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What is the Most Contaminated Object in Public Washrooms?

January 28, 2014
BioCote Antimicrobial Protection


f you were to ask someone what object in the bathroom is the most contaminated with bacteria and mould, the answer you would receive is probably “the toilet seat."  However a recent study, undertaken by BioCote, shows that bacteria don’t always thrive in the places we would expect.  What we found was analysed in the lab by growing and counting the bacteria collected," says Dr Richard Hastings, Technical Director at BioCote.


Biocote's microbiology experts took multiple samples from objects and surfaces in a public disabled toilet and tested them for levels of bacteria and mould.  "We took swabs from objects in a public restroom including sink, tap and toilet seat. What we found was analysed in the lab by growing and counting the bacteria collected," says Dr Richard Hastings, Technical Director at BioCote.


Most people would assume that the toilet seat would be right at the top of the list for high levels of contamination, but the level of bacteria found on it was actually quite low. Topping the list was the sink itself which showed more than 50,000 Colony Forming Units (CFUs).


"In many cases germs are spread via touch so we can see that objects touched after people have used the toilet, but before they have washed their hands can be just as contaminated, " adds Dr. Hastings.


The other interesting results were the levels of bacteria found on the less obvious objects and surfaces such as the floor, the wall and the underneath of the toilet. Dr Hastings explains, "This is probably because people only tend to clean the areas they can see, and the areas where they expect the bugs to grow. Unfortunately bacteria and mould can be found everywhere and they will just keep multiplying. We know most rooms are full of germs and although they may not necessarily be harmful, the higher the count, the greater the risk of illness."


Counts of Bacteria 


Bacteria in public washrooms

The only object in the bathroom on which no traces of bacteria or mould were found was the soap dispenser, as manufactured by Deb and incorporating BioCote's antimicrobial technology. "Whilst soap dispensers in public washrooms may often look physically clean, bacteria, germs and mould can in fact grow in-between cleanings as with any other surfaces," says Dr Hastings.


Therefore, to reduce the risk of surface contamination the potential for cross-contamination, Deb have partnered with BioCote to incorporate their silver-based antibacterial agent in dispenser components at the point of manufacture. As Dr Hastings explains, "this inhibits the growth of a broad spectrum of bacteria, germs and mould by up to 99.9% over a 24 hour period. It's a safe, natural alternative to synthetic, organic antimicrobials like Triclosan and maintains its antimicrobial performance over the lifetime of the dispenser."




So, the BioCote study results support the common perception, restrooms harbor high levels of bacteria. In addition, the application of antibacterial technology appears to reduce the presence of bacteria. The findings of this study suggest that antibacterial technology can contribute to the overall hygiene in public areas.


About BioCote


BioCote Antimicrobial ProtectionBioCote are global providers of antimicrobial technology and antibacterial protection.  The BioCote team includes trained microbiologists and chemists with extensive experience working with antimicrobial and antibacterial agents. They are leading professionals in the field of antimicrobial technology and are dedicated to increasing awareness of the danger of harmful microbes and speeding the uptake of microbe-preventative technology across the globe.  For more information, please visit

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