This Is the Room in Your Home Where Coronavirus Lurks the Longest

Experts say regularly disinfecting and cleaning this room is pivotal in order to keep your home safe.

The coronavirus can be lurking on many surfaces in your home, from your countertops to your doorknobs. But disinfecting every inch of your house every day is a lot of work, which can lead to improper disinfecting or missed areas. To help you figure out what to prioritize, we talked to experts about which room in the house tends to be where coronavirus lurks the longest. The answer? Your bathroom.

According to Leann Poston, MD, medical expert with Invigor Medical, there are two main concerns with the bathroom: possibly contaminated surfaces and the virus' potential ability to be aerosolized when a toilet is flushed.

"Counters, sinks, door handles, and all the other objects a person could touch that may be contaminated … has always been a risk," Poston says. She adds that you should think about "everywhere a person touches after using the bathroom and not cleaning their hands adequately."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also notes that toilets, sinks, and faucets are high-touch surfaces—and therefore, are high risk. They recommend that anyone in your house who's sick or suspects they may be sick use a separate bathroom. If that's not possible, the CDC says that the bathroom should be cleaned and disinfected after every time a possibly infected person uses it.

Unrecognized person cleaning the toilet with a yellow rag wearing gloves.

Poston also says that preliminary reports suggest that coronavirus can be aerosolized when the toilet is flushed. "COVID is found in the stool, and may be in stool longer than in the mouth and nose," she says. "We also know that droplets are aerosolized when the toilet is flushed if the lid is not covering the toilet."

A recent study published in the Journal of Hospital Infection drew comparisons to a 187-person SARS outbreak in Hong Kong that originated from a patient with diarrhea. The study said that "bio-aerosols containing live pathogens can be produced by toilet flushing and 95 percent of droplets produced by flushing are small enough to present an airborne infection concern," underscoring Poston's concerns.

But using the toilet isn't the only bathroom activity you need to be wary of. "Brushing your teeth releases particles and germs that stay in the air for several hours and also settle on surfaces where they can last for several days," says Max Harland, co-founder of Dentaly, an organization that provides information on dental care and oral health problems. "It's important to store your toothbrush separately from any other toothbrushes in the bathroom. It can be helpful to purchase a UV toothbrush sanitizer, as it sanitizes your toothbrush in just minutes."

There are more ways that you can combat the spread of COVID-19 in your bathroom, as well. Poston recommends "closing the toilet seat every time you flush the toilet, changing hand towels often or using paper towels in the bathroom, and wiping counters, doorknobs, toilet flush handles, and faucets frequently with a disinfectant." And for more ways to stay safe in your home with the coronavirus, check out Doing This One Thing at Home Could Curb 80 Percent of Coronavirus Cases.

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