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Should you be worried about your toilet spreading COVID-19?

Date Posted: 09.07.20
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If you search up facts about toilet hygiene, you will see numbers of articles and facts talking about them not being the most hygienic of places. So, with the recent outbreak of the Coronavirus, are toilets a contributing factor to the spread of this infectious virus?

Commercial properties across South Wales, the UK and across the world will have toilets for both their staff and for the public. However, for professional cleaning providers, it can be a challenge to keep them clean of bacteria and viruses like the Coronavirus with them being in constant use.

In a recent interview by Cleaning & Maintenance Magazine with Dr Gavin McGregor Skinner, they discussed the topic surrounding toilets and how ‘Toilet Plumes’ can be a contributing factor to staff and the public becoming seriously ill with infectious diseases like the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The question surrounding toilets being contributors to spreading airborne bacteria has been around since 1907 where William Horrocks demonstrated that there was airborne transmission of sewage-related infectious diseases from sewer drains. He also showed that bacteria were spreading from one hospital to another through the air that was coming from sewage drains.

But even with multiple studies conducted, anything that comes from our bodies (whether that is urine, faeces, or vomit) and goes into the toilet, when it is flushed away, it will create a toilet plume.

However, the term ‘Toilet Plume’ should be defined. Toilet Plumes are spray that is filled with bacteria and viruses that is from our waste and it can have billions of microbes in it.

A study that was conducted in 1975 looked at toilet plumes and how long they lingered in the air – which resulted in toilet plumes lingering for up to 6 hours after the toilet was flushed and can disperse themselves all over the bathroom and toilet area. And in 2015 an updated study was conducted which appeared in the American Journal of Infection Control and showed very clearly that toilets produced large droplets and smaller aerosol particles that allowed bacteria and viruses to be transmitted through the air.

However, the updated study mentioned that bacteria from a healthy person waste doesn’t make us seriously ill, but if a person who has been infected with a virus like the Norovirus or even Coronavirus either urinates or vomits then the virus can spread via the toilet plume.

So what is the solution to stopping toilet plumes from spreading bacteria and viruses?

There is one very simple solution. Close the toilet lid before flushing the toilet. Yep, it is that simple, however, with recent designs surrounding toilets not always including a lid, there is no way of stopping toilet plumes from spreading bacteria and viruses (besides holding your breath when flushing and then running as fast as you can). If you have toilets within your building that don’t have lids you can invest in aftermarket lids to fit your existing toilets or you can remind and encourage staff and the public to practise good hand hygiene and wash their hands after flushing with warm water and soap.

But what about the cleaners having to cleaning these toilets, how are they able to keep themselves safe?

Most cleaning teams would have been given training on how to clean a toilet effectively and safely (whether it has a lid or not). To ensure that staff are safe from picking up viruses and not harming themselves they should wear PPE such as disposable gloves. If there are toilets that don’t have lids, then they should have an increased cleaning regime and be disinfected with viricidal cleaning products.

We at A&R Cleaning services have over 40 years’ experience within the cleaning industry and know that toilets can be hotbeds for bacteria and viruses to throve and spread – making both staff and the public ill. To find out more about our cleaning and janitorial services take a look at our website here or to arrange a free quotation call us on 01656 713950

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