Are you one of the 95% of people doing THIS wrong?







Just when you think society is going along swimmingly – we’re getting closer to curing cancer and Richard Branson is making it possible for non-astronauts to visit space – along comes a factoid that simply Blows. Your. Mind.

Hand washing – we’re doing it wrong, you guys.

Only five percent of people wash their hands properly after visiting the bathroom. Just five percent. I hope you weren’t mid-sandwich.

Everyone’s got a public hygiene cautionary tale; that time the person making your lunch sneezed into their hands and carried right on making your chicken mayo on rye. Or maybe you caught a McDonald’s trainee playing with their ponytail right before shuffling your fries.

And in order to avoid confrontation you threw the food out, because their handiwork had made you, understandably, lose your appetite.

Well, I too have not been immune to the perils of the germy-handed among us. Just last weekend I found myself in an awkward situation, except this time I actually confronted the non-hand washer, here’s how that went down:

There I was at a parkside cafe, one would even describe it as upmarket, and after placing my order (skim latte, no sugar) I hovered around the coffee pick up area as one does at eight a.m. when there is not enough caffeine in the world to mask the fog of sleep deprivation.


That’s when I noticed a staff member emptying nearby garbage bins (stay with me, I promise it gets more exciting) as no one was stationed at the coffee machine I briefly thought “I hope the garbage bin emptyer isn’t the barista, that’d be a bit gross”. And much to my horror she was, and she went straight from touching and emptying the bins to making my coffee.

Call it “hell hath no fury like a sleep deprived mother” but had to say something. Especially at $4 a coffee.

Me (in increasingly sanctimonious voice): Um, did you wash your hands after emptying the garbage?
Barista: I er, ah, um, yeah I think I er, did.
Me: Really? Because I watched you and you didn’t.
Barista silently pours milk in the cup.
Me: No, don’t touch it. I’ll put my own lid on thanks.
Outraged crazy person (me) exits stage left.

No, really.

It had all the theatrics of a year eight drama class and I’m not naive, I’ve worked in cafes, I know its a hands on job but for public safety’s sake wash your dang hands after handling the trash. It’s not that hard.

This comes amid a new survey that found that only five percent of people wash their hands properly and 33% of hand washers surveyed didn’t use any soap, and a naughty 10% of bathroom users didn’t even bother washing their hands at all. Oh, the humanity.

How can this seemingly simple task be slipping right through our non-soapy fingers? And who are these bathroom bandits?

The study was conducted in the US in East Lansing (wherever that is) and researchers have handily pigeonholed them into two groups “college-age” or “non-college-age” so we can judge them accordingly.


Good news for those over the age of 21 as older people were more likely to wash their hands than young’uns.

And strangely enough, people tended to care less about washing their hands in the late afternoon than they did in the morning. What’s that, it’s 4pm? Well, I want ALL the germs then.

The researchers observed more than 3,700 toilet-goers (hands up who wants that job?) in a “non-intrusive manner,” but it’s highly likely that some people didn’t wash their hands because there was a creepy person lurking around the cubicles with a clipboard in hand.

Their observations also concluded that men were worse when it came to hand sanitation. Hurumph. The bastards.

“Men might just be more stubborn. They don’t like to be told what to do,” says study leader Carl Borchgrevink.

“I’ve heard some men say they don’t think they need to wash their hands because they don’t always have to use stalls, which is absolutely wrong.”

So that means, oh, nevermind.

Moral of the story? Wash your dang hands, you never know who’s watching.

Do you have a public hygiene horror story? And have you washed your hands today?