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My Gripe with Bathroom Grips

December 14, 2008


Okay, that headline is a bit of a stretch, but bear with me. I have a longstanding gripe about public restroom door handles (the doors used to enter the restrooms, not the stall doors). I’m talking about rest-stop bathrooms, gas station bathrooms, restaurant bathrooms, places the general public uses. Here are the facts:

  1. 62% of men don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom. Many will stand in front of the mirror for a few seconds, but that’s it.
  2. I am not one of those men.
  3. If you are one of those men who just used the bathroom, your hands just came in direct contact with parts of your body that that vast majority of the general public have no interest in coming in contact with.
  4. Unless you’re one of those men who pees without holding anything. You’re fine, and I don’t really know how you do that.
  5. To open most men’s public restroom doors from the inside, you have to pull on a handle (opposed to the outside, from where you can just push the door with your foot or shoulder).
  6. Those 62% are getting their dirty hands all over that door handle.
  7. Thus, for the 38% of men who take the time to wash their hands, when they exit the bathroom, they’re touching a lot of men when they touch that door handle.
  8. That’s pretty disgusting.
  9. I sometimes wait for someone to open the door from the outside instead of touching that door handle.
  10. I’m not a germaphobe. Really. I’m just a guy who washes my hands.
The solution is simple–why not put the handles on the outside of the doors so you can just push your way out of the bathroom with your shoulder, avoiding the 62%. (Of course, a potentially simpler example would just to ask men to wash their hands because, as Abraham Lincoln was famously quoted, “Come on, really.”)
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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Eric permalink
    December 15, 2008 10:07 am

    This is an excellent post. I am a germaphobe and bathroom door handles are incredibly disgusting. Typically you can get around this by using a paper towel to open the door, but what if there is no such dispenser? Then you’re stuck either (a) waiting for someone to come or (b) getting some man juice right on your palm. I’ll give up the extra three minutes and avoid the man juice.

  2. NQL permalink
    December 15, 2008 12:49 pm

    Do you know why doors are pulled from the inside and pushed from the outside in the United States? Fire codes. Think about it. If there was a fire and everyone INSIDE pushed their doors open, then the hallways would be blocked by all these open doors and people couldn’t get out.

    That’s why bathroom doors are pulled from the inside and pushed from the out. It’s different in other countries. Sweden is the only place I ever noticed it, but man is it WEIRD.

    Totally with you on the grossness factor, though. I sometimes pull the handle at the very top, closest to the door, with just my two fingers…

  3. Jamey Stegmaier permalink
    December 15, 2008 1:22 pm

    Eric and Neeraja, excellent points. It’s the bathrooms without paper towels that really stump me. Neeraja, you’ve contributed excellent clarity to this situation. That really does make sense. Does that mean in other countries, people are regularly trapped inside public bathrooms while the building burns down?

    Also, Neeraja, you bring up a good point that the least-used part of the handle is the very top. You need an up-and-out motion to pull the door open from that area.

  4. Anonymous permalink
    December 15, 2008 8:14 pm

    Interestingly enough, I’m more concerned about the fact that people often touch the toilet than their own body parts (and then touch the door handle). Poll question: If forced to choose, would you rather lick a not-recently-cleaned toilet or some random guy’s penis?

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