Must Wash Hands

After a scientific explanation for why it’s a good idea to wash your hands after using them to direct the penis during urination, Prettier Than Napoleon‘s Amber muses, “Does the argument for washing even apply to women? And yet I bet more women than men wash their hands.”

I don’t have any data on the matter but I do have one serial anecdote: There’s almost always a line to use the urinal at a concert or sporting event. There’s never a line for the sink.

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, Science & Technology
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Doubter says:

    What’s the Libertarian view on laws like this?
    And with seatbelt, helmet and other public safety laws?

  2. Franklin says:

    Reminds me of some George Carlin skit.

    Anyway, while I tend to at least *rinse* my hands and dry off (preferably with the smallest paper towel that does the job) after peeing, that scientific explanation still doesn’t convince me that we need to do anything at all. Sorry, but a little fecal bacteria isn’t bad for most healthy people. If you have a pet, it’s likely all over you and your house already. And yet you’re still somehow miraculously alive.

    I’d be far more concerned with people who don’t watch their face and hands (or inside the elbow) after sneezing. *That* will actually make other people sick.

  3. James Joyner says:

    I don’t know that there’s a consensus. While knee-jerk libertarians say it’s none of the government’s business, others operate on the Harm Principle and weigh negative externalities. You’ve got a right to make yourself sick but not to make others sick.

    Seatbelt and helmet laws are tricky, in that the externalities mostly come problem social welfare policies that libertarians oppose.

  4. mantis says:

    Whenever possible, I like to re-wash my hands after using the bathroom. Bathroom door handles are covered in nastiness from the guys who don’t wash.

    I also tend to wash my hands before using the bathroom. My hands, being out in the open doing things during the day, are certainly way dirtier than my junk.

  5. Franklin says:

    Bathroom door handles are covered in nastiness from the guys who don’t wash.

    This is a good point. Despite my lack of concern about bacteria, I still grab the handle with the paper towel I used to dry, and then toss it back towards the trash while my foot holds the door open.

  6. PJ says:

    Whenever possible, I like to re-wash my hands after using the bathroom. Bathroom door handles are covered in nastiness from the guys who don’t wash.

    So true. If you touch the door handle, then you could as well have saved time by not washing your hands in the first place…

    I recall having watched Along Came Polly, but I can’t remember what the movie was about. But I’ll never, ever, eat mixed nuts in bar.

  7. mantis says:

    I recall having watched Along Came Polly, but I can’t remember what the movie was about. But I’ll never, ever, eat mixed nuts in bar.

    Never seen the movie, but I have a feeling I know the joke. Yuck.

  8. HankP says:

    There’s never a line for the sink

    That’s because it takes longer to urinate than to wash your hands.

  9. john personna says:

    Despite my lack of concern about bacteria, I still grab the handle with the paper towel I used to dry, and then toss it back towards the trash while my foot holds the door open.

    Many public bathrooms are re-arraigning so that there is a trash can by the door. They get it.