Are Public Restrooms Safe During Coronavirus?

by Shelli Stein

Did you have a fear of public restrooms before the coronavirus became a pandemic? Maybe not fear, but some trepidation. Has that fear heightened since COVID-19? Turns out that many people have a fear of public restrooms and worry about finding a bathroom when they’re on the go and have to go.

For years already I’ve had my own protocol for using public restrooms. I’m not obsessive and it’s mostly common sense. No matter where I’ve used public bathrooms and no matter in which country, my strategy works well for me. As someone who has stayed an active athlete during the current pandemic, I did notice over time the closing of public restrooms. It’s been good for bladder control training! Maybe you can relate?

Fear of Coronavirus Leads to a Fear of Public Restrooms

Will Bathrooms Be Open and Will I Want To Use Them?

That’s the question to ask. As stay-at-home restrictions begin to lift, people who are choosing to be out and about are coming up with creative solutions when they don’t know the answer to that question.

As this story explains, for many people, even when public restrooms are available, the prospect of using one is hardly comforting.

Coronavirus fear of public restrooms

Image: Markus Spiske courtesy Pexels

We all know that public bathrooms are highly trafficked places. They can be cramped and not well set up for current social distancing practices. Of course we’ve no idea how other people handle their personal hygiene while in public restrooms. Hence my own personal public bathroom plan!

How Are Businesses Adapting To The Fear of Using Public Restrooms?

Businesses recognize the need to adapt. Some install touch-free doors, faucets and hand dryers. They install touch-free paper towel dispensers. Businesses are cleaning and disinfecting more frequently. I’ve not seen this but do know that some businesses are hiring bathroom monitors to control crowds and enforce distancing.

Did you know there’s an American Restroom Association? Steven Soifer is the current president of the group. Soifer hopes the heightened awareness brought by COVID-19 will prompt what he sees as a long overdue overhaul of public restrooms. “We’re advocating for more revolutionary toilet design with the single stall, fully enclosed water closets with toilet seats covers” that are typical in Europe, he said. “That would address many of the issues.”

Creative Solutions to Using Public Restrooms

The sales of portable urinals and portable potties for both women and men have increased. Portable urinals such as the Feminal, the Go Girl and the Shewee are popular. There’s a product from The Tinkle Belle that allows women to “go wherever the men go”. It has a built-in squeegee feature that eliminates the need for toilet paper. The SaniGirl is a disposable option. Lots of pottie creativity out there!

All the manufacturers recommend practicing at home before taking your portable bathroom out on the road. It doesn’t take much imagination to understand why practicing makes sense.

Coronavirus Cleaning Sink


Final Thoughts

Seems like plenty of solutions exist for anyone with fears of using public restrooms. I’m not in the market for one but who wouldn’t want to hear some stories from those of you already using some of these portable toilets in LOO of using a public bathroom. Feel free to share your experiences!

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Taylor Hansen June 12, 2020 - 12:43 pm

It’s good to know that businesses are installing more touch-free paper towel dispensers. Since the pandemic is slowing down, I’m worried about my kids using public restrooms, especially at the park. I’ll be sure to remind them to wash their hands afterward.

Shelli June 12, 2020 - 12:52 pm

Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment, Taylor. We can all use those helpful reminders!

Kaylini Naidoo June 13, 2020 - 7:51 am

Hi Shelli, Thanks for the article. I actually had not thought about this at all until coming across your article. I wonder how many other countries are thinking about this. I’m currently living in Indonesia whilst waiting to get back to Singapore so I’ve always been a bit iffy about using public restrooms here snd now possibly may consider some of the creative options you’ve mentioned. Thanks for the insights.

Shelli June 13, 2020 - 1:15 pm

Hi Kaylini, Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment. Always good to have best practices in place when using public restrooms. Helps make using them less “iffy”!


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