Apparently here in America, it is the unarguable truth that you must wash your hands every time you use the restroom. Well to all those that live by that truth, here is my response.
I believe that an individual should wash their hands after using the restroom on an “as needed” basis as opposed to the blanket policy mentioned above. According to this wikipedia page, you should be washing your hands pretty much all day and would require a sink installed onto your belt.
Is the bathroom just a dirty place that will dump germs on you the moment you walk in? The bathroom is not dirty. The bathroom I use most regularly (work) is cleaned at least a dozen times a day. Thank you Janitor guy! Would you wash your hands if you walked into a bathroom and then found all the stalls occupied so you turned around and left?
Are the ares of my body underneath my underwear always dirty? Probably more so than the rest of my body due to warmer temperatures and movement. But I shower 1.7 times a day on average to stay clean and always scrub vigorously around my midsection. I believe hair removal is a major factor in reducing any smells and I take care to be trimmed up. The skin of my penis is no different than the skin on my arm or calf. Do you wash your hands after scratching your inner thigh? I don’t want to favor the skin on my hands, imagine what the skin on my neck would do if it found out that I was giving preferential treatment to my hands.
Having said that, I wont argue the fact that sometimes your hands just need to be washed and thats that. Fair enough, no explanation needed. During these times, please wash your hands. But why assume these nasty situations are happening all the time?
Here are some interesting myths presented on the same wikipedia page I mentioned earlier.
- Killing germs on your hands decreases your immunity
- This is a myth
The skin on your body is covered with microorganisms. Our environment is contaminated with good and bad microorganisms. You cannot kill all of the microorganisms on your hands. Your large intestine contains large numbers of microorganisms. All of these sources of germs stimulate your immune response. CDC guidelines for health care workers call for alcohol rubs to be used 60 or more times a day between patients and after touching contaminated surfaces. Killing germs on your hands will not decrease your immunity but it will help prevent disease.
- Washing your hands with soap and water kills germs
- This is misinformation
Plain soaps have minimal if any antimicrobial activity. In several clinical studies, hand washing with plain soap failed to remove bad microorganisms (pathogens) from the hands of hospital personnel. Hand washing with plain soap can result in an increase in bacterial counts on the skin. Occasionally, contaminated plain soaps have colonized hands with Gram-negative bacteria.
From the rest of that site it is clear that you need to be using some serious alcohol driven hand sanitizers to truly accomplish what you intend to do while washing your hands. So what is your main intention for washing your hands every time? Because if it is to disinfect obviously its not helping. Also consider how long you wash your hands for. Someone told me that the proper way is to sing happy birthday to yourself every time you wash your hands and the time it takes to sing the song is the prescribed time for washing your hands. Most people don’t do this. Every now and then you might see someone washing their hands really well. And in my head, I know they just had an “event” using the restroom and they want to get rid of the traces. If this is you, then you have already subscribed to my theory being discussed here.
Now I am sure what I am saying is going to ruffle some feathers for some of you but lets go through some of the advantages that this theory will bring.
- Time saved. If you are to properly wash your hands for 80 seconds at an average of 4-5 times a day, that is almost 7 minutes of my day, 2 hours of my month, one day of my year, a few months of my life.
- Water consumption. Looks like the average sink is using 1.5 gallons per minute. So consider that with the numbers above to be 10 gallons a day, 180 gallons a month, etc.
- Money gained. Easy to calculate using the numbers above with relation to what you make at work.
So having read all this, you might still be on the side of “better safe than sorry”. I can respect your decision as long as you can respect mine. I can assure you my hands are cleaned when they need to be cleaned. The links above taught me quite a bit and I think the end-all solution is to use super strong alcohol based soap and force everybody to wash for 20 seconds. Either that or everyone should wear the thing Duchovny wears on his hand in Zoolander.