DEAR ABBY: The letter from "Turned Off in Texas" (May 18) caught my attention. While I agree that putting a toilet brush in the dishwasher with the dishes was unexpected and off-putting -- we don't ever want to link the toilet with our food -- I think your answer showed a little overreaction. Running the dishes in another cycle should take care of any concerns as long as the water is hot.
Studies have shown that the inside of the average public toilet bowl is not as bacteria-laden as a public drinking fountain. Our disgust is emotional, not likely fact-based. As I told a colleague during his wife's baby shower, you have to believe in the power of soap and water or you won't survive parenthood.
While it's worthwhile for "Turned Off" to tell his stepdaughter that this practice is unacceptable to him, it is no reason not to eat at her house -- unless she'd not cooking food properly. -- FACTS OVER EMOTION IN MIAMI
DEAR FACTS: Thank you for your letter. Frankly, I was as grossed out by what "Turned Off" saw his stepdaughter do as he was. So it surprised me to find that many of my readers weren't as affected by the "ew" factor. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: It's possible that what "Turned Off" perceived to be a toilet brush was never used for cleaning a toilet. I bought a brand-new toilet scrubber to keep under the kitchen sink. I use it only for cleaning the garbage disposal. Afterward, I wash it in the sink, not the dishwasher. Let's give the stepdaughter the benefit of the doubt. Things are not always what they appear to be. -- NOT DISGUSTED IN ARCADIA, CALIF.
DEAR ABBY: I can top the letter from the gentleman who said his stepdaughter, after cleaning his house when his wife fell ill, put the toilet brush in the dishwasher. My daughter has a close friend who told her she and her husband put the cat's litterbox in the dishwasher when they want to clean it. I was mortified, as was my daughter. You'd never guess it -- she's an otherwise clean-appearing person. Well, needless to say, we no longer eat at this woman's home. -- ANONYMOUS IN CONNECTICUT
DEAR ABBY: I clean houses for a living and I thought it was a smart way to wash that scrubber. The dishwasher uses scalding hot water that kills all germs. In addition, most toilet cleansers contain bleach, so there is little chance germs could survive on the brush. If you're still concerned, you could run it through the dishwasher separately. -- TERESA IN TENNESSEE
DEAR ABBY: I am a retired doctor. I have been in the Army, slept in the woods and eaten three-day-old food -- so I know a little bit about germs. The hot water and soap will take care of any bacteria on the brush. (It's unaesthetic, but not unsanitary.) The brush will be as clean as your hands are when you wash them after using the toilet. I would be happy to eat off the plates that came out of that dishwasher. -- DR. M. IN NAPLES, FLA.
DEAR ABBY: We bought a new toilet seat a few years back, and on the instructions it stated that it was "dishwasher safe." That made me think at the time, "Who in their right mind would remove a toilet seat in order to run it through the dishwasher, and why would they want to?" -- L.O.L. IN ANDERSON, S.C.