Who washes their hands for 20 seconds after peeing?

There was a shocking – then on reflect, odd – story in the NYT a few days ago about a new study showing that 95% of people don’t wash their hands correctly after going to the bathroom.

But there’s a bit of a problem.  The “correct” way is ridiculous.

20 seconds. That’s how long you’re supposed to wash your hands for: 20 seconds.

I can’t imagine any does that.  And in fact the survey showed that only 5% of women did, and it wasn’t clear how many men (as the full survey isn’t published online).

Washing hands via Shutterstock

Washing hands via Shutterstock

This is one of those rules, that like the 55mph speed limit, might just do more harm than good.  Many people thought the 55 limit simply encouraged lawlessness.  People generally didn’t obey it, so all it did was get people accustomed to the notion that laws are optional, and at best, flexible.  And it taught them this lesson nearly every single day of their lives.

I think a similar thing is going on with this “20 second hand wash.”  I can’t imagine anyone doing that.  I just did a little test, here at my desk, and timed myself “washing my hands.”  I did what I would consider a thorough washing of the tops and bottoms of my hands, and the fingers too, and it came to a whopping 10 seconds.

So I decided to look into this further.  Let’s start with the Mayo Clinic.  They say that “frequent hand-washing is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading illness.”  And I’ve heard that, especially during flu season.  Sadly, Mayo’s prescription isn’t any easier. It’s the old “20 seconds,” and they add that you should wash your wrists (who does that?) and under your fingernails (fingernails? every time you wash them?).  Then you’re supposed to turn off the faucet with a towel.

Oh, and if you think you’ll just use some of that automatic-drying alcohol hand-gel instead, think again.  You have to rub that stuff on for 30 seconds.

I don’t know about you, but I give up.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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195 Responses to “Who washes their hands for 20 seconds after peeing?”

  1. Horrified says:

    OMG!!! Just read the crazy posts below and let me say…you guys are nasty. I do not want to shake hands with a guy that has been just shaking hands with his “friend”. Urine can be “sterile”, but your penis and vulva is not. That is why restaurant menus are found with vaginal secretions and traces of E.coli. Washing your hands thoroughly is important and yes, it takes 20 seconds to do it well. Unfortunately, doctors (as one post blatantly bragged about his friend’s Dad who is a doctor) do not do this and this is why so many people go into hospitals with one thing and end up catching a totally different nasty disease. I am just horrified that people are too lazy to waste a measly 20 seconds to wash your hands. Seriously, are you really saving so much time by skipping the handwashing or doing it for 10 seconds? By the way, do not forget about the handle for the toilet that you touch to flush the toilet/urinal…used a stall? Imagine all the bacteria on the lock that you touched to close and open the door…no telling what the person before you did before leaving that stall and what lingered on their fingers and now it is on yours. Enjoy your meal, shake hands with people those hands, and have fun touching your face (believe me you do it a lot more than you think).

  2. Snoopy Jnr says:

    Not just hands, wash your privates after each pee and poop too so that you will smell fresh down there at any time of the day.

  3. al says:

    it’s not just the pee part, urine is usually sterile. it’s probably the few chances each day that you have to wash off all the germs off your hands that you picked up in the past few hours: shaking hands, touching surfaces, …

  4. Gindy51 says:

    It’s like those red dye tablets we used to take in school to show where we were not brushing our teeth. Do they still do that anymore?

  5. Whitewitch says:

    I totally encourage everyone to ‘play in the dirt’ or go out into the ocean – the salt water is good for you!

  6. Joey Tranchina says:

    I grew up on a ranch. My mother’s attitude toward infectious disease was: “Go play in the dirt.” As anyone close to nature knows, if you raise plants in a hot house, they’re vulnerable to all sorts of infections that plants hardened in the open are not.

    Fear of bacteria will keep you out of the Amazon and away from Africa — two of the great experiences in life. Stay safe…

  7. Joey Tranchina says:

    As Jess, my attorney, said a long tome ago: My father was a doctor. He taught me to wash my hands BEFORE I peed.”

  8. Freday63 says:

    “So I decided to look into this further. Let’s start with the Mayo Clinic. They say that “frequent hand-washing is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading illness.” And I’ve heard that, especially during flu season.” – I work at a college and come into contact with dozens of students on any given day. I wash my hands about 20 times a day and haven’t had a flu in over 5 years.

  9. FUFatherEisenman says:

    I don’t pee on my hands. simple.

  10. Randy says:

    No, I don’t. But I do wash my hands after every time I use the bathroom. But as you say, even if I wash for 20 seconds, there is still plenty of bacteria. And our bodies are covered in bacteria crawling all over every part of us. There is no amount of washing that will destroy all of that. Sure, we should all do our part, but as some point we have to realize that we actually coexist with bacteria and done so for a very long time.

    And yet we survive.

  11. karmanot says:

    Only when I say something dirty. :-)

  12. karmanot says:

    True if we opened doors with our ass, different rules apply.

  13. karmanot says:

    If I heard you screaming like that in a public restroom I’d run like hell.

  14. Number Six says:

    I’m never going to use that sink again.

  15. mpatton says:

    First off——————–
    I have this phobia about PUBLIC Restrooms!
    WILL NOT #2 IN ONE!!!
    Urine is STERILE!
    I KNOW where MY Dick has been!
    I would rather take a leak and WALK out then deal with the rest!

  16. Papa Bear says:

    No, no, no — you wipe your butt with your elbows, you wash your elbows with your feet!

  17. Whitewitch says:

    WD-40 is excellent!!! Back in the day though we used olive oil and then lava.

  18. Whitewitch says:

    Don’t lick it karmanot….silly puppy.

  19. Naja pallida says:

    Seems to me that wearing tinfoil there could be uncomfortable.

  20. karmanot says:

    That explains why that black helicopter flies over the house every three hours. That means I have to wear tinfoil in the house at all times. I’m getting too old for paranoia.

  21. karmanot says:

    I’m sorry, I promise not to abuse a rat tail from now on.

  22. karmanot says:

    Also reminds me of Indian, liquorish toothpaste.

  23. karmanot says:

    Remember the old days when ladies visiting wore gloves? Makes sense now.

  24. karmanot says:

    “because people suck at it” Brings up an entirely, but not often discussed, hygienic concern.

  25. karmanot says:


  26. karmanot says:

    If they would just lower the sinks we could more thoroughly wash the junk.

  27. karmanot says:

    I have never used my fist to do No. 2, but back in the day I did meet a few who did.

  28. karmanot says:

    Would that be stage front?

  29. emjayay says:

    For that dirty greasy car filth mechanic’s hand cleaner is by far the best. Or spray your hands with WD-40 before washing.

  30. emjayay says:

    Regular soap of any kind kills almost everything.

  31. emjayay says:

    Recycled only.

  32. emjayay says:

    Hand washing is probably more important after ass wiping.

  33. emjayay says:

    Thanks. I never noticed that in all this time.

  34. emjayay says:

    You don’t get the flu from pee.

  35. HelenRainier says:

    My wording may have been slightly off target or misleading.

  36. HelenRainier says:

    John, perhaps this will help: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003386.htm

  37. HelenRainier says:

    Hear, hear!! I always put mine in the back.

  38. ComradeRutherford says:

    I work in theatrical production and I made up this joke 20 years ago when the entire crew went to lunch one day. Your hands get filthy, filthy, filthy…

    When you go into the bathroom, how can you tell which ones are stagehands?

    The stagehands wash their hands BEFORE they use the toilet!

  39. arleeda says:

    What’s the purpose of handwashing–to protect yourself from other’s germs or others from your germs? Only the latter really makes sense, and as an individual in a public toilet you are both. So do your best!

  40. Whitewitch says:

    Totally true. One of my co-workers Pediatrician told her to stop using so much of the clear sterilizing liquid on her small children as it was keeping them from building natural resistance to disease.

  41. condew says:

    My niece did a science project taking swabs from various places and culturing the result in petri dishes. She found less bacteria on the toilet seat than on the table in a fast-food restaurant.

  42. condew says:

    And a guy I once worked with who didn’t wash his hands said his own pecker was the cleanest thing he touched in the men’s room.

    I’d say hand washing is more about who used the facility before you, and did they have the flu?

  43. Shivas says:

    This is totally backwards, we leave home with our freshly washed junk safely enveloped in at least two layers of clothing while we navigate the world. Meanwhile our hands are touching door knobs, hand rails, money, other people’s hands, food, dirt, chemicals, and Lord knows what else. We should wash our hands BEFORE uncasing our pristine privates.

  44. condew says:

    One woman I know is really dead set against antibacterial soap. I think her argument is that we are helping bacteria to evolve to handle these agents,so when we really need to clear them away, such as for surgery, it gets more and more difficult.

  45. condew says:

    This is the way well-meaning people discredit themselves; by setting a standard that is unworkable and pretty much a joke to everybody else. This is a mistake more often made by environmentalists and lawyers, though doctors who want us all to get colonoscopies every few years are right up there.

  46. goulo says:

    Unfortunately Disqus doesn’t make it obvious; when you hover your mouse cursor over the comment in question, you see a little pull-down widget appear on the upper right corner of the comment. From there you can “Flag as inappropriate”.

  47. samizdat says:

    As a resident of MO, living in St. Louis, in pains me to say that Roy is indeed one of our Senators. That family is just full of evil. McCaskill isn’t much better, either. The Carnahan family, however, I respect. Not perfect, by any means, but I just don’t get the ‘evil’ vibe from them.

  48. samizdat says:

    Lol, ooops :)

  49. samizdat says:

    Some people, such as those undergoing cancer treatment (cancer survivor here, with a procedure coming up later this month to remove polyps from my bladder), have compromised immune systems, so I am sure that they would appreciate it if you stopped thinking of yourself, and think about others.

    BTW, please tell me you don’t work in food service.

  50. JayRandal says:

    Best to do just fist bumps in greeting people because shaking hands spreads germs.

    People who fail to wash their hands at all after peeing or number 2 are the worst.

  51. Randy says:

    How the hell did our species survive all these milleniums??? I don’t know about you, but I don’t get sick very often, perhaps once every five years or so, and I certainly don’t wash my hands for 20 seconds. And I really don’t care how much bacteria is on my body, even though I shower every day. Our bodies are not so fragile that we need to treat them as though they are about to collapse.

  52. Whitewitch says:

    I love lava soap….have ever since my grandfather taught me to use it after fixing oiling the bearings on his car (yes back in the dark ages). It has a wonderful roughness while cleaning, that reminds me of the old guy.

  53. Whitewitch says:

    That is why mine is reverse – years of a cat that could not resist unrolling and dragging it across the apartment.

  54. Whitewitch says:

    Now I can’t touch anything. Shoot! Thank you though for sharing.

  55. Whitewitch says:

    I don’t have a dick, but I would wash before touching it too if I did have one. Like water – dicks are sacred!

  56. Whitewitch says:

    Sadly the antibacterial stuff has to sit for a while to be effective. Same with all of the “antibacterial” soaps, cleansers and other cleaning products, as most of those have to sit on the surface being cleaned for several minutes, some as many as five minutes, to be effective. I do use a towel both to turn off the water and to open the door when leaving the ladies room – but it the same towel I dry with to not be wasteful. I don’t however do 20 seconds…because in the real world of California water is sacred!

  57. trinu says:

    No, well it does show some bacteria but I don’t think that’s what Helen is talking about). They coat your hands in a fluorescent compound. Once you wash off everything that’s normally visible to the naked eye, they shine the UV light on your hands and you can see the residue.

  58. Do! You’ll be surprised how long 20 sec is

  59. A UV light will show bacteria?

  60. He said you have to sing it twice through.

  61. Danalan says:

    Also, the reason you wash your hands after peeing isn’t because you might have peed on yourself. There are two reasons: 1) there’s a ton of bacteria everywhere on your body, and touching yourself gets it on your hands; and 2) you’re right there next to a sink, so you should wash your hands anyway.

  62. HelenRainier says:

    John, you’d be surprised how much bacteria is still on your hands after a 20 second washing. Shine a UV light on it and it’ll scare the crap out of you. I took a CNA course and the “washing ritual” is acceptable nursing standard.

  63. HelenRainier says:

    How do we “flag” a post?

  64. goulo says:

    It is possible to just flag it as spam, without commenting. It’s not like the spambot is actually going to see or read the reply telling them to quit spamming. :)

  65. FunMe says:

    Meanwhile, I am going to time myself on Friday.

  66. FunMe says:

    I had a friend who never washed his hand after peeing. I said to him “Ewwwwwww! Petty the person who shakes hands with you. Were you raised that way?”

  67. MichaelS says:

    Agreed. And I know where my junk’s been, cleaner than anything in the bathroom. So if I’m not touching anything there except myself, why the twenty-second ritual?

  68. pappyvet says:

    The front of course,how else do you read the comics

  69. MichaelS says:


  70. Naja pallida says:

    How did they know!? :)

  71. MACV says:

    Hmmm …. I wash my hands before I touch my dick.

  72. Hello, the front. Otherwise how else is the dog going to play with it?

  73. BillFromDover says:

    I love the advertisements at the top of the page

    “Looking for ratfucking?”click HERE.

  74. Jhyder says:

    To the front,obviously…. :P

  75. Jhyder says:

    Quit spamming the forum.

  76. Jhyder says:

    I do…you put soap on your hands and work it in BEFORE a drop of water touches it, then you wash/scrub the soap/filth away…yes wrists also…fingernails get done in the daily shower…

  77. BillFromDover says:

    Roy Blunt, to be exact!

  78. BillFromDover says:

    The back?

    Bullshit… ya have to reach too far to get at it, dude not to mention thinking about the Koch brothers while… er… wiping.

  79. Tara Smith says:

    Aargh. I’m an infectious disease epidemiologist. This is a science-based recommendation. Just because people suck at it doesn’t make it any less relevant. For those of you who are in the “I barely wash and I’m just fine,” it’s not only about YOU–how do you know you don’t make others sick by not adequately washing your hands? Please, the left is supposed to be the ones who accept science and rationalism.

  80. Zorba says:

    If you’re buying Angel Soft or Quilted Northern toilet paper, it most certainly is produced by the Koch’s.

  81. KNotere6488 says:

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  82. HeartlandLiberal says:

    The Monsanto Protection Act. Brought to you by your bought and paid for U.S. Congress.

  83. HeartlandLiberal says:

    To be totally honest, in many public restrooms I try not to touch anything if at all possible, including the flush lever on the toilet or urinal, if they are manual operation. Use some tissue or paper towel. And I use a paper towel to open the door as I leave, and usually there is a wastebasket opening near enough the door I just toss it into it once my foot is holding the door. I love restrooms that have a button for the handicapped I can push going in and out, I just use my elbow and never touch the door.

    Frankly, I would much rather not touch the basin, the soap, the handle on the towel dispenser if it is not automatic with an electric eye, or fails to operate and you have to resort to touching it. At all.

    Seriously, how can anyone tell me that all of the above is not safer than touching stuff in a public rest room? I know for sure what I brought into the room in pants, and I sure as **** trust in more than the bacteria lying in wait on all those surfaces.

    FWIW, this all reminds me of the worst, nastiest, most horrible public restroom experience of my entire life. It was 1971, we were living in West Germany, and had crossed the wall on the public transport system to visit East Berlin for the day. We had to be back across the wall and out of town before dark, The public restroom in East Berlin nearest the train station, a block or so away, was without doubt one of the most disgusting experiences I have ever had. It is vividly imprinted on my memory these 42 years later. I had not thought about that in a long time.

    I think I knew at that moment that Communism was doomed to fail.

  84. Naja pallida says:

    I’ve been in some pretty bad ones myself, but I still think the worst I’ve ever seen was my local Walmart. I mean… seriously people. How do you get stuff up the wall?

  85. JamesR says:

    Well, since we can’t see into the UV spectrum and our noses aren’t that keen no harm no foul eh?

  86. JamesR says:

    LOL anytime

  87. Naja pallida says:

    Now that I think about it, the NSA claims to only know when you pee, where you peed, and how long you peed. Not the contents of your pee.

  88. ninjakiller says:

    Urine is sterile, even if you peed on your hands there wouldn’t be a problem, except you know, getting pee on everyone and everything.

  89. jared says:

    As a grad student in science, spending year after year in the lab making shit money, let me tell you how happy it makes me to hear the general public mocking the results of our research. The truth is that the impact of washing your hands as advised is enormous. This country wastes hundred of millions, if not billions, of dollars on lost productivity, doctor’s visits and remedies for easily preventable disease like the flu, common cold, and common bacterial infections. Those resources could be reallocated to treating disease which is not so easily preventable. To compound the matter, all of this is going to become more apparent as we continue to discover the microbes are probably at the root of most human disease. I’m aware that I’m being extra serious on a joke thread, but what I’m reading here is just a huge personal slap in the face.

  90. karmanot says:

    OMG. There is more information on this thread than I ever wanted to know in a lifetime. :-)

  91. karmanot says:

    And—folded in a point every time.

  92. Thom Allen says:

    Back! More importantly, should the toilet paper be quilted or not? And most importantly, is it produced by the Koch’s?

  93. Thom Allen says:

    Surgeons’ hands cultured after a 7.5 to 10 minute scrub with a strong antibacterial soap, after cleaning under fingernails, even after rinsing in sterile water, still grow bacteria like Staph. Just many, many, many fewer than before the surgical scrub.

    Some hospitals are trying to encourage staff to wash hands more often, since it does cut down on patient (and staff) illnesses and infections. A few are employing “spotters” to go around and catch people who don’t wash when they should. Others have proposed putting video cameras in the bathrooms to monitor handwashing (located so the cams can only see the sinks and door) NOT the potties or pottiers.

    Some of the filthiest things? Fast food restaurant trays. “Cleaned” by being wiped with a wet, dirty rag (if they’re wiped at all). Shoes. Doorknobs, toilet handles, counters and tables in restaurants, subway straps – generally things that are touched by lots of other people and cleaned poorly, if at all.

    In spite of antibacterials, sanitizing sprays, UV lights and other aids, the best way to keep from getting ill from a number of infectious diseases is appropriate hand washing. Some viruses can attach to cells on and in various areas of the face (nasal mucous membranes, mouth, insides of eyelids). So if you’ve just deposited your Mickey D’s tray and left, grabbing the door handle, then touched your nose, rubbed your eye, checked to make sure that there aren’t any lip crumbs around, then you may have infected yourself with the flu that someone previously sneezed onto the tray or onto the handle.

    If you get into the habit of a 20 second wash, it doesn’t seem bad at all. And does help with preventing the flu, colds, etc. When I trained, we had to wash for a full minute AFTER we had wet our hands and BEFORE we rinsed.

    Equally, you don’t want to spread bacteria, fungi and viruses to people who are immunocompromised: the elderly, people post-chemo/radiation, People with HIV/immune deficiency syndromes, organ transplant recipients, newborns, etc. so hand washing is important before touching any of those people.

    I wash my hands before peeing and again after. But it would probably be more appropriate to just incinerate my shoes after standing in front of the urinal in the ever-present pee puddle left by those who have poor aim.

  94. Gary says:

    If you check it out, Urine is basically sterile unless you have some kind of infection. Your hands shouldn’t be contaminated by it.

  95. Naja pallida says:

    When in doubt, turn to Wikipedia: Ratfucking.

  96. nicho says:

    Up tomorrow on Americablog: should the toilet paper hang down the front of the roll or the back!

  97. nicho says:

    I’m pretty sure that’s forbidden by law.

  98. BillFromDover says:

    Then again, simply don’t lick your friend’s keyboard. Yucks!

  99. trinu says:

    I wonder if those people are aware of the hygiene hypothesis for allergies. Basically it says our germophobic behavior means our immune system doesn’t get trained properly and thus goes berserk over harmless things.

  100. mirror says:

    I think lots of people do not understand the way maintaining public health works, that it isn’t about protecting individuals, but about reducing the overall spread of disease through a certain threshold of group effort…

  101. BillFromDover says:

    I’m still in the process of training my white corpuscles to reject all things bagger… or is it the red ones that attack all things stupidly invasive?

  102. BillFromDover says:

    Now that ya brought it up, I loved it!

  103. BillFromDover says:

    How can anyone wash their hands with their elbows?

    Do ya have to wash your elbows 1st with your hands as not to contaminate?

  104. BeccaM says:

    No, I gave you the honest answer. And even if you drink bottled water, dysentery is pretty much a fact of life if you’re in-country over there for any length of time. It will happen.

    Because bottled water is expensive over the long-haul, eventually my wife and I installed a UV-disinfecting sub-micron water filter in our ashram apartment.

    Just because you didn’t get the whole picture is no reason to accuse me of lying.

  105. BillFromDover says:

    Well… at least, I tried:


  106. BillFromDover says:

    Not to be confused with cold tea, which we all know is useless for feces-stained fingers?

  107. douglas01 says:

    When I was in high school my best friends father told me to wash my hands BEFORE not after going to the bathroom and I asked him why. He said “your dick is in your pants and clean from your morning shower”

  108. BillFromDover says:

    What part of honest dontcha understand?

    Chances are that if ya had bottled water to start with, ya wouldn’t have the runs and had to squat over that ditch in the 1st place… yes?

  109. BillFromDover says:

    Anybody know where the term rat-fucker originated?

    I’ll bet there was a Bush in the White House at the time!

  110. BillFromDover says:

    Hey, can these guys perform the same test on Monsanto genetically modifies wheat seeds?

  111. karmanot says:


  112. Naja pallida says:

    That episode was disturbing.

  113. Papa Bear says:

    That was about the time that Mythbusters did an episode on it. After seeing what showed up under the black light for each method, I immediately changed to the elbow…

  114. BeccaM says:

    Bottled water.

  115. hoplite_i says:

    I wash my hands before but not after because… it’s my d!ck. sorry.

  116. BillFromDover says:

    Thanks a lot, Jim.

    Now how it hell am I supposed to get the back-up lyrics outta my head… the one on top, that is?

    If nothing else, it’ll be easier going to sleep tonight!

    De… tach… able…

  117. perljammer says:

    “Although, during um, solid evacuation, every time.”

    Heh. I think you’ll find it’s easier and more effective if you wash after instead of during.

  118. samizdat says:

    Oh, and no way in hell do my wife and I use the ‘anti-bacterial’ soaps. That’s a bunch of MarketingPRopaganda bullshit anyway, not to mention all of the damage they do to the environment and efficacy of antibiotics. I usually have Lava in the kitchen (been doing a lot of backyard, etc. projects, and the kitchen is the first room with a sink from the back door), and right now we have a olive oil-based soap in the bathroom, which usually has a handmade soap we bought at a stall in Soulard Farmer’s Market.

  119. Naja pallida says:

    Remember, there’s someone in the Secret Service specifically assigned to collect the President’s bodily waste, so that a foreign entity can not use it to perform health and wellbeing, nor DNA analysis on. So it isn’t like the government isn’t trained and experienced in this area. :)

  120. karmanot says:


  121. karmanot says:

    Definitely a cashe dump.

  122. BillFromDover says:

    What do ya eat with or do you survive on doughnuts?

  123. karmanot says:

    I use the old down the T-shirt technique.

  124. samizdat says:

    If I’m in a public restroom–anywhere–I will wash my hands for the stated length, or thirty seconds. If I am at home and cooking, either for my wife and myself, or others (!especially), I will do the same thing. Other times, meh. Although, during um, solid evacuation, every time.

    Observing others in public restrooms, especially at events which are heavily attended, I note that less than 50% of other men will wash their hands–at all. Others don’t wash properly. And then I sometimes have to grab a door. Yuck.

  125. karmanot says:

    Hot tea

  126. karmanot says:

    If you’ve been to Calcutta you would know that IWHOE :-(

  127. karmanot says:

    The worst were those rooftop hostel ones. I carry those images to this very day. Just unbelievable.

  128. BillFromDover says:

    And then ya washed your hands in…… exactly what?

  129. karmanot says:

    And you can pick your teeth with the tail, depending on whether it’s poached or fried.

  130. BillFromDover says:

    I find that using my forehead to both flush and open bathroom doors saves valuable seconds that I can use on these Internet tubes instead.

  131. Phil says:

    Don’t pee on your hands and you won’t have to worry about this. I’ve never had a problem with this.

  132. BillFromDover says:

    In the Air Force, back in the day, we were taught how not to shit on our hands and we had something called toilet paper.

    Oh well… I suppose not everybody serves in this day and age.

  133. JamesR says:


    Organisms from God knows where are on the handles of the faucets and the door handles! I always take a paper towel, from the restroom or my pocket and turn the faucet and then to open the door with that and throw away. Otherwise just water and real soap (just regular soap is antibacterial enough, I don’t need to poison my skin and the watershed.) I am just careful how I dry / re-contaminate. Never got anything from a bathroom. (the bathroom itself that it LOL)

    Unless you have a detachable penis, you know where it’s been and what it’s done! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQBPgJQhQHc

  134. BillFromDover says:

    No shit?

  135. Fifi says:

    It seems to me that this eccentricity has a TLA : OCD :-)

  136. nicho says:

    Here’s some interesting data that i just came across:

    In 2008, a study was conducted by the University of Westminster, London, and sponsored by the paper-towel industry the European Tissue Symposium, to compare the levels of hygiene offered by paper towels, warm-air hand dryers and the more modern jet-air hand dryers. The key findings were:

    o after washing and drying hands with the warm-air dryer, the total number of bacteria was found to increase on average on the finger pads by 194% and on the palms by 254%

    o drying with the jet-air dryer resulted in an increase on average of the total number of bacteria on the finger pads by 42% and on the palms by 15%

    o after washing and drying hands with a paper towel, the total number of bacteria was reduced on average on the finger pads by up to 76% and on the palms by up to 77%.

    The scientists also carried out tests to establish whether there was the potential for cross contamination of other washroom users and the washroom environment as a result of each type of drying method. They found that:

    o the jet-air dryer, which blows air out of the unit at claimed speeds of 400 mph, was capable of blowing micro-organisms from the hands and the unit and potentially contaminating other washroom users and the washroom environment up to 2 metres away.

    o use of a warm-air hand dryer spread micro-organisms up to 0.25 metres from the dryer.

    o paper towels showed no significant spread of micro-organisms.

  137. BillFromDover says:

    Not to worry if ya just fling ’em.

  138. Naja pallida says:

    Rat tastes like greasy chicken. :)

  139. Naja pallida says:

    There have been studies in public restrooms of busy places, and they generally show that somewhere between 50% and 60% of people actually bother to wash their hands at all after using the toilet in public, but only about 5% do it adequately to be effective. Now consider that in public, when they perceive people watching, someone is much more likely to attempt to at least feign some an attempt at hygiene… the home statistics are undoubtedly much, much lower.

  140. 1tehamawhiteneck says:

    I do not know about the rest of you, but I have no idea where my hands have been. I am 99%
    sure of where my Penis has been. So I always wash my hands first before touching myself. Then
    I will rinse if I do not pee on myself, which I seldom do. If I happen to dribble on myself then I
    will do a through wash job. I have seen people come into a restroom with incredibly filthy hands and grab themselves, pee and then wash their hands. That is totally backwards. My Penis is a hell of a lot cleaner than my hands.. Nuff said

  141. keirmeister says:

    Science also shows that toilets are, on average, cleaner than one’s desk. I dunno…which one would you be more likely to eat off of? :)

    And, of course, sewer rat could taste like pumpkin pie, but….

  142. BillFromDover says:

    I work in a toll booth.

    Ya wouldn’t believe the open car windows for use!

  143. Ksue says:

    I am a home baker cake-decorating mother of a registered nurse. You will be happy to know that I DO sing the alphabet song twice, using my own hand-crafted soap (which I also sell) every time I pee or poop, while working on cakes at home. I only clean under my fingernails once in the morning, however, but I figure that’s just good grooming, and it’s good enough ;-)

    We were recently out of town for the weekend … no way I was gonna do that 30 second handwash thing in the airport bathrooms. Ridiculous. And I don’t even care about the door handles. But then, I’m also a big believer in needing to eat a peck of dirt before you’re 5 years old so that your immune system is up to speed.

    At home, where I’m gonna be putting my hands into other peoples’ delightfully delicious desserts, the ABC song x 2 rules. Along with food handler gloves. Nix on those toxic triclosan-loaded gel hand sanitizers, by the way.

  144. jared says:

    Multiple studies in peer reviewed journals have proven that washing your hands this way can and does prevent illness. However, for some reason you perceive this as “ridiculous” and “insane,” your words, and generally make fun of it. Where is the respect for science that you so often preach about? This is completely analogous to the climate change deniers who ignore the science because they perceive it as “ridiculous” and “insane.” Just playing with you a little bit… but think about it.

  145. Fireblazes says:

    Ah, piss on it.

  146. Fireblazes says:

    So in reality our shoes are the nastiest things around.

  147. BeccaM says:

    Even the dirtiest restroom station bathroom here in America is nothing compared to some of the toilets I had to use while in India.

    I was about to add, “In fact, in many places it was better just to squat over a drainage ditch” — but those were usually heinous too, for the same reason: That’s where everybody did it who didn’t feel like dealing with the horrid restrooms.

  148. Fireblazes says:

    Another victim of the “sarcasm trap” of posting.

  149. Fireblazes says:


  150. Naja pallida says:

    I bet the NSA knows how many times a day you pee, and if you wash your hands.

  151. karmanot says:

    Or be over 65. I think of it as a hobby these days.

  152. karmanot says:

    How about, ‘It Ain’t Necessarily So’ from Porgy and Bess?

  153. BeccaM says:

    I only heard about it a couple years ago, then began retraining myself not to just use my hand (as I was originally taught) or a tissue. You’re absolutely right: It just makes sense.

  154. karmanot says:

    I’m gay that will never work. Now, if I tried to bowl it to a far corner that works.

  155. karmanot says:

    I can just see that towel stuck to a shoe and flapping about from one end of Costco to the other. :-)

  156. milli2 says:

    Sorry John, I should have made it more clear that I was making a joke. I just think its hilarious that we’re all tripped up by this story (yes, myself included). I’ve been timing my hand-washing too. It’s crazy. With so much else to worry about ….

  157. karmanot says:

    How are we to know that the NSA is not putting nanobots in our snot?

  158. karmanot says:

    I carry a small can of Comet with me when I go out.

  159. karmanot says:

    You are sooo bad. :-)

  160. karmanot says:

    I know, I turned into one of those eccentrics who uses the sleeve of his shirt to open public door nobs. Ever been to a Safeway Store bathroom. OMG… It reminds me of the old Calcutta.

  161. Indigo says:

    That was yesterday’s news. And the day before. And probably tomorrow’s. No one escapes.

  162. Indigo says:

    I do too but didn’t know it was new. It’s always seemed to me the sensible way, far better than spraying the room.

  163. Indigo says:

    And if you’re a medical doctor prepping for surgery, that’s a suitable time for scrub. Otherwise, a nice dash of soap and water and be on your way.

  164. nicho says:

    You could also practice your jump shot and try to get it into the waste basket.

  165. nicho says:

    We’re so sorry that we’re not following your agenda to the letter.

  166. jixter says:

    Good point, jlgreenlee!

  167. nicho says:

    If you’re peeing 10 times a day, you need to see a urologist.

  168. jixter says:

    Why give the janitors more work than they need? It’s already a thankless job; help them out a little bit.

  169. nicho says:

    Exactly, just try not to pee on your fingers and you’ll be all set.

  170. jixter says:

    I’ve been lucky in my choice of Men’s Rooms; the wastebasket is always near the door. I open the door with the paper towel, hold it open with my foot and then reach over to drop the paper towel in the trash. Works (almost) every time.

  171. BillFromDover says:

    Then, simply don’t eat your own shit.

    Flinging it ala monkeys is much more fun, anyways.

  172. LOL could you imagine!

  173. Considering we wrote about the NSA only a few hours ago, and it’s still at the top of the site, I’m not sure why you’re coming here to complain about not being able to comment about the NSA. Unless you think every post should be about the NSA, and honestly, that would be kind of boring :)

  174. That’s what worries me about this. And I have people on twitter yelling at me that of course this is what everyone does, and that’s absurd, they don’t.

  175. I would kill myself if I had to sing Happy Birthday 10x a day.

  176. Do you really need to clean your hands every time you pee? Fine if you take a dump, yes but 20 seconds after every pee is excessive and you’ll have hands as moist as the Sahara.

  177. BeccaM says:

    I haven’t forgotten. I even do the newly recommended elbow-crook sneeze.

  178. Naja pallida says:

    Sure, chances of you giving yourself something are pretty slim, but tests have shown that keyboards can harbor potentially harmful things like E.coli and Staph. And it’s amazing how far things spread. How many of us have no contact with other people or the outside world? Mythbusters did a disgusting episode on where they tested how far one person’s runny nose can spread over the course of a normal evening’s dinner party. All it takes is you going to the grocery store once, not washing your hands when you get home, sitting down to write a pithy blog response, and voila… outside germs all over your keyboard, and there indefinitely. One saving grace we have is that smooth plastic surfaces are not particularly good habitats for bacteria.

  179. Graby Sauce says:

    You don’t have to use anti-bacterial soaps, but the part that people forget is that by washing your hands, you help protect other people. The germs that exist harmlessly in your lower digestive tract can be lethal when introduced into the upper digestive.

  180. rerutled says:

    Only 13? Oh. Well, that explains how my parents died of gastro-enteritis.

  181. mirror says:

    The sad thing is that what you and the rest of us do, with soap, probably achieves more than 90% of the public health benefit available from washing the hands. You are right. Because it belittles the efforts we do make, this could do more harm than good.

  182. Ferry Fey says:

    Then you have the towel with all the handle germs in your pocket. No, you’ve got to drop it on the floor right where the door waste basket ought to be, and maybe they will take the hint. Could always follow it up with a letter to the company.

  183. nicho says:

    You do know that the two dirtiest places in a bathroom are the sink and the door knob — more germs than even the toilet.

  184. nicho says:

    Yeah, but all those germs on my computer are my germs. I’m probably immune to them.

  185. jlgreenlee says:

    THAT I do, whenever possible. And remember, even if YOU don’t flush the toilet with your foot, LOTS of other people do. Eww.

  186. nicho says:

    The worst part about the anti-microbial soaps and “hand sanitizers” is that unless you’re using hospital-grade stuff and scrubbing for a long time, they’re bad for you. You have a lot of microbes on your body, and the cast majority of them are actually good for you. There are a few that are bad — and they tend to be stronger. When you use the hand sanitizer, you kill of the good ones and allow the bad ones to thrive.

  187. BeccaM says:

    I’m living in a state under extreme drought conditions. 20 seconds every time you go to the bathroom is one hell of a lot water down the drain, unless you do it doctor-style (wet hands and turn off the water, soap up, rub a long while, rinse off).

    Anyway, I live by the credo: That which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger. Apparently all those tiny bacteria are the same way — increasing numbers of them are immune to ‘anti-bacterial’ soaps because we’ve used them too much.

  188. Naja pallida says:

    Of course, most of us are sitting in front of the most disgusting and bacteria ridden object in their house right now… their computer keyboard. :) Being around a lot of animals, I wash my hands at least a dozen times a day. It really just gets to be a habit.

  189. nicho says:

    Oh — twice. Sorry. I still do it. Other people in the restroom think I’m nuts. I was taught 30 seconds.

  190. milli2 says:

    This is such a better subject to discuss than NSA surveillance, etc.

  191. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    You should also use a paper towel to open the restroom door. Of course there are no waste baskets outside the restroom door, so I end up shoving the towel into my pocket.

  192. 16 seconds, that’s better, still not quite there :)

  193. Nope, 13 seconds, just timed it :) Another reader mentioned singing it twice, that’s more like it. And insane.

  194. nicho says:

    I was taught to sing the alphabet song.

  195. rerutled says:

    This is actually a lot easier than it sounds. Just sing “Happy Birthday” at normal pace (about a beat a second), starting and ending with washing hands. Done.