You’re a good citizen when it comes to hygiene. You’ve heard about MRSA infections and you don’t want to contribute to the problem, or spread any other infectious disease. In the restroom, you do your business and wash your hands. Then you leave.
But not before grabbing the handle of the door. That’s be the same handle that your coworker grabbed right after he wiped his nose or other bodily location with a thin piece of germ-permeable paper.
It doesn’t take an immunologist to tell you that there are germy surfaces around you1.
And unless you don’t believe that germs are what’s making you sick, reducing your exposure in some easy ways seems prudent.
If you’re washing your hands, you’re already ahead of the game, so kudos. But don’t touch that faucet after you wash if you can use your elbow or the back of your wrist to turn off the water. If I can’t do that, I let the water run for a second while I dry my hands on a paper towel, then use the paper to shut off the faucet. Then I use the paper to open the restroom door and I leave.
Here at our work office, there is no trash near the restroom door. I have four options.
Toss the crumpled up paper in the trash across the restroom after I’ve opened the door (holding the door open with my foot)
Toss the paper towel on the floor near the door
Hold on to the paper towel and throw it away in a trash container on the way back to my office
Not so bad
Try to open the door using my sleeve over my hand
Not so useful when you’re wearing a short sleeve shirt.
It would be better if there were a trash container next to the door. But I’ll live.
I don’t think you should be paranoid about germs. But you should be knowledgeable and realistic. If you put something in your mouth, don’t assume it’s clean. And if you touch something with hands that eventually put food in your mouth, think a little bit about that, too.
If you tend to put germs in your mouth out of habit, try to get some new habits. Good luck out there!