Shake & Fold
May 14, 2012 8:20 AM   Subscribe

Here's a 4-minute TEDx talk that demonstrates the correct method for drying your hands with a single paper towel.
posted by schmod (63 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
How to poop without splashing.
posted by LordSludge at 8:23 AM on May 14, 2012


TED: Ideas Worth Spreading
posted by Foci for Analysis at 8:25 AM on May 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


"He doesn't know how to use the three seashells. HAHAHHAAHAH!"
posted by Fizz at 8:25 AM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


LordSludge: "How to poop without splashing. "

Eponysterical?
posted by schmod at 8:27 AM on May 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


Isn't that why we wear pants? Or is this for those times you're not wearing pants?
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:29 AM on May 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


So after I have scrubbed my hands (making sure to get under the cuticles) for long enough to sing "Happy Birthday" twice, I then need to perform an elaborate ritual to ensure optimal drying? Isn't there some sort of social psychology theory that posits that the more complicated you make an action, the more likely people are to just skip everything altogether?
posted by Panjandrum at 8:29 AM on May 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


By the way, the most satisfying hand drying experience I've had was with the Dyson Airblade.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 8:30 AM on May 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


Could this be any firstworldier?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:32 AM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Totally Prefecting up in this TED Talk.
posted by inturnaround at 8:33 AM on May 14, 2012


In every way. The "First World" is defined by its inefficient use of resources.
posted by howfar at 8:33 AM on May 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


Isn't that why we wear pants? Or is this for those times you're not wearing pants?

I only use the napkins and towels God gave me.

the more likely people are to just skip everything altogether?

Well yeah, if you're drinking a lot of water you certainly don't need to wash your hands every time you pee.

and really, yeah, shaking (or blinking your fingers rapidly) is the key.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:34 AM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


OK, now TED is just trolling us.
posted by Cash4Lead at 8:34 AM on May 14, 2012 [9 favorites]


Is this Howie from The Mezzanine?
posted by chavenet at 8:36 AM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sometimes I get a bit angry learning something so insanely simple and basic this late in life. I am someone that usually grabs three or four towels and till ends up wiping my hands off on my pants as I walk out of the bathroom. To prove my skepticism right on this one, I tried it with a paper towel. I'll be damned - it worked. I then tried it a second time with half of a paper towel and only six shakes. Still ended up with dry hands. Now I'm not exactly sure why I wasted so many paper towels for the past forty years.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:40 AM on May 14, 2012 [9 favorites]


Eponysterical?

Everybody's got that one thing they're really good at...
posted by LordSludge at 8:40 AM on May 14, 2012


the most satisfying hand drying experience I've had was with the Dyson Airblade.

Yes, rather satisfying how it makes your hands distort like an astronaut's face in one of those 1960s rocket sled films before it shuts off and you're forced to finish the job by wiping your hands on your pants.

It seems like if we haven't perfected hand-dryer technology by now we should just give up and all go back to paper towels.
posted by bondcliff at 8:41 AM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Along with the better way to tie my shoes, MeFi is teaching the middle aged me basic things I should have known when I was six. I assume that next week I'll learn that I've been telling time the hard way.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:42 AM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


mrgrimm: and really, yeah, shaking (or blinking your fingers rapidly) is the key.

Blinking your fingers? Is that a typo or a euphemism I've never heard? The only body part I've ever said blinked is my eyes. Fingers snap.
posted by rtimmel at 8:45 AM on May 14, 2012


OK, now TED is just trolling us.

TEDx is not TED. Anybody can set up a TEDx event; all they have to do is stick to the TED format, include a few prerecorded "real" TED talks, and allow TED rights to redistribute the TEDx talks. Nobody is vetting this stuff for quality, so a lot of them are... not.
posted by ook at 8:46 AM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I first heard this speech a couple years ago on CSPAN and it made me run out to buy his book, which while a really interesting thought exercise in political/military idealism: is summed up as this...

Oops, that was a TED talk from 5 years ago.
posted by swift at 8:47 AM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I dry my hands on my dog, works just fine... and it didn't take me 4 minutes to learn it.
posted by HuronBob at 8:55 AM on May 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


it makes your hands distort like an astronaut's face in one of those 1960s rocket sled films before it shuts off

They're proximity activated, not timed.
posted by howfar at 8:56 AM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've been using a single paper towel for a long time now and I'm beginning to think that the reason MeFi hates TED isn't because TED is too middlebrow but because it's beyond most of you...
posted by DU at 8:57 AM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


As a chronic waster of paper towels, I found this to be super cool.

OTOH, I just managed to shake water all over my face and the bathroom mirror, so I guess some practice is called for.
posted by Phredward at 8:59 AM on May 14, 2012


You know, you can dry that used paper towel and use it again and again and again and again and again.
posted by HuronBob at 9:01 AM on May 14, 2012


Receive bacon.
posted by The Deej at 9:02 AM on May 14, 2012 [14 favorites]


> By the way, the most satisfying hand drying experience I've had was with the Dyson Airblade

Those are kind of a neat design and all, but you have to put your hands in a little narrow space and risk touching the filthy sides.

> TED is too middlebrow but because it's beyond most of you...

lulz
posted by Burhanistan at 9:03 AM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Could this be any firstworldier?

Yes, if people outside the "first world" didn't wash or dry their hands with paper towels.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:07 AM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


"The fold is important because it allows interterstishil suspension. You don't have to remember that part, but trust me."

But now it's stuck in my head.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:24 AM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Dyson Airblade vs. The Excel Xlerator
posted by Ian A.T. at 9:25 AM on May 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


How to Chew with Your Eyeballs
How to Hate the Game, Not the Player
posted by clvrmnky at 9:33 AM on May 14, 2012


TEDx: a study in brand dilution.
posted by Nelson at 9:38 AM on May 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Since the subject of the Excel Xlerator has been brought up, am I the only one who can't use them because the noise from it does the same thing that fingernails on a blackboard does to other people? It's awful.
posted by bondcliff at 10:27 AM on May 14, 2012


Oh hey, Jefferson Smith's dad is on MetaFilter!
posted by OverlappingElvis at 10:27 AM on May 14, 2012


I'm really hoping for the HowToBasic response of "How To Use A Paper Towel The Correct Way" involving a single paper towel. And egg.
posted by MysticMCJ at 10:33 AM on May 14, 2012


Cannot stand the Xlerator - we have them at work, and they work well, but they are tremendously loud. You can hear them through two thick doors and throughout the office. If I hold my hands too close to the nozzle, my ears ring for minutes after. The Dyson is kinda noisy, but not in the same sonic league, and almost does as good a job.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:47 AM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Foci for Analysis: TED: Ideas Worth Spreading Shaking and Folding

FTFY
posted by Hairy Lobster at 10:48 AM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


"As countless disgusted users online attest, when you use the Dyson, your fingers will inevitably be blown against the front or back edges of the device. At best, this will leave you with hands that are not at all clean."


What kind of weak fingers do these people have? It's not that strong!

My problem with airblade is that it tends to leave a little drop of water on the tip of each finger.
posted by knapah at 11:05 AM on May 14, 2012


I was going to crab about this but then realized I'm probably going to dry my hands like that for the rest of my life, so kudos.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 11:25 AM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


The amount of fresh water wasted by everyone trying this one-paper-towel trick today is appalling.
posted by carsonb at 11:30 AM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I feel like I'm still going to need two of those crap recycled paper towels. The problem with his method is that he doesn't seem to dry between his fingers - just around the outer part of the hand. It's the damp-between-finger part that I'm always going back for a second paper towel to use on.
posted by marylynn at 11:40 AM on May 14, 2012


My problem with airblade is that it tends to leave a little drop of water on the tip of each finger.

Also, on all the ones I've used recently -- airports tend to have them, for some reason -- those fingertip droplets tend to form a little brackish pool at the base of the U.

I like the Xcelerator more, mostly for the aforementioned skin-rippling-like-an-astronaut's-face effect; the greater freedom of movement means more fun with that.

Also on paper towels: some dispensers are either really badly designed or way overfilled, such that when you try to take a few you end up with either a few torn fragments or a huge wad of towels.

I have no idea why I am giving this so much thought.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:43 AM on May 14, 2012


I already did the hand shaking thing - not 12 times as a ritual, but a couple of flicks to get the excess water off. Otherwise I would drip water all over the floor walking over to the paper dispensers which are located nowhere near the sink (in the public restrooms I use most often, anyway.) I tried the folding thing earlier, and it does seem to work, so, I guess I got something useful out of this.
posted by Karmakaze at 11:46 AM on May 14, 2012


But now it's stuck in my head.

Almost eleven years ago now, I was sitting with a group of people taking a break from moving someone into a house and the topic of conversation turned to environmentalism. People were sharing experiences about different projects they had worked on, different jobs they had, etc.

And then one guy--a friend of a friend--said something that at the time I thought was just a ridiculous thing to bring up. It was so obvious and something I thought most people just did without thinking, that it seemed like a ridiculous example of environmentalism. What I did not know at that time was that I would literally recall this moment nearly every single time I dried my hands for more than a decade.

He said, "Well, after I am done drying my hands, I blow my nose in the same towel so I don't waste another one."

...

Of course you do that! But the fact that it was his whole environmental platform seemed so ridiculous...but I'll be damned if it doesn't pop into my head every single time I finish drying my hands with a paper towel.

It's like that TED Talk where the guy shows you the "correct" way to tie your shoes. Well, I was tying them wrong, and now I think of that video every single time I tie my shoes (I still haven't defeated my old muscle memory). And now I bet I will think of this video every time I dry my hands with a paper towel, right before I also think of the guy reminding me to blow my nose in there too.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 11:54 AM on May 14, 2012


This is a parody right? I mean I always knew TED stuff ranged between just plain stupid and wholly fucking hipster stupid, but this isn't a real thing right?

Please someone tell me this is a parody.
posted by timsteil at 12:35 PM on May 14, 2012


I sort of assumed that people using more than one paper towel was almost entirely down to the fact that it takes a tiny bit more effort to extract exactly one from the pack, not because there was some mysterious technique to it. Is shaking the excess water off actually a surprising idea?
posted by lucidium at 12:45 PM on May 14, 2012


If your hands are left mildly moist after whatever drying process you are using, or if there is a drop of water on your fingertip, or if there is some trace amount of water between your fingers, it is important that you don't panic or start making lifestyle changes or start watching internet videos on lifehacking this little "problem" of yours. You can just allow body heat to dry it off. #ThirdWorldTipToFirstWorld
posted by vidur at 1:34 PM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's what your pants are for anyway.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:36 PM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have also developed the shake and dry with one towel technique, but I kind of roll the towel between my hands which does seem to get in between the fingers. Wipe the backs first. Will have to try the fold tomorrow.
posted by asok at 3:09 PM on May 14, 2012


Rather than immediately shake and splash all over the place, I've always squeegeed my hands together to get the bulk of the water off quickly. Squeeze one hand, wrist to fingertips, then the other. A cursory shake gets the dangling drips off, then you're one towel away from dry (enough).

The things we choose to obsess over...
posted by j9ac9k at 4:15 PM on May 14, 2012


The Dyson Airblade vs. The Excel Xlerator

The first is a space-age new-wave jet-set uber-designed looking thing, to be sure, but if you position your clasped/cupped hands juuuust right in the second one, you get automated, machine-made fart noises. How is this even a contest?
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 5:31 PM on May 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


I have an app on my smartphone that dries my hands for me.

Seriously, is this why we need the Internet? To tell us how to wipe our hands? What's next, a Ted Talk about how to wipe our asses, about which billions of words have already been written on this damn ArpaWebeNet?
posted by kozad at 6:53 PM on May 14, 2012


What's next, a Ted Talk about how to wipe our asses, about which billions of words have already been written on this damn ArpaWebeNet?

FFS, don't start that discussion!
posted by vidur at 7:07 PM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


One of the most distressing things when I first became a nurse (beyond all the illness and suffering, obviously) was the amount of trash we produce. The number of nitrile gloves I throw away in an 8 hour shift is staggering. Before I was a nurse, I would always limit myself to 1 paper towel, or none, so my hands could air dry. But wiping on your pants doesn't really cut it in healthcare, and leaving your hands a bit damp means you can't get those aforementioned gloves on. Given how often I wash my hands in a day, 1 vs. 3-4 paper towels each time seems like it actually matters. I'd already figured out the shake/flick idea, but I'm excited to try the folding method next time I work.
posted by vytae at 7:15 PM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


One of my friends learned about this in engineering school. He went around for a while reminding us that "you don't have to get mad at engineers who made the towels cut off too short! Engineers know exactly how much towel you need, and that's how big they engineered the towel!" Yes, we get it, engineers are geniuses who have devised the perfect towel. We're just too stupid to know how to use it.

This kind of thing makes engineers' heads explode, because they did go to all the trouble, but at the same time they ignored behavioral realities. People don't comply. First, you don't have to be so ritualistic with the whole folding thing. Any single towel will pretty much dry your hands if you give it a minute and use all of it. Second, people just want to get on with their day. One towel, two towels, whatever. We're pretty wasteful. If you're worried about the trees, a hot air dryer is where it's at. Germs? Pfft. I very rarely see anyone going through the whole germ-avoidance protocol that you have to do to avoid picking up germs in the restroom - you know, turning the faucets on and off with your elbows or a paper towel and opening the doors with a paper towel. So, good demonstration, but probably most people's lives won't be transformed by this.
posted by Miko at 7:38 PM on May 14, 2012


Miko: "This kind of thing makes engineers' heads explode, because they did go to all the trouble, but at the same time they ignored behavioral realities. People don't comply."

Those automatic towel dispensers aren't being marketed at and sold to the people who will be using them.
posted by schmod at 9:12 PM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is true, but even so, we're assuming the people who buy them are most interested in two things: it operates cheaply and it doesn't break - right?

But behaviorally, if towels appear too small, people take more than one - even if they're actually carefully engineered to be exactly the right size to dry one shaken pair of hands. So places with annoyingly small towels go through towels more quickly (I feel some reasonable ability to speak to this, having had a number of jobs at which replacing towel rolls fell to me. There were 'good' brands which lasted longer, and 'bad' brands which we were always replacing).
posted by Miko at 9:23 PM on May 14, 2012


Any single towel will pretty much dry your hands if you give it a minute and use all of it.

Clearly untrue. The recycled paper towels I have at work will rip in half if you try to dry sopping wet hands with only one of them.

I'd already figured out the shake/flick idea, but I'm excited to try the folding method next time I work.

Yes. Honestly, I had never figured it out myself, so the folding "trick" is an epiphany. I would shake, flick waaay more than 12 times, but then grab one towel and it would collapse. Folding makes it very passable to dry with one towel.

I dunno. The video was a little silly (why are people clapping when he mentions 12 as the highest number described (in English) by one syllable?), but it's a great message, and the folding was a nifty new trick for me.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:20 PM on May 15, 2012


if you try to dry sopping wet hands with only one of them.

I'm not suggesting you dry sopping wet hands, I'm suggesting doing the regular procedure of a brief drip-dry followed by a towel. I don't really see a lot of people walking around with sopping wet hands, because you'd drip water all over the floor. Most people do shake, though probably not consciously. Because this question was raised here I watched people doing this in a public restroom today. The shaking is common (though not the ritualistic 12). It's not the paper towel quality itself that is determining the amount of waste (though I agree that I hate those crappy towels that basically melt), it's...haste and assumptions and desire for ease.
posted by Miko at 12:48 PM on May 15, 2012


I dunno. We have the paper towels right next to the sink at work. Most people do a quick wash then reach directly for 3-4 towels (as the speaker suggests).

At least we compost, I guess (because the city makes us ;)
posted by mrgrimm at 2:19 PM on May 15, 2012


Save only one paper towel per person per day? You can do better than that. When washing your hands at home, many people use the kitchen sink, that's where the paper towels usually are. So set your paper towels aside on a counter to dry. They're clean enough to re-use mopping up spills and scrubbing kitchen grime, and in this application, it doesn't really matter if they're torn. It doesn't really even matter if they're dirty, they just have to be cleaner than what you're mopping up. I've used the same paper towel daily for a week, mopping up spills in front of my coffee maker.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:13 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Most people do a quick wash then reach directly for 3-4 towels (as the speaker suggests).

Exactly my point. They make a decision in haste and want to be overprepared rather than risk the wet hands thing. That's the behavioral reality.

Now, if you watch those people maybe you won't see anyone shaking. I did, because in the bathrooms at my job you have to walk across the walkway to get your towel from the dispenser, and people don't want to pick up their purse or whatever with wet hands, nor do they want to walk with dripping hands. I think if I were looking to minimize towel use in your workplace, the first thing I would do is not place them directly beside the sink, because that just begs for overuse.

Maybe you could do the experiment of putting the pile of towels farther away to see if that changes the shaking behavior. But even so, people use more towels because they feel more secure about it and do it hastily. Design has to work backward from actual behavior, or it's going to produce waste. People are insecure that one towel is going to dry their hands, and may not want to give it this degree of thought. I see a lot of dispensers that were clearly designed to minimize waste by giving out only one towel and requiring another, often delayed action to get more towels - and I see people, by and large, standing there and working through two or three actions to get the number of towels they feel comfortable with.
posted by Miko at 5:24 PM on May 15, 2012


Come on, at home we don't use paper towels. At all. We use rags, sponges and hand towels, frequently washed, and so far I have not been hospitalized with MRSA.
posted by Miko at 5:26 PM on May 15, 2012


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