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Handwashing is superstition

Hand wash

This is right up my alley. I love stories about our collective superstitions - things we take way too seriously, but for which the rationale doesn't add up. Bike helmets and airport screenings come to mind. And now, apparently, hand washing:

The end result of all this obsessive handwashing activity is that faecal bacteria are present on 25% of hands in Britain, with 11% of these hands containing more such bacteria than the surface of a toilet bowl.

I remember reading a long time ago that it would make more sense to wash your hands before you pee than after, since your weiner is probably a lot more clean than your hands. But that doesn't seem to be the common practice.

 

5 comments

micahherstand

@calvinconaway Those stats you cite are from that BBC article, which mentions that the majority of Brits don't wash their hands after the WC
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micahherstand

@calvinconaway Not a superstition. Plenty of real science behind hand washing benefits. http://t.co/8m7VI0i2
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Natallia Svanebeck

Natallia Svanebeck liked this on Facebook.
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Branimir Dolicki

Unfortunately the author (unlike one of the commenters contesting his claim) does not provide any references to peer reviewed literature. Also, isn't the main effect of washing hands removing fats which contain bacteria rather than killing them? The author doesn't address this at all. I have my doubts on hand washing too (especially excessive hand washing) but I would not suggest that you change your behavior based on one blog post. Re: peeing - urine is generally sterile so washing your hands after doing it is not as essential as doing it after doing the other thing. Do you have references on the (lack of) effectiveness of bicycle helmets?
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Re bicycle helmets: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07o-TASvIxY I've decided that it extends to wearing a helmet when driving a scooter, or driving a motorcycle within the local neighborhood as well. Thus the intentional use of the word "bike".
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