Going to the loo is as normal to us humans as breathing, but when the state of the washroom you use to relieve yourself is – to simply put – disgusting, what must you do? It is not a surprise that in most areas outside of Colombo, the toilets are repulsive and un-usable. However, it is the sad state of affairs that even  some toilets and washrooms are in a dastardly grim state even in places like the Racecourse and Independence Arcade.Take the washroom at Independence Arcade for example. It used to be very well maintained during the previous government when it was newly built. At present however, large though the area may be, the taps in the sinks do not work, the floor is flooded with discoloured water and there are no tissues or toilet paper available.

If the toilets at the Arcade are bad, that is nothing compared to the tiny cubicle like washrooms set up at the Racecourse. The state of the toilets is abysmal, not to mention the smell of it; the women’s washroom more than the men’s. Is this due to low maintenance or is it because our women are more unhygienic than men?

Sad though it is, this is the state of our washrooms. And unless the government bucks up and spends some money on hygiene, the fact is likely to remain the same. Thus, here are ten things you could consider when visiting a public toilet.

1. Finding the cleanest stall
One thing people hate about public restrooms is the lack of privacy. For many people, properly relieving themselves requires the utmost concentration and silence. There is nothing like sitting in an uncomfortable setting, with people carrying on a conversation outside of your stall, when all you’d rather be doing is sitting on your own porcelain throne at home. It is for this very reason that the stalls at the end of the restroom tend to be the most heavily used. If you want the cleanest, less frequently used stall in a public restroom, use the ones toward the front; of course, you’ll have to judge what is more important – privacy or cleanliness.

2. Use the toilet seat covers
Believe it or not, those toilet seat covers available in every toilet stall are so thin that they are almost transparent and are actually very useful in warding off any harmful bacteria that might have been left by a previous occupant. If you want to add a little extra security, you can use multiple seat covers to protect yourself. In the event that the stall you’ve occupied has no toilet seat covers, try covering the seat with toilet paper for protection.

3. Always check for toilet paper
This is a ‘look before you leap’ tip that sounds obvious, yet has been overlooked by many. One of the worst situations anyone can possibly imagine when dealing with a public restroom is being stuck without a handy roll of toilet paper. If you have some toilet paper, you can always cover the toilet seat before going about your business.

4. Avoid flushing with your hands
Fortunately, modern science has brought about one of the greatest inventions to public restrooms, motion sensors. However, if you ever get caught in a public restroom void of motion sensor technology, or you end up with a busted motion sensor, make sure you use your foot instead of your hand. There’s no telling what type of bodily projectiles landed on or near that toilet handle. As for urinals,   approach with caution.

5. Drop a layer of toilet paper in the toilet before use
There is nothing like a cold splash on your exposed nether regions as you sit or hover in terror over a public toilet. Don’t even begin to imagine what horrors you can possibly catch from what is thought of as the filthiest part of the restroom. If the thought of public toilet water splashing your backside keeps you up at nights, fear not – the simple solution is to create a mini landing pad in the form of a layer of toilet paper. Leaving a couple of strands of toilet paper in the public toilet before use will help soften the landing when you do your business, and minimize or completely prevent excess splash. Just make sure you don’t go overboard and clog the toilet.

6. Wash your hands thoroughly
The best way to fight bacteria and avoid catching some type of sickness or disease is to thoroughly wash your hands. Make sure to use as much soap as possible and hot water if it’s available. Scrub well and make sure you cover both sides of your hands all the way up to your wrists. A proper washing of the hands should take 30 seconds, but to be safe, you should repeat the process a second time for another 30 seconds.

7. Don’t assume the hand dryer is cleaner and environmentally-friendly
Many people assume that hand dryers are better for hygienic and environmental purposes since you aren’t required to touch anything and you’re saving trees while avoiding the creation of waste. However, there are a few things people need to be aware of concerning public restroom hand dryers:
* In some cases, the amount of energy being used to power a hand dryer is less eco-friendly than using a few sheets of paper towels.
* Some hand dryers require the push of a button to start, and that button can carry bacteria.
* No one knows exactly how clean a hand dryer is, and there is the possibility that it might be blowing hot, contaminated air onto your hands instead of hot, clean air.

8. The toilet seat isn’t always the dirtiest thing
Many studies and reports have been seen and heard, but there is no definitive answer as to what holds the title of the dirtiest spot in the restroom. Many people automatically assume it’s the toilet, but that isn’t always the case. The bathroom floor can be much dirtier than the toilet due to the fact that urine can seep into the grout between tiles and is never completely cleaned, even after a thorough mopping. The sink is also constantly overlooked because it is recognized as a haven for ridding oneself of germs. But if one stops to think for a moment, the sink handle must be touched before a person has a chance to wash his or her hands. These are things to be mindful
of when using a public restroom.
9. Paper towels aren’t just for hand drying
If you are really worried about catching germs in a public restroom, make sure you use the provided paper towels for reasons other than drying your hands. A paper towel can be used when handling the public restroom sink to avoid possible germs. Using a paper towel on the bathroom door handle is also a good idea since it’s the most frequently touched item in a public restroom and has the potential for carrying harmful bacteria, especially from people who fail to wash their hands properly.

10. Trust your immune system
Sometimes you just have to suck it up and count on your immune system to do its job. While you can follow each and every one of the previous steps provided to ensure you never catch anything from a public restroom, there is no foolproof way of protecting yourself from germs present in public restrooms or anywhere else for that matter.