03/30/2012 02:47 pm ET Updated Jan 07, 2013

The Public Restroom Survival Guide

We all have our strategies for guarding ourselves against the atrocities of the public restroom: hovering above the toilet seat, crafting a nest of toilet paper to sit on, using elbows to lock the door, or simply avoiding them all together while risking internal explosion. Whatever your methods, there's really no way to win, but there are a few helpful things to know when you're stuck on campus and nature calls.

  1. The first stall is almost always the cleanest for two reasons. First, people like their privacy. If you're in the first stall, more people have to pass you to get to the others. This can be especially unnerving when the toilet seems to have been strategically placed to be in perfect view of the crack in the door. Second, surveys show that most people use the farthest stall because they assume it is used the least and therefore the cleanest. Unfortunately for them, the treacherous four-foot walk to the farthest stall isn't much of a deterrent.
  2. If you refuse to sit on the toilet seat without hovering or paper protection, then you're part of the 50 percent of American women who do the same. It turns out that you're avoiding one of the cleanest spots in the restroom. Not to mention you're significantly less likely to get germs from your behind than you are your hands. If you don't believe me, think of how many times a day you touch your face or eat with your hands compared the number of times you do those things with your rear end.
  3. The dirtiest spots in the restroom: the sanitary napkin disposal and, naturally, the floor. I have no comment about the first (you can choose how you want to tackle that), but as far as the floor goes, I beg of you, wear shoes! Feet and fecal matter should never be friends. Be cautious of what you put on the floor as well. If your purse, backpack, coat, or notebook touches the floor and then you go home and put them on the couch, then you've got bathroom floor germs on your couch, and I doubt they make good snuggle buddies.
Hopefully these have been insightful  Just remember that restrooms are made to drop things off, not take things with you. Do your best to keep it that way.

By Natalie Sivertsen at Brigham Young University