Hand Washing

Mary’s post from Friday about the severe water shortage they’re experiencing in North Carolina and her concern about people not washing their hands got me irked even more than I already have been for a while. I have seen more people leave the restroom after using the toilet and *not* washing their hands. I have talked to some of my male friends about this, and they said they see the same thing. And I’m talking everyone, including professors (this started with me while I was at school the last time), especially our biology professor. I’ve seen people at my present job do this, too. Not only this, but I’ve heard that staph infections are traveling around in schools now. I’ve heard the excuse, “I don’t wash my hands because it dries them out.” You know what I say in response? “Drink more water and carry hand lotion with you.” I carry a backpack to work and I have a bottle of hand lotion tucked into one of the side pockets.

How *freakin’* gross is all of this? I know I don’t need to explain how gross it is.

Okay, so I’ve read in two different places just this past week to wash my hands for the length of time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. That’s twice, as in about 30 seconds of hand washing, with soap, and that will kill the germs on my hands. I add “with soap” because I’ve seen people just quickly dash their hands under the water, sans soap. This is one place I would not let a water shortage stop me, because it has been shown that hand washing does prevent illnesses.

I also carry a bottle of liquid hand sanitizer in my vehicle, along with sanitizing wipes, for such cases where I can’t wash my hands and I’ve done something dirty, like pumping gas.

In the words of my Grandmother (my Mom’s Mom) who lost her husband (a farmer) at a very young age leaving her very poor to raise seven children on her own, “soap and water doesn’t cost that much, so there is no reason to be dirty just because we’re poor.”

I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but thanks for letting me rant. Here’s more pretty trees I saw in my travels yesterday.


11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Linda
    Oct 21, 2007 @ 10:33:14

    At many of the state parks they only have hand sanitizers and paper towels. I don’t feel as clean but I guess they are suppose to work.

    In areas of water shortages maybe they should install them as an alternative. However, I think the people that don’t wash aren’t doing it because of the water shortage. They are lazy and wouldn’t use the hand sanitizer either. Some surprisingly clean-looking people don’t wash. It’s not like people don’t know better.


  2. lizalee
    Oct 21, 2007 @ 11:27:49

    As a teacher, we just KNOW the kids don’t wash their hands. I came up with an idea (probably stole it from another teacher but I don’t remember where). I got two bottles of hand sanitizer — the pump kind. I labelled them “boys” and “girls.” They are my bathroom passes. The kids go get them and put them on their desks (that way I know where the child is). When they come back, they put them back on the bookshelf near the door. Most of them use the sanitizer — after all, they are carrying something that squirts! Woo-hoo!

    And, it does work — it’s alcohol-based so it does kill the germs. Yay!


  3. Lynne at Hasty Brook
    Oct 21, 2007 @ 11:29:20

    I work in a hospital laboratory, probably the germiest department there. I am a hand washing fanatic. I’ve taught my kids to never directly touch the restroom door handles after hand washing. We use the wadded up paper towels that we used to dry our hands to open the door. Think about it- When people don’t wash their hands after going to the bathroom, what’s the first thing they touch? UGH!!


  4. mon@rch
    Oct 21, 2007 @ 11:31:02

    I always suggest that anyone how handles the birds that they wash their hand! I also have those hand wipes when we are out in the field (not close to water)!


  5. Ruth
    Oct 21, 2007 @ 14:22:52

    Working in a hospital I wash my hands and use sanitizer all day long. I often have to work gowned and gloved with patients that have super bug infections. People are often very careless after using the bathroom. One caution…our hospital, and other facilities have banned antibacterial soaps. They can contribute to the hardiness of dangerous and smart bacteria. Water, regular soap and friction are sufficient. And the sanitizers do work well.


  6. mary
    Oct 21, 2007 @ 21:17:42

    Pam, I get all bent out of shape when I see woman flush and leave. No hand washing. When I worked in DE, there was a woman on our floor who never washed her hands and one of the ladies I worked with (Mary Lou – fiery Mexican) had enough and piped up in the ladies’ restroom, “Hey, you forgot to wash your hands!” The lady ignored her, so Mary Lou followed her down the hall and said, “We wash our hands here!” No response.

    I use the paper towel I wash my hands with to open the restroom door handle. I carry hand sanitizer and use rubbing alcohol to clean my office phone and doorknob a few times a week. I could not count the number of times I wash my hands during the course of one day…after door knobs and handles, especially.

    I worry that the children will stop hand washing or never learn it. Liza Lee has a good method.


  7. Laura
    Oct 21, 2007 @ 22:39:55

    Leave it to a teacher to come up with a great idea – Liza’s smart!

    We gossip endlessly about the women at the office who don’t wash – and who talk on their damn cell phones while on the toilet – please!


  8. jayne
    Oct 22, 2007 @ 06:42:52

    The funny thing is that we’re so “germ phobic” and have truly created these drug resistant bugs by using so much “anti-bacterial” stuff, and now they are spreading rampantly because people won’t just wash their hands???????? Crazy, isn’t it?


  9. Sandy
    Oct 22, 2007 @ 19:07:36

    Isn’t it scary what we are exposed to every day? I also use the wash, and open door with the towel method. Sometimes, I have to stick my foot in the door to hold it open, while I toss the towel. It looks stupid but it works!


  10. Susan Gets Native
    Oct 22, 2007 @ 23:22:37

    Not to be the kill-joy here, but…
    We wash our hands. But we aren’t fanatical about it. I make sure the girls wash after using the bathroom and after playing near the Little Miami River (E. Coli) but I don’t have kittens about it. And we are hardly ever sick.
    I think hand-washing definitely has its place, don’t get me wrong. But our immune systems need something to practice on.
    There was an outbreak here recently of MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureus). It’s a very treatable bacteria, staph, but when it mutated to this strain, it’s just about invincible. Scary. Too many antibiotics, too many anti-bacterial concoctions. And because of that you have to beg on your hands and knees for antibiotics for your child’s ear infection.


  11. Diane
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 18:28:53

    This is a great discussion, which I just stumbled on while researching a story on who does and doesn’t wash their hands (I’m a freelance writer). If any of you (Pam, Mary, etc) would like to chat about the “grimes” of omission you’ve witnessed in restrooms or some of the creative solutions you’ve come up with to get kids to wash up (that teacher story is great!), I’d love to hear from you.

    The story’s for a national online news outlet; I can give you the “dirt” if you shoot me an email at fruitnut@nwlink.com. Thanks and hope to hear from you!


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