Denial ain't just a river in Egypt. -Mark Twain
Question #90965 posted on 02/22/2018 10:54 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I've noticed a lot of people don't seem to care about washing their hands when taking the trash out, even if it's bathroom trash. I don't quite understand this. Gross vegetable bits, stuff that's fallen on the floor, feminine hygiene products, possibly condoms for married people, washing your hands and avoiding touching the doorknob on the way in and out make sense to me. So I turn to you all with some questions:

1. Do you wash your hands or do anything to prevent your doorknob from being icky after taking out the trash?

2. Is it actually okay to skip washing your hands? Like, what's the germ/disease risk factors?

hand washer


Dear Hand Washer,

I am a clean person, but not the most clean person. I've described previously how I get annoyed at people who refuse to grab the bathroom door handle unless they use a paper towel. To an extent, I get where they're coming from, but I find the practice unnecessary and a waste of paper. 

You could probably guess, then, that I don't think twice about not washing my hands after I take out the trash. I guess, in my view, while gross stuff does go into the trash, that doesn't automatically contaminate the entire trash can. Most of the liner is still "safe," in my view. If something in the trash brushes up against my hands in the process of taking it out, I'll probably wash up, but otherwise it's completely not a concern (in fact, I didn't realize that some people actually did that until you asked this question).

As far as when you should wash your hands, this feature by the CDC suggests washing your hands at the following times:

  • Before, During, and After preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and After taking care of a sick person
  • Before and After treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After touching garbage

(That feature also gives hand-washing tips so you can make sure you get the best clean.)

I feel pretty good, because I already follow all of those guidelines. "But Frère!" you protest (too much), "You don't wash your hands after taking out the trash and the CDC says to!" To which I respond: "Semantics! Touching garbage doesn't necessarily mean touching a garbage bag!"

Maybe that's foolish of me, but I don't get sick all that often, so I feel pretty good about my handwashing decisions.

-Frère Rubik


Dear person,

I'm with you. I wash my hands and clean the doorknob after taking out the garbage. In fact, I usually only take the garbage out before showering. Also, I always put the clothes I was wearing while taking the garbage out in the laundry. It's probably really excessive but garbage bags and bins freak me out.



Dear Hand Washer,

I ALWAYS wash my hands after taking out the trash. For me the main issue is that I have to touch the lid of the big trashcan outside, because for the trash itself all I touch is the outside of the bag, and the outside of the bag was only touching the inside of my clean trashcan. But even if I didn't have to touch the lid of the big trashcan outside, I would still wash my hands, because that's what you're supposed to do after handling trash. I don't take any precautions about not touching the doorknob, though, because any time I leave the house and then come back in (and touch the doorknob in the process), I'm going to wash my hands anyways.



Dear hand washer,

I always wash my hands after taking out the trash. However, I don't usually do anything special to avoid touching the doorknob, unless my hands touch the actual trash. Honestly, considering how many germs are on your textbooks and phone, just touching the liner of a trashcan doesn't even compare.

-guppy of doom


Dear Hand Washer,

Y’all can judge me for this, but usually I don’t wash my hands except after using the bathroom or handling raw food. It’s not on purpose, I just don’t think about it. And so far I haven’t contracted any weird diseases, plus I’m hardly ever sick, so I see no incentive to change my ways.

-a writer