Monday, November 05, 2007

Should You Wash Your Hands After Going #1?

Oliver Willis says yes. Before going any further, I'd like to state for the record that, regardless of the argument I'm about to advance, I actually do wash my hands after I urinate. It's just force of habit at this point.

There's just a few things I'd like to point out.

(1) There is no reason my penis should be any more dirty than any other part of my body, and it certainly ought to be cleaner than my hands, provided I haven't been using it recently. My hands touch all kinds of dirty things all day - far far worse than my genitals - from pocket change to shoes to the floor to the exterior of my car. So why is it mandatory that I wash my hands every time I touch my penis? The thing's not radioactive.

(2) If you're getting pee on your hand when you go #1, you're doing it wrong.

In the course of making his point - that it's icky not to wash after you piss - Oliver links to this USA Today column. But they don't really make his case for him very well:

...the experts still recommend washing, for two reasons.

Reason one: You may pick up more germs than you think, from doors, flush handles and other surfaces, and from your own body. "Your gastrointestinal tract is close by," Daly says. "It all fits together, and you can't see where the microorganisms are."

Okay, see, but...that's just stupid. My gastrointestinal tract is close to my penis? I mean, speaking globally, yes, it is closer than, say, New York and The Hague. But the small of my back is also relatively close to my gastrointestinal tract, and I don't run to the washroom every time I reach back there to scratch an itch.

Let's add an addendum to the end of observation #2 above. If you're getting doody on your hand when you go #1, you're seriously doing it wrong. Like, holy shit, are you doing it wrong! Wow! If you ever find poo on your hand, for any reason, wash that fucker immediately, without hesitation.

Reason two: The restroom, stocked with sinks, soap and water, is a convenient place to wash off bacteria and viruses your hands accumulate elsewhere during the day. Studies do show groups of people who wash their hands regularly get fewer gastrointestinal and respiratory illnesses.

But this has nothing to do with washing after you go #1. This is just stating, quite obviously, that it's a decent idea to wash your hands a few times a day. Because live is messy and germs are everywhere. I can get behind that message. And I'm not even saying you shouldn't wash your hands whenever you exit a bathroom. (The "germs on the door handle" argument is fairly compelling.) But let's not go nuts here. There's far more gross things that people do each day than rush out of the bathroom after a nice tinkle without washing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So why aren't we washing hands BEFORE we urinate. Hmmm....I'm going to touch my penis with dirty hands and the just wash my hands? It sounds completely asinine.