Flushed away: Images show bacteria propelled from toilets when flushing with lid open

Harpic used high-speed specialist camera technology to capture droplets and particles leaving toilets

Adrian Hearn
Monday 02 November 2020 18:06 GMT
Three in five Britons are unaware of the risks of not closing the toilet lid when flushing
Three in five Britons are unaware of the risks of not closing the toilet lid when flushing (Harpic)

An astonishing series of images, illustrating bacteria being propelled from a toilet, show the dangers more than half of Britons face by not closing the lid when they flush.

One flush of the toilet produces thousands of tiny aerosol droplets, which can contain bacteria and viruses and contaminate surfaces up to six feet away.

But research has revealed 55 per cent of UK adults don’t close the lid when flushing the toilet — despite almost three quarters (72 per cent) saying they are more hygiene aware than ever before.

Toilet bowl water remains contaminated for several flushes after becoming exposed to harmful pathogens.

To highlight the dangers, toilet cleaning brand Harpic, which conducted the survey, used high-speed specialist camera technology to capture the droplets and particles leaving the toilet.

What looks like fireworks going off is actually aerosol droplets being catapulted out of the toilet pan, which in a different setting could be flying onto surfaces and even into the faces of those in the bathroom.

A research and development associate at Harpic said: “There has never been a more important time to take extra care around our homes, although the risks associated with germ spread in unhygienic bathrooms are high, the solution to keeping them clean is simple.

“As experts in hygiene, Harpic are on hand to help everyone stay safe at home."

Some of the particles produced by a flushing toilet are capable of reaching the lower respiratory tract, which can lead to infection.

If a person touches a surface contaminated by the toilet bowl flush, they can then become infected when they touch the nose or mouth.

To highlight the risk of germ spread in a post Covid-19 world, Harpic has released a series of powerful toilet portraits showing how unseen germs can leave the toilet when flushed (Harpic)

When asked why they do not close the lid when flushing the toilet, the top reasons from respondents include being unaware of the risks of not flushing (47 per cent), feeling afraid to touch the lid (24 per cent) and general forgetfulness (15 per cent).

However, almost all of  the 2,000 respondents (95 per cent) admitted they will start to close the lid after being made aware of the risks.

The research commissioned by Harpic revealed Britons are already taking important steps in ramping up their cleaning efforts.

Cleaning the toilet bowl (49 per cent), deep cleaning the bathroom more frequently (45 per cent) and mopping the floor (44 per cent) are the top things the nation has started doing more of over the last six months.

To help keep households safe and happy, Harpic is calling on the nation to carry out a simple three stage routine when cleaning the bathroom:

  • Close the lid when flushing to help prevent the spread of germs.
  • Ensure that you are using a toilet cleaner that removes limescale, which provides a home to germs, as well as disinfecting to maintain ultimate hygiene.
  • Wear gloves while cleaning for extra protection, and wash hands after use.


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