"Many people do not wash their hands when the behavior in which they engage would warrant it," begins a recent study from Michigan State University, and I'm sorry to say it only gets grosser from there. Researchers sneakily observed 3,749 people in public restrooms and found that nearly all of them—95 percent—didn't wash their hands long enough to kill germs.
Even scarier, 15 percent of men and 7 percent of women did not wash their hands at all. When they did bother to turn on a faucet, half of men and 22 percent of women neglected to use soap! (Or, as the researchers describe it: They "attempted to wash their hands," but failed.)
The CDC says you need to wash your hands—with soap!—for at least 20 seconds in order to kill disease-causing germs. Alas, the people in this study only washed their hands for an average of 6 seconds.
"Imagine you're a business owner and people come to your establishment and get foodborne illness through the fecal-oral route—because people didn't wash their hands—and then your reputation is on the line," says Carl Borchgrevink, a professor at MSU and the study's lead investigator. "You could lose your business." Or, imagine you're a person of any occupation, and the people around you have poop on their hands—because they don't wash their hands.
This extensive study founds lots of other interesting tidbits about hand-washing habits. Here are a few:
- People were more likely to wash their hands in the morning
- People were less likely to wash their hands if the sink was dirty
- People were more likely to wash their hands if there was sign to remind them
Other hand-washing research has found that college students are disgusting, people will wash their hands if they're being watched, and antibacterial soap isn't much better than the regular kind.
The study appears in the Journal of Environmental Health.
There should be the ability to wash your hands at the toilet to reduce the risk of CROSS contamination.
Imagine cleaning yourself with paper and getting some 'small detail' on your fingers, toss the paper of course, and then touch your clothes with that 'small detail' on your fingers to your clothes.
You go to wash your hands, leave the room and many other times throughout the day as you adjust your clothes, you put that 'small detail' from your clothes back onto your hands.
THIS is why I don't like to touch or use other peoples cell phones. How many levels of Angry Birds were passed or how many times has somebody updated their facebook status' while on the toilet? That's before they even have the chance to wash their hands!
Then it is clearly not important to wash your hands properly. If 95% don't wash properly and washing properly was critical, you'd see massive disease outbreaks. Even more damning is that the 5% who DO wash their hands properly are usually touching surfaces touched by the 'unclean' before they get out of the restroom.
This is more a matter of 'ritual cleanliness' rather than actual health concerns.
I don't always wash my hands while cooking with meat/poultry. I wipe my hands with a towel and wash when my hands are sticky or greasy. I have never had food poisoning. The risk is overstated.
That said, it is only overstated when the people involved are healthy to begin with. If I had young children or elderly (or someone with fragile health) in my household, I would be more diligent.
Build an immune system already and stop misusing antibiotics.
lol My cousins husband had to to the same experiment in the mid 90's. His professor gave the class an assignment to get the statistics on how people wash their hands and he stood on a toilet in a stall and wrote down numbers and how people did things and when he told me what he found out it was unbelievable.
I forget the percentage although it was definitely over 80% of the men who went in did not wash at all. The interesting thing was that he said that a lot of fathers who went in with their sons, told their sons to "hurry up" or they dont have time, when their sons started washing their hands. The sons complied.
One other thing, in 2006 I started working for this small tech company and the help desk guy who gave me my keyboard was kind of disabled, meaning that he had trouble walking. That part was ok, it was the way I observed him doing things...the way he did things was kind of messy, like he didnt care about most things in life, nevermind washing his hands. He gave me a used keyboard that was sticky and dirty and it actually smelled, so when I told him he disregarded my comments. It was so disgusting that I couldnt type with it under my nose and had to push it away and type with my arms straight. I started feeling an itchy throat, and when I get that I always know that the sore throat will follow as the second phase. It always follows the same stages for me and thats how I can predict I am going to get sick. The next day I had a sore throat, and then what followed was the most terrible sickness I have ever had. For the next week, I couldnt even stand and developed fever and when I tried to go to work my coworkers told my boss that I shouldnt be there because I would make everyone else sick.
Needless to say, I no longer listen to people who dont wash their hands, or say that it isnt necessary. If they want to improve their own immune systems to the detriment of other people thats fine. Just please dont dont be my friend and shake my hand!
Yes society is overusing antibiotics, I dont use antibiotics but I wash my hands. And the people I know who misuse medicine, including antibiotics, actually dont wash their hands either. So the same dumb lazy people who misuse antibiotics are the same ignorant lazy people who dont wash their hands. If you dont misuse antibiotics but you still dont wash your hands, the it doesnt matter then you are still a danger to people, sorry.
@theLordsDevil, this is a proper answer. We are over-washing, over-cleaning and overly shielding ourselves from germs our immune system has evolved to defend us from. If we look at the rise in autoimmune diseases we can see clearly what a potentially dangerous recommendation washing our bodies even more is.
I am not advocating being dirty on purpose, neither eating free peanuts at a bar, but the article may cause people to think they should fight germs even more than they, likely, already do in exceeding ways.
Yes we all need to eat our pound of dirt to develop our immunize system. But while doing so we do always take the change of getting a 'DEADLY' parasite, virus, bacterium.
The greater threat is the SPREAD of disease. That needs to be the focus of our concern. Even if hand washing makes us slightly weaker as individuals (the extent of this effect is debatable), as a whole, we are much stronger by avoiding getting sick as much as practical. Simple personal habits like hand washing can keep a small contained outbreak from becoming a global pandemic. History shows how quickly contagious disease can spread and how deadly these outbreaks can be if not contained.
Simply having a strong immune system does not protect you against a contagion you have never been exposed to. And being exposed to a contagion does not guarantee that your immune system will be better prepared to fight it the next time. If there is some genuine benefit to exposing ourselves to disease, then it should be done in a controlled way. Not making our population a lightning rod for communicable disease.
That being said, I helped the military test better procedures of protecting troops from biological warfare. I learned quite a bit about how disease spreads. Perhaps that makes me a bit paranoid about such things.
@democedes: Your reasoning is sound, but you are incorrect. If washing your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds protected you against dangerous diseases and (practically) no one was washing their hands, everyone would be sick all the time. Or, using your example, we would see regular pandemics. The flu/common cold are the only things we see spreading like wildfire and these are not transmitted through poor bathroom habits. If your theory were correct, we'd see norovirus or typhoid pandemics that never went away.
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I haven't been sick in almost a decade. Unless I clearly have feces on my hands, or I come in contact with animal feces (rodents especially) my hands stay away from soap and water.
A subtle thought that is in error may yet give rise to fruitful inquiry that can establish truths of great value.
The fact that we see flu spreading like wildfire every year is a perfect illustration of my point. In 1918 the Spanish flu infected 500 million, and killed 50-100 million. Since frequent hand washing is the most effective method of preventing the spread of flu, I think that we should be promoting more hand washing rather than less. Because the next flu season could bring something much deadlier than Spanish flu.
Sadly, all of us will die and because of our lovely advance technology we will die at an older age and the causes of death will be many!
Wash your hands or do not wash your hands; death will come anyways.
I suppose if we did not have medical science the odds would be only a one or a few things will kill us, perhaps we should do away with medical science....... (sarcasm)
Yes we can choose not to wash our hands to become ill many times and build our immune system and eventually one unlucky day will come across that virus that does us in much soon, because we have not washed out hands.
Do what you want... I prefer to wash my hands and support medical science.
Is was this a classified NSA bathroom study? Did PopSci leak it?
Has the NSA had its eyes on more than our email?