5 Germs You Really Can Get From a Toilet

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is persistent -- it can live up to two months on a nonporous surface. © SEBASTIAN KAULITZKI/Science Photo Library/Corbis

Staph (Staphylococcus) likes to hang around, and it can contaminate a nonporous surface for longer than you may expect. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), for example, can live on a toilet seat -- and any nonporous part of a toilet -- for more than two months. And it only takes as few as three seconds for it to transmit from a seat to your skin [source: Clinical Infectious Diseases]. However, despite the bad news about its longevity, the truth about staph on toilet seats is this: You're more likely to expose yourself to it by using your cell phone than you are by sitting on toilet seat. More than half of all our phones carry the bacteria [source: Cohen].

Still not convinced that the toilet's safe? Then here's what you need to do: Skip those paper seat covers and carry antiseptic alcohol wipes with you. Wipe the seat before you sit. It's the only effective way to be sure you've killed staph, as well as other bacteria that may cause boils or skin infections.