I can't believe I'm really blogging about this, but sometimes life is stranger than fiction. When several people in a row ask me the same question over the course of a few days, I figure it's some kind of divine intervention pointing me toward that subject. This time the question is, "Why should I bother putting the toilet seat down?" And yes, I do think the gods have quite a sense of humor.
Instead of berating men for not bothering to put the seat back down, I'm here to thank them for lifting it in the first place so I don't have to use a bespattered toilet seat afterward. In addition, I'm going to instruct EVERYONE in proper toilet etiquette. Yes, really. It doesn't have to do with manners so much as with hygiene. Seriously.
First, let's have a little physics lesson here. Everyone knows what a tornado looks like. It's a swirling vortex in the air, which sucks things up into it and spews them out the top. That's how you end up with the living room sofa balanced on top of the neighbor's chimney once the tornado is gone. Well, guess what? A toilet makes a vortex, too. When you flush and the water pours into the bowl from the tank, it swirls around in a watery vortex before it goes down the drain. The toilet's vortex acts exactly like a tornado: It picks up things from within the toilet bowl and spews them out the top. I kid you not.
If you're really brave, flush a clean toilet and put your hand over the bowl, level with the seat. You'll feel a cool spray. Those tiny droplets have been flung into the air by the vortex in the toilet bowl. Now, if you've just used the toilet and it's not so clean, the swirling water is going to pick up tiny bits of whatever you just deposited and spray them out. Eeeeeew. So what should you do?
Put both the seat AND the lid down BEFORE you flush. That will contain the spewing droplets of you-don't-want-to-know-what so they don't fly up into the air and blanket your bathroom (yes, they're light enough to float quite some distance before landing). Putting the lid down is also a handy way to keep the dog from drinking out of the toilet bowl, and it tends to limit unpleasant accidents like the time you were fussing with your favorite earring and it popped off, landing you-know-where.
So there you have it, etiquette and hygiene all in one. Everyone puts the lid down, everyone's happy, the bathroom doesn't look like a giant petri dish.
Oh yes, and make sure you finish up before you pass out.