Next: The Toelet
February 9, 2011 10:17 AM   Subscribe

Do you hate touching public washroom door handles? The Toepener is a pedal designed to open a public washroom’s door with one’s foot rather than having to touch the door handle.

The Toepener is the brainchild of Max Arndt, a four-year university student at the Carson School of Management. Arndt and his classmates were asked in the "Entrepreneurship in Action" class to come up with ideas for a new business product or service.
The Toepener in action.
posted by chococat (131 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Or you could install the doors so they open outwards, no? Are there building codes that govern which way bathroom doors have to open?

I would probably lose my balance if I tried to use one of these things.
posted by backseatpilot at 10:21 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Eww, I hate touching public washroom doorhandles with my toes!
posted by chavenet at 10:21 AM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Mostly I like it because it's called the Toepener. A door-opening alternative after my own heart.
posted by ORthey at 10:22 AM on February 9, 2011


As someone who has opened a regular bathroom door (in a disgusting gas station bathroom with no paper towels) with my foot before, I wholeheartedly endorse this idea.

Related: I used a public bathroom in Switzerland once where the toilet flusher was a pedal on the floor. I spent the next few hours talking about how genius it was. Genius. That is all.
posted by phunniemee at 10:24 AM on February 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Rudy's BBQ and Mighty Fine Hamburgers in Austin have had a similar opener on their bathroom doors for years.
posted by birdherder at 10:24 AM on February 9, 2011


Good idea.
posted by nickyskye at 10:24 AM on February 9, 2011


great idea. however, you could scuff a new shine on that door plate if you're not careful.
posted by facetious at 10:25 AM on February 9, 2011


Do you hate touching public washroom door handles?

No, I love it. It's a chance to show all those foreign germs how awesome American germs are.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:25 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


That seems a step up from putting a small waste bin by the door for people to toss their prophylactic paper towels into. Still, I'd rather have these doors.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:25 AM on February 9, 2011


I'll just stick to my fing-longer, thanks.
posted by Harry at 10:26 AM on February 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is genius!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:27 AM on February 9, 2011


I just grab the handle with my teeth.
posted by bondcliff at 10:27 AM on February 9, 2011 [19 favorites]


> kick door
posted by Drexen at 10:28 AM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Or you could install the doors so they open outwards, no? Are there building codes that govern which way bathroom doors have to open?

sort of, but it's not about bathrooms. most corridors require 3'-0" clearance minimum (or more if building capacity requires it), so if a door swings out (into a corridor) you have to allow for that clearance around a door that is open. this will often make a corridor wider than necessary (3'-0" door + 3'-0" clearance = 6'-0" corridor). if instead the door swung into the bathroom you would not have this need for an enlarged corridor. the only doors required to swing out by law are egress doors.
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 10:28 AM on February 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Next: the Toelet" -- wait, you mean that flushing with one's foot isn't the only way?

(I am NOT telling you how I wipe...)
posted by Madamina at 10:28 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


High power gamma emitters instead of fluorescent fixtures.
posted by Babblesort at 10:29 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


You could just be like Howard Hughes and wait for the next occupant.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:31 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is fine until someone's coming in the door at the same time you're trying to wrangle it open with your foot. Then you hop around awkwardly.

Funnily enough, I know this from personal experience: I've installed pulleys and low handles like this on two doors in my house so the dog can open them and they'll close behind him. I tend to use them, myself, when I have my hands full.
posted by gurple at 10:32 AM on February 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


If we could just convince all the "hoverers" out there (women AND men) to sit their asses down on the toilet seat like a real human being, we wouldn't have so many sanitation problems in the first place.
posted by Curious Artificer at 10:34 AM on February 9, 2011 [26 favorites]


Is this a Kickstarter project? Kickstarter? See what I did there?
posted by fixedgear at 10:34 AM on February 9, 2011


I've installed pulleys and low handles like this on two doors in my house so the dog can open them and they'll close behind him.

You installed dog-able doors throughout your house, and he uses them? More explanation and pictures are required by Internet Law, produce them forthwith.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 10:35 AM on February 9, 2011 [27 favorites]


I would probably lose my balance if I tried to use one of these things.

This would I'm sure be welcomed by someone I know who not only opens the door and flushes the toilet with her foot, she turns on and off the water in the sink that way too.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:35 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


This strikes me as analogous to our discussion a little while back about shoes on/off inside the house: germ people and non-germ people.

I just wash my hands and then open the door; no worries about germs and so far, I haven't caught space herpes.

There is a guy where I work who uses a paper towel to press the soap dispenser when he washes his hands (faucets are motion-triggered, though). He will definitely want the toepener, maybe the toep dispenser, too.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:35 AM on February 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


The funny thing about this, is that the an average customer's desire for use of a toepener (perceived or actual) would probably be inversely affected by the chance of management purchasing one of these.

IOW, The worse the bathroom, the less likely you'd see one.
posted by Debaser626 at 10:36 AM on February 9, 2011 [8 favorites]


You installed dog-able doors throughout your house, and he uses them? More explanation and pictures are required by Internet Law, produce them forthwith.

Yes, and yes. We have room-by-room heating, so the dog was always barging into rooms that were heated and letting the heat out. So I rigged up a pulley and counterweight to make the door close automatically (could have used a spring-loaded hinge, but I couldn't find one that didn't squeak), and I screwed on a handle at the level of his nose. I started with our bedroom, but he started sleeping in the downstairs office so I added one there, too.

It took him some time and a lot of treats to learn how to nose open the door, but now it works great. I take the pulleys down in the summertime and put them back up in the winter.

Hmm, looks like I don't have any pictures, I'm afraid. I'll have to rectify that situation.
posted by gurple at 10:39 AM on February 9, 2011 [15 favorites]


That thing looks like it was made specifically to catch on shoelace loops.
posted by hermitosis at 10:40 AM on February 9, 2011


If they can get Rex Ryan as a spokesperson...
posted by Mister Fabulous at 10:41 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


> I just wash my hands and then open the door; no worries about germs and so far, I haven't caught space herpes.

For myself and others that I know, it's not so much worry about germs per se, but more about actual excrement on the handle. Dudes that give it a quick shake then zip up and rush out the door can and do get piss on the handle. Not to even mention the buildup of skin grease that can occur. No thank you!
posted by Burhanistan at 10:41 AM on February 9, 2011


Good idea, but the design seems like a quick way to sprain an ankle.
posted by HumanComplex at 10:42 AM on February 9, 2011


wow, that is awesome.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 10:43 AM on February 9, 2011


What, you mean I spent five years learning Kenpo Karate just so I could open bathroom doors with my foot, and now you say I didn't have to?.

That sucks. I guess I'll have to stick to using my mad martial arts skills to beat up hipsters.
posted by happyroach at 10:43 AM on February 9, 2011


Your keyboard is dirtier than your toilet.
posted by something something at 10:43 AM on February 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yes, but the germs on my keyboard are MY germs (which are familiar to my immune system), and not the accumulated bodily wastes of a million random strangers.
posted by elizardbits at 10:45 AM on February 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


First saw this at whole foods. Liked it. More please.
posted by justgary at 10:48 AM on February 9, 2011


I just wait around the door until someone else comes in and then I just bolt.
posted by mazola at 10:49 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm with backseatpilot...never understood why most bathroom doors open in rather than out. I guess it's opening doors don't hit people walking by, but it seems like the obvious solution.
posted by dry white toast at 10:50 AM on February 9, 2011


That thing looks like it was made specifically to catch on shoelace loops.

I was just thinking that, though I would assume that the shoelace rule still applies.
posted by bonehead at 10:50 AM on February 9, 2011


Do the people who don't want to touch the handle just never touch anything? Shopping carts or baskets? Train or bus poles? Tables, desks, doorknobs?

I understand the need for this in hospitals or nursing homes where there might be immuno-suppressed patients, but as an average, healthy person, this seems like overkill.
posted by explosion at 10:51 AM on February 9, 2011 [8 favorites]


Your keyboard is dirtier than your toilet.

fact: cat hair clogs worse than anything.
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 10:52 AM on February 9, 2011


I have no desire to demoralize Mr. Arndt about his new business product, but the restroom in my local Whole Foods has a device like this installed on the door, and it was there long before the "Toepener" was created. I don't know who made it, but it has a label on it and a handy dandy sticker that explains how to use it.
posted by BurntHombre at 10:52 AM on February 9, 2011


> Do the people who don't want to touch the handle just never touch anything?

Nah, it's more people who just washed their hands and want to have a cleanliness grace period of more than a few seconds.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:52 AM on February 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


The grocery stores where I live provide a container of disinfectant wipes near the shopping carts and I use them.

More toepeners please. I can handle a little grime, but that doesn't mean I like it.
posted by polyhedron at 10:54 AM on February 9, 2011


Yes, but the germs on my keyboard are MY germs

So you think, until you watch the cleaning crew come through at night and wipe all the computers and phones down with the same old rag. This actually was discovered at my old job, where I worked with several control freak germophobes (who were near and dear to my heart), and they just about died.

Short of finding something wet and sticky with unwholesome biological ooze, I really can't get worked up about germs. That said, I'm vigilant about kitchen hygiene--but I view "where the chicken is sitting" as well within my control--the rest of the world? Meh.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:55 AM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


small edit: it's the "Carlson School of Management" . Also known on campus as a "wretched hive of scum and villainy"
posted by Think_Long at 10:59 AM on February 9, 2011


Two things:

A) I read recently that flu germs are passes around more by airborne methods than surfaces.

B) Maybe the effoer should be made to address hand-washing habits.

In other words, cough into your elbow and was your damn hands.
posted by Sir Cholmondeley at 11:00 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Came for the freaking out about hygiene, stayed for the awesome story about doggy doors.
posted by sonika at 11:01 AM on February 9, 2011 [9 favorites]


Rudy's BBQ and Mighty Fine Hamburgers in Austin have had a similar opener on their bathroom doors for years.

AND they both have automated handwashers (Meritech, I think), outside the restroom, along with "I HAVE CLEAN HANDS" stickers. They're great.

Mighty Fine has that strange thing where the men's room is behind a wall of one-way mirrors, so while you take a squirt your back is turned toward a wall-sized window looking onto a crowded restaurant. Disquieting.
posted by dirtdirt at 11:09 AM on February 9, 2011


So you think, until you watch the cleaning crew come through at night and wipe all the computers and phones down with the same old rag.

After numerous flaily confrontations with our office cleaning lady, she has agreed to no longer do this on my desk. Now she wastefully uses fresh paper towels instead. Yay!

posted by elizardbits at 11:11 AM on February 9, 2011


The best solution is to not wash your hands.
posted by zzazazz at 11:11 AM on February 9, 2011


Man, you're just not ever going to kill or avoid all the germs. There are entire civilizations living in you eyelashes as I type this message. Really. Prudence is good, but why burn all those brain cycles worrying about avoiding things that have already set up camp on every surface on the Earth?

I will offer this helpful hint for the sensitive germophobe -- when travelling in the tropics, do not shine your flashlight down the outhouse hole at night.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:13 AM on February 9, 2011 [12 favorites]


Here's a little rant for you germophobes out there:

You know when you don't flush the toilette because you're afraid of germs? When you use half a roll of toilette paper to make an ad-hoc seat cover? When you hover above the seat because your precious ass cheeks can't touch something that someone's else's gross ass cheeks have touched? Well that makes it disgusting for the rest of us. Here's some unfortunate news: everything is gross. Everything has germs on it, and other people touch public surfaces on a routine basis and we probably get sick just as often as you do. I realize that for some people that there is an uncontrollable aversion to germs, but for the rest of you... you are the reason that public rest rooms are gross in the first place.
posted by codacorolla at 11:14 AM on February 9, 2011 [19 favorites]


These have been in medical institutions for years, and not necessarily just on bathroom doors. Staff are expected to not touch anything from when they wash their hands to when they're attending a patient.

I think it's a reasonable thing to provide to food preparers as well.

[NOT GERMS-IST]
posted by ardgedee at 11:14 AM on February 9, 2011


> but for the rest of you... you are the reason that public rest rooms are gross in the first place.

Huh? The asshole that pisses over everything is the reason. A good germophobe leaves no evidence that he was ever in the bathroom.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:17 AM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I like how a post about a neat, simple little door gadget has turned into a thread full of YOU ARE WRONG BECAUSE GERMS ARE EVERYWHERE. YOU SHOULD SIT ON TOILET SEATS BECAUSE YOU ARE WRONG. I LOVE GERMS. IN FACT, I ATE A TOILET SEAT FOR BREAKFAST TODAY. HURF DURF I HAVE READ THE WIKIPEDIA PAGE ON BACTERIA.
posted by phunniemee at 11:18 AM on February 9, 2011 [9 favorites]


Cleaning/sanitation giant Ecolab has had a similar product in their catalogs for a few years now.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:18 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wait, your cleaning crew(s) clean at night? They don't clean the bathrooms during the day, like at 9 am? Or run the vacuum at 1:30pm? Another public sector/private sector difference.
posted by fixedgear at 11:19 AM on February 9, 2011


For all the don't worry, lick the floor people, you go right on ahead. When you see your doctor washing her hands, tell her to stop.

The asshole that pisses over everything is the reason. A good germophobe leaves no evidence that he was ever in the bathroom.

Bingo. I just don't want your feces or ball sweat on my hands. Is that too much to ask? Some nasty mofos in restrooms I swear. Not everybody has the luxury of being sick every other week or testing their immune systems like it's a video game.

You want to scratch your sack and not wash your hands and rub the hands that just inspected your dog's butt on the door, be my guest. But don't then turn around and get shit siddity at me for not wanting that on me.
posted by cashman at 11:22 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wait, your cleaning crew(s) clean at night? They don't clean the bathrooms during the day, like at 9 am? Or run the vacuum at 1:30pm? Another public sector/private sector difference.

Huh? I don't get it. Which is supposed to be which here?
posted by Drexen at 11:25 AM on February 9, 2011


What I don't get is: Why don't heavy, swinging bathroom doors installed in narrow corridors or with narrow inside approaches (i.e. all of them) HAVE TRANSLUCENT WINDOWS SO I CAN SEE IF I'M ABOUT TO GET BRAINED.

Thomas H Crapper, this happens to me at least twice a week. IT'S A SIMPLE SOLUTION.
posted by DU at 11:27 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Drexen, a couple of people posted that they spotted cleaning people doing x when they were in the office late. My impression is that office cleaners work at night. In my public sector, US DoD Government job, we have a JWOD/AbilityOne/NIB/NISH cleaning crew. They work during the day. It amazes new people, contractors and visitors. We're used to it.
posted by fixedgear at 11:31 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


phunniemee, you're the only person I see yelling about this. A couple folks have said it seems like a nice idea, but it's overkill, and I personally think it's probably futile in the long-run, but the hurf durf is all you at this point.

I mean, that guy that just walked out of the McDonald's bathroom in front of you also pushed his way out the front door with the same hand 10 seconds later. Seems like we'd be better off trying to promote sensible hygiene in general, rather than avoiding touching anything ever.

The 2-way mirror in the bathroom thing weirds me right the fuck out, though.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:33 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Are they amazed in a good way or a bad one? We have a daily cleaning crew here too and other than being somewhat annoyed when I tried to use the bathroom and they are in there, I've never heard anyone express amazement.
posted by DU at 11:34 AM on February 9, 2011


I have a friend who not only does not believe HIV is behind AIDS, but doesn't care much for the germ theory. That's one way to avoid the whole germaphobe/germaphile argument that erupts on Metafilter several times a year. (I'll admit to being raised by a doctor who advised his kids to eat stuff off the floor to build up their immune systems. I can't claim causality, but we're all healthy. Aside from a minor cold now and then, I've gone decades without getting sick. I do wash my hands in the restroom to be polite, but that's about it. And I DO NOT buy "antibacterial" anything!)
posted by kozad at 11:35 AM on February 9, 2011


Someone should invent a toilet where you don't have to squat way down with your pelvis thrust into bowl and dip the tip of your penis into the water to pee. If you ask me, that's way more unsanitary than the door handle thing.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:37 AM on February 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


DU, I guess they are more like 'surprised.' It's out of the norm. Imagine being on a teleconference in a conference room. The door is open because we work in a converted warehouse and the temperature is never right, winter or summer. The cleaning crew is running the vacuum in the hallway. Voice on speakerphone: "Is someone running the vacuum?
posted by fixedgear at 11:38 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


phunniemee, you're the only person I see yelling about this. A couple folks have said it seems like a nice idea, but it's overkill, and I personally think it's probably futile in the long-run, but the hurf durf is all you at this point.

Oh, my bad.
posted by phunniemee at 11:39 AM on February 9, 2011


I can remember some truly hideous bathrooms (like, a Trainspotting level of grossness) in bars I frequented in my salad days. I can also remember herds of very fastidious women making six-inch-think toilet seat covers out of TP and gingerly grasping the stall and exit door handles with paper towels.

Then they promptly sauntered back onto the dance floor and shoved their tongues down the throats of total strangers.
posted by FelliniBlank at 11:40 AM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Fellas, I think we can all agree on the really important issues: we need to see pictures of gurple's dog using his custom-made dog doors.

Better yet a movie of the dog using the door and then the door goes *ZOOP!* as it automatically shuts behind.

NOW PLEASE
posted by danny the boy at 11:40 AM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I saw a woman on the elevator this morning take off her mittens to reveal latex gloves underneath. She would probably like this.

Although I would still like a damn pedal operated toilet, please.
posted by electroboy at 11:41 AM on February 9, 2011


In my public sector, US DoD Government job, we have a JWOD/AbilityOne/NIB/NISH cleaning crew. They work during the day.

Same thing with my public sector job in Canada . . . they used to work at night, but due to security issues all cleaning is now during the day. And yep, vacuum cleaners during teleconference calls are some fun.
posted by fimbulvetr at 11:42 AM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


God, people, just get over it already. I'm sick of piss all over the seats, I'm sick of all the paper waste generated from your attempts to separate your delicate skin from the rest of the world, I'm sick of your shoe mud all over places where shoe mud shouldn't be because you think kicking the handle is the right way to flush.

Get the fuck over yourselves and pee like a god damn grownup and let inventors focus on inventing things that actually have a value to society.

I feel kind of strongly about this.
posted by padraigin at 11:42 AM on February 9, 2011 [11 favorites]


dip the tip of your penis into the water to pee.

I don't know how you're doing it, but you're doing it wrong.
posted by odinsdream at 11:44 AM on February 9, 2011


Deep, too.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:45 AM on February 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


That's how everyone does it. You put your hands out against the wall on either side, and rest the tops of your feet on the floor, and arch your back to put your pelvis as far down into the bowl as you can. That's how everyone pees.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:48 AM on February 9, 2011 [13 favorites]


Do you hate touching public washroom door handles?

Not as much as people who talk on their phones in public bathrooms. Can some clever inventor come up with a solution for that, because so far the couple that I've tried 1.) flinging shit and 2.) a baseball bat, have both met with real opposition.

I get extra rage points when the person on the phone doesn't flush because it would be rude to the person they're on the phone with. Grrr...
posted by quin at 11:58 AM on February 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


+1 for washing facilities being installed outside the door of the voiding facilities.
posted by drowsy at 11:59 AM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why don't they just put a button on the floor that flushes instead?
posted by timdicator at 12:04 PM on February 9, 2011


Fellas, I think we can all agree on the really important issues: we need to see pictures of gurple's dog using his custom-made dog doors.

I'm not at home, so I won't be able to provide photos before this thread is a distant memory, but I can assure that it doesn't look nearly as awesome as you'd think. Primarily because he only has to open the door a few inches with his nose and then a foot or so with his body.
posted by gurple at 12:08 PM on February 9, 2011


I swear, you people are the reason douches and vaginal deoderants were invented.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:18 PM on February 9, 2011


Us North Americans sure have some crazy neurotic ideas about germs and sanitation.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:19 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Your keyboard is dirtier than your toilet.
posted by something something at 10:43 AM on February 9 [+] [!]


Yes, but the germs on my keyboard are MY germs (which are familiar to my immune system), and not the accumulated bodily wastes of a million random strangers.
posted by elizardbits at 10:45 AM on February 9 [2 favorites +] [!]


Not if you're away from your desk right as I get back from dipping my penis in the toilet, they aren't.
posted by FatherDagon at 12:23 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Two other amusing bathroom-related stories from my old law firm we all can enjoy:

1) The partner who would take documents with him to the urinal to read AND EDIT (pressed against the wall, you know) and then give them back to associates to turn (he was not one for hand washing, in any event); and

2) The assistant who was given a stack of documents to scan and then took the originals into the stall with her before returning them to her supervisor (who was a germophobe already, and was beside herself about what to do with the paper--I think she had the assistant come back in and take them off her desk, which she then Cloroxed).
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:23 PM on February 9, 2011


I thought my immune system was superior too, due to my dirty hippie upbringing. Then I moved to NYC.
posted by subdee at 12:26 PM on February 9, 2011


There is a whole 'nother class of germs here. The pharmacies don't even OFFER anything less than extra-strength vaccine shots.
posted by subdee at 12:29 PM on February 9, 2011


As others have said, this thing is awkward. On the other hand, heh, here is a foot-operated elevator button idea I can get behind.
posted by preparat at 12:29 PM on February 9, 2011


Rudy's BBQ and Mighty Fine Hamburgers in Austin have had a similar opener on their bathroom doors for years.

Rudy's also has the really neat hand washing stations on your way out.

And the BEST DAMNED BRISKET EVER MADE, by the way.
posted by Mooski at 12:30 PM on February 9, 2011


I'm not at home, so I won't be able to provide photos before this thread is a distant memory, but I can assure that it doesn't look nearly as awesome as you'd think.

I like your inventive door solution, but I really just wanna see pictures of your dog, door or no door.
posted by blucevalo at 12:32 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Feet are really underrated as useful tools. I use a wheelchair and have ditched my footrests because I can use my feet for lots of different things if they're not on a foot plate. This device wouldn't work for me but the good news is that it doesn't get in the way either.
posted by thorny at 12:34 PM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


So I'm in a Chick-fil-a, which has super-duper clean restrooms - Anyway, this guy I know comes in there and steps up to the urinal as I'm washing my hands. And he zips up and is about to walk out the door behind me when (I am trying my best Jedi mind tricks to keep him from recognizing me) he recognizes me. I'm drying my hands off when he sticks his hand out to shake. I pretended not to notice. I'm a rebel that way.
posted by randomkeystrike at 12:45 PM on February 9, 2011


why not wait until some opens the door?
posted by clavdivs at 12:46 PM on February 9, 2011


There are literally dozens of us!
posted by Naberius at 12:57 PM on February 9, 2011


Us North Americans sure have some crazy neurotic ideas about germs and sanitation.

Counterpoint: the QA guy in the office is a known non-hand-washer. Flushes, walks merrily out of the stall, straight to the door, and back to his desk. Since buying myself full-body-condom is out of the question, I content myself with the idea that there is a fecal-bacteria-contamination half-life, and that if I just assiduously don't touch the bathroom door and take a path back to my desk that is unlikely to have been traveled by said QA guy in the last, say, half-hour, I satisfy my need to think that I am not covered in fecal bacteria.

So I guess what I'm saying here is, neurosis about touching the bathroom door is marginally better than the alternative, which is the decontamination chamber from the third level of the complex in Andromeda Strain.
posted by Mayor West at 1:00 PM on February 9, 2011


I like how a lot of newer places just don't have doors at all -- they just make a little hallway of sorts so that you can't see anything going on inside. I guess the only downside is that smells can travel more easily.
posted by emeiji at 1:02 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm with the crowd that thinks this is over the top. The only way I'll support this kind of germ hypochondria is if it leads to Star Trek doors everywhere.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 1:08 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


They could solve that by making the bathrooms have negative pressure, emeiji (ie, sucking the return air from the bathroom)
posted by Monday at 1:09 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like your inventive door solution, but I really just wanna see pictures of your dog, door or no door.

Sure, why not? Toby the door-opening dog is not shy.
posted by gurple at 1:14 PM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


dip the tip of your penis into the water to pee.

Every time I use the regular urinal in a public restroom I loudly say, "Brrrr, that water's cold!" Every time I use the lower handicapped/child urinal I loudly say, "What's up with all these midget plumbers?" Makes me laugh every time because I am an asshole and that guy who thinks it's funny to talk to strangers at the urinals.
posted by peeedro at 1:17 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is why I always carry my own door handles with me.
posted by pmbuko at 1:18 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


This will never work. How am I going to hold the paper towel with my shod foot?
posted by zippy at 1:19 PM on February 9, 2011


You use public restrooms with shoes on? Gross.
posted by peeedro at 1:21 PM on February 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah this is a slip and fall lawsuit magnet in the making.
posted by zachlipton at 1:24 PM on February 9, 2011


Elaine: I happen to have a very steady boyfriend. You know, I mean, we broke up a few times...and there has been an occasional guy here or there, but--why is this your business?
Peggy: It's not. Good day.
Elaine: Oh, all right. You think I've got germs? I'll give you some germs. How about some for your keyboard, huh?

(rubs keyboard on butt)

Elaine: How about that? Yeah? Oh, how about for your stapler?

(puts stapler under armpit and staples it a few times)

Elaine: That's good, isn't it? You have a happy and a healthy.
posted by ostranenie at 1:29 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can some clever inventor come up with a solution for that?

When someone's on the phone in the restroom, I just make loud, drawn-out farting noises. (with my mouth, if necessary)
posted by Evilspork at 1:48 PM on February 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


I avoid nasty germs by peeing on my keyboard and typing with my toes. My hands are immaculate, and my workday free of pesky interruptions.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:10 PM on February 9, 2011


I have this one figured out. The door opens in so you have to grab the handle. The handle is a foaming, bristly brush. There is a sink immediately outside of the door to rinse your hands. You HAVE to wash. Brush heads are replaced hourly.
posted by zerobyproxy at 2:23 PM on February 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Genius.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:31 PM on February 9, 2011


Toilet doors, the only place where modern man may come into contact with germs.

Seriously America, get real.
posted by dougrayrankin at 2:55 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sure, why not? Toby the door-opening dog is not shy.

And he is even cuter than I imagined! Although, I do still sort of want a picture of him opening doors.
posted by stoneweaver at 3:03 PM on February 9, 2011


The comitragic thing is that North American Germophobia(tm) is probably making things worse for the germophobes. One of the more convincing theories I've heard for the rise of asthma, allergies, and other auto-immune disorders is that when the immune system doesn't have any actual germs to attack, it turns on whatever else it has at hand and just starts killing that. I once read a horrifying story of some guy who intentionally gave himself hookworm (by walking barefoot through open-air latrines in Senegal, if memory serves) in order to have something for his immune system to spend its time on rather than pollen and cat dander.

I'm not going to start advocating for hookworm therapy, but I'm also not sure that bleaching any surface that has touched something that has been in a bathroom is that much less crazy.
posted by Copronymus at 3:06 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


My wife has suffered horrible allergies her whole life and has seriously looked into that hookworm solution, but it's just not vetted enough for her tastes yet.

Though in summer, when she can't breathe at all, I know she's reconsidered trying out to be a lab-rat for the experimentation process.
posted by quin at 3:26 PM on February 9, 2011


Is there a germophobe equivalent of a shabbos goy? Someone who opens the doors and pushes the buttons so they don't have to?

I'd be happy to take this position, paid in cash by the task.

and I'd always get to keep the change.
posted by zippy at 3:47 PM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd be happy to take this position, paid in cash by the task.

Restroom attendants basically do this. I believe they work entirely on tips, and I'm not sure if they're paid by the bar/restaurant/whatever. You'd also probably sell hits of cologne, mints, condoms, etc.

I can't imagine it's a very pleasant job.
posted by codacorolla at 3:52 PM on February 9, 2011


Just wait until we discover true inventor of the toepener, Thomas Edison.

D'OH!
posted by Taft at 4:15 PM on February 9, 2011


Do the people who don't want to touch the handle just never touch anything? Shopping carts or baskets? Train or bus poles? Tables, desks, doorknobs?

Correct. I haven't touched with my bare hands a door handle or bus pole or shopping cart handle (without sanitizing it first myself with the wipes they have at the grocery cart stockade) in YEARS and guess who's never EVER sick?

Me. In case that wasn't clear. I am never sick.

I open doors with my wrists or with my sleeve pulled down over my hand, and hold the bus pole with the crook of my elbow or wrist.

It gets even better - you know those milk carafes at coffee shops? The ones I'm quite sure never get washed? I use a napkin around the handle when I pour those, too.

NEVER SICK I SAID.
posted by tristeza at 4:17 PM on February 9, 2011


I open a bathroom door anyway I can. No worries there.

I do my business.

I use the sink closest to the paper towels.

I use my hands to turn on water if it isn't motion activated.

I wash my hands with just water.

I dispense paper towels if touching is necessary, but do not touch the actual towels.

I use my hands to get the soap if it isn't motion activated.

After rubbing my hands, I'm like a sterile fucking surgeon.

I get my paper towel, dry my hands...and then use the towel to grab the door handle.

Now I make a pretty-ok attempt to nail the towel in the garbage can. I have about a 80-85% success rate.

So yeah...sorry about the paper towels on the floor...but at least I won't be rubbing your hands with bathroom nastiness when we shake.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:50 PM on February 9, 2011


I'm also never sick, work around sewers and have a casual attitude towards handwashing and letting the dog lick my face.

Anecdote: REFUTED
posted by electroboy at 4:51 PM on February 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


It gets even better - you know those milk carafes at coffee shops? The ones I'm quite sure never get washed?

They do. They get sanitized after each use and rather than re-filling carafes, most places require new carafes per health code. On a busy day, one of those will be out for an hour, tops. The temperature is checked every 1.5 hrs and the second they get below 42F, they get dumped and replaced with fresh milk.

At least, that's how it works in Corporate Coffeelandia, where I used to work.
posted by sonika at 5:01 PM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


(PS: Each fresh carafe is pre-refrigerated to keep milk fresh for the longest period of time. The waste procedures for coffee shops w/r/t food safety... well, if you tried to guess how much food/drink Starbucks dumps in a day, you'd probably come close to half of the truth.)
posted by sonika at 5:11 PM on February 9, 2011


Me. In case that wasn't clear. I am never sick.

Ah, but when you're not looking, I sneeze all over your pillow.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 5:32 PM on February 9, 2011


The best thing happened not long after I posted. I met Elickabeth. I'm in Target walking through the frozen foods section. There's a little girl with a sun dress on peering through one of the glass freezer doors like there's a polar bear in a zoo on the other side. She's probably 5 years old.

She's got one hand on the handle and the other palm flat against the glass. Then all of a sudden, she starts licking the door. Not like "what's this taste like" but rather "This door is made of chocolate covered gumdrops and sugar coated jelly donuts." She's like fervently licking the door, going side to side like she's eating her way out of a prison made of ice cream. It's crazy - no parent is in sight. Finally she pauses, and her parent comes around the corner - "come on Elizabeth". Like Ricky and Tre in Boyz in the Hood, me and my squicked-out friend cut down the frozen veggies aisle, laughing to get away from her. But at the end of the aisle, bam, she pops back up, looking like Calvin's female counterpart. She looked physically full - apparently from eating the door. My friend dubbed her "Elickabeth."
posted by cashman at 5:40 PM on February 9, 2011 [3 favorites]




I have no desire to demoralize Mr. Arndt about his new business product, but the restroom in my local Whole Foods has a device like this installed on the door, and it was there long before the "Toepener" was created. I don't know who made it, but it has a label on it and a handy dandy sticker that explains how to use it.


I know what you're talking about. I've tried the StepNPull and the Footpull, but the Toepener looks like it would work a lot better than either of those devices. I always struggled to catch my balance with a Footpull and StepNPulls just don't have enough grip. The Toepener looks like an improvement over both!
posted by SandraConnor at 5:55 PM on February 9, 2011


It gets even better - you know those milk carafes at coffee shops? The ones I'm quite sure never get washed?

They do. They get sanitized after each use and rather than re-filling carafes, most places require new carafes per health code.


Now, way, really?? That's so nice to hear. The More Your Know.

(I still won't touch the handles knowing that there've been enough hands on it in the past hour to empty it, but.....)
posted by tristeza at 6:03 PM on February 9, 2011


These guys look like they're already ahead of you all. I found some pretty funny YouTube videos they posted on how people try to get out of the bathroom without touching the door handle:

The Ninja: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXde-lq6poo

Le Pinky: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbO5wnPPUkw

Now I make a pretty-ok attempt to nail the towel in the garbage can. I have about a 80-85% success rate.
This one seems perfect for you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88H2kPjj5-0

The more I look into this thing, the more I like it! A bunch of restaurants where I live could use one.
posted by SandraConnor at 6:04 PM on February 9, 2011



They do. They get sanitized after each use and rather than re-filling carafes, most places require new carafes per health code.

Now, way, really?? That's so nice to hear. The More Your Know.


Really. I can tell you all about food procedure in Corporate Coffee Land and pretty much, what it comes down to is that those places are run as close to operating rooms as is possible. Everything is sterilized on a schedule. Food above 42F gets thrown out. Coffee is re-brewed every 90 minutes, old coffee is dumped out. (If you get coffee at the end of the day at a Starbucks or the like and it's stale... that's some lazy barista action and absolutely not store policy.) The steam wand is sterilized after each use. Rags and sterilizer on the bar are changed out several times per day.

In any case, I can't speak to the Mom & Pop coffee places, but if you get sick at a Starbucks-esque establishment, it's your fellow customers who did you in.
posted by sonika at 6:12 PM on February 9, 2011


When someone's on the phone in the restroom, I just make loud, drawn-out farting noises.

I wait until they start talking and then I flush. Works every time.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:24 PM on February 9, 2011


Good idea, but won't they just put their germs, piss etc on another door handle further up the corridor?
posted by belfastbiker at 12:05 AM on February 10, 2011


In high school biology class we were all given petri dishes to go around the school and rub it against anything we wanted. My partner and I rubbed the boys' bathroom door handle, gleeful at our supersmart attempt at coming up with the best way to gross out our classmates.

The petri dish spent one week in an incubator to let those germs kick back and colonize.

We get our dish back, gingerly take off the cover and... nothing. There was like one or two flecks of *something* but hardly a difference. The gross out winner was the dish they left in a locker for two minutes. They didn't even touch anything to it! Just left it in there! And man it was sooooo gross looking, with fur crawling up the sides of the dish and I'm sure in another week it would have pushed the lid off and taken over the school.

I never really trusted my backpack after that (which I left in a locker for most of the day).
posted by like_neon at 3:27 AM on February 10, 2011


Correct. I haven't touched with my bare hands a door handle or bus pole or shopping cart handle (without sanitizing it first myself with the wipes they have at the grocery cart stockade) in YEARS and guess who's never EVER sick?

Me. In case that wasn't clear. I am never sick.

I open doors with my wrists or with my sleeve pulled down over my hand, and hold the bus pole with the crook of my elbow or wrist.

It gets even better - you know those milk carafes at coffee shops? The ones I'm quite sure never get washed? I use a napkin around the handle when I pour those, too.

NEVER SICK I SAID.
I carry a pink tennis ball in my jacket pocket. I have never been attacked by a lion.

I touch the tennis ball if I think I might be in danger of being attacked by a lion.

NEVER ATTACKED BY A LION I SAID.
posted by dougrayrankin at 9:57 AM on February 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd like to buy your tennis ball, dougray.
posted by electroboy at 11:51 AM on February 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


okay everybody: sit or stand to wipe?
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 12:55 PM on February 10, 2011


I hover in a hygienic manner.
posted by dougrayrankin at 2:44 PM on February 10, 2011


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