5 Mistakes People Make When Using a Gas Station Bathroom

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A gas station that has bathrooms inside

You don’t have to go to Vegas to feel like you’re gambling. All you have to do is make a pit stop to answer nature’s call at a gas station bathroom.

Unfortunately, you never know what will be waiting for you on the other side of those doors. But, when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go. If there’s any time you want to avoid making a mistake, this is one of them.

However, there are a handful of common mistakes that people make when using a gas station bathroom.

We’ve found five common mistakes people make in gas station bathrooms. Keep reading to avoid making them the next time nature calls while you’re at the gas station!

What Are Gas Station Bathrooms?

Drivers and travelers regularly stop at gas stations to fill up on fuel and grab a snack or two. However, an additional amenity that many gas stations offer is a restroom.

Smaller gas stations will have a single mixed-use bathroom, and large truck stops will have gender-specific bathrooms with multiple stalls and showering facilities. 

These restrooms vary in cleanliness and style from one location to the next. Some locations will take more pride in keeping their bathrooms as clean as possible.

However, you may walk through the door of another and feel like you’ve stepped into a crime scene. You have to be somewhat picky when using gas station bathrooms.

A gas station bathroom

Do All Gas Stations Have Bathrooms?

Most gas stations have bathrooms, but only sometimes. Many of the large corporate gas stations have bathrooms available to the public. However, some locations may limit the use of their restrooms or require users to ask for a key to access them. 

There’s no one-size-fits-all rule regarding whether a gas station has a bathroom. Some drivers look for gas stations with as many pumps as possible, and others rely on internet reviews and apps to avoid a potential nightmare of a bathroom experience.

What Gas Station Has the Cleanest Bathroom?

When it comes to cleanest gas station bathrooms, the award goes to Buc-ee’s. If you’ve ever stepped through the doors of these beaver-loving locations, you know it’s no contest. 

Buc-ee’s takes gas station bathrooms to a whole new level, and they have been doing so for more than a decade.

As far back as 2012, the gas station received the title of “America’s Best Restroom.” The popular fuel-savings app GasBuddy labeled them as having the top-rated bathrooms too.

Do You Have to Buy Something to Use a Gas Station Bathroom?

While gas stations likely appreciate you supporting their business, there’s typically no requirement to buy something to use the restroom at most gas stations.

However, that doesn’t mean that smaller mom-and-pop run gas stations might not have a requirement.

In these situations, you’ll have to quickly evaluate your needs. If you can’t imagine holding it until you find another bathroom, then make an inexpensive purchase and use the restroom. However, in some locations where bathrooms may be hard to come by, you may not have many other options.

5 Mistakes People Make When Using a Gas Station Bathroom

If you’ve ever used a gas station bathroom, you know they’re not all equal. If you want to ensure you have a smooth and sanitary experience, avoid making these common mistakes when using a gas station bathroom.

Trusting Seedy Gas Stations

You can hold it for so long, which means you’re likely to lower your standards the longer you’ve been holding it. Shabby-looking gas stations can be a hotspot for seedy activity.

If the gas station doesn’t care enough to spruce up the outside of their establishment, there’s a good chance their bathrooms aren’t any better.

Trusting these seedy gas stations is one mistake you’ll likely only make once. You don’t want to put yourself or any fellow travelers in unsafe or unsanitary situations. Avoid seed-looking gas stations whenever possible.

Not Picking Your Stall Wisely

Humans are creatures of habit and, despite our differences, tend to make similar choices. Research shows that people are more likely to avoid choosing items located on the ends. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an item on a supermarket shelf or a bathroom stall.

This is an important factor to consider when picking your stall. If you want to pick the least used bathroom stall in a row of stalls, there’s a good chance it will be one of the stalls on the ends. Is this a fool-proof method?

Absolutely not. However, you can improve your odds of avoiding a crummy gas station bathroom stall.

View of multiple stalls in a gas station bathroom

Touching the Toilet Seat

You may feel comfortable touching the toilet seat in your home bathroom or visiting friends and family. However, that’s likely because there’s a good chance you can have confidence that it was cleaned thoroughly recently. 

While the likelihood of catching a disease from a toilet seat is very rare, Dr. David Jay Weber, an epidemiologist and physician at Gillings School of Global Public Health, recommends anyone uncomfortable with germs clean the toilet seat with an alcohol-based wipe.

You never know what has been on the toilet seat and how effectively someone last cleaned it.

Many people don’t realize that toilets often splash water droplets every time they’re flushed, including when there is waste inside of them. This means that there’s a chance that any surface in the gas station bathroom could have contaminated water droplets on it.

The toilet seat covers and toilet paper rolls in the stalls could have bacteria and germs on them. So coming prepared with your own materials is a good idea when possible.

Keep in Mind: Stop! Before you use that old can of gas that’s been sitting in your garage, do you know if Gas Expires?

Not Washing Hands Properly

While many of us know that we should always wash our hands for at least 15 to 20 seconds with soap and warm water, many people don’t. The CDC estimates that only 19% of people worldwide wash their hands after using the toilet.

Those who don’t wash their hands properly will pass any germs or bacteria onto the surfaces they touch in the bathroom. This could be the hand dryer, cell phone, or the door handle when exiting the bathroom.

As a result, you should ensure that you wash your hands correctly and thoroughly and avoid touching anything on your way out. You’re defeating the purpose of washing your hands if you immediately touch a contaminated surface.

When available, use a paper towel to dry your hands and use it to create a barrier between your hand and the door handle when exiting.

A man washing his hands in a gas station bathroom

Using the Hand Dryer

In the same way that every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings, every time a gas station toilet flushes, bacteria and germs fly through the air.

These germs get into the air, which can find their way into the hand dryers that circulate hot air to dry your hands. You could still introduce germs to your hands without physically touching the hand dryer.

Use paper towels whenever they’re available to avoid making this mistake. Dry your hands with the paper towel and then use them to open the bathroom door on your way out. Look for a trash can near the door to toss the paper towel into once you open the door or find a trash can once you exit the bathroom.

While many public restrooms have installed foot assists to help open the door without using your hands, they’re not everywhere yet.

Pro Tip: Maintain your hygiene while on the road with our tips to finding a Clean and Safe Public Showers on the Road!

A hand dryer in a gas station bathroom

Avoid Mistakes When Using a Gas Station Bathroom

Depending on the location, gas station bathrooms can be hit or miss. However, if you avoid making these gas station bathroom mistakes, you can dodge a potentially nightmarish situation.

You may even try using a reliable app like Flush to find a nearby gas station bathroom with good reviews.

Don’t let the fear of using a gas station bathroom cause you to hold it longer than you have to.

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