DEAR ANNIE: I have a somewhat uncomfortable question. Recently, I moved from California to Texas for my job, and I love it here. Though there are a lot of differences between the states, one has stood out to me more than any other:
There are no paper toilet seat covers offered in public restrooms. When I first moved, I thought it was simply that I was going to the types of restaurants and businesses that don't offer them. However, I've been asking Texas natives about it, and rarely does anyone here use a toilet seat cover or make one from toilet paper. Some people are hoverers, depending on the state of the toilet, but the majority of people I've polled seem to be fine sitting right on the seat. Is this normal? Are toilet seat covers really a facade? Have I been wasting precious seconds carefully laying down covers and paper all these years?! — COVER, HOVER OR QUIT
DEAR COVER, HOVER OR QUIT: In a word, yes.
As University of Arizona public health researcher Kelly Reynolds explained in an interview with USA Today earlier this year, bacteria and viruses are tiny and easily able to pass through paper seat covers — an unpleasant thought but not reason to worry. Unless you have an open cut that would be making contact with the seat, the risk of germ transmission from a toilet is incredibly low. So you'd be better off saving the paper and sitting down plainly.
If that sounds gross, consider that most cellphones carry 10 times more bacteria than a toilet seat. Now go clean your phone and wash your hands.