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I’m a Microbiologist, and This Is How Germy It Really Is to Pee in the Shower

Rachel Lapidos

Rachel LapidosJune 11, 2020

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Photo: Getty Images/Drazen Zigic

One of the quickest ways to get a room full of people to start arguing is to bring up peeing in the shower. Some people think it’s harmless and even smart since you’re standing under running water (kind of like a makeshift bidet), while others are firm believers that urine should be collected by the toilet. To set the polarizing issue straight, we hit up a microbiologist for the truth on just how germ-ridden (or not) it is to pee in the shower.

Many pro-peers say that a trickle in the shower is totally NBD because pee is sterile, but this is not actually the case (sorry). “The usual microbial load in urine is quite low, but it is not perfectly sterile,” says Jason Tetro, microbiologist and author of The Germ Files. Still, the fact that a shower involves running water, soap, and a drain would, in theory, make it A-okay to pee while you’re in there. “It’s not a microbial issue, but a societal one. Yes, there is a chance that urine could spread certain types of pathogens—think UTIs—but due to the nature of a shower, in which the water is consistently running and going down the drain, the risk is relatively low,” he says.

Point taken, but I still have some questions. If you do decide to pee while you’re lathering up, should you re-wash yourself after you tinkle? And does the shower need extra sanitizing TLC afterwards? “As for the extra cleaning, if the urine is simply part of the stream, then there’s probably no need to [re-wash],” says Tetro. “Showers should be regularly disinfected with something that’s strong enough to lift off any salts, so there should be no need for urine-specific cleaning protocols.”

The only real instance where your urine can pose a threat is if you’re dealing with some type of infection. “If you have a UTI or any type of infection in that area, [peeing in the shower] can lead to the spread of those pathogens to the environment around you,” says Tetro. But he reiterates that the chances for actual infection transmission are still pretty low when you consider the flow of the shower stream. “That being said, if you have any kind of infection, you should really be sticking to the toilet,” he says.

The verdict? If you’ve lived your life whizzing in the shower, you do you. “The question of whether it belongs in the toilet as opposed to the shower is something that only you or your friends can determine,” says Tetro. So there you have it.

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