It’s the routine we all [hopefully] get down pat by the time we’re about four years old: you go to the toilet, then you wash your hands.
Simple, second-nature and hygienic. Right?
Apparently not. A storm has been brewing on parenting forum Mumsnet, after user mallorcanmum posted about her husband’s insistence that she should be washing her hands before she went to the toilet, as well as after.
Great. Because our to-do lost wasn’t long enough already…
“He insists that it doesn’t make sense for females to only wash their hands after going to the toilet. They should wash them before too. This is, according to him, as we will be transferring germs to our lady bits if we don’t wash our hands before,” she wrote.
“I did point out that most of us use toilet paper so we don’t actually come into contact with our bits. His response to that was why do I bother washing my hands afterwards then?
Watch: Parents confess what they get up to when their kids are in bed. Post continues after video.
She continued: “This only applies to females apparently. Men don’t touch the ‘important bit’ of their apparatus when they wee. Obviously if they do a number two, the same applies as above. So, am I a disgusting unclean person, or is he being unreasonable?”
People were quick to chime in.
“Unless you’ve been elbow deep in sh*t or chopped up chilli beforehand, no need to wash your hands before you use the loo! I only wash them after. (and very well too in public loos!),” wrote one user.
"I'm a midwife. I tell women after giving birth to wash their hands before going to the loo as they may introduce germs to grazes/tears.....but I can't see the benefit of needing to do it while pregnant [or not]," added another.
One commenter took it a step further, writing, "Tell him you don't wash your hands before masturbating as well, or ask him if he washes his hands before having a wank. Maybe ask if he washes his hands, or if you should start washing your hands before you touch each other. Where would it end!"
So are we all unashamedly dirty, or is Mr Mallorca just being pedantic?
According to the Hand Hygiene Australia recommendations, we should just be washing our hands after we use the toilet, unlike handling food where hands should be washed before or after. (Post continues after gallery.)
However, microbiology experts on Reddit say that because most germs are spread through hand contact rather than air-borne, they often do the pre- and post-wash, just incase.
"You don't want unwanted bacteria near any of your openings. If you wash your hands before you go to the bathroom, you protect yourself from everybody else. If you wash after (do that also), you protect everybody else from you," wrote one user.
Unlike you're a doctor or nurse, it's unlikely that you're putting yourself or anyone at risk by not washing your hands before doing your business (unless of course you've been doing something particularly messy or dangerous). As long as you're also washing after, it's up to you.
If you're concerned about scrubbing well, the World Health Organisation have released a handy how-to:
Apparently it should take 42.5 seconds to complete - that's the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice.
Do you wash your hands before, after or both?
Featured image: iStock