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Do women’s bathrooms really smell like roses? Do females poop pixie dust and fart perfume? Like many of the common stereotypes, this is also shown to be untrue. Yes, both sexes can be and are filthy in public receptacles.
Two researchers Chuck Gerba, a professor of soil and water science and his assistant, microbiology and immunology graduate student Denise Kennedy studied bathrooms in various places such as bus stations, airports, fast food restaurants, shopping malls and hospitals. Their findings were that “while men’s restrooms smell worse and contain more litter than women’s restrooms, women’s restrooms actually contain more fecal bacteria than men’s. Fecal bacteria, found in the intestinal tract, are an indicator of the potential presence of other disease-causing organisms that shed from the intestinal tract.” There was a 2:1 difference in fecal matter (1).
A small study was done by high school chemistry honors students on a grant from Clorox also tested 4 bathrooms in their high school as well as 2 local restaurants and also came to the same conclusion men’s bathrooms were “generally cleaner than women’s” (2).
However, the data above (there wasn’t much research on this topic at all) is anecdotal at best and riddled with unaccounted variables. Was foot traffic measured? Do women take children into the bathrooms more? Did a few people with a lack of manners skew the data? Women do tend to sit on the toilet more leading to germ transfer and women do have smaller bladders leading to more frequent restroom use but fecal bacteria and normal germ transfer from touching are different. However, without evidence, I won’t make any accusations.
I would hope that women would extend that same courtesy when blaming men for urinating the seat in a unisex bathroom. Yes, men have to aim and have a longer window to miss either by a lack of focus, a sneeze or a cough. However, women do have the tenancy to hover to avoid touching a dirty seat leading to a spray all over the seat. Even for women that sit they are not impervious to dripping before wiping or might not even wipe and let their panties take the brunt of it. Also depending on the force of the flush, a water-urine combo could create splash back leaving droplets under the seat. Even if it is a low-pressure toilet, women’s urine can also get under the seat (not so simple biology) since even if a woman does not raise the seat, toilet seats are usually angled back. A small droplet on the seat will slide down under the seat and dry out.
I am just appalled in my work bathroom that some people will ruin it for others. It was clean before but 2 new men and 2 women came in, so I haven’t been able to pinpoint the gender responsible. I could do my own study and camp out if the people here want me to? I always clean the seat especially in unisex bathrooms of urine that are not mine (I am careful) because I don’t want people to think that it was me.
So if anyone claims that men pee on the seat, I will cite the above studies and claim women produce more fecal matter. In that case, women lose because your toothbrush is more likely to be the in the “60% of toothbrushes collected from students’ shared bathrooms tested positive for fecal matter” (3). And don’t be smart and claim you use a toothbrush cover because “Using a toothbrush cover doesn’t protect a toothbrush from bacterial growth, but actually creates an environment where bacteria are better suited to grow by keeping the bristles moist and not allowing the head of the toothbrush to dry out between uses” (3)
So do we all have a truce and admit we should stop stereotyping and encouraging the “treat this like your own house”?
This has got to be my least research article to date. If you have any studies please comment with a link. Normally I don’t say this but even your anecdotal opinion is welcome. So janitors, people who have unisex bathrooms or peepers are welcome.
Here is some real anecdotal evidence courtesy of Reddit, Quora, and Yahoo Answers. Much more humorous than insightful but a lot of comments from janitors and bathroom attendants: Reddit, Reddit, Quora, Yahoo Answers, Yahoo Answers, Yahoo Answers, Forum