Airport Bathrooms

Something interesting I noticed while traveling this past week: Men at airports tend to wash their hands after using the bathroom. I find this amazing, as most of the time in public restrooms, guys will handle their junk, and just walk right out. (eiw) At the airport, even with the added inconvenience of lugging around luggage, most guys would take the time to wash their hands.

I have no idea why that was the case, but it was significant enough that I noticed. And appreciated it.

16 thoughts on “Airport Bathrooms”

  1. That is weird, that it is noticeable different in airport bathrooms. We have all heard the stories about what is found on bar mints/nuts, so I’m guessing a bar is one of the last places hands are washed. I personally think that all bathrooms should have that no rinse hand sanitizer. In most bottle return areas in grocery stores they have them.

  2. It’s not just men. I work in a Health Science center and see women walking out of the restroom without washing their hands.

    Which is why I open the bathroom door with a paper towel.

    Hand sanitizers are NOT a substitute for hand washing. You don’t need sanitizer, you don’t need anti-bacterial soap, you need running water, plain old soap, and to stand and actually wash your hands. No flicking your fingertips under the water, you have to stand there, lather up the fronts and backs of your hands and between your fingers, and then to rise well.

    Hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial soap do little more than let people think their hands are clean when they are not, and they encourage the growth of bacteria that are resistant to the medicines and cleansers that are used in hospitals and other medical facilities.

    I would LOVE to see anti-bacterial soaps removed from store shelves. And a major reduction in the use of hand “sanitizer” as well.

  3. Not to offend anyone, I was just saying that the use of hand sanitizers is quick and easy . More people that choose not to wash hands at all might be more opt to use a quick squirt of sanitizer. Is it the answer to all, no, but for all lazy people with no value of cleanliness, it would help. Help stop the spread of viruses.

  4. Its probably because the majority of guys in airport bathrooms are businessmen, and they don’t want to stinkpalm potential clients. The other regular guys in airport bathrooms are probably just on average more affluent than your average joe schmo. Also why are you paying attention to dudes fondeling their junk and washing their hands?

  5. Well, the junk touching sorta goes with the territory. It’s pretty much required to avoid wet pants in most situations.

    As far as noticing the washing of hands, well, I’m normally ALONE at the sinks. In every airport, there were other people washing their hands. It seemed out of place, in an appreciated sort of way. 🙂

  6. Michelle – sanitizer has to be 60% alcohol to be effective, but i don’t know of any bacteria resistant to alcohol. Transplant centers rewuire you to use it before entering the patient’s room, becuase it does work to kill live viruses and bacteria.

    That being said, only hand washing will get rid of enterotoxins that have already been shed by bacteria, which will make you ill, just not infect you.

    I ahve noticed a significnat reduction in the number of colds I get when I use hand sanitizer because opening doors that aren’t attached to a bathroom also can give you a cold, and usually are not located close to a sink.

  7. I remember seeing where some university class conducted a test. They had students hang out in bathrooms and keep track of who did and didn’t wash their hands. I don’t remember anything about the results. I just remember thinking, “If there’s a guy with a clipboard sitting on a folding chair in the john watching the sink, who’s gonna not wash up?”

    Which also reminds me of a controversy from years ago. Dear Abby was doing one of her periodic “snopes” style Is it or isn’t it true columns. When asked if it was true that cats always land on their feet, she quoted some source as saying that cats who fell from above 3 floors almost always had injuries consistent with landing on their feet. (The info had been compiled by getting veterinarians to answer questions about cases they had encountered.) She got outraged letters for years from people who were disgusted that scientists had been “throwing cats out of windows to see how they’d land.”

    Yeah. People are stupid sometimes.

  8. Again with the community… see.. a simple post about airport bathrooms and you have a hand sanitizer debate. Awesome. Incidentally, I believe had sanitizer is the reason for the geometric increase in MRSA cases, but then… what the hell do I know? I’m no scientist, just an opinionated web chick. Also, we buy hand sanitizer, so go figure… lol.

    BTW, have you been in the restrooms in our office building? Man, the women on that floor are filthy.

  9. People think I’m weird about a lot of stuff. Shaking hands is one of them. I keep a little bottle of that sanitizer stuff in my purse, in my car, in my desk, everywhere. I know it’s not all effective, but I have this weird relationship with germs anyway. Note to self: Shawn is probably, mostly, clean. Weird. But clean. And yes, I see women walk out of the bathroom ALL the time without washing their hands. It’s nasty. My kid even called one on it one time “Hey, MOM! That lady didn’t wash her hands!” She actually backed up and did too. LOL. Go, Cassie girl, Go!

  10. John,

    Using hand sanitizers in a medical situation where one has already washed their hands thoroughly makes sense. After all, they have already washed their hands, and the object of the exercise is to make sure that any remaining bacteria are dead.

    Alcohol is effected, but as you said, it has to be above 60%. What’s the evaporation rate for alcohol in hand sanitizer? i.e. how long does it remain effective? My guess is no where near as long as people keep it around.

    Thirdly, a study was done in a hospital (awhile ago, I was at NIOSH when I read about it) that found that bacteria were developing a resistance to dilute clorox. Because those who were cleaning were not doing a thorough job, bacteria were actually developing the ability to survive a dilute bleach solution.

    And I try to never touch door handles at any time of the year. I usually use my shirt tails or the sleeves of my shirts. People are for the most part disgusting and I have no desired to pick up their cooties. (I also wipe down grocery carts when shopping. A little bit for me, but more for the harried mother who comes after me who doesn’t stop to think about it. [Well, okay, a lot for me, since touching some things makes me OCD kick in.])

    The bigger problem with anything anti-bacterial, IMO, is that they wipe out all bacteria. We are covered in beneficial bacteria, and in most cases these bacteria out-compete the nasties. But when good bacteria are wiped out indiscriminately with bad, it allows the bad (which may already have developed resistance to antibiotics etc) get a foothold.

  11. While that’s certainly possible, as a wiener owner myself, I consider it a courtesy to wash my hands even when I don’t pee all over my appendages.

    But you may be onto something there, Carlie. Maybe due to the constant fear that someone will steal their laptops, men in the airport bathrooms indeed do pee all over themselves. The constant staring at laptop bags would take the focus of the task at hand, and might indeed make for piddle fingers.

    After which, the guy would have to drag their bags over to the sink, THEN wash their hands.

    So what we’ve learned here is that it’s never OK to carry someone’s suitcase from an airport. And if you’re going to use hand sanitizer, get something that is at least 120 proof.


    (And for those now concerned about how to conduct yourselves in airport bathrooms, the “proper” method is to keep one hand for toting the suitcases, and don’t use it for anything else. Sadly, these are the things I ponder. I’m a bit OCD I guess.)

  12. I just thought of something. You mention us men handling our “junk”.

    Speak for yourself dude. That’s some prime material there…not “junk”, that I’ve got.

  13. I used to travel a lot. Most of the business people I knew who travelled a lot too were deathly afraid of colds. Being sick far away from home is awful. Also expensive since you could spend all the money to travel where you need to be, but not be healthy enough to get your work or meetings done.

    Put lots of people like that together where there is also a higher chance of catching a bug you’ve never heard of and you always wash your hands.


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