When toilet paper gets wet, it can’t go back in your toilet
By now you probably have noticed that many paper towels used to wipe down your toilet aren’t exactly flushable, but that’s no reason to ditch them.
And, even if you do, you should still wash them.
They’re not bad for your health.
But there’s one last item to consider before using your paper towels: What happens if you get dirty?
That’s the topic of an ABC News investigation that examines how toilet paper becomes a source of bacteria in our home and how to protect yourself against it.
ABC News correspondent Elizabeth Schulte traveled to four cities across the country to find out how common it is to find toilet paper strewn across our bathrooms.
In one case, she encountered a woman in her 20s who was washing a toilet paper dispenser.
She discovered the paper was soaked with feces and urine.
“She said she had never seen it like this before,” Schultes says.
“It was like her mother had just washed it.
She said she felt very bad about it.”
In a separate case, a young man was washing paper towels on the counter of his apartment building.
“He was really upset,” Schults says.
The young man’s wife told him the toilet paper was dirty.
The woman had to clean it up and put it back on the dispenser, Schults says.
This happened in several different cities across New York, including New York City, New Jersey and Los Angeles.
The problem: The paper wasn’t just wet.
“In fact, the paper had been soaked in bleach and other chemicals,” she says.
So the woman had no choice but to clean up the mess.
“I’m just glad that she did it, because it’s such a horrible way to get dirty,” Schults says.
Schulting’s investigation has sparked some new debate about how we use paper towels.
“The debate has been around whether we should use toilet paper for the most part in toilet paper that has not been washed and sanitized,” she tells ABC News.
“Or should we wash and sanitize our paper towels?”
Schulted also looked at how toilet seats are washed.
“People use the seats to wash their hands,” she explains.
“But what happens when they put the seat on a table?
There’s a chance that it will fall on your feet, and it can spread bacteria.
And you’re essentially washing yourself.”
This question is important because toilet paper can be a source for bacteria.
“If it has a high concentration of bacteria, it will be difficult to wash the seat,” Schulz says.
What does toilet paper do?
Paper towels used for washing can contain the same bacteria as toilet paper, and bacteria can spread.
In fact, toilet paper has been found to be the single most common cause of fecal-oral transmission in the U.S. “When you wash toilet paper in a washing machine, the water will come into contact with the bacteria and then it will actually start to colonize the surface of the paper,” Schuler says.
In other words, when you wipe the toilet seat with a paper towel, the bacteria on the seat will start to make contact with your toilet paper.
“That’s how it spreads,” Schulders says.
You can prevent toilet paper from becoming a source, however, by using toilet paper the right way.
And here’s how to do it.
What’s the difference between paper towels and toilet paper?
Paper towel used for wiping down your bathroom, for example, is not toilet paper — it’s a wetted paper towel.
The most common type of toilet paper used for this purpose is a wetting paper towel and is called a water-based paper towel because it contains water.
But not all paper towels are water- based.
You’ll find all types of paper towels that are made of recycled or compostable material.
What can cause toilet paper to become a source?
Paper used for cleaning your toilet seat can contain some bacteria.
Some people will find that after they wash their toilet seat, their paper towels will turn white.
This can lead to an increased risk of spreading disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If you suspect you’ve been exposed to the bacteria in your paper towel or toilet seat and you want to take steps to prevent it from spreading, here are some ways to protect your health: Use toilet paper properly.
“Do not use paper towel in the shower or washroom.
Use disposable paper towels,” says Schuls.
Use a good soap and water to clean your paper.
Do not use water that has been sitting in your bathroom or washtub for at least one hour.
“Just to be safe, wash your toilet and wash the paper towel after washing,” Schula says.
If the paper towels smell bad, they may not be sanitized.
“Toilet paper that’s been sitting out in the open for a long time can be contaminated with bacteria,” Schuli says. And