Could I get COVID-19 From A Public Restroom?

In our series "What's the Risk?" experts say to avoid getting COVID-19 from a public restroom remember to wash up and avoid the door handle.
Posted at 9:37 AM, May 27, 2020

When it comes to getting sick with COVID-19, you might be thinking about this, and we have too. Jack Mudd asked: 

“If I’m out in the community and I need to use the public restroom, what is the risk?”

We asked the experts: Dr. Frank Esper, a Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist, The Cleveland Clinic; Katie Cary, vice president of infection prevention for HCA Continental Division; and Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse, a Pediatric Infectious Diseases Physician at the Mayo Clinic.

Their take: Contracting COVID-19 from a public restroom is medium risk. 

"Actually flushing the toilet can aerosolize virus into the air, around the toilet especially. You know, those toilets really kind of whoosh and cause a lot of droplets into the air that can actually carry some live virus. We don't know that's enough to cause another infection, but I would say that is not something you want to do," Esper said.

"If you're using a public restroom, of course it would be important to maintain social distancing when you're around the sinks where there's other people. That will definitely lower your risk. But as always, when you're using the restroom, you should be washing your hands, and that really should help lower the risk as well," Cary said.

"Using the restroom itself, wash your hands really well with soap and water for at least 20 seconds afterwards, and take care not to touch the faucet handle or the door on your way out," Rajapakse said.

If you have a question about your risk, send us a video to You can see answers to other questions here