Join 3,524 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


wash your hands (a PSA)
November 14, 2007 4:24 PM   Subscribe

Don't want the flu? Wash your hands! Washing your hands is not the only way to prevent the flu, but it's clearly important.

Note that not all hand sanitizers are effective! Also, way to go ladies (90% of you, anyway). Guys, we need to catch up.

Can you tell I'm home sick?
posted by tarheelcoxn (44 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
If you're wondering whether your hand sanitizer is effective, check the alcohol content. It should be at least 60%. Also, antibacterial soaps are a waste. Just wash your hands thoroughly. The dispersant properties of the soap and the mechanical action lets the germs easily rinse off.
posted by tarheelcoxn at 4:26 PM on November 14, 2007


Wait, I'm not supposed to wash my hands with untreated sewage? Crap, I knew I was doing something wrong. Seriously though, thanks for the heads up, as I'm not as obsessive about hand sanitizing as I should be.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:36 PM on November 14, 2007


Simple toilet etiquette. You open all the doors with your feet. You make an enema from the sevage to kill the superbacteria and store rest in glass jars to make jenkem. You trick automated toilets to scare the kids away while doing that. You communicate with fellow next booth by tapping foot. You detect if he is lying by watching involuntary movement of his sphincter. Then you wash your hands. You must always wash your hands.
posted by Free word order! at 4:53 PM on November 14, 2007 [7 favorites]


Thanks, Mom!
posted by mayfly wake at 5:09 PM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


I work in a location with a large number of highly-educated people. I have (infrequently, but still) observed some of these people not washing their hands after exiting a stall. And that's when they know I'm there! I dread to think what they'd do alone!

And, while I'm not a germophobe, as an engineer I am constantly attempting to optimize things. This leads me to invent a new germ erradicating system every time I use the bathroom at work. For instance, door handles that emit UV. Or nudity combined with whole body sprayers.

But seriously, the real issue is schoolchildren. I never got so many colds as the first year my first child went to school. Really, it's insane. What do they do, dunk them all in petri dishes?
posted by DU at 5:12 PM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


But seriously, the real issue is schoolchildren. I never got so many colds as the first year my first child went to school.

Same here. But I have noticed that after years around kids, I now rarely get a cold. Mild one day things that go away with a good nights rest is more common. Is it possible to develop some sort of semi-resistance?
posted by R. Mutt at 5:28 PM on November 14, 2007


what the fuck?
posted by mrgrimm at 5:29 PM on November 14, 2007


My doctor thought it was strange that I was so concerned with germs and wanted to fix me with pills. Then he couldn't even tell me how often they clean the chairs in the waiting room.

Fuck him.
posted by puke & cry at 5:29 PM on November 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


Mild one day things that go away with a good nights rest is more common.

I've noticed that too. Maybe you get so many varieties that there isn't much new under the sun for them to hit you with. (An alternative theory is that the cold virii passed by kids aren't as virulent, but that's disproven by the ragingly running noses my toddlers get at the same time I'm mildly sniffling.)
posted by DU at 5:33 PM on November 14, 2007


Then he couldn't even tell me how often they clean the chairs in the waiting room.

Fuck him.


Sounds like you better not.
posted by DU at 5:34 PM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


You know, I wash my hands after the can--and in the shower, of course--but that's about it. And I rarely get sick. Hell, my dogs lick my hands all the time. If I had to wash my hands after every dog encounter, I'd need a portable sink.
posted by maxwelton at 5:35 PM on November 14, 2007


Washing after the can is the least of your worries when it comes to cold and flu. Wash after you touch a public hand rail or door knob. Wash after you blow your nose (to protect those around you). You are not getting the flu from your wiener.
posted by caddis at 5:44 PM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


A Harvard man and a Yale man are at the urinal. They finish and zip up. The Harvard man proceeds to the sink to wash his hands, while the Yale man immediately makes for the exit.

The Harvard man says, "At Harvard they teach us to wash our hands after we urinate."

The Yale man replies, "At Yale they teach us not to piss on our hands."

Oh, and maybe you want to get a flu shot too.
posted by scblackman at 5:56 PM on November 14, 2007


No matter how much you wash the shame never seems to scrub off.
posted by The Straightener at 6:12 PM on November 14, 2007


No matter how much you wash the shame never seems to scrub off.

I'd never heard of Wondershowzen. Interesting link, but... creepy.
posted by tarheelcoxn at 6:18 PM on November 14, 2007


Thanks, Mom!

You're welcome. I hope you have a very healthy and happy flu season.
posted by tarheelcoxn at 6:19 PM on November 14, 2007


scblackman, that is one of my favourite comics EVER. I think I saw it in a National Lampoon. A long time ago. Thanks.
posted by Richat at 6:23 PM on November 14, 2007


good reminder!
posted by NVjulie at 6:26 PM on November 14, 2007


funny how the CDC site pushes vaccination and anti-virals before handwashing. don't tell me the CDC is in the tank too!
posted by brandz at 6:27 PM on November 14, 2007


"Then he couldn't even tell me how often they clean the chairs in the waiting room."

I suspect you are joking, but the last time I went to Planned Parenthood and heard two people sitting down and complaining about crabs, I started to wonder if I was assuming too much about the cleanliness of chairs.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:43 PM on November 14, 2007


I'm at a pretty big biological research institute and it's amazing how many people don't wash their hands, either coming from the stall or from the urinal.

I guess it's better that they haven't touched the faucet (and I can use the paper towel I dry my hands with to open the door).

Public doorknobs (and public telephones!, although who uses those anymore) and public transit are nasty nasty vectors. It doesn't help that my lab's inside a large general hospital.

As for handwash, yes, 60 percent should be the minimum (although %100 ethanol doesn't kill bacteria, it merely preserves them). However, it can take up to 15 minutes after application before 99% of the microbes are dead, so, ymmv.

Plain soap and warm water are still the best way to go. The soap dislodges the microbes from your hands and the water flushes them away - although soap and water are not always available.

Remember - wash the backs of your hands as well as the palms! and try to get under those fingernails, too...

As for the CDC - they aren't worried about you, personally, getting sick, it's about the population. For every person who doesn't incubate a virus (their antibodies tag them and the immune system finishes them off), it's one less person making trillions upon trillions of virus particles spreading it around every time they open their mouth/breath.
posted by porpoise at 6:48 PM on November 14, 2007


Actually we're going in the wrong direction here. Protecting oneself from one celled organisms doesn't allow the body to build up natural defenses against them, so if by some pure chance you accidentally fall into a septic tank and are stranded there for six hours before they're able to get you out, they might as well just left you in there cuz you're good as dead!

Yes. I habitually wash my hands. No. I don't understand why I still do it cuz I don't believe it is helpful. I guess it's more aesthetic than therapeutic. I prefer if other people do so I don't have to smell their funk, and I return in kind - but this is not a good idea from an evolutionary perspective! We should be subjecting ourselves to disease, not running from it!

Yes. I know antibacterial soap doesn't mean jack and never really did, but I like the shit anyway. Again, it's an aesthetic thing more than a health concern. The alternative is usually lemony scent which sucks raw sewage through a straw.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:00 PM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


i never wash my hands in the bathroom. i like to shake hands. let the germs thrive.

let's see, i also don't cover my mouth when i cough or sneeze,

i eat food off the floor,

and i don't truck with paranoia.
posted by mr_book at 7:03 PM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Guys are notorious for not washing their hands. I hate it when I'm in there and some dude just rolls in and rolls out.

The point isn't that you won't get flu from your penis. The point is then you go touch door after door, microwave keys, refrigerator doors, pens, with the same hands that were just on your sweaty peen.

Have some common courtesy and wash your damn hands, so people don't have to meet your scrotum juice on all the surfaces they touch.

Ladies - never shake a guys hand.
posted by cashman at 7:14 PM on November 14, 2007 [3 favorites]


Works well for other viruses, too.
posted by kisch mokusch at 7:17 PM on November 14, 2007


No. I don't understand why I still do it cuz I don't believe it is helpful.

So, how are things in 1850? Going well for you?
posted by frobozz at 7:18 PM on November 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


If it's been on the floor for less than five seconds, it's OK to eat.
posted by stinkycheese at 8:41 PM on November 14, 2007


instant hand sanitizers resulted in a significant increase in bacterial numbers on hands

I never knew that.

I've heard from all the 'poker player' studies that the most helpful thing is to keep your hands away from your face--eyes, nose, mouth (and so, by extention, you should wash your hands before you eat).

It is awfully hard, though, when some dust gets into your eyes, and you almost instinctively rub them with your hands that were just touching the desk that your sick-without-symptoms colleague was just sitting at.
posted by eye of newt at 10:06 PM on November 14, 2007


You are not getting the flu from your wiener.

Bears repeating. Other people's wieners; yes. Your wiener; doubtful.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:31 PM on November 14, 2007


As my ol' grandpappy used to say: "If you really respected yourself, you'd wash your hands before you took a piss".
posted by fairmettle at 2:32 AM on November 15, 2007 [3 favorites]


You should wash your hands when you go to the bathroom because it is a convenient time to wash your hands, not because you are going to catch some sort of pathogen from another part of your body. The pathogens are going to come from all the surfaces you've been touching all day.
posted by grouse at 2:53 AM on November 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


Public transport is dangerous. I spent three months travelling into the City Centre on the Metro like a good eco warrior and suffered constantly from colds and sore throats. Eventually I gave up and went back to driving in solitary splendour in my car. Colds stopped.
posted by surfdad at 4:53 AM on November 15, 2007


You should wash your hands when you go to the bathroom because you shouldn't transmit your germs to other people. You may think that exposure to germs is good for your immune system. Feel free to grab that handrail on the bus, then eat your sandwich. Meanwhile, lots of people have compromised immune systems, old people, babies, people who are being treated for cancer, people who smoke, etc. So stop being a jerk, and Wash Your Hands often.

Learn to cough into your sleeve, not your hands, too. thanks.
posted by theora55 at 6:43 AM on November 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


but this is not a good idea from an evolutionary perspective! We should be subjecting ourselves to disease, not running from it!

I don't think you have any understanding AT ALL of what evolution is, ZachsMind. This may be why you are persuaded about the niftiness of intelligent design (sic).
posted by OmieWise at 6:54 AM on November 15, 2007


Ha ha! Antibacterial soap doesn't mean jack but you like the shit anyway because it's aesthetic! Har! Millions of consumers who think it doesn't mean jack that they make the aesthetic choice to dump antibiotics into the sewer + producers dosing livestock with antibiotics to enhance their "performance" + lazy doctors dosing whiney morons with antibiotics because they won't shut up about their snot output = we all die of drug-resistant flesh eating superbugs. Is a fat dose of MRSA or staph or whatever eating your eyeball out of your head more aesthetically pleasing than that sewagesucking lemony scent? Luckily we live in a land where the Consumer is King. So you decide!
posted by Don Pepino at 8:04 AM on November 15, 2007


Actually OmieWise, I don't blindly assume either 'intelligent design' or evolution theory is correct. It might very well be a combination of both, or some third answer that hasn't yet been discerned.

I'm not persuaded by anything. I'm simply open to possibilities. I also tend to go with the funny, so whatever amuses me in a given moment is what I go with.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:08 PM on November 15, 2007


Everyone! Please stop washing your hands. You're all going to disinfect yourselves into sickness.
Actually, go ahead. Weaken your immune systems. Run to your faucets. Wash those hands, children. Be clean.
posted by anoirmarie at 3:13 PM on November 15, 2007


Actually, go ahead. Weaken your immune systems.

Washing your hands does not "weaken your immune system." Give me a break.
posted by grouse at 3:20 PM on November 15, 2007


Actually, ZachsMind, you've precisely illustrated my point. The theory of evolution and intelligent design (sic) are in no way equivalent. That you don't understand this indicates that you don't understand science, evolution, or indeed, intelligent design (sic).
posted by OmieWise at 5:25 PM on November 15, 2007


You're all going to disinfect yourselves into sickness.

You know, you're right. I'm going to go bathe in that cholera-infested pool with mosquitoes and then stab myself with a rusty nail.
posted by dirigibleman at 6:35 PM on November 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


The best is working in healthcare and you see a Sr. VP walk out of the stall and .....

right out the door.

I guess not only does she think that her shit doesn't stink, but that she's germ free.
posted by dasheekeejones at 4:05 AM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Everyone! Please stop washing your hands. You're all going to disinfect yourselves into sickness.

Popular science in the news runs amok.
posted by caddis at 4:48 AM on November 16, 2007


Let's make science more democratic so we all can be right! To wash your hands sciencedemocratically, fill a basin with warm water and add the soap or detergent product that fits your preferred science/aesthetics profile. Then, following the principles of homeopathic democrascience, add a brimming tablespoonful of microbiota-rich hogfarm effluent. This way you'll get germs off your hands with soap while putting them back on again with pungent, hot hogstew, thereby ridding yourself of germs to prevent disease while slathering yourself with germs to expose your immune system to the hottest new pathogens!
posted by Don Pepino at 11:30 AM on November 16, 2007


If you really want them sterile autoclave them.
posted by caddis at 1:50 PM on November 16, 2007


« Older CARMA, released today, is a map/database that show...  |  50 Ways to Take Notes. Brian ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments