Matt Heath: Wash those disgusting hands first


Surely it makes more sense to scrub up first, then go to the toilet.

Washing your hands after you've been to the bathroom is a filthy habit.

Study after study has shown that our hands are the dirtiest part of our bodies. They are out and about all day collecting bacteria and disease from door handles, animals and people.

Researchers have even suggested we use our elbows on elevator buttons and light switches to protect ourselves from other people's dirty fingers. Video game controllers, iPads, magazines - anywhere hands have been is a bad place to be. Your fingers are essentially a convenient public transport for filth.

Yet we press our dirty hands together every time we meet. Those hands then visit mouths, noses, babies, butts and friends.

The parts of the body traditionally thought of as dirty are sanitary sanctuaries compared with our mitts. Statistically it would be far safer to greet others by shaking their genitals. As long as you're the one using your hand and you agree on the greeting first. Most people's downstairs is as clean as a whistle.

Kiwis start their days by soaping themselves from head to toe in the shower. We dry off our privates, carefully tuck them away and zip them up. It's like disinfecting a pool cue before placing it gently in its case.

Your hands, on the other hand, are out and about getting dirty.

Which brings me to my point about bathroom hand cleaning. We open the toilet door rubbing our fingers where a hundred others have rubbed theirs that day. Then unzip and grab. If we wash our hands at all it's at the end of the operation. Disgusting.

All you have done is taken the filth of the world and shoved it down your pants. You might as well take your shoes off and rub the soles down there as well. It's dipping your dinner in dirt. It's throwing the dishwashing water down the stairwell.

Surely it would be more sensible to wash your hands before you go to the toilet. Maybe give your hands a rinse on the way out if you plan to put your fingers in any of your facial orifices. But that should be treated as a secondary wash in importance and order.

I am, of course, talking about number ones. There is added filth in a number two situation. You would be wise to clean your hands on the way in and out of that operation.

Especially if my mate Johnny is around. He believes strongly in bathroom hygiene and is willing to enforce his views. I saw him throw a man against a toilet wall because he failed to wash his hands at the 2005 Juice TV music awards. I defused the situation by pointing out that there had been no flushing sound and that another person had been in there with him. But it was a close call.

Maybe Johnny should police toilets on the way in. "Are you really going to put your hands down there without washing them?"

"Yes." Smash!

You're probably thinking you'd refuse to shake my hand if you met me. That's up to you. I've been making this hand-washing point on my Hauraki radio show for a few years, and I have been left hanging a few times as a result. But the truth is my hands are no filthier than yours, and the rest of me is probably a lot cleaner.

Also if you're health-conscious you should refuse to shake anyone's hand. It's a filth transfer system. A slap or a fist pump is far more hygienic. The less time your disgusting fingers spend touching my disgusting fingers the better.

My hand-washing suggestion isn't a new idea. There are plenty of wash-first advocates out there. The message is simple - keep it clean, wash before you go. Feel the need to be doubly hygienic? Then wash them on the way out too.

But the next time you see someone walk up to the urinal without washing their hands first, you might want to raise an eyebrow.

It's a disgusting habit.

- NZ Herald

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