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7 Ways to Stay Clean at Gross Highway Rest Stops

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Kuromaru Parking Area
Photo: Yuya Tamai via cc/Flickr

There’s nothing better than spending the summer travelling the highways and byways of America on a cross-country road trip…and there are few things worse than having your journey interrupted by the call of nature. As convenient as they are (and necessary to stretch one’s legs), highway rest stops are notoriously filthy, but sometimes you just need to bite the bullet and pull over.

If highway rest areas gross you out, here are some ways to use the facilities while staying clean and reducing contact with germs.

Note: Keeping public restrooms clean are a difficult and thankless job; we’re grateful for those who do their best to keep these wastelands manageable.


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How to Avoid Germs at Filthy Highway Rest Areas

Watch Where You Step: Upon exiting your vehicle and heading to the building entrance, you’re bound to come across a pile of poo left by a family dog that wandered outside the designated canine potty area. You certainly don’t want that in your shoe. You also don’t want to step in any sticky substances or trash scattered on the restroom floor, so keep your wits about you.

Avoid the Smokers: The parking lot and standing area around the building is a minefield of passengers and drivers who are taking a smoke break. Sidestep any perpetrators so you don’t wind up covered in a cloud of second-hand smoke.

Don’t Touch the Doors: Whether entering the building or exiting the restroom afterward, you don’t want to come in contact with the germ-covered door handles that everyone else touched. Grab a napkin from the car on your way in and use it as a makeshift glove.


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Use Toilet Seat Covers: Newer restrooms offer disposable toilet seat covers—make sure you take advantage of these. If you’re concerned that there might not be ones available at the rest stop, purchase a pack and keep it in your car to bring inside.

Don’t Set Anything On the Floor of the Stall: Self-explanatory advice. Similarly, keep your pants from dropping completely to the floor and mopping up the sticky tiles.

Use Paper Towels: To dry your hands, avoid using the hot air blowers that stir up all the germs that have settled on the floor around you. Let sleeping germs lie and opt for the paper towel option, bringing your own if necessary.

Avoid the Vending Machines: If you’re feeling peckish, stop at a fast food drive-thru down the road. Don’t be putting your digits all over the vending machine digits that have been touched by who-knows-what.