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Should you flush with toilet lid up or down? Study says it doesn’t matter

Accepted submission by Freeman at 2024-02-01 15:37:47 from the poop dept.
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"If it's something you can't see, it's easy to pretend it doesn't exist," study co-author John Crimaldi said at the time []. They found that the ejected airborne particles could travel up to 6.6 feet per second, reaching heights of 4.9 feet above the toilet within 8 seconds. And if those particles were smaller (less than 5 microns), they could hang around in that air for over a minute.

More relevant to this latest paper, it has been suggested [] that closing the lid before flushing could substantially reduce the airborne spread of contaminants. For example, in 2019 [], researchers at University College Cork deployed bioaerosol sensors in a shared lavatory for a week to monitor the number and size of contaminant particles. They concluded that flushing with the toilet lid down reduced airborne droplets between 30 and 60 percent. But this scenario also increased the diameter of the droplets and bacteria concentration. Leaving the lid down also means the airborne microdroplets are still detectable 16 minutes after flushing, 11 minutes longer than if one flushed with the lid up.
Perhaps the least surprising finding is that rigorous cleaning with a toilet bowl brush and Lysol reduced the contamination by 99.99 percent compared to cleaning with just a brush. Therefore, "The most effective strategy for reducing restroom cross-contamination associated with toilet flushing include the addition of a disinfectant to the toilet bowl before flushing and the use of disinfectant/detergent dispensers in the toilet tank," the authors concluded. They also recommend regularly disinfecting all restroom surfaces after flushing or cleaning with a toilet brush in health care facilities—which often have a lot of immunocompromised people—and if someone in your house has an active infection like norovirus.

Got it. Pardon us while we scrub our toilet bowls with Lysol and stock up on toilet tank disinfectant dispensers.

American Journal of Infection Control, 2024. DOI: 10.1016/j.ajic.2023.11.020 [] (About DOIs []).

Original Submission