"And next year... toilet paper."
November 21, 2019 12:58 PM   Subscribe

How to use one paper towel
"You use paper towels to dry your hands every day, but chances are, you're doing it wrong. In this enlightening and funny short talk, Joe Smith reveals the trick to perfect paper towel technique."
posted by Atom Eyes (49 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
You use paper towels to dry your hands every day

No. I don't.
posted by humboldt32 at 1:01 PM on November 21, 2019 [15 favorites]


I have been using this method since I first saw this video. This is the only TED Talk that has actually changed lives.
posted by vespabelle at 1:02 PM on November 21, 2019 [35 favorites]


"And next year... toilet paper."

I look forward to Sheryl Crow's TED talk next year.
posted by chrominance at 1:06 PM on November 21, 2019 [4 favorites]


"And next year... toilet paper."

One square? To wipe? You obviously haven't met my hairy ass. (Nor do you want to.)
posted by Splunge at 1:11 PM on November 21, 2019 [3 favorites]


Ha! He didn't cover pulling them out of a dispenser, which tears them all into tiny pieces! I don't use 1 paper towel, I use 6 separate pieces, each 23% of a paper towel.
posted by The_Vegetables at 1:20 PM on November 21, 2019 [11 favorites]


Previously
posted by hanov3r at 1:21 PM on November 21, 2019 [2 favorites]


Does this include using the used towel to open the bathroom door to avoid getting people's diseases all over your clean hands?
posted by happyroach at 1:46 PM on November 21, 2019 [11 favorites]


Fascinating. In my nursing assistant class they told us never to shake our wet hands because it would spread germs.
posted by MadMadam at 1:56 PM on November 21, 2019 [1 favorite]


Yep, totally been doing this since the first time I saw it. With the select-a-size paper towels, you only need 1/2 a towel, and it's so not soaked that you can toss it on the dish rack to dry and use it again later. At least until it gets co-opted into soaking up some grease or cleaning the counter.
posted by zengargoyle at 1:58 PM on November 21, 2019 [2 favorites]


Does this include using the used towel to open the bathroom door to avoid getting people's diseases all over your clean hands?

I use my mouth. Problem solved!
posted by bluefrog at 2:00 PM on November 21, 2019 [18 favorites]


With the select-a-size paper towels, you only need 1/2 a towel, and it's so not soaked that you can toss it on the dish rack to dry and use it again later.

People use paper towels as hand towels at home? Instead of cloth ones?

I mean, I buy paper towels for home use, mostly for cleaning greasy things that would ruin my cloth towels, but they're not for drying my hands.

As for the FPP...he doesn't cover the ones that come in the round dispensers and are all wadded up when they come out. You have to unfold those before you can then use his shake and fold method. Point being: the round dispensers are absurd and, in general usage, result in people using WAAAAAY more towels than other other variety.
posted by asnider at 2:04 PM on November 21, 2019 [7 favorites]


Isn't paper a good carbon sink as long as the source trees are replanted? Shouldn't we all be using MORE paper towels?

Plus I think that guy is a shill for big hand lotion.
posted by Keith Talent at 2:13 PM on November 21, 2019 [2 favorites]


Those round dispensers are the worst. Often the little teeth around the "exit hole" aren't sufficiently sharp to make a clean cut and I keep pulling and pulling until in the end I'm clutching a 10-foot rope of twisty paper towel. It's like the world's shittiest circus clown routine.
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:13 PM on November 21, 2019 [10 favorites]


In Japan they don't have paper towels, so I would shake and then use the back of my pants. Most people carry around little pocket towels, but I'm not a fan of shoving a wet towel into my pants pocket.

On the other hand, I had my wedding ring fly off my hand one time when shaking. My hands were cold, so my finger wasn't as big in diameter. Slippery wet hands + loose ring = oh shit, where did that go. I did manage to find it, but now I hold it in place with my thumb when shaking. Which makes it less efficient, but I'd rather not lose this ring.
posted by Hactar at 2:41 PM on November 21, 2019 [3 favorites]


"Hand towels" were such a ubiquitous retail item when I went to Tokyo that I'm surprised everybody doesn't have three on their person at all times.
posted by rhizome at 2:59 PM on November 21, 2019 [2 favorites]


Douglas Adams was wise in many ways; there's a vast array of problems you can solve if you carry around a small towel with you.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:06 PM on November 21, 2019 [13 favorites]


I tried this method for a few months hoping it would work, but I couldn't really make it work with wet hands, and had to grab a second one anyway.
posted by Carillon at 3:25 PM on November 21, 2019


At home I use a linen towel.

In public, I use the shirt of the person to my left. If no one is to my left, I wait.
posted by dobbs at 3:27 PM on November 21, 2019 [16 favorites]


I'm lazy so instead of shaking hands I fold them like I'm praying to the sink and wait. When they stop dripping, I use one towel. I had no idea I could make a TED talk about it.
posted by hat_eater at 3:30 PM on November 21, 2019


There's a guy in my office who uses like 9 paper towels every time he washes his hands and it drives me nuts. It's an automatic, one-at-a-time dispenser so he really has to work to be that wasteful.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 3:33 PM on November 21, 2019 [4 favorites]


sevenyearlurk, what's his email address? I'll send him the video anonymously.
posted by dobbs at 4:21 PM on November 21, 2019 [6 favorites]


It's been 7 years since this was on the blue? I changed my paper towel habits after watching this previously...it works and I especially like the "cut the towel from the automatic roller before it finishes" technique. Half a towel is just fine.
posted by Chuffy at 4:50 PM on November 21, 2019 [4 favorites]


Meatomb's zero paper towel technique:
Get beyond the idea that your hands need to be dry. What's the big deal? The air will dry your hands in the normal course of events within a few minutes.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:42 PM on November 21, 2019 [4 favorites]


You use paper towels instead of linen at home because you don't have your own washing machine. You don't have or use enough kitchen towels for a $2 wash/dry load and the 1 1/2 hours that takes. And you don't want to throw that random kitchen towel in with your clothes. Oh sure, let me keep many towels and keep the nasty separate from the drying-only and figure out which load of bath towels, shirts, underwears, colors they go with and waste tons of water and money per month. Cloth is fine and good if your family is big enough to go through enough and you don't have to dig up quarters to wash them. I already have to fight 20 other apartments over two expensive machines in a drought ridden area. Ain't no way I'm going to pile up another load for kitchen towels.
posted by zengargoyle at 6:57 PM on November 21, 2019 [4 favorites]


I go through maybe three kitchen hand-drying towels a week, and toss them in with the hot wash. They're not nasty because sponges and the occasional paper towel are for nasty stuff.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:06 PM on November 21, 2019 [2 favorites]


I sort of make a point to not use disposable paper products other than toilet paper, and really haven't missed paper towels. Big nasty messes you'll do better with a rag, sponge, or mop. Drying hands or dishes you just need a cloth towel. It's fine to wash it with your clothes if it's only ever been used for absorbing water.

Pet peeve remains the towel dispenser that requires you to pull the paper towel itself with both hands, or you just tear off a corner. I swear I'll go Office Space on that thing one of these days.
posted by aspersioncast at 8:34 PM on November 21, 2019 [4 favorites]


Does this include using the used towel to open the bathroom door to avoid getting people's diseases all over your clean hands?

I grip the handle between my naked buttocks. Problem solved!
posted by Grangousier at 8:35 PM on November 21, 2019 [5 favorites]


I've used this technique since it was posted on Metafilter last time. It's imperfect, though. If you want your hands actually dry, and not mostly dry, you need a second (half) towel. The towel can suck up a surprising amount of moisture, but eventually you're pushing a damp towel across your damp hands.

And yes, I am shaking my hands off first. There's only so vigorously you can shake your hands before you're risking flinging water at your coworker at the next sink over.
posted by explosion at 8:41 PM on November 21, 2019


I also try to use as few paper products as possible, but with paper towels I am incorrigible. I would be a better hand-toweler at home, but I always always use the hand towel as a dish towel, and the dish towel as a clean-up towel, and the clean-up towel as a sponge. Basically, when it comes to wiping tools, I exercise almost no discipline.
posted by rhizome at 8:58 PM on November 21, 2019 [2 favorites]


Meatomb's zero paper towel technique:
Get beyond the idea that your hands need to be dry. What's the big deal?


Ah, so you're the reason why the bathroom door handle is wet.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:21 PM on November 21, 2019 [4 favorites]


At work, I wash my hands thoroughly and use the rinse water to make sure the sink is well rinsed, too. I then shake the water off my hands, use the paper towel to dry them and then use it to dry any water spots on the mirror, polish the faucet and the handles and wipe away any stray soap residue around the edge of the sink and remove any hairs lurking anywhere around the sink area.

This habit started at work because, having no professional cleaners, we all need to help keep our shared spaces clean. But I find myself tidying any public restroom I use. I'm not a cleaning enthusiast but I just want every restroom user to have a clean space to use. Can you tell I work at a co-op? (and I MUST get as much use as possible out of every paper towel)
posted by a humble nudibranch at 10:47 PM on November 21, 2019 [3 favorites]


Another way to learn to be resourceful with this is to move to Japan, where towel dispensers are quite rare, as well as air dryers. There's a sink and...nothing else. So it's up to you, you slob, to carry around your own handkerchief with you. Which, because I'm barbaric, I never do. I do the vigorous shaking this guy does, and then usually wipe my hands dry on my trousers. Whatever works.
posted by zardoz at 11:01 PM on November 21, 2019


Ah, so you're the reason why the bathroom door handle is wet.

And Grangousier's the reason it's...

Never mind.
posted by Paul Slade at 12:44 AM on November 22, 2019


Ah yeah I wouldn't care so much about dry hands if there was a way to open the exit door without touching the handle. Because if that handle is wet, I'm not going to assume it's just clean rinse water.

Really the best paper towel technique is the one where you take one, dry your hands with it i don't fucking care how, then use it to open the door, and then throw it out.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:59 AM on November 22, 2019 [1 favorite]


as well as air dryers
I love the air dryers! I'm like "I sure which I could spend more time listening to crowd noise at a music festival and a band testing microphones or stand on the tarmac next to jet planes taking off and like the dentist, there is no way I'm doing flossing or doing the bare minimum to protect my hearing - I'm not going to do the ear doctor's job! " and BAM! right there in the bathroom - the air dryer is just waiting for me to slightly dry my hands before I wipe them on my jeans.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:20 AM on November 22, 2019 [3 favorites]


High-powered air dryers are effective for filling the room air with tiny droplets of god knows what that everyone can breathe. The only reason they're there is because the machines look high tech & people think they're less work than restocking the paper towel dispenser.

At home we're trying to use paper towels in sequence - first for mopping up water or coffee, then they can go back on top of the dispenser to dry, then they're still good for picking up oily stuff or wiping the floor before going in the garbage. It's an imperfect system, but I think we have cut down our paper towel use.
posted by sneebler at 7:27 AM on November 22, 2019


I was pleased with the post title because, while a co-worker 'demonstrated' this procedure to me about 40 years ago, I had never seen it again until today.
He emphasized the importance of retaining the torn-off little bit. Is this procedure well-known?

Re round-roll dispensers... we had two at work which jammed up frequently, but I enjoyed the chance to fix it. The rest of the staff were software folks. Not known for hardware skills.
posted by MtDewd at 7:47 AM on November 22, 2019 [2 favorites]


At work, I wash my hands thoroughly and use the rinse water to make sure the sink is well rinsed, too. I then shake the water off my hands, use the paper towel to dry them and then use it to dry any water spots on the mirror, polish the faucet and the handles and wipe away any stray soap residue around the edge of the sink and remove any hairs lurking anywhere around the sink area.

Me, too. Then I use my shirt to open the door because I find it works better than my mouth, my buttocks, or the filthy towel I just mopped the sink with to keep the handle clean for the next person. My last move before I exit the bathroom is I take that money-hair-dryer thing from Nailed It, and use it to blanket the whole bathroom in 20-dollar bills.
posted by Don Pepino at 8:16 AM on November 22, 2019


I send out a "Safety Minute" infographic once/week or so. For Earth Day, I sent out this TED talk, and still have people telling me about it years later. Out of hundreds of trainings I've done, this is the one that sticks in people's collective mind. It's .... interesting.

Now that I have the 1 paper towel thing down, I'm trying to stop the habit of opening up every faucet full-blast when washing my hands. It works just as well at half-power, and uses much less water. TED talk forthcoming.
posted by Sparky Buttons at 9:18 AM on November 22, 2019 [2 favorites]


And you don't want to throw that random kitchen towel in with your clothes.

When I had to use a coin laundry machine I just...did this. I was too cheap to properly sort my laundry, because I wanted to do it in as few loads as possible. Maybe that makes me gross. I dunno.
posted by asnider at 10:22 AM on November 22, 2019


I rembemeber first time the video was discussed here. It was a life changer for a bit, but then I did the numbers and buying paper towels is a losers game.

I keep a few dozen 'dish' towels in constant rotation. They start in the autoclave or at least the sterilizing cycle in the dryer, stored in polypropylene bags.

After their single use for wiping surfaces with no-rinse food grade sanitizer and wiping my hands dry of food grade etiil alcohol (I love to use sanitizers and disinfectants I could eat), they become hand drying towels.

Once too moist to dry hands they become general surface and spill cleaners.

Now that they are wet and dirty I either throw them in with the dirty laundry or wash a few when doing the dishes and let them to dry on top of the dishes in the drying rack.

The trick was to have enough to justify at least a small load in the washer and drier. Restaurant supply store sell them cheap by the box.
posted by Dr. Curare at 10:34 AM on November 22, 2019


They start in the autoclave

And now I have a new shorthand for "Is my experience universal, or at least applicable to the audience I am addressing at the moment?"
posted by Etrigan at 11:58 AM on November 22, 2019 [6 favorites]


And you don't want to throw that random kitchen towel in with your clothes.

Yeah...I do this. Is that a bad thing to do? Eh, I'm not sick and my clothes & towels have always seemed fine 🙃I also mix in my sheets and/or bath towels, too. It's not clear to me that any of those are distinctly dirtier than others.

(I do use paper towels for oil/grease cleanup and/or things that are just too gross to bring myself to wash)
posted by mosst at 12:54 PM on November 22, 2019 [2 favorites]


Dish towels, have a big stack. Cloth napkins, too. Throw them in the laundry frequently. Stop obsessing about germs. Your laundry is fine, the dish towels, napkins and tshirts are all fine. Cloth napkins just feel so much nicer. Some of the napkins I had from 30+ years ago wore out and I picked up a few more. Likely I have a lifetime supply. Dishtowels take more of a beating.

If you don't want to watch 4½ minutes of video - Shake the water off your hands, fold 1 paper towel and use it to dry your hands.
posted by theora55 at 1:36 PM on November 22, 2019 [1 favorite]


Does this include using the used towel to open the bathroom door to avoid getting people's diseases all over your clean hands?

Only suckers use the restrooms at work. I go to the "bathroom" in the mop bucket in the utility room, wash my hands with acetone, then open the door with the mop.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:37 PM on November 22, 2019 [3 favorites]



And now I have a new shorthand for "Is my experience universal, or at least applicable to the audience I am addressing at the moment?"


Well, there was that other thread where people were hitting notes with their voices and talking about octaves and stuff.

I am sure I am not the only one here with some kind of improvised lab at home.
posted by Dr. Curare at 4:10 PM on November 22, 2019


I go to the "bathroom" in the mop bucket in the utility room, wash my hands with acetone, then open the door with the mop.

But do you autoclave the mop first?
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:26 AM on November 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


I dip in it bleach, then dry it with a propane torch. The chlorine gas is just lagniappe. Really clears out the sinuses, and saves on antibiotics.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:16 PM on November 23, 2019


Just be sure to let the acetone on your hands air dry before you light the torch. That's a mistake you'll only make once!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:18 PM on November 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


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