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

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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?

Mark

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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Comments

    "more likely to get your hands dirty from the toilet paper, the toilet seat and the flush button or handle."

    Don't need toilet paper when peeing
    Don't touch the toilet seat when peeing, that's what a urinal is for
    Don't touch the flush button as the urinal is auto flush
    Only handle touched is the one on the way out.

    And so if all that is the case and you wash yourself properly in the shower each morning, do you need to wash your hands after taking a piss?

      In theory this will work the first time, but then your junk goes back in your jocks and whatever remnants there are (and no, shaking alone won't remove it all) will transfer to the cloth, which transfers to the rest of your junk, which you then touch next time you go take a piss. So unless you take a shower in between pissing, you will definitely get piss germs on your hands.

      If you don't use toilet paper, how are you drying afterwards? Ick.

    So the people that just rinse their hands under water after a wee, is that pointless?

      Every time I see someone do this I get slightly pissed because that's the person you'll see in the office kitchen with their d^*k scented hands all over the coffee, tea and or kitchen utensils. That said, all the more reason not to use communal tea bags, etc.

    Nothing like the transferred smell of piss on a cup or your phone, hmmm so zesty.

    "Piss germs"? Urine is normally sterile, unless you have a urinary tract infection, so your hands would actually be cleaner if you pissed all over them

      Piss is only sterile in that it had less than a threshold number of bacterial cells in it not that it doesn't contain any bacteria. Also skin bacteria and bacteria from your GI tract can get on your jocks and transfer to your penis and then your hands.

      Urine is also a pretty good mix for bacteria to grow in so if you pissed on your hands you are likely to accelerate the growth of any bacteria present.

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