Different Johns

I read a column the other day written by a young lady who had just recently started shacking up with her boyfriend. Probably she’d never had to share a bathroom with anyone before because she was pretty horrified by how things were going in that department.

And who can blame her? There’s something really, really wrong with the whole design concept of bathrooms.

Why, for the love of all that’s sane and rational, would a civilized being put a  toilet (into which you eliminate your bodily waste, the occasional vomit and perhaps one or two other bodily fluids) in the same tiny room as a bath (where you relax and cleanse yourself)?  And then add a sink where you will brush your teeth, with toothbrushes that have been absorbing tiny molecules of flushing toilet water day after day after day.

University of Arizona environmental microbiologist Charles Gerba published a scientific article in 1975 describing bacterial and viral aerosols due to toilet flushing.Toilets spray millions of particles into the air when you flush them. It’s known as the “aerosol effect.” The mist contains particles of urine, feces, all sorts of bacteria and virii, etc, and it basically coats the entire bathroom within a 10-foot radius or so. Germs in feces can be propelled into the air when the toilet is flushed. That’s why toilet paper in public restrooms often comes shielded inside some plastic thing, but the mist can still land right back down on the toilet seat, all over the walls of the stall, on the handle, on the ceiling and sinks.

And that, friends and neighbours (especially those of  the male persuasion) is why the toilet seat and lid should always be put down before flushing.

It would make so much more sense all around to put the toilet in a separate room because along with the “spray” there’s also the “smell.” If you’re sharing the bathroom with even one person, you are going to encounter unfamiliar and unpleasant odours from time to time. Sometimes it’s just when you’ve been looking forward all day to a nice, warm bubble bath with a glass of wine and a good book.

I know a lot of people who eat and drink in the bathroom. My daughter is one of them. She snarfs down her morning bagel and tea in the bathroom while putting on her make-up.  Personally, the thought of eating or drinking anything in the bathroom makes me feel all gaggy.

How intimate do you have to be with a person to share a bar of soap or a razor or a towel or the bathroom cup or a comb or hairbrush or even a toothbrush? People do it all the time without thinking twice about it. But if you do stop and think twice about it, do you really want to dry your face on a towel that’s been drying who-knows-what? Even drying your face with a towel that’s been drying your own who-knows-what is a tad sketchy if you stop to consider it.

How intimate do you have to be with a person before you’ll conduct your bathroom business with them in the room or vice versa?

How much bathroom sharing do you do?

What if guests use your bathroom? What if they use your bath towel to dry their hands instead of the designated hand towels? You never know what kind of weird stuff people will do in other people’s bathrooms. What if they stay over-night and use your shower? Do you give them little guest soaps or do they use your soap? Do they get to use your expensive salon shampoo or do you hide it away?

And what is all that crud that accumulates in bathrooms? For a cleaning-up place it sure does get disgusting really fast, doesn’t it?

Unless you clean behind your toilet at least twice a day there are always mounds of furry stuff back there. What the hell is that stuff?

There are always, always peculiar sticky streaks and stains on the tiles and walls and mirrors.

And the scum! My god the scum! It’s everywhere – in the tub, around the tub, around the shower, all over the shower door/curtain, around the tooth-cleansing areas, mixed with blobs of dried-up toothpaste, soap, hair products – hair.

All sorts of hair lives in the bathroom – head hair, genital/arse hair, nose hair, ear hair, leg hair, unidentifiable red hair when no one in the household has red hair.

And then there’s the crud in that bathroom vent. That bathroom vent that spawns grey matter like fungus. You clean it. The vent is spotless. You wash your hands. You look up and all the grey matter has grown back. It might be the same stuff, except in a slimier format, that clogs up your bathroom drains on a frighteningly regular basis and which you have to pull out, in long, wet, oozing hanks with your bare hands.

It might be the same stuff in your vents or even the same stuff you find behind your toilet, but who knows? Not me, that’s for sure. Bathroom crud and scum are just a couple of great mysteries of  life from what I can see.

All I really have been able to figure out is that all this crud and scum comes only when I share a bathroom with someone. It makes you wonder what other people do in there exactly, doesn’t it? Other people don’t seem to know how to behave in bathrooms.

How many arguments in your household are bathroom-related? It’s not deemed the most dangerous place in your house just because people sometimes accidentally drag an electrical appliance into the tub with them, you know.

I thank the beneficent gods of plumbing each and every day that XUP Jr. and I each have our own bathroom. Every human being over the age of five should have their own separate toilet room and their own separate bathing/bodily cleansing room. Anything less is inhuman.

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32 responses to “Different Johns

  1. I always close the lid before I flush. It’s bad feng shui to watch water going down the drain.

  2. That video is hilarious! Totally had me and my husband laughing. Maybe we could laugh about it because we are good kids that always close the lid.

    My husband and I share a bathroom, but we’re both pretty clean so it works out okay. We do not share towels or razors or toothbrushes, all of which makes me sick to my stomach to even contemplate. I would never, ever use someone else’s toothbrush. NEVER. We have also been lucky to always live in places where we have at least two bathrooms. So, when guests come there’s never a worry about them using our towels or soap or anything.

    And can I just say, liquid soap: so you can avoid the repulsive thought of sharing bar soap with someone else.

  3. Interesting. When I was doing my graduate studies, Dr. Gerba’s work was one that I frequently referred to. Thanks for the public service health education post. I thought it was really funny in the video when they blanked out the face of the dogs to …”protect their identity”?

  4. Thank you so much for this video. I’ve been trying to explain that to My Sweetie for years. I’ve always said everyone should have their own bathroom. That’s why I laugh at the HGTV shows where they make a big deal out of double sinks in a bathroom. Just use another bathroom! And if you absolutely can’t have separate bathrooms, TAKE TURNS. (Actually, it’s so ridiculous, I made it into a drinking game. Whenever anyone says “Double sinks” I raise my beer and say,”Double sinks! Drink!”)
    That scuzzy fuzz is the teeny tiny bits of paper pulp fluff that fly about every time you snap some sheets of toilet tissue off the roll mixed with “water” vapor in the air. Yay!

  5. Now I want to go clean my bathroom… and put the seat down. Although I have been doing that for some time now anyway… still… I can honestly say your post will be in my head all day long now!

  6. We have toilet issues in our new old house I’m about ready to get a portapotty and set it up as an outhouse.

    My bathroom stayed strangely clean when I switched to cloth wipes. I think a whole lot of the crud that is around toilets is paper pulp. I should do that again.

    Also, I think boys need to be housetrained to pee sitting down at home. Not because they miss the toilet but their stream hitting the water causes back splash and sprays pee EVERYWHERE.

    I always close the toilet seat….when there is one…thats on Papa Pan’s list for today.

  7. Dr. Monkey – Ah yes! It’s also bad feng shui to have that open water sitting in your home. The lid should always be kept down and the bathroom door should always be kept closed…if you believe in feng shui.

    Kimberly – Liquid soap all the way for hand washing. I don’t like it for body washing though – it’s too slimy and takes forever to rinse off. That video IS hilarious, isn’t it? (PS: Where did you find a man who is bathroom trained? Or did you have to train him yourself? Not that I’m saying a lot of women are bathroom trained. They’re totally not.)

    LGS – Also they didn’t want squirrels and other small critters to get too frightened by the beastly look in their eyes. Seriously? You referenced Dr. Gerba for your graduate thesis?

    Geewits – And hair. Everything in the bathroom is mixed with hair. And probably dead skin cells and toe jam and other repulsive stuff. So, now the husband is going to put the lid down every time he flushes? Hurrah! And you’re right about the double sinks. Silly. Silly. Someone clever should really think about redesigning the entire bathroom situation.

    Chris – Excellent. My work here is done.

    Friar – Not so much germaphobe as “yuckaphobe”. My cat sleeps in my bed and sometimes walks on my pillows and I’m pretty sure he’s a hotbed of germs and I’m okay with that. I don’t let him on the table or kitchen counters though and I wash all his dishes separately. There’s a limit an dit’s not always a rational limit. So I take it from your comment that you don’t eat your breakfast in the bathroom whilst flushing the toilet?

    Mudmama – Wait..what?? You make cloth wipes for the bathroom? Like little strips of cloth for everyone to wipe their nether regions with? And then? Then what happens to these soiled strips of cloth? Do they go in a big diaper pail thing until they’re laundered? I’m not getting a pleasant image here. Please help me out. But ya, I think that stuff might very well be paper dust. Cottonelle is the worst for dust. It even sticks to your “person”. I do my best to get the least dusty stuff – it’s also the least soft usually.

  8. @XUP

    No. My house might not be the neatest in the world. But eating and pooing in the same room is where I draw the line.

  9. @XUP – the husband came pretty well trained in bathroom etiquette. I think it is because of spending several years having his own place that he had to clean. Part of that time he lived with a guy that was so disgusting I think it grossed him out to the point of never wanting to be even remotely that dirty.

    I have some great liquid soap right now for the shower and it doesn’t feel slimy and rinses clean way better than soap from a bar. Plus, it’s all lemony fresh smelling to perk you up in the morning.

  10. I don’t have time to finish my coffee in the mornings so I keep it on the bathroom sink and drink it before and after I shower. Gross? Yes, but convenient. 🙂

    The main argument my husband and I get into in terms of the bathroom is access to the sink and mirror. I would love to have a larger bathroom with his and hers (or hers and hers or his and his depending on your persuasion) sinks. 🙂

  11. We only have one bathroom, but the bathroom (with sink) and toilet are in totally separate rooms. Though I’d imagine if you’re 6’5″ you wouldn’t much like the toilet. It’s a tiny tiny room.

    The toilet seat must be down for flushing. And I have two towels, one for when I wash my hair (that I also use to dry my face) and another for all the other “regions”…

    And thanks for sharing all that “crud” news. You’re all into public service aren’t you? I’ve never been easily disgusted by bathrooms, but you have me rethinking that. I might never use a bathroom again. God only knows what I’ll have to resort to.

  12. Here I am XUP! I’m sure glad our WC is separate from the actual bathroom; bath, room, not a hard concept it seems but some designers seem to think it also implies “the throne”. Go figure. Thank god for houses built in 1912.

  13. Oh my god, I was laughing the whole time I was reading. I still can’t understand people who are so freaked out about bacteria and virii… I think if you live on the street for a couple of years you just get used to it. I mean, our bodies protect us against tons of different things, bacteria included, and I the only reason I would never share a toothbrush/razor is because I have hepatitis C.

    I think it’s interesting to look past the studies such as the one you quoted, and ask, what is really going to hurt us? Household bacteria or unprotected sex, and then things come into perspective.

    At least, for me.

    (Good article tho, and your blog comes to my inbox, by the way)

  14. omg – did this post ever make me squirm!

    When I was still in school I shared a ground-floor apartment in an older Centretown home that’d been converted into a duplex of sorts.

    The bathroom was divided, that is, there was a toilet and sink in one room, and a sink and tub/shower deal in another room two steps across the hall. It was amazing. In fact, I’m thinking of recreating this water-closet concept in our reno.

  15. Gah, this one should come with a warning not to read while eating a tuna sandwich! Yep, I’m squeamish about the yuck factor, though I’m not at all squeamish about the bacteria – but then I did study microbiology for a number of years so got pretty used to being around microbes all day.

  16. Rae just gets around the whole flushing w lid up/lid down problem by forgetting to flush at all. Not pleasant for Leah, who shares her bathroom. I have my own.

    I will drink coffee in the bathroom in the morning while drying my hair. It’s a time-saving thing, like Pauline says.

  17. Yup, my graduate studies was in water microbiology and Charles Gerba did a lot of work in that area too which always struck me as a bit funny as you wouldn’t have thought that there was much water for his experiments in Arizona. Another coincidence? I studied at University of Ottawa.

  18. Friar – Even my cat wouldn’t eat if I put his bowl in the litter box. A dog however, would eat right out of the litter box.

    Kimberly – Does your liquid soap come in a neutral flavour? I don’t want to smell like fruit.

    Pauline – It would be easier just to have your own bathroom. Then you wouldn’t have to put your make-up on in the steamy haze following his shower. And you can enjoy a relaxing bath even if he has an urgent need for the toilet.

    Jazz – I had an apartment once where there was a separate toilet room. The place was built by a Dutch guy and he thought the idea of a toilet in the same room with the bath was disgusting, too. It was a tiny room, but cosy.

    Mr. Jazz – FINALLY! See, I think that’s where the whole WC term comes from – the tiny room where your toilet it. Perhaps it is (or was) more prevalent in Europe once upon a time?

    Junkie Monkey – Long time no hear. How are “things” going? And yes, of course our bodies are able to protect us against all sorts of stuff (except hep C, apparently). It’s not even so much that I’m afraid of getting sick. It’s just the thought of some of this stuff that’s yucky. Like I said to Friar – I’m not a germaphobe…just a yuckaphobe. I have a low yuck threshold.

    Andrea – Brilliant! I wonder if it was designed by a European? I think they used to do that. In fact, I believe in the UK at least, the toilet used to be in a separate structure outside in the back yard. That’s how far they wanted to remove their poop from their living area. (PS: I tried to leave a comment on your blog — after finally finding it — but it blocked my comment calling me a proxie or something…harumph!!)

    Finola – Exactly. I feel the same way and I’ve never knowingly been intimately involved with microbes. Sorry about the sammich.

    Alison – Hi! Are you still blogging? Are we going to get a post on your lovely vacation? Did you do any flushing while away? How can you dry your hair and drink coffee at the same time? Sounds dangerous.

    LGS – Wow. It’s like we used to be related in a previous life or something.

  19. That video was hilarious. I even thought it was for reals, when it started.

    My husband arrived in the marriage toilet trained. I just asked him why and he doesn’t know – it just is. He is fastidious with personal hygiene – he even flosses every day. We aren’t quite the germaphobe that you are and when camping or hiking, we have been known to pee in the woods. A few germs are good for the immune system.

    We are also lucky in this house to have 3 bathrooms so we never have to share one at the same time. But we do use all 3 toilets because when you don’t use one for days, it gets all weird in there. I had to share the bathroom with my parents when I was in Florida with them this February. Now that’s something I don’t care to repeat. Also, I always have guest hand towels but if someone drops by unexpectedly and uses the bathroom, I will change the hand towel after they leave.

    But I don’t have a problem using public washrooms, no matter how gross. I don’t like them and I will complain but I’ll still use them. My sister reached a point once (thankfully she is over it now) that she would not even pee in a public washroom, no matter how bad she had to go. She would hold it all day and restrict her water intake. Bad for your health, mental and physical.

    Finally, after 28 years, Peter and I can use the bathroom together if we have to (meaning while one is on the pot and the other doing something else) but if we can avoid that, we will. I like a little mystery to stay in the marriage. We don’t have issues with one in the shower while the other brushes teeth. Of course, he was a nudist so…

  20. DH and I fully share our ensuite. We have separate sinks and towels but the soap is communal; toothbrushes are shared only in cases of emergency. We even jam ourselves in the shower together at times, even thought the sheer dimensions of the shower make it difficult. It’s a slow, awkward, soapy ballet in there but a girl has to do what a girl has to do to get a good back-scrub.

    There are times when we retire to separate facilities; i.e. if we don’t wish to expose the other to biological warfare, but 95% of the time, we have no shame. I was uncomfortable at first but now it’s simply… practical.

  21. thanks for this xup. now i don’t want to step a foot into my bathroom again. which could cause other sanitary issues in our house. we have one teeny tiny bathroom. the jellybean’s stink could fell a horse. we need a new house with a second bathroom before he hits puberty!

  22. Coming back from France after school I was revolted by the toilet being in the same room as the sink and the bathtub. Seriously. I’ve helped with some design work on friends houses and often when I say – Toilet and bidet in a separate room they look at me like I have 3 eyes.
    Hell – I live alone and I wish I had a separate toilet bidet room. I am one of those types who has trained himself to go number 2 if I need it or not before I bathe and let me assure you that there is nothing worse then running a tub and having to let the warm air out because you just “fumigated” the environment.

  23. Yes I used cloth baby wipes and I had the bathroom to myself at the time. I just added them to the ever present diaper pail and washed with the diapers.

    Trust me on this – 3rd degree tears and toilet paper are not a good idea! Moist baby wipes are much nicer!

  24. Julia – I’m okay with peeing in the woods or in public toilets. I don’t enjoy it, but I’ll do it rather than hold it in. I know people who will never, ever use public toilets, too. That’s just weird. I am, above all else, practical. Any yuckaphobia I have takes a back seat to practical considerations, believe me.

    Finola – You should check out his blog. You might be old classmates!

    Susan – It’s nice to maintain a little mystery, too I would think, isn’t it? But as you say practicalities are practicalities.

    Smothermother – Oh man, do you ever. You do NOT want to share a bathroom with a teenaged boy. We had 3 bathrooms in our house growing up – one for the parents, one for the females and one for the males. Can I tell you what a horror show the boys’ bathroom was? No. You’ll see.

    Lebowski – Too much information, dude. Our hotel in Paris has the toilet in the same room as the bath and sink. What the hell? Do they do that for the tourists? Do all real homes in France have them separate?

    Kimberly – Ok. Thanks. Is that available at Costco?? Ha ha.

    Mudmama – I see. Still. I wouldn’t want to open that diaper pail with an entire family using cloth wipes in the bathroom.

  25. Gee, thanks for making me throw up a bit in my mouth XUP. Kinda reminds me of the pot-luck post. Besides after reading your posts, I really don’t think about germs much at all. But maybe that is just a survival mechanism since we have only one bathroom in our home? 😉

  26. Smothermother – No problemo. Just ask if you need any more teenaged boy advice.

    Julie – I like to do these hard hitting docu-posts every once in a while. I’m not all that worried about germs either…it’s just the thought of brushing my teeth with poop that makes me gag a little.

  27. i’m pretty sure all this information is going to be the reason i land in the looney bin 🙂

    i knew the toilet thing and i keep my brush covered and in a drawer. but the other stuff, my gosh my mind is reeling.