8 Places You Should Never, Ever Touch in Public Bathrooms

Updated: Oct. 18, 2018

Yuck! You’ll want to hold it until you get home after reading this.

Faucet and water flow on bathroom

Faucet handle

This one is kind of a no-brainer. You turn on the water with dirty, contaminated hands and then turn the water off using the same faucet with clean hands. Even though you washed your hands, you picked up germs on your way out. After washing your hands, grab a paper towel and use it to turn the faucet off. If the bathroom doesn’t have paper towels, turn off the faucet with your elbow. Be sure you’re washing your hands the right way, too.

Hand Air Dryer In Public Toilet or Washrooms. selective focus, vintage color
Have a nice day Photo/Shutterstock

Hand dryers

Not only should you never touch the hand dryers in public restrooms, but you also should never use them—really. According to research done at the University of Westminster in London, jet air dryers spread 190 times more virus than paper towels. When you dry your hands with paper towels, it dries them faster and creates friction, which removes bacteria, leaving your hands much cleaner.

public restroom
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The floor

This one is also a no-brainer. And for most people, it’s pretty easy to avoid touching the bathroom floor. Make sure you never place your purse, diaper bag, or backpack on the ground while you use the restroom because any of those items can collect fecal bacteria off the floor. If there isn’t a hook in the stall or on the door, keep it on your shoulder or hold it around your neck. This is how many germs are actually on your phone screen. Warning, it will probably gross you out.


Flush handle

A lot of people use their foot to flush the toilet (no, we’re not kidding!) which means there are a ton of germs on it from the bottom of people’s shoes. The handle is also the first place people touch after they wipe and have a lot of bacteria on their hand.

hand hygiene using soaps remedy reduce the spread infection.
Volkova Vera/Shutterstock

Soap dispenser

If the soap dispenser is manual, you’ll want to scrub your hands really well after touching it. Many people go for the soap right after going to the bathroom, pumping it out with their germ-covered hands. You should also never, ever touch these parts of your body.

In an public building are womans toilets whit black doors
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The walls

The walls of public restrooms are essentially covered in everything that goes into the toilet. Toilet plume, or the particles that become airborne when the toilet is flushed, spread all over the walls of the stall or room. Most bathroom walls don’t even get cleaned in public restrooms, so you definitely don’t want to lean against them.

Public bathroom stalls. Four open brown metal stall doors. Fluorescent lighting in background. Beige tile floor and walls. Nobody. Horizontal.
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The stall door handle

Similar to the faucet, this is one of the first things people touch after using the bathroom. It’s constantly coming in contact with unwashed, germ-covered hands. But, it’s pretty hard to avoid touching it, so just make sure to scrub your hands with soap really well after. Don’t miss these everyday items that are dirtier than a toilet seat.

All-gender restroom signage next to a restroom door showing icons of man, woman, transgender and wheelchair user

The door

Everyone knows someone who does the paper towel grab when leaving the bathroom. Well, they’re saving themselves from picking up a lot of germs right after washing their hands. A lot of people choose not to clean their hands after using the restroom and just leave, grabbing the door handle on their way out. Yuck! Use a paper towel to open it or push it open with your foot. Aside from things you should never touch in a public bathroom, here are the 22 bathroom mistakes you never knew you made.

[Sources: clevelandclinic.org, livescience.com]