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Basic social skills motivate most people to close the lid on the toilet when they are finished in the restroom, but not all comply. Recent reports might change those habits.

Charles P. Gerba, a professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona, told that toilets actually spray microscopic particles into the air every time they are flushed. In fact, he says that the spray "looks like the Fourth of July.” These droplets — loaded with fecal bacteria and viruses — then fall to cover surfaces commonly touched by restroom users.

According to the article, each time the toilet is flushed, an aerosol is created from the rush of water into the bowl. When this happens, any microbes deposited into the toilet may be sent into the surrounding environment.

Bacteria can rise up to 10 inches into the air, but it doesn't always come down as quickly as it sprays up. According to research from the Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust, the particles might still be suspended up to an hour and a half later.

Those germs don't float forever - they'll eventually hit the floor, where people will walk over them and track them throughout the facility.

Speculation that low-flow toilets might help reduce this "toilet plume" is just that: speculation. According to reporting, these toilets will also send hundreds to thousands of tiny droplets from toilets into the air.

Closing toilet lids is the best method to prevent spray, but not all facilities feature lids on the commodes. In this case, it's best to clean toilet bowls regularly, so as to reduce the bacteria present when flushing.

In standard toilets commonly found in homes or small offices, it's common to use "drop-in" cleaners that constantly clean toilet bowls. These can cut back on the amount of germs that spew out during a flush, but they can also damage the rubber flaps and other mechanisms inside the tank. In these situations, cleaning with an in-bowl solution and then disinfecting the tank, seat and handle is a better bet.

Click here to read this full article. And for more tips on controlling germs from Charles Gerba, click here.