Have you ever been in a public toilet and walked to the sink area only to wonder if washing your hands is actually a sanitary thing to do? Have you ever just thought a small bottle of hand sanitizer would be a much better idea?
After all, washing your hands means that you have to touch that disgusting sink handle, risk getting your shirt wet in that used water on the counter, and touch the paper towel dispenser, where all the other patrons who half-heartedly washed their hands have touched.
Wouldnt it be cleaner just to get the heck out of there?
I have to admit that in some cases I think the answer is a resounding yes. Think of places such as the county fair or a dirty bar full of drunken patrons.
However, I think it is safe to go in for the hand washing if you follow a few simple rules. Are you ready? Here they are.
First, map out your getaway. Can you push the door or do you have to grab a handle. If its a handle youve got to plan ahead. Youll need a paper towel in hand when you get to the door to exit the room without touching the handle with your skin. Make a mental note and bring your paper towel to the door to open it. Theres no sense in washing your hands only to grab that bacteria infested door handle when you leave. No paper towels? Youre going to have to rely on your shirt or get lucky as someone enters.
Second, how about the paper towels? Are they motion detected or do you have to touch the dispenser. If motion detected youre good to go. If you have to touch them follow this procedure. Dispense the paper towels and put them under your arm for later. After you wash your hands you can grab them from under your arm and dry your hands. Now this is important! If you are faced with a hot air blower forget about it. Youre better off to run your hands together away from that machine or use the old jeans method.
Third, lets consider the sink. Is it motion detected or do you have to turn it on and off? If you have to touch it go ahead and turn it on with your hand but turn it off using your paper towel after you dry your hands. Dont touch the faucet after you wash your hands or youll be back where you started.
Finally we get to the soap. You see the theme here. If its motion detected you have no worries, but since you use soap before washing you have no worries if you have to push it either. The only real problem is a bar of soap. Enter at your own risk if you find that option.
So, whats the best case scenario? Motion detected soap, water, paper towel, and a door you can open with your foot. In this case you get soap, wash, dry, and leave. Life is good.
Whats the middle ground? The middle ground is the most common, which is a faucet and/or paper towel holder you have to touch. In this case the order is to put a paper towel under your arm, get soap, wash, dry, turn off the water with the paper towel, and leave.
Whats the next-to-worst case scenario? The nearly worst case is a manual faucet, a bar of soap, and a hot air dryer. Yikes. Think carefully about touching a bar of soap but if you do, the order is wet, use soap, rinse, turn off the sink with something other than your hand, and let your hands air dry.
So, whats the worst case scenario? The worst is no soap, out of paper towels, and a manual sink. In this case, just get the heck out of there. Touching the faucet for plain water is pointless. Hopefully you have some hand sanitizer with you. That will be your best option.