Can You Get Herpes From A Toilet Seat Or Towel?


Asked by Sarah

Can You Get Herpes From A Toilet Seat Or Towel?

I am sexually active with a girl who just found out her male roommate has genital herpes. They share towels and wash their clothes together, plus use the same toilet. Neither one of us has shown signs of herpes, but we want to know if it is possible to get the virus from using the same toilet and towels? If so, can our doctors test us before we have an outbreak? And should we worry about our children getting the virus as well?


The quick answer to your question about contracting herpes from a roommate would be: no.

The long answer is: I'm sure there may be a slight chance of catching it, like, if the roommate has an outbreak on his rear end, sits on the toilet seat, then your friend sits on it right afterwards and has a cut in the very same spot. Sure, MAYBE it could happen, but the toilet seat isn't exactly the best breeding ground for the herpes virus.  The disease would not survive long in such cold, dry conditions.  I've never heard of anyone getting the disease from a toilet seat.

As for sharing towels and wash clothes, there could be some danger sharing a dirty towel with the roommate.  If the roommate has an outbreak, uses his towel to dry himself, then afterwards your friend uses his towel before it's been washed, the disease could potentially be spread.  But if they are sharing towels but washing the towels in between the sharing, then there is no way it could be transmitted via the towel.  As for washing clothes together, I don't see how that could transmit the disease either.  So I guess the point is to practice good hygiene and don't share towels unless the towel is washed between different users.

In response to your other questions: yes, you can be tested before ever having an outbreak.  You can get a blood test done.  If the roommate only has genital herpes, and not oral herpes, you don't need to worry much about your kids.  (Just give them clean towels!  Every child deserves a clean towel!) :-)

If you want more information, you should check out Genital Herpes Basics, Prevention, and Causes and Risk Factors.

And here are some other articles you might find interesting:

10 Ways to Prevent Herpes Outbreaks

Telling Your Partner, Gender and Acceptance

Herpes, Scene 1: Knowing the Risk and Consenting to It  

Answered by Penelope James