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Cleanliness Next to Godliness—In the Restroom

Winner of Best Restroom in America 2012 winner goes to....Buc-ee’s!!!
Source: Buc-ee's
Winner of Best Restroom in America 2012 winner goes to....Buc-ee’s!!!

Americans are clean freaks, at least many of those over the age of 17. Under 17 we are a completely different species.

Few things offend our senses more than a dirty public restroom. Never mind that in many parts of the world, a "public restroom" is a hole in the ground. In this country, many of us won't even set a hazmat-covered foot in a bathroom we feel unworthy, which is kind of funny considering what we plan to do there.


Cintas is currently taking nominations for its annual Best Restroom in America contest. Last year's winner is the Buc-ee's gas station mini mart in New Braunfels, Texas, where the city slogan is "Something to Remember." The nicest public restrooms I've ever seen were at the airport in Ft. Smith, Ark., so fancy they made Cintas' Hall of Fame.

Look, I try to be a realist. I raised two kids. I have a husband. I've owned several dogs over the years who age and, well, we know what happens when dogs age…

I'm not easily offended. All I ask from a public restroom is a little effort. Try to keep the place clean. Avoid smelling like a Carnival Cruise ship adrift and powerless.

Clorox Professional Products Company surveyed over 1,000 Americans about what they find most disgusting in public restrooms. Not surprising, coming in first was urine stains (76 percent), followed by the smell of urine (75 percent). You realize this means one in four surveyed were not disgusted by this. Think about that for a second.

(Read More: Toilet Paper Ads in a Bathroom Near You?)

What do we often do to protect ourselves when confronted with restroom hell? This is my favorite part of the survey. Most people, 76 percent, have used their feet to flush the toilet—no small feat (pun!). I suspect this is mostly a guy thing. Nearly as many people, 70 percent, "built a nest of toilet paper" so they didn't have to touch the seat. This is definitely a gal thing. Trust me. Every public restroom in California has disposable seat covers, and I'm always surprised when I go to another state that doesn't have those. It's like driving without seatbelts.

Also, two out of three of those surveyed claim they've "hovered above" the toilet seat in a dirty bathroom, and the same number have "held their breath".

Then there's the waiting game. When asked how long people have "held it" to avoid using a dirty bathroom, the most popular response was one hour (16 percent). However, 2 percent said they have waited FOUR HOURS. This is not humanly possible.

Other tidbits from the survey: to avoid a dirty restroom, 17 percent "risked going in your pants;" 31 percent have used their own disinfectant in a public restroom; 50 percent said the cleanliness of a school's restrooms reflects the quality of the school itself.

I feel the need to spray disinfectant on this blog.

—By CNBC's Jane Wells; Follow her on Twitter: @janewells

  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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