Putting the toilet lid down isn't just good manners -- it could also save a life, and, no, I don't mean from drowning.

British researchers recently conducted a series of tests on toilet seats -- and before you dismiss this as a bit of wacky and unnecessary research, check out what they learned: Toilets can spread potentially deadly bacteria when the lid is up.

That's because each time you flush, a cloud of tiny water particles rises up out of the toilet.

It's a gross enough thought -- but the researchers found that those water droplets can harbor Clostridium difficile (C. diff), a gut bacteria that can cause severe diarrhea, colitis, blood infections and more.

A series of flush tests at the Leeds Teaching Hospital found that the C.diff-contaminated toilet water can rise 10 inches out of the toilet and land on the seat -- and up to 90 minutes later, the bacteria was still alive...and waiting for someone to sit there.

Now, this study is more than just a funny bit of research about bathrooms, because the one place where you might be most likely to encounter C.diff is also the one place where you're most likely to be hurt by it: in a hospital.

C.diff is rapidly becoming a scourge of hospitals and nursing homes, spreading like wildfire and often resistant to medication when it does break out -- especially because most of the patients who suffer a C.diff infection have already taken one or more antibiotics.

The drugs wipe out nearly all the bacteria in the stomach, even the good ones, leaving tough-as-nails C.diff as the only survivor. And because these patients are already sick, a C.diff infection could quickly turn deadly.

As a result, an estimated 28,000 people die of C.diff infections every year -- and nearly all of them picked it up in a hospital or nursing home.

Why is this important -- and what does this have to do with toilets? Because in many of these facilities, you can't put the lid down even if you want to: The toilets don't have them.

C.diff is notoriously tough to kill -- but fortunately, it still has one natural enemy: bleach. If you or anyone you love is in a hospital or care facility, make sure the bathroom positively reeks of bleach.

And if it doesn't, demand a cleaning crew and a bucket of bleach... especially on and around the toilet seat.