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My (unwashed) hands are clean.
December 26, 2011 4:39 PM   Subscribe

I have become adept at urinating without touching anything. Do I still need to wash my hands?

I use shod feet to manipulate the lid and handle of the toilet; I open the door with a be-shirted hand; and a hooked thumb parts my garments, which in turn support and direct my "equipment" (if that's too vague, I don't mind going into detail). In short, I don't touch anything in the bathroom--including myself--so is it still hygienically necessary that I wash my hands? I'm leaning towards no, but certain friends are emphatically pushing yes.

By the way, I wash my hands before I eat and after I defecate (I'll let you know if I find a way to do that hands-free). I hope it's clear that I'm male.
posted by troll to Grab Bag (45 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I submit to you that your premise is flawed. It's much less gross to use your hands to touch bathroom stuff and then wash them than to use your garments and walk around all day with them still on.
posted by peachfuzz at 4:41 PM on December 26, 2011 [44 favorites]


All of these acrobatics to avoid washing your hands just lead to more germs on your clothing. Just wash your hands. Besides that, it's cold and flu season and more hand washing = good.
posted by missmerrymack at 4:43 PM on December 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


You have been touching doorknobs and elevator buttons and money and your cellphone and all kinds of other disgusting things all day, before you even enter that loo. Wash your hands ffs.
posted by headnsouth at 4:46 PM on December 26, 2011 [25 favorites]


Yes, because the people who notice you haven't washed your hands won't know about your routinue unless you explain it, (which you shouldn't unless pressed, because it's just TMI) so they'll just think you're gross. It's so much more about manners than real risk of transmitting something dangerous.

By the way I also think it's nasty that you're using your shoe where you know others will use their hands.
posted by crabintheocean at 4:46 PM on December 26, 2011 [23 favorites]


In my opinion, the frequency in which you urinate is probably the frequency in which you should be washing anyway. It sounds like you go to a lot more trouble to not wash your hands that you would to simply wash them.

I also agree with this:

"By the way I also think it's nasty that you're using your shoe where you know others will use their hands."
posted by adustum at 4:48 PM on December 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


You're going to the bathroom, wash your damn hands. Seriously. There's zero rationale for all these hoops your jumping through.

Just whip the damn thing out, keep your eyes pointed straight ahead, do the deed and wash your hands. I have no idea what you're trying to avoid.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:52 PM on December 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


Urine is sterile anyway. It's not about genital-ookiness. It's just a convenient time/place to wash your hands to prevent communicable illness.
posted by unknowncommand at 4:54 PM on December 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Really I think that you are okay not washing your hands in that scenario. You didn't touch anything.

But I also think that you are a Groady McToady with a pee shirt and toilet shoes.
posted by ian1977 at 4:56 PM on December 26, 2011 [66 favorites]


Urine itself is sterile but the paths it takes out of the body are not.

In the absolute strictest sense of answering your question, no, technically you have not touched anything in the bathroom that would require you to wash your hands afterwards. But there's no reason not to wash your hands while you're there anyway, because as others have mentioned, you've still touched everything else in the entire world all day long, along with millions of other people with varying standards of hygiene.
posted by elizardbits at 4:58 PM on December 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


You need to wash your hands because, well, remember how you were worried about the most hygienic way to store your cups in the cabinet? One of the best answers ended with, "Any cup storage method in a modern cabinet is fine. You're a big, healthy, hand-washing vertebrate with a robust immune-system."

Since the water is right there and you walk right past it in the bathroom anyway, wash your hands so that you don't have to worry about the cups.
posted by Houstonian at 5:07 PM on December 26, 2011 [10 favorites]


Can you explain why you wish to avoid washing your hands?
posted by Cold Lurkey at 5:09 PM on December 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Public bathrooms with faucet knobs: skip washing. You get your hands dirtier turning the faucet off than they were before.

Private bathroom: I'd go with wash.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 5:17 PM on December 26, 2011


The worst part to me is how you're using your shirt to touch all the doorknobs! Gaak!! And then you go home and sit down and the germy shirt touches all your furniture! Why not just use your hands, at least you can wash them afterwards! Or hey, why not keep a pack of tissues in your pocket and you can open the door with those and then toss em' afterwards.
posted by cairdeas at 5:19 PM on December 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


You're going into a room that has conveniently placed soap and running water, which you can use to wash the hands you have that are pretty gross from touching all the non-bathroom things you've been touching all day. Wash them. It's not like it takes an extra hour or something.
posted by rtha at 5:22 PM on December 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


As someone who had questionable hygiene in this department when I was younger, without catching anything, I taught myself these habits out of a concern for others. Rather than your hands, it's just that all the germs are now spread all over your clothes. Using and washing your hands enables you to help contribute to public cleanliness outside of the bathroom with the application of soap.
posted by rhizome at 5:31 PM on December 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sure, public toilets can be gross and disgusting, but are they where you encounter the most or the worst pathogenic bacteria? With the exception of Hep A, probably not. At least not in the Western world.

So what you're doing is taking all these bacteria that you've encountered from everyone with a cold or flu coughing up God knows what on all these surfaces you've touched during your day, and then, when you have a chance to get rid of them, you're deciding they've grown on you.

And they will.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:33 PM on December 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


There is this guy who never washes his hands. He just took a big ol' dump, wiped his shitty ass and went right to the door: smearing his shit and germs on the handle. You just cleaned the handle off with your shirt.
posted by munchingzombie at 5:33 PM on December 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


What the... there are actually people that touch the handles on public toilets with their bare hands? Fucking gross. Sorry, but you'd all better start flushing with your shoes, because I'm sure as hell not stopping.
posted by Venadium at 5:34 PM on December 26, 2011 [21 favorites]


Are you asking "In theory, is it necessary to wash my hands in this situation? I do wash my hands anyhow: is it necessary?" or "I don't want to wash my hands in public (any?) bathrooms and have found an elaborate way to avoid touching things: am I sufficiently successful in my technique that I am safe not washing my hands in this situation?"
posted by jeather at 5:47 PM on December 26, 2011


I'm with the "wash your hands at least as often as you go to the bathroom and after you touch anything gross and before you start cooking or eating (and maybe once more just to be safe)" crowd. Also, try to dispense paper towels out first, then turn on the faucets, then soap up your hands, then scrub for a good long time under the water, then tear off the paper towels and use them to a) turn off the faucet and b) open the door on the way out.

I might as well tell you at this point also that the reason you can smell stuff in the bathroom is because the particulate matter is in the air, and we're all doomed, but in any event definitely flush with the lid closed and keep your toothbrushes behind a barrier of some kind. Thank you, Mythbusters.

Oh, and also, you're touching your clothes a few times during this process and they've been in contact with the flipping universe the whole day and are probably dirtier, in the sense of "exposed to and shedding things that could make you sick" than your genitals, which have basically been stewing in various substances already in you anyway all day.

Says the girl who still ponders creating a "Rest Area Bathroom Survival Kit" for road trips. Gah.
posted by SMPA at 5:50 PM on December 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


The issue isn't whether your hands are clean, it's that your entire process for avoiding that inconvenience is so convoluted and, frankly, disrespectful:

troll: "I use shod feet to manipulate the lid and handle of the toilet"

I can't believe you're seriously asking for advice about your amazing "no-touch technique" from people who you expect to touch a toilet handle you've wiped with your shit-stained shoes.

Respect the herd. Use TP on the handle if you're so freaked out by it.
posted by mkultra at 6:02 PM on December 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Cash money is the filthiest thing on the planet, yet you probably don't think twice about handling it.
posted by mkultra at 6:05 PM on December 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


a hooked thumb parts my garments, which in turn support and direct my "equipment"

I don't understand; last I checked thumbs were indeed attached to hands, right? If you're touching anywhere from your thighs to your navel, wash your hands; it's e. coli city.
posted by smoke at 6:17 PM on December 26, 2011


I'm a woman, but if I were a man, I'd seriously consider washing my hands before handling my penis. And then, after going to the bathroom because I'd probably touched some dirty surfaces.
posted by quince at 6:22 PM on December 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you want your hands to be clean and stay healthy, wash 'em...if you don't care, you are fine...
posted by Exchequer at 6:28 PM on December 26, 2011


I can't help wondering about the additional biological leavings you're generating on your clothing - aren't you worried about bacteria and thus smells growing in the soft warm moistness of your nether garments and shirt?

Also, in case my understanding of the ... mechanics ... were faulty, I asked Mr MMDP - he thought this was somewhat odd (although he confirmed it was possible to micturate but not manipulate) and asked whether this was more to do with making some sort of point than about whether the actual act of hand-washing was unnecessary - sort of "The Man expects me to wash my hands but hah to you The Man, I can do it my own self cause I don't touch nothing including my bits and thus I've invented A Way to defeat the expectations of YOU, The Man!!! Hah!" Seriously - is this actually a thought experiment you've engaged in with your friends?
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 6:38 PM on December 26, 2011


How the heck do you stop that last drop falling in your pants without giving it all a good shake? I don't know if it's just a female thing, or just me, but to me there is nothing worse to me than the smell of pee on a guy that does not know to give everything a good shake when he's done, even a drop or 2 can stink by the end of the day. Use your hands and then wash them like a grown up. If it bothers you so much keep a little thing of hand sanitizer in your pocket and use it after you've left the bathroom.

That way you won't smell, and I don't care how clever you are if you are just wiggling away there drops of pee are going any place but the toilet, and you won't be using your dirty shoes to spread germs to other bathroom users.

Of course if you stay in your own house, it's your bathroom and you don't care if you stink like pee then there is no law that says you have to wash your hands.
posted by wwax at 6:47 PM on December 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


There will be those who don't notice all your machinations about not touching anything in the bathroom. What they will notice is that you don't wash up after.

Do you really want to be that guy whose hygiene everyone wonders about?
posted by SillyShepherd at 7:07 PM on December 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's so much more about manners than real risk of transmitting something dangerous.
See, that's the thing. If it's only for the sake of appearances then I could care less. Doing something on the basis of social pressure alone is silly.

All of these acrobatics to avoid washing your hands just lead to more germs on your clothing.
If I stop using my shirt to open the door, I don't think that remains true. Some people have suggested that my genitals touch other parts of my clothing, but they don't. I curl the boxers up and out so the part of clothing that supports my package during micturation is the same part that touches it the rest of the day.

By the way I also think it's nasty that you're using your shoe where you know others will use their hands.
But those people are washing their hands anyway, right? As Venadium wrote above, "Sorry, but you'd all better start flushing with your shoes, because I'm sure as hell not stopping."

I have no idea what you're trying to avoid.
I'm only trying to avoid that which is unnecessary. If I manage to use the bathroom without dirtying my hands, why should they be washed?

Groady McToady with a pee shirt and toilet shoes.
Ha! Made me laugh, thank you.

There is this guy who never washes his hands. He just took a big ol' dump, wiped his shitty ass and went right to the door: smearing his shit and germs on the handle. You just cleaned the handle off with your shirt.
Hmm, that's actually a really good point. What if I turned the handle with a tissue instead, as SMPA suggests?

Are you asking "In theory, is it necessary to wash my hands in this situation? I do wash my hands anyhow: is it necessary?" or "I don't want to wash my hands in public (any?) bathrooms and have found an elaborate way to avoid touching things: am I sufficiently successful in my technique that I am safe not washing my hands in this situation?"
The latter, in public bathrooms. The sinks gross me out. I'm thinking about bringing the technique home.

I don't understand; last I checked thumbs were indeed attached to hands, right? If you're touching anywhere from your thighs to your navel, wash your hands; it's e. coli city.
I'm using my thumb to move my pants/boxers out of the way; the thumb itself does not touch Vlad. I use it to move the garments, which move him.

How the heck do you stop that last drop falling in your pants without giving it all a good shake?
That's where the the index and middle fingers of the thumb hand come in: they curl underneath and behind my package on the outside of my clothes, which gives me control of the whole unit for a good shake. I find there to be no major difference between that and a bare shaking.

Were you raised by wolves?
Trolls, actually; wolves are cleaner.

I don't know, the chorus of nowhatthehellareyouthinking is making me reconsider the matter. You guys brought up some good reasons (beyond just social convention) for dropping my stupid dance and, as Blatcher wrote, "just whip the damn thing out." Thanks for your answers.
posted by troll at 7:26 PM on December 26, 2011


I'm only trying to avoid that which is unnecessary. If I manage to use the bathroom without dirtying my hands, why should they be washed?

Because they're dirty from everything else you've been touching all day, and you have an easy opportunity to wash them right there! They were dirty when you walked into the bathroom, unless you washed them right before.

Be honest with yourself: when else during the day do you wash your hands? When else do you have an easy opportunity, with soap and water, to wash them? Do you take those opportunities?

(You don't need to tell the thread. Just think about it in your head.)
posted by rtha at 7:30 PM on December 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


(Sorry, didn't mean to seem like I was yelling at you. I think people really overestimate how much ick they can acquire in a bathroom vs how much they acquire in the rest of the world.)
posted by rtha at 7:32 PM on December 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm glad you're reconsidering.

Washing your hands several times a day is just best practice for the germy world we live in. Don't avoid the germs, embrace them.

Then just wash your hands already.
posted by BlueHorse at 8:15 PM on December 26, 2011


I just read this whole page and feel like I need to go wash my hands.
posted by zompist at 8:35 PM on December 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


Don't be so quick to dismiss social pressure. For one thing, as you can see, this is one case where social pressure is being used in "the right way," because there are a lot of great reasons to wash your hands.

But ranging farther, I understand that you want to thumb your nose at social conventions, and streamline your life, and never be accused of superfluous behavior like all the other sheeple. But you must understand that there are risks involved with taking this position.

People notice when someone doesn't wash their hands upon leaving the bathroom. And almost without fail, they tell other people. If it's in public and they are with friends, they will point you out.

God help you if you get caught not washing at your job, you will be quickly branded for life. Every place I've worked with sufficiently numerous employees has had at least one Person Who Doesn't Wash After. I can still tell you their names and give a description to a sketch artist. I certainly wouldn't shake hands if I ran into them at a party.

It is not an endearing eccentricity. It is considered gross, on a par with picking your nose in public. Maybe worse.

You may think "Who cares what they think?" But the world is a surprisingly small place, even in big cities. This is the kind of rep that makes you un-date-able, and potentially un-friend-able as well as un-hire-able.

I sense that all this only makes you more determined to wear that mantle with pride. And hey, that's your right. Just understand that there is a spectrum of personal quirks and passions, and that this one falls way too far on the wrong end to deliberately cultivate (as you are doing) without causing yourself lasting social damage.

Which is to say, if you post a question some time in the future plaintively asking why you're not getting promoted, or you can't find a lasting relationship, or make friends in your new city, I reserve the right to link back to this here comment, with eyebrows raised in a significant fashion.

"Are you still not washing your hands after you leave the bathroom?" I will ask. "And if someone asks, are you still launching into an epic and breathless diatribe about how it is unnecessary and in fact unsanitary? And have you not noticed how they turn a bit green around the edges, change the subject, and leave your company as quickly as possible?"

(As for all the rest of us reading this comment thread, let it serve as a reminder why we wash our hands in the bathroom in the first place. Because lots of people never ever ever wash their hands, no matter what. And they are out there touching all the things.)
posted by ErikaB at 8:44 PM on December 26, 2011 [20 favorites]


We got a Washlet installed on our toilet a while back, and that has totally eliminated the necessity for deuce-related handwashing.

(But I wash them anyway.)
posted by holterbarbour at 9:21 PM on December 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm using my thumb to move my pants/boxers out of the way; the thumb itself does not touch Vlad. I use it to move the garments, which move him.

You are touching things that are touching your arsehole. Do you get belly button lint? That is a great example of how far dirt (and the bacteria in it) can travel. If you touch anything near your or someone else's junk, wash your hands.
posted by smoke at 10:11 PM on December 26, 2011


In some situations, like gross public restrooms, I think you're perfectly justified in not washing your hands (though I def. wouldn't be using my clothes to touch things). Public sinks can be gross. Public toilets can be gross. I also think it is fine to flush with your foot if it's one of those industrial press-bar flushers, not the little handles attached to the fronts of private toilets that people generally touch with their hands.

The no-hand-wash pass only applies to public restrooms, imo. At work, or if anyone you know is present, you should probably always wash your hands, if for no other reason than to avoid social repercussions.
posted by asynchronous at 10:29 PM on December 26, 2011


Please wash your hands. Your technique may be impeccable and beyond reproach, but you are still leaving yourself open to the germs you pick-up throughout the day and the washroom is the perfect opportunity to get your hands nice and clean - otherwise next time you rub your eye or scratch your nose, you'll be transferring bacteria.

I've called out people at work who haven't washed their hands, I'm not above embarrassing them if that's what it takes to promote good hygiene.
posted by arcticseal at 11:47 PM on December 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, you should wash your hands!

The amount of effort that you put into not touching things in the bathroom seems like it would take so much more mental energy than just washing your hands.

It is common courtesy and a basic life skill. If I found out a man I was dating didn't wash his hands after using the bathroom, it would be a total deal breaker! I don't care how meticulous your invented routine is, the fact that you are trying to avoid the easy and effective practice of hand washing is weird and a total red flag!

Here is how I wash my hands, as taught to me by a nurse:

If the paper towel dispenser requires touching to get paper, then do that BEFORE you wash your hands. Lather hands and wash for the amount of time it takes to sing "Happy Birthday To You" (in your head or out loud if you are feeling festive). Do not touch the faucet with your newly cleaned hands. Quickly dry your hands with the prepared paper towel, use the paper towel to turn the faucet off and use the same or new paper towel to open the bathroom door. Prop the door open with your foot and toss the paper towel in the trash. VOILA. It doesn't matter how gross the bathroom looks if you follow this protocol!
posted by dottiechang at 1:00 AM on December 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


ErikaB nailed it. If you have been following this procedure for any length of time at all in a place where others are around you, it may already be too late.... you are That Guy Who Pees and Doesn't Wash His Hands. At my workplace, there were several; they were scrupulously avoided along with That Guy Who Takes the Newspaper into the Stall for Half and Hour then Leaves the Paper in the Break Room. Ugh. It's not worth it. There's not a prize for what you think you've figured out.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 6:53 AM on December 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


Me, I wash my hands before I pee. I figure my hands are dirtier than my equipment.

But I guess it depends on what you do for a living :-)
posted by wrm at 12:46 PM on December 27, 2011


Me, I wash my hands before I pee. I figure my hands are dirtier than my equipment.


Your equipment is covered with coliform bacteria. Whether or not you consider that dirt is up to you.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:29 PM on December 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm only trying to avoid that which is unnecessary.

It seems like you spent more time thinking up and working out how to avoid washing your hands than washing your hands.

The next time Vlad is auditioning sleep over friends, ask them how sexy not washing your hands after going to the bathroom is.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:40 PM on December 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wash 'em. And I sing (or whistle) a verse and a chorus of Black Hole Sun instead of Happy Birthday when washing my hands at work. I am often remarked upon as an exemplary hand washer. No one fears to shake my hand.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 10:01 PM on December 27, 2011


I figure I should wash my hands several times a day. (Especially after handling money, gross.) Coincidentally, I have to pee several times a day. Here's a time-saving trick: do both on the same trip to the bathroom. It's an efficiency hack! Why go into the bathroom twice for two separate things when you can only go once? Damn the man, I'm saving time, here.

But seriously, don't spend mental energy on this. Just do it every time and soon it will be as automatic as putting your seat belt on in your car, no thought required. And use bathrooms with proximity sensors whenever possible so you don't have to touch faucet handles.
posted by ctmf at 10:45 PM on December 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


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