Hand Washing Season

Five years ago in this space I suggested that an extra 15 seconds under the tap after hand washing would result in a better experience.

How naive I was. The key, it turns out, is rubbing.

The problem with being an inveterate iconoclast is that you often throw away perfectly acceptable ideas just because they happen to be de rigeur. It is for this reason that I’d always been disappointed with the performance of those hot air hand dryers in public washrooms: I’d always ignored the “rub your hands together rapidly” graphic that graces these dryers, feeling that it was some sort of propoganda designed to deflect us from realizing that these dryers don’t actually work.

Turns out that I was wrong: two weeks ago, in a fit of pique because my hands wouldn’t dry, I decided to try this method out. To my surprise, it worked. And my hands dried.

Reasoning that this method might also have some application in the hand washing arena, or, more specifically, in the soap removal arena, I tried rubbing my hands together under the tap after the “vigorous soaping up” period (my traditional behaviour to that point had been simply to place my still hands under the tap and let water rinse the soap off).


Rubbing after soaping actually removes the soap. And so you leave feeling refreshed and content, leaving the sadness brought about by having half-soapy hands behind.

I reason that, assuming proper hygiene, I’ve washed my hands about 75,000 times in my 40 years: it’s a testament to my pig-headedness that it wasn’t until wash 75,001 that I discovered the joys of a good rub.


oliver's picture
oliver on October 23, 2006 - 15:29 Permalink

You might want to check with your mom that she doesn’t mind this public admission.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on October 23, 2006 - 15:49 Permalink

My mother and I have long come to terms with the fact that she was negligent in teaching me to wash my hands *at all*, let alone the proper way. Happily she more than made up for this in other ways — loving environment, etc.

Ann's picture
Ann on October 23, 2006 - 16:20 Permalink

I hope you remember to rub the backs of your hands as well as the fronts.

oliver's picture
oliver on October 24, 2006 - 04:32 Permalink

I think you might have to go to med school before you really know how to wash your hands. They start at the elbows.

Marian's picture
Marian on October 26, 2006 - 12:41 Permalink

When I had my two children, I began washing not only my hands, but countless bottles every day as well. As a result, I’ve had a bad case of eczema for the last two years or so. Part of the cure is to not wash your hands. Of course, it’s flu season, so I am also encouraged to wash my hands. Sigh.