faucet and soap dispenser
Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

Safe Public Washrooms? No Special Gadgets are Needed…

“Did you have a fear of public restrooms before the coronavirus became a pandemic? Maybe not fear, but some trepidation. Has that fear heightened since COVID-19? Turns out that many people have a fear of public restrooms and worry about finding a bathroom when they’re on the go and have to go.”

Safe Public Washrooms? No Special Gadgets are Needed…

The paragraph you just read was from this article which was written by Shelli Stein of Point Me to the Plane — and it even highlights a few gadgets which offer “creative solutions” to using public washrooms…

…but all you really need is a disposable paper towel — or, perhaps, a few of them.

Long before the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic reared its ugly head and spread all over the place faster than melted butter in a smooth hot skillet, I did everything I can to never touch anything in a public washroom outright.

To enter the washroom, I use a paper towel — or, perhaps, the metal end part of a key or the cuff of my shirt or some other part of my clothing — to pull open the door. If the facility is busy enough, I may just wait a moment for someone else to open the door. If I can push the door open, I usually turn my body around and back into the door to open it.

Once I enter the public washroom and approach the urinal or toilet, I do not take on the stance of a super hero while whistling with my hands are on my hips or behind my head as a flash of glowing light emphasizes the muscles on my body and silhouettes the cape flowing in the wind behind me like some guys seem to do. Rather, I do what I need to do; and then use a paper towel to flush the urinal or toilet.

Yes, I know. That is rather devoid of excitement.

I then approach the faucet, I use fresh paper towels to turn on the faucet; use the soap dispenser; turn off the faucet; and activate the electric hand dryer if a button needs to be pushed. If necessary, I then use a paper towel to pull open the door and leave the washroom.

If a paper towel is wet, I discard it in a proper receptacle and use a new one.

That is it. I use no fancy gadgets or creative solutions to stay healthy — regardless of how disgusting is a public washroom.

If you need to use a toilet itself, you can either squat above the toilet itself or carry a disposable toilet seat cover — both without having to touch the toilet itself — and then flush the toilet with a paper towel.

Dyson hand dryer
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

If you dry your hands using a device similar to the one shown in the photograph above, be careful not to touch the edges as you insert your hands to automatically activate the device.

Also, do not go too near to someone who is using an electric hand dryer, as droplets of moisture from their hands could accidentally spray onto you.

Are Touchless Faucets and Other Fixtures the Answer?

faucet and soap dispenser
Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

“We’re advocating for more revolutionary toilet design with the single stall, fully enclosed water closets with toilet seats covers” that are typical in Europe, Steven Soifer — who is the co-founder and president of the American Restroom Association, which was founded in September of 2004 — said, according to the aforementioned article written by Shelli Stein. “That would address many of the issues.”

Soifer hopes the heightened awareness as a result of the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic will prompt what he sees as a long overdue overhaul of public restrooms.

Touchless faucets and other fixtures may indeed be a viable solution to this issue — but when I first asked that question in this article on Wednesday, May 31, 2017, readers advised me in the Comments section that the main purpose of touchless faucets is to save water…

…but could touchless items installed in a public washroom be used to attempt to reduce the transmission of microbes from one person to another to decrease the chances of spreading any illnesses caused by viruses — such as the 2019 Novel Coronavirus — and not require the user to touch it through manual operation? Should the public washroom either have everything — such as a faucet, toilet, soap dispenser, towel dispenser, and hot air dryer as five examples — touchless?


The information in this article applies to lavatories aboard airplanes as well as public washrooms.

The entire point of not contracting a communicable or infectious disease is to ensure that your hands are not contaminated when they touch any part of your face — and properly wash your hands on a regular basis. You can usually use most public washrooms without trepidation or having to “hold it in” if you simply follow this advice.

Prior to the arrival of the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic, many people were not doing enough to stay reasonably clean. Now everybody seems to be overdoing it, which is not necessary.

I have been in washrooms located in numerous airports and have seen all sorts of combinations of touchless devices combined with manually operated ones — for example, everything is touchless except for an electric air dryer, which has a button that must be pressed to operate it…

…and guess what? I rarely ever use liquid hand sanitizer; and yet, I have not contracted an infectious virus in years — not even the common cold.

Let us conclude this article with a bit of trivia: several sources claim that the term restroom is used as a euphemism for a public washroom or toilet because comfortable chairs or sofas could purportedly be found in them during the first half of the twentieth century — especially at upscale restaurants and other types of venues.

Also: did you know that World Toilet Day is celebrated on November 19 of every year?

All photographs ©2015 and ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

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