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Frequent hand washing will keep those nasty bugs at bay, right? Not if you’re using a public bathroom. Paper dispensers, hand dryers, door handles — all the things you touch after scrubbing — are contaminated with all sorts of menacing microbes, sometimes too many to count.

If you’re at all like I am, using public restrooms can be quite challenging. It’s practically impossible to find one that isn’t filthy! And you know what they say about restaurant bathrooms? If the bathroom isn’t clean, then neither is the kitchen. I used to think I was playing it safe by flushing the toilet with my foot, but that’s not enough any more. I still do it, but now I’ve added more to my routine. After flushing, I go to the sink, pull out a paper towel and turn on the water. I used to only turn off the faucet with the paper towel, but now I turn it on with one, too, because:

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Many people do not wash after using the toilet, so imagine how many people touch those knobs with urine on their hands or something even worse! It’s horrifying if you actually stop to think about it.

Anyway, after wetting my hands with water, I pump out the soap and wash them really well. Then before turning off the water, I push down on the paper towel dispenser and pump it with my arm so I don’t have to touch anything with my clean hands. Then I dry my hands while the water’s still running, turn off the faucet with the towel and throw it away. Now for the tricky part: I pump again with my arm and reach for a towel because there’s no way I’m going to touch that filthy doorknob that all those people touched that didn’t wash their hands properly or didn’t bother to wash them at all! I carefully open the door with the clean towel and stick my foot out while I aim the towel toward the receptacle. If I miss, I’ll leave it where it lands because the management really should have left a receptacle outside the bathroom, as well.

Sometimes I feel guilty about contributing to the messy bathrooms, so I’ll walk out carrying the towel with me. What’s really aggravating is when the maitre d’ stops by the table, and I have to get up, walk to the restroom and wash my hands all over again before I eat because he took one of my hands in his! I wonder how many others are out there that feel this way?

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Writer and copyeditor. “What doesn’t kill us gives us something new to write about” ~ J. Wright

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