Answering the call of nature is a necessity, but it is important to understand that using a dirty toilet can open doors to deadly infections if care is not taken while using toilets. Most women who have become regular customers in hospitals because of certain reproductive health diseases started their journey in dirty toilets and public toilets. Women especially are more prone to infections especially because of their reproductive make-up/placement and such infections have been globally researched to lead to grievous complications.
According to home economists, this is a pertinent area that people often do wrongly, which as a result has birthed countless diseases that have altered lives and developments. A report by Water Aid identified diseases linked to lack of safe toilets as the fifth biggest global killer of women.
Medical experts list some of the diseases likely to be contacted directly or indirectly from the unsafe toilets as streptococcus, staphylococcus, and shigella bacteria, hepatitis virus, common cold virus, and various sexually transmitted organisms.
In the words of Ekpa, these diseases can be contacted from dirty toilets, doorknobs, and handles, by touching toilet surfaces with fingers or not washing hands after using the toilet.
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According to CDC, Faeces, either from people or animals is an important source of germs like Salmonella, E. coli O15 and norovirus that cause diarrhoea and are able to spread some respiratory infections like adenovirus and hand-foot-mouth disease.
It is also said that a single gram of human faeces can accommodate as much as one trillion germs, which explains why proper care of the toilet must not be taken with levity.
The Good Housekeeping Institute recommended that personal toilets be washed at least once a week. "But if there are people with bugs or small children around, then daily," it stated.
For the public toilets, Ekpa said, “Due to heavy use, most public toilets require more frequent cleaning than private household toilets. The frequency of cleaning and disinfection may vary, depending on the location and the number of users. Cleaning should also take into consideration those areas with the greater likelihood of harbouring most germs.”
A housecleaning firm, Molly Maid in one of its publications, offered helpful tips on how to effectively clean the toilet using toilet cleaner. It stated:
• Begin by applying toilet cleaner to the bowl and allow it to soak.
• Use a scrub sponge to clean the exterior of the toilet. Pay attention to the base and floor around the toilet while you’re there. If you have a modern toilet with a quick-disconnect toilet seat, remove the seat and clean it separately.
• Once the exterior is clean, use a toilet brush to clean the bowl.
• You know the area underneath the rim where water pours out? Since this is out of sight, many people don’t scrub it. Don’t ignore this area! Use your brush or sponge to clean the underside of the rim. Use Toilet Cleaner, not detergent.
• Rinse with water.
The use of toilet cleaners has been undermined in Nigeria. Most people still depend on only detergents or a mixture of detergents and other chemicals to clean their toilets.
For healthier effects beyond the tempting white, it is strongly advised that toilet cleaner with active anti- germs agent and not detergent be used to wash toilet bowl and seat. Confirming this, renowned microbiologist, Dr Charles Gerba stated that detergent cannot be trusted to kill bacteria and all sorts of germs, but toilet cleaners have been proven effectively tough on germs and their carriers. More so, toilet cleaners in addition to their germs destructive elements, come with a soap base (Surfactants) that aids washing.
Gladly, some indigenous toilet cleaner manufacturers have broken down their products to suit the different economic classes. Manufacturers like Hypo Homecare Products limited has a sachet size as low as N35, to make hygiene affordable for those even at the lowest rung of the economic ladder. Hence, there is no excuse for using detergents or other chemicals in the toilet.