Ask LH: Should I Bother Washing My Hands After I Pee?

Dear Lifehacker. Should I even bother washing my hands after doing a pee? Is there even a point? Aren’t my hands just covered in germs constantly anyway? Surely even the door handle on the public toilet is covered in germs? Should I bother washing my hands after doing a wee?


Hi Mark,

That’s a valid question given that washing your hands often feels more like a safeguard against judgement from others rather than something that is done for our health. You know you’ll get the evil eye if somebody sees you not washing your hands after going to the bathroom.

So should you wash your hands if you don’t care about the peer pressure? For some men, they are comforted by the fact that their junk is sufficiently clean so they don’t feel the need to wash their hands if they haven’t accidentally peed on them; just shake it off, and move on. Maybe some women don’t feel like they need to wash after they wipe either.

Unfortunately, science (and the government) tells us that you should definitely wash your hands after going to the loo, even if you don’t feel the need to do it. A number of infectious diseases such as Salmonella and influenza can be spread by contaminated hands. Sure, the bathroom door can have germs and other nasties on it but you’re more likely to get your hands dirty from the toilet paper, the toilet seat and the flush button or handle.

Also, for men who assume that their junk is squeaky clean, are you guys even sure you’re doing it right? Everybody’s standards for cleanliness is different. Giving it a rinse in your daily shower doesn’t exactly count. The groin area can be a ripe breeding ground for bad bacteria, which can lead to odour and diseases.

Unless you want to blow some cash on getting a ‘dick bidet‘, Complex has an extensive guide on how to properly clean your penis (that is, surprisingly, completely safe-for-work) with soap and water. Ladies, we have a guide for the vagina as well. I know talking about genitals in any context can be a bit confronting, but it’s a important health topic that needs to be addressed.

The final word here is to wash your hands thoroughly after using the toilet. You don’t have to go overboard with industrial-strength antibacterial soap. Here’s advice from the Victorian Government’s Better Health Channel on how to wash your hands properly:

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water, turn off the tap.
  • Apply soap and lather well for 20 seconds (or longer if the dirt is ingrained).
  • Rub hands together rapidly across all surfaces of your hands and wrists.
  • Don’t forget the backs of your hands, your wrists, between your fingers and under your fingernails.
  • If possible, remove rings and watches before you wash your hands, or ensure you move the rings to wash under them, as microorganisms can exist under them.
  • Rinse well under running water and make sure all traces of soap are removed.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
  • It is best to use paper towels (or single-use cloth towel).
  • Dry under any rings, as they can be a source of future contamination if they remain moist.
  • Hot air driers can be used.

An idea at home: give each family member their own towel and wash the towels often.

Happy washing.

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