Another in a series of posts from the world's 4th most respected expert on restroom etiquette... I write these not only to inform and entertain, but also to spark discussion on these topics. Often some of you might have ideas or habits that I find useful in the restroom. And vice versa.
Today's topic is proper handwashing in public restrooms, from a germophobic viewpoint. After all, some people refer to me as a germophobe aficianado. Well, except for they use freak or lunatic in place of aficianado. The four phases to proper public restroom handwashing are the entrance, washing, drying, and the exit. We'll look at each of the four in depth in this post. Did you have any doubt?
Upon entering the facilities, it is important to notice two things. The type of faucet, and the method or methods of hand drying that are available. If unable to determine the faucet is hands-free (i.e. motion detecting), you will need to make arrangements for turning on the faucet without actually touching it. While this may initially sound tricky, it is usually not that difficult. The preferred method is to take some paper towels, if available, and use them to turn on the water.
Washing is actually the easiest of the four phases. Simply soap up, preferably with warm water. You should also use a paper towel to avoid touching the soap dispenser. Once you are done washing and rinsing, leave the water running.
The key to washing, and maybe to this entire post is this. From the time you are done washing your hands until the time you exit the facilities, no part of your skin should touch anything in that restroom except for a paper towel!
And now it's time to dry off. The paper towel you tear off when entering the restroom may serve a four-fold purpose. Turning on the faucet, dispensing soap, turning off the faucet, and last but not least, it is your germ-shield for getting more paper towels to dry your hands. Be sure to go ahead and roll a few paper towels down before you wash. Then, all you have to do is tear them off when you're ready to dry.
Some restrooms have the automatic paper towel dispensers that do not require you to turn a handle or pull down a lever. I call these restrooms... Xanadus. Once you locate such a restroom, commit it to memory. And go back there, again and again.
For restrooms with hand dryers that are not motion activated, you will need to use a paper towel, tissue, or your elbow to turn on the dryer. Assuming you are wearing long-sleeves of course.
There is one additional situation we have yet to discuss. And that is, a restroom with no paper towels available. I call these restrooms sanitary nightmares. Or, Sheol. There are several options to handle this most unpleasant of circumstances.
Some people choose to venture into a stall and use tissue in place of the paper towel. Now on this topic, I speak not by commandment, but of my own personal preference. Since I never sit in the public stalls anyway, it follows that I would not use the tissue in them.
However, if you do, be sure to tear off and throw away the first several yards of tissue. This helps to ensure that no one else has touched it and that it hasn't been exposed to the bacteria-charged aura of the restroom. This also goes for the first paper towel or two. Tear them off and throw them away. Then you will will be more likely to get a clean, fresh one.
In lieu of paper towels, others might use the sleeve of their shirt or some other bit of clothing. This is acceptable since (1)you really have no other viable options and (2)you can always burn your clothes later. Still others, when presented with a restroom with no paper towels, simply leave and look for a better-equipped comfort station down the road.
Now it's time to make your escape. Before throwing away the paper towels, or whatever you have used to dry off with, you should use them to open the bathroom door. I know, you used them to dry off, now you're touching the door handle with them. Gross, right? But that's OK. Other people have done much worse in there. Trust me. This is one of the million reasons you don't want to touch the handle with your virgin hands in the first place.
Once you open the door, then and only then may you dispose of the paper towels. While using your foot to hold the door open, put the paper towels in the trash can. If the trash can is located too far away, then just throw the paper towels towards it. If you miss, you miss. This is not your fault. It's their fault for putting the trash can too far away from the restroom door. Get as close as you can. That's all you can do.
And there you have it. You're out of the restroom and on your way to enjoy the rest of your day. Another successful handwashing job completed. See how simple that was? That's how I roll. Or, wash.
I hope you have found this entry helpful. By following these and other simple rules, you too will be well on your way to a habitually neat, clean, and very normal existence.
"You are an obsession. You're my obsession..."