Why Don’t People Wash Their Hands After Going to the Bathroom?

Photographer: graur razvan ionut, www.freedigitalphotos.net

Whether public or private, every bathroom you walk into has some sort of handwashing facility. Sometimes they are dirty, sometimes they are clean. Once in a while there is no soap and other times there is no hot water. However there is always a sink. Even portapotties have hand sanitizer or little pump sink stations outside. So please explain to me, why people don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom?

Gross, right?

This past weekend I had the pleasure of visiting a very public area where there are no homes and only businesses and public restrooms (I will not specifically name this place to protect the owners and not deter others from visiting. It was well worth the trip, even with all the gross non-handwashers.) This place, like many others, had beautiful restrooms which were nicely decorated, incredibly clean and lacked nothing that any great public restroom needs to have, i.e. toilet paper, soap and hot water, I don’t need a towel man and perfume. 🙂

Anyway, here I am using the restrooms at these great places and I begin to notice a theme amongst the people around me (for those of you who are my friends and reading this, I am not referring to any of you), no one was washing their hands. Maybe for the sake of an argument I will say one person out of six actually washed, but overall I really did not see anyone cleaning their hands.

In the restrooms where there were multiple stalls, I would stand at the sink washing my hands and watch people come out of the toilet stalls and head straight for the door. Or if the bathroom happened to be a one-person restroom, I would notice things like the garbage was empty–not a single paper towel–and the sink was dry. Do all of these people carry around hand sanitizer and put it on before they leave the restroom? I doubt it.

All of this was seriously grossing me out and I thought I was going to go crazy. I felt like I had cleaned my hands and I still had to suffer because all of these people lacked proper hygiene and cleanliness.

Look at it this way. I may not get anything on me, I definitely don’t pee on my hands,  but do you want me to go to the bathroom, wipe, place my hands on a toilet handle touched by a countless amount of people, not wash my hands and then go, oh I don’t know, sample food with the rest of you? Maybe cook something for you? This one is my favorite–shake your hand and introduce myself to you with my filthy, germy, hand?

Is it just me or do the rest of you find this disgusting? I know I am a little extreme to the point that I have a hard time when a restroom does not have paper towels and instead has a hand dryer. You see I want to grab an extra paper towel to open the door with and then I hold the door with my foot while I toss the paper towel in the trash. I like to protect myself from the germs others leave on the door by not washing their hands. I also carry around hand sanitizer everywhere I go. Always. For me, for my kids, for anyone, really. Even our four children have hand sanitizer that we send with them to school and on all of their adventures. So don’t get me wrong, I know I am on the OCD end of this spectrum, but I really don’t understand why other people think it is acceptable to not wash their hands after using the restroom.

So what do I do when I get home, I of course start looking up all the reasons why people do not wash their hands after using the restroom.

Laziness, it the biggest reason and by far my favorite. They simply do not want to take their precious time to wash their filthy hands. Because we all know it takes such a very long time to wash your hands. For these people, it is apparently completely acceptable to them to leave the restroom unwashed, unsanitized and head on back out to mingle with people and touch food and other shared objects. PEOPLE LAZINESS IS NOT AN EXCUSE!!!! If you fall into this category, please, PLEASE, invest in a bottle of hand sanitizer–seriously, they’re less than a dollar and almost always in stock at virtually any store–and let people see you with it in your hand as you are exiting the restroom. You may not think it matters but it does. There were a few of you that I kept my eye on over the weekend and when I saw the lack of sanitation, the snottiness in me came out and I avoided you like you had the plague.

“The Necessity Factor.” What is that, you say? Well this is where people determine whether it is necessary or not. For example, “I just went pee and I did not pee on myself.” Ladies, my question for you, “did you wipe and/or touch the handle on the door, and/or flush?” Come on now, do we really justify things like this? I am sorry but male or female I don’t care. Men, you are not excused either,  I don’t want to touch your hand that was just on your penis even if you did not pee on yourself. You can come up with every excuse in the book and I will still think you are wrong. At some point during your visit to the bathroom you touched something that was not clean and even if you don’t think it is a necessity, out of respect for others it should be a necessity for them.

Hypochondria, is another leading cause for people to not wash their hands. I understand that there are people out there who have extreme fears of contracting diseases and I am not belittling them in the slightest. I am convinced that there are many sinks out there that are dirtier than the toilet they are next to, and with that said, I can clearly see why you would not want to touch that. However, if this is really the reason they are not washing their hands and they truly have a great concern for contracting something in the restroom, why do we not see them with their bottles of sanitizer out?

These excuses are ridiculous. I have to admit, after seeking an answer to my question I have yet to find one that is a good excuse. To be honest, I do not think there is any excuse for not washing your hands.

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  • 11 Responses to “Why Don’t People Wash Their Hands After Going to the Bathroom?”

    • Noni:

      I work at a library, and I often see people leaving the restroom without cleanings their hands. These people get right back on our computers, typing away. Often, people will openly cough or sneeze on our computers. And then people plop right down in here and EAT.

      I want to shout at them about how ridiculous it is for people to eat in this germ pool.

    • Agreed:

      I HATE IT when i see somone not wash there hands, its just not right, who know what they have on there hands befor they go to the bathroom and then they walk around touching everything, women are the worst, alot think that they dont have to wash there hands after becaulse they didnt touch anything, thats like saying i souldnt wash my hand after i take a shit if i dont get shit on my hands, it doesnt matter you sould still wash your hands from all the other shit u touch, + women have 80% for of the stds then men get, on top a 60% average of different types of bacteria sitting on thier genitals, why do u think they have gynecologist, and u other men are not excused, ur shit may be cleaner then women becaulse its external, and may only have a lil ballsac sweat and whatnot, but still no1 wants ur ballsac sweat an ect all over thier shit! its just unconsiderate, i hope all the people that dont wash thier hands after they go to the bathroom get some type of flu every time they dont. fucking nasty

    • Uh:

      I don’t wash my hands all the time. I also don’t touch anything (always pull my sleeve over my hand to lock doors or use something else), and I kick the toilet flusher. I find it much more disgusting to touch cold, wet faucets that every other person is touching. yucckkkk.

    • Marcus:

      I totaly agree, but the question is what can you do ?????

    • a:

      Hand sanitizers actually shouldn’t replace hand washing in restrooms, here’s an article explaining why.

      Some Sanitizers Won’t Clean Your Hands
      Do Hand Sanitizers Really Work?
      by Robin Westen

      Each time we squeeze, squirt, pump or pour alcohol-based hand sanitizers, we assume they’re killing dangerous bacteria and keeping us safe from germs. That must be why Americans spend $117 million on them every year. But how effective are hand sanitizers – really? Well, now is a good time to come clean!

      First of all, hand sanitizers are only 40 percent effective and may last for as little two minutes. In addition, experts say they don’t necessarily work as well as soap and water. Mostly it depends on the kind and amount of germs the hand sanitizer is supposed to kill. The general rule of thumb is this: the longer it’s been since you’ve washed with soap and water, the less effective a hand sanitizer is likely to be.

      Plus, proteinaceous and fatty materials (both commonly found in most kitchens) are especially resistant to alcohol-based gels. There are a few key germs that alcohol doesn’t kill well, such as E. coli, which is why washing with soap and water is best during cooking. The Centers for Disease Control that set the original guidelines stating hand sanitizers were an effective alternative to hand washing, intended them to be used in health-care settings, where doctors and nurses wash their hands several times an hour.

      Also, although alcohol-based gels can kill bacteria, they won’t necessarily clean your hands. They won’t remove dirt, which includes organic material such as blood or feces. Soap and water must be the first choice in restrooms.

      But these alcohol-based sanitizers are effective when it comes to preventing the spread of the seasonal flu, H1N1, colds and other viral- and bacterial-based diseases. And people seem to use hand sanitizers more often than washing their hands. That’s probably why studies have shown how hand sanitizers curb absentee rates in schools and workplaces. Fast evaporation, coupled with moisturizers, also means hand sanitizers won’t dry out your skin.

      As a guideline, you can assume that alcohol-based hand sanitizers are best where you see them the most — in hallways, offices and health center setting. They’ll get rid of the germs you just picked up before you get a chance to inadvertently put them into your body by touching your nose, mouth or eyes.

      But be suspicious of the really cheap stuff. Hand sanitizers must contain at least 60 percent alcohol. Some cheaper brands contain less and are no better than plain water.


      • a:

        Another problem caused by hand sanitizers is that since they don’t kill all germs, they create supergerms, like antibiotics.

    • Hi Carrie,
      I used to keep a list, too, of the people at work who didn’t wash their hands. I work in an office attached to a factory, so we have people from all socioeconomic stati coming to use the bathroom. What I found was this: the better dressed and the higher up in the hierarchy a man was, the less likely he was to wash his hands. I’m in IT, what probably qualifies as mid-level management, so I really have no chips on my shoulder regarding the big bosses; neither am I overly romantic about the working class.

      The highest-level manager on my floor rarely even washed his hands after he’d spent twenty minutes or so sitting down.


      • Ok that is just awful. My husband and I were discussing this morning that maybe the solution would be to put hand sanitizer in every bathroom. Though when my husband suggested this, even though I agree that hand sanitizer would be better than nothing, it does not replace washing hands.

        For me the solution is not touching anything and using hand sanitzer non stop–especially after being anywhere near a public restroom.

    • Shirley:

      Carrie, I feel the same way you do on this topic. I notice way to often and like you I want a towel to open the door with. Hand shaking is a real issue. No wonder so many people are sick with various conditions.

    • Amy:

      Hey Carrie, when I was still working, we used to keep a secret list of people we saw in the bathroom, that did not wash their hands, just so we’d know not to eat anything they had made on food days!

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