You may be looking forward to hitting the road this holiday, but stopping in public restrooms? Not so much. To the rescue: strategies that keep germs at bay and help you prevent Covid-19.
Before heading out: Sip water.
Staying hydrated reduces blood stickiness, cutting the risk of dangerous leg clots by 47 percent, suggests research in the British Journal of Haematology. Still, over-hydrating can send us rushing to the restroom. The secret to keeping blood diluted while slashing the need for a pit stop nearly in half? Plain water! Urologist Matt Tomohiro, M.D., says your bladder fills a lot more slowly when it’s not trying to flush out drink additives.
To hold it: Try a ‘flick’.
When you feel the urge to go and you know a clean public restroom is just down the road a bit, quick “flicks” can get you there. Canadian researchers say quickly squeezing and relaxing your pelvic floor muscles five times (it will feel like speedy Kegels, each contraction lasting 1 to 2 seconds) relaxes bladder spasms, halting that gotta-go feeling for up to 30 minutes at a stretch.
When you do stop: Pick the first stall.
University of California researchers say the first stall is the one travelers are least likely to choose, so it contains 33 percent fewer viruses and bacteria. “Then drop the lid or leave immediately after flushing to avoid germ-laden toilet plume,” suggests Charles Gerba, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Arizona. “And dry your scrubbed hands with paper towels, not the germy air dryer.” World Health Organization scientists say these strategies could cut your odds of picking up risky germs by 69 percent.
You’re 18 times less likely to get sick noshing in your own car than in restaurants, Canadian researchers say, since viruses spread in closed spaces.
After using a restroom, filling the tank or grabbing a snack, take one minute to thoroughly rub your hands with an alcohol-based sanitizing wipe. Research in the journal Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control suggests this simple trick removes up to 99 percent of illness-causing germs and the grime they hide under!
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.