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How Normal Are Your Bathroom Habits?

We surveyed 500 U.S. adults about their bathroom practices; think twice before shaking hands

If your commode doubles as an office and your shower serves as a human car wash, you’re not alone. Learn how your idiosyncrasies stack up with the rest of America. (Survey of 500 U.S. residents 18 and older was conducted in August 2013 by Lab42.)

Dear John

Most folks finish their bathroom business in less than five minutes, but others tend to linger in the loo: 13 percent of adults surveyed dillydally for more than 10 minutes. Men are more likely than women to take their time; 25- to 34-year-olds are nearly twice as likely to spend more than 10 minutes on the commode than those 45 and up.

Tech Time

But what do people do in there, anyway? It appears that when nature calls, so do toilet users: Nearly 16 percent of adults make phone calls from the bathroom. Still more watch videos, check email and play video games in the WC (hey, Candy Crush doesn’t beat itself!), while almost 63 percent of people read books, magazines and newspapers. And nearly one-third toilet-tweet and post Facebook updates from the bathroom.

Shower Standards

The average shower lasts eight minutes, but—get this—women tend to spend less time in the shower than men. Ladies are also better multitaskers, often cramming leg-shaving, tooth-brushing and soloing Katy Perry’s latest single into their shower routine.

If you want to save even more time (and score more frequent good hair days), don a shower cap. On average, those surveyed wash their hair 4.59 times per week—twice as much as Spaniards and Italians. And that’s too often, according to hair-care experts. Scientists say daily sudsing may actually make your hair greasier, as the scalp may overproduce oil to replace the natural oil that shampoo strips away. If you feel you must scrub your strands, lather, rinse and never repeat.

Show of Hands

Gross-out alert: According to a recent study in the Journal of Environmental Health, 95 percent of people don’t wash their hands properly. Just 5 percent of bathroom users wash their hands for 15 to 20 seconds, the amount of scrubbing time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says you need to kill bacteria.

Thirty-three percent of people don’t use soap, and a grimy 10 percent don’t bother to wash up at all after a trip to the toilet. Men are less likely to wash their hands, and use soap less often when they do.

The best way to get germ-free mitts? Wet your hands with warm water, work the soap into a lather, rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds and rinse.