and regular disinfection of toilets is a must. Follow these steps:
- Scrub the toilet bowl with a toilet brush and bathroom cleaner. Make sure to get under the rim where bacteria can hide.
- Clean all exterior toilet surfaces like the seat, handle, tank, and base.
- Wipe down the floor around the toilet using an all-purpose cleaner.
- Clean other frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs and light switches.
- Sanitize the toilet bowl and exterior by spraying surfaces with a disinfectant cleaner. Let it soak for 5-10 minutes.
- Scrub surfaces thoroughly and let air dry. Hydrogen peroxide cleaners are ideal for disinfection.
- Clean sinks, countertops, and other bathroom surfaces with a disinfecting cleaner weekly.
Deeper Monthly Cleans
- Scrub tile walls, floors, behind the toilet, and windows to remove soap scum and grime.
- Descale toilet and sink fixtures.
- Wash shower curtains, bath mats, and towels in hot water.
Tips for Maintaining Toilet Cleanliness
In addition to proper cleaning methods, some extra tips will help keep toilets sanitary between deep cleans:
- Install an automatic toilet cleaning system to prevent buildup under the rim.
- Use a toilet brush holder with a drip tray to prevent transferring germs to surfaces.
- Close the toilet lid before flushing to reduce spread of bacteria and viruses.
- Avoid plush toilet seat covers and mats, which can harbor germs.
- Clean other bathroom surfaces like doorknobs, sinks, and light switches daily.
- Ventilate bathrooms properly to reduce moist surfaces where mold and mildew grow.
- Ask family members suffering from infection or diarrhea to use a separate bathroom if possible. Disinfect after use.
Controlling Odors in the Toilet
Along with germs, odors can also be an issue in the bathroom. To keep toilet smells at bay:
- Clean the toilet thoroughly on a regular schedule to prevent buildup of odor-causing grime.
- Ensure the toilet flushes fully with an adequate volume of water.
- Clean under the toilet rim where urine and waste can collect.
- Use an in-bowl toilet cleaner to prevent odor-causing bacteria from growing.
- Ventilate the bathroom well by running fans during and after use.
- Avoid air fresheners and scented cleaners that mask odors rather than removing them.
While regular cleaning helps maintain toilet hygiene, tough buildup or extreme grime may require calling in the professionals for deep cleaning services. Especially call for professional help if anyone in the household currently has or recently had a contagious illness.
Everclean offers professional deep bathroom cleaning services throughout Dublin, Wicklow, Kildare and Meath counties. Our trained technicians use profesional-grade disinfectants and powerful equipment to scrub and sanitize all surfaces, including hard-to-reach areas.
We can provide a full bathroom deep clean including:
- Scrubbing and disinfecting tile, floors, walls, sink and shower fixtures
- Removing soap scum, mineral deposits, and grime throughout the bathroom
- Disinfecting the toilet bowl, seat, handle, and exterior
- Washing shower curtains, bath mats, and towels
- Cleaning mirrors, cabinets, vents, and light fixtures
Our deep bathroom cleaning services eliminate up to 99% of germs, bacteria, and viruses that routine cleaning misses. We ensure your bathroom is completely clean and hygienic.
Contact Everclean today to schedule a deep bathroom cleaning service for your home or business throughout Dublin, Wicklow, Kildare and Meath. Keep your bathroom sparkling clean and your family healthy with professional disinfection services.
- S.E. Abney, K.R. Bright, J. McKinney, M. Khalid Ijaz, C.P. Gerba, Toilet hygiene—review and research needs, Journal of Applied Microbiology, Volume 131, Issue 6, 1 December 2021, Pages 2705–2714, https://doi.org/10.1111/jam.15121