Thursday, July 27, 2006

Seinfeld Moment : When Do You Wash Your Hands?

Suppose for a moment you're doing something dirty with your hands. Not necessarily that, but if it helps you visualize the situation, go ahead. You're changing the oil in your car, gardening without gloves, or petting a strange cat.

Right in the middle, you have to go the bathroom.

Do you, wash your hands before you go to the bathroom, go to the bathroom, wash your hands after you go to the bathroom, resume said dirty activity with your hands, then wash your hands afterwards?

Then, I got to thinking.

I contend that there is at least one (if not two) redundant hand washings in there. I contend the post-bathroom pre-resumption of dirty activity hand wash in particular is unnecessary, and that the pre-bathroom post-initial stopping of dirty activity hand wash is also unnecessary for a slightly more intricate reason.

You may need to map that out, but let me explain.

The post-bathroom pre-resumption hand wash is only going to clean your hands for them to get dirty again. What's the point? It's like putting up an umbrella 15 minutes after it starts raining - you're already drenched - you can't get more drenched than drenched. You can't get your hands dirtier than dirty.

The pre-bathroom post-initial stop of dirty activity hand wash is redundant because we have indicated that the part we are going to the bathroom with is dirty. That's why we (well, most of "we") automatically wash our hands afterwards. For the point raised above, that part isn't clean to begin with. What difference does it make if it gets dirty again? Is it like the next time you go to the bathroom, you're not going to wash your hands afterwards because, well, it's clean, but if it gets dirty, you'll wash them then?

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Fry said...

I think you have a point about washing them afterwards. However, I would wash them before going to the bathroom: For instance, I wouldn't like to touch my equipment after playing with a filthy street cat.

matt said...

As a paramedic, I'm a touch neurotic about handwashing. The way I see it, one's good, two's better. I agree with fry that the post-dirty, pre-bathroom washing is crucial, and I think if you plan on touching any doorknobs, light switches, etc. after you do your business, you should wash after the potty. Especially if I will be touching said doorknob.

Anthony said...

It really comes down to the type of person you are. If you are self-centered, then wash before. If you are selfless, then wash after. If you are obsessive-compulsive, you can never wash too much. When in doubt, error on the side of too much.