A Case for Why You Should Wash Your Hands Before You Go to the Bathroom, Too

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A few weeks ago, while my wife and I were kicking it with some friends at a Pirates game, the subject turned to toilets. Namely, public toilets. Specifically, which establishments in the Pittsburgh area had the nicest bathrooms—a valuable consideration if you have an emergency situation and can’t wait until you get home.

Several places were named and assessed—a few hotels, a couple of office buildings, and even a secret private bathroom at the Banana Republic on Walnut Street—until one of us (I forgot who) had a great idea: There should be an app for this. Imagine how timely a Yelp-ish app for public toilets would be? Especially if you’re in an unfamiliar area and need to make a decision quickly.

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“Holy shit!” we collectively thought. “We’re about to be millionaires! Billionaires!” We started wondering how to get funding, and if we should contact any of our contacts at Carnegie Mellon to recommend someone to develop it. We even thought of a couple of names. “Toiletry” and “Splash”—which were both aggressively terrible ideas, but we were excited! But then, right when we were about to email Shark Tank, I searched the app store to see if something like this already exists. Sadly, it does. There’s an app called “Flush” (which is a great name) that allows you to locate and rate public toilets. Drats!

Anyway, after 40 years of life, I think it’s safe to say that I’m a toilet veteran—a loo maven, even. And unlike some of our more triflin’ countrymen, I have an entire system when using public urinals and toilets to limit any skin-to-bathroom surface contact. If there are paper towels available, I use them to flush toilets and open doors. If there are none, I use elbows and shoulders. And if it happens to be one of those bathrooms where there are no paper towels and you have to twist a door handle to leave, guess who’s using his feet?

Of course, it goes without saying that washing your hands after you use the bathroom is an imperative function of a civilized society. (If you do not do this, I hate the shit out of you, and I hope you spend the rest of your days standing in line at Panera Bread, waiting until the end of time for the person ahead of you to study the never-changing menu and order their soup.)

But I’m here today to suggest that doesn’t go far enough. You should wash your hands before you go too.

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Now, the reasons for washing afterward are obvious. You don’t want to spread piss and ass germs all over the place; pollinating the universe with your nastiness and absence of couth. This is how viruses, diseases, and Tekashi albums happen. But while this protects the public from you, what about protecting yourself from the public? Do you realize how many germ-ridden surfaces you make contact with during a day? Of course, you don’t, because no one does! So what sense does it make to allow those same hands to have contact with the parts of your body you’d like to keep as sterile as possible? Imagine, if your dick could talk, how sad it would be if it felt you grabbing and pulling him out of his sleeping bag with the same hands you just used to install a dishwasher. Your dick would be distraught!

All of this can be prevented with a quick, 30-second wash before you do your business. Even if I’m overstating the threat of outside germs on your inside parts, there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t do this. And if I’m stating the threat correctly, well, who wants to chance catching dick gout just because you were too thoughtless to treat your junk with kindness and care?

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(And if you answered “yes” to that question, I have some expired Panera gift cards for you. Be blessed.)

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About the author

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB and a columnist for GQ.com. His debut memoir in essays, What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins), is available for preorder.