It may seem like common sense to cover that nasty toilet seat when sitting down to do your business, but it turns out that it’s nowhere near as nasty as you think.
Of course, there may exist some germs on that plastic ring, but nothing compared to what’s going on elsewhere. Take, for instance, the toilet paper, itself. Because of the shape and design of toilet seats, they don’t hold much bacteria. They’re slick and smooth, so things will fall off, and bacteria and other pathogens won’t survive long sitting there. In toilet paper, they have a much healthier environment to survive in. You are much more likely to come into contact with unwanted bacteria using the toilet paper than sitting on the seat.
Also, compared to your cutting board at home, or your dish sponge, the toilet seat has a very low bacteria count. One cutting board is assumed to have 200x more germs on it than a toilet seat, while the sponge has around 200,000x more bacteria.
Two hundred thousand times more.
The issue with toilet seats remains, mainly, a psychological one. You are really in no danger from coming into contact with the seat. You’re more likely to get nasty on your hand when using the handle to leave the restroom.
Be sure to wash your hands. It’s the number one safest way to protect yourself from the crap you’re going to find in a public restroom.