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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Nasty, nasty, nasty!

I have always assumed, based on the state of public restrooms, that men have better bathroom hygiene than women.

No, I have not spent much time in public women's rooms...except for the women's room at Blu, a magnificent cocktail lounge atop the Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee. Seriously, the view of the city and Lake Michigan from the 23rd-floor women's room in Blu is amazing. It is worth risking getting caught and scolded by the hostess to see that view. My disclaimer is that I'm not a weirdo who sneaks into women's rooms for fun. But an old girlfriend way back in the day heard about the view, and the first time we visited the lounge she came out of the bathroom raving about the view. So with her standing guard I decided to go see for myself. She was right. Everyone was right. It was great.

Anyway, as a miserable fry cook and all-purpose sucker at CrackRonalds in high school, I often had to clean the bathrooms. And hands down, the women's room was always 3X as dirty as the men's room. I won't disgust you with the details. Also, every woman I've ever dated and my wife has described Third World conditions in public women's rooms. Just this weekend, as Mrs. B and I were out shopping, she had to make a pit stop, and when she came out of the women's room I knew by the grimace on her face that something was wrong. She then described things she had seen and dodged and sidestepped in the bathroom that made me want to put her in one of those Outbreak suits or make her go into one of those chemical decontamination showers before I let her back into our car.

So imagine my surprise when I saw this story last night, that says a recent study found that significantly more women (88%) than men (67%) wash their hands when leaving the can. The story says that two years ago 90% of women and 75% of men washed their hands before exiting the can.

Funniest quote in the article: "Guys need to step up to the sink," said Brian Sansoni, spokesman for the Soap and Detergent Association, which co-sponsors the survey and related education campaigns.

But here's what gets me: This latest study was conducted last month by "observation" of 6,000-plus people in four major cities. I want to know who got paid enough to sit in a public bathroom, count the foot traffic, and watch the sinks? And given the hubbub over Sen. Craig why didn't these bathroom "watchers" get arrested on the job?

Ladies, I owe you an apology. I was wrong about y'all. Your cans - public bathrooms, not your behinds - may be dirtier, but your hands are apparently cleaner. And guys, that whole pee-is-sterile thing only applies to jellyfish stings and snake bites. So if you're on an isolated beach or in the wilderness you're excused from hand-washing. Otherwise, no excuses. Lather up.

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  • Maybe more women pee on their hands than men...eewwww!

    By Anonymous calmerthanyouare, at 11:53 AM  

  • Great post. LOL...because I too do the sidestep, the tippy toe and some other moves I didn't know were possible. But in the ladies room, you have to.
    So there I am with my hand hiding in a huge wrapping of t.p. wiping off the tinkled seat before I can even put down that silly paper cover, while balancing on a small clean spot on the floor. ICK
    Men are certainly messier at home... but OUT, women ARE slobs.
    Maybe because they do clean up after their families all the time, they feel like that's their chance to let loose?? Some of them don't even require that their children flush after #2 in a public restroom. You said it.... NASTY.
    But I'm glad to hear we're washing our hands more... it's necessary!

    By Blogger CrystalChick, at 2:09 PM  

  • I heard that story yesterday. I'm surprised that anyone is surprised about this. I'm shocked that the numbers are as high as they are, because I'm a bathroom watcher of sorts. I make mental not of who leaves the can when I'm in there without washing their hands.

    I use the mental note as a red alert reminder whenever said person(s) offer(s) me something to eat...or a pen, for that matter.

    Yuk, Yuk, Yuk.

    By Blogger Lex, at 2:20 PM  

  • I've often wondered how people's bathrooms are at home, if they are willing to be so disgusting in public.


    By Anonymous Franki, at 2:32 PM  

  • I cleaned bathrooms too and the worst part about the women's was the improperly disposed used feminine products.

    I would also say that in my neck of the woods, at least 50% don't wash their hands.

    By Blogger Hammer, at 3:05 PM  

  • Wasn't it you who wrote a piece about doctors not washing up between patients in hospitals, after reading it in a piece of medical research?

    I guess we all need to clean up our act.


    By Blogger The CEO, at 4:58 PM  

  • it's not about pee being sterile, I don't pee on my hands- at all. It's about the equipment being the cleanest part of my body. it better be, if I'm gonna ask the Ogwife to do anything with it.

    What I dislike is the public crappers with inward doors, so you have to grab the handle to get out- the same handle that everyone else has grabbed, washers and non washers and people who don't care about the cleanliness of their private parts.

    By Anonymous og, at 6:15 PM  

  • When I was a teen, I cleaned the bathrooms at a restaurant in an amusement park. 3X doesn't tell the half of it there, James.

    By Blogger The Sarcasticynic, at 7:44 PM  

  • It is my theory that the reason women's bathrooms are dirtier is because we have an aversion to sitting on toilet seats so we try to hoover over it in six-inch heels, with our skirt tucked underneath our chins and control top pantyhose squeezing our knees. Sometimes we make the toilet bowl; sometimes we don't.

    I still remember the time that I peed while hoovering over the toilet only to discover that the lid was down. I tried to cleanup after myself but I truly felt sorry for the woman who came in after me.

    I did, however, wash my hands.

    By Blogger GrizzBabe, at 8:13 PM  

  • Yes, women are nasty. It's just the truth. I clearly remember my mother teaching me to wash my hands EVERY time. I don't know how this lesson got lost on so many people.

    By Anonymous NewKatrice, at 8:41 PM  

  • when traveling, oftimes the mens line is non existant.. and women are in queue.

    So I go into the mens. The mens rooms are consistently more dirty -- in that there is usually urine all over the toilet and on the floor. but, there is always more paper product around on the floor in the womens.
    and yes... I always get funny looks from the women still standing in line -- and any men that may have arrived at the door when I am exiting.

    By Blogger Pamela, at 10:06 PM  

  • James,

    1. I am disappointed about your story about the nightclub. I thought there was going to be illicit love-making in there.

    2. The researcher pretended to be a men's room attendant. This worked best in the men's room and less best in the women's room.

    By Blogger M@, at 12:16 AM  

  • calmerthanyouare, if women are peeing on their hands they must be trying to. and that's even more disturbing than not hand-washing.

    crystalchick, i still have nightmares about cleaning the women's room as a teen. all that dodging and sidestepping seems like a lot of work for a little relief.

    lex, i do the mental alert thing too. and if i see a "violation," then i use a paper towel to grab the door knob with when i exit.

    franki, i never thought about that. but it's a good question. let's hope people put in a little more effort in their home bathrooms.

    hammer, i too recall picking up a lot of those products during latrine-clean duty. now you have me curious though. what makes you think half the locals in your area don't wash?

    monty, i don't recall that story. but that's one more reason to ask for a reduction in health insurance rates.

    og, i used to try the i-don't-pee-on-my-hands argument when i was a kid. my mom never bought it. and when i want to annoy mrs. b i tell her the same, but she doesn't buy it either. still, i agree with you, in that i know my goods are clean. but i don't know whether or every other dudes' are clean. and i don't care to know. so better safe than sorry. i wash.

    sarc, even dirtier than 3X? that had to be rough.

    grizzbabe, like i wrote earlier, that's a lot of work for a little relief. probably easier said than done, but i think i'd risk busting a gut and try holding it till i got home, for all that hassle.

    newkatrice, ha ha ha ha ha! that's the most blunt answer i've gotten to this query. funny. well, at least you're honest about your peers.

    pamela, interesting. both very dirty, but in different ways. and you have nerve. if i was bursting at the seams, i don't think i could bypass a line and slip into the women's room. i'd be afraid of getting busted in a sen. craig sort of way...but with women.

    matt, you would be disappointed about that. my mother reads this blog. so all i did on that date and others to blu was sit in a corner and recite poetry and point out the constellations in the night sky and sing old dennis day tunes and hold hands. completely innocent back then, mom.

    and the researcher-as-attendant makes sense. that is a perfect guise, at least in the men's room anyway.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 1:08 AM  

  • One word, DE-BUG..that is what all toilets should have in them.

    By Blogger Cazzie!!!, at 1:48 AM  

  • Im with Pam on this one. When I have to go, I have to go, and if theres a line for the ladies room, I hightail it to the mens - damn the dirty looks!

    And I always use a paper towel to open the foor, especially here at work. But remember, if the paper towel is wet, it can still allow for the transmission of germs, so use a dry one!


    By Blogger Lola Gets, at 10:08 AM  

  • I try to limit my liquid intake before going to malls so I can avoid public rest rooms. Since this is not always successful, I have also learned to hold my breath for long periods.

    By Blogger heartinsanfrancisco, at 5:28 PM  

  • I use the movie theater as a gauge.
    It's in a fairly affluent part of town and pretty much 50% walk out without lathering up.
    I make it a point to notice these things.

    By Blogger Hammer, at 8:17 PM  

  • ALWAYS grab the nob with a paper towel. You have no idea who was in there that you didn't catch.

    By Blogger Lex, at 8:27 PM  

  • I'm amazed by how filthy the women's restrooms are at work -- I would've at least figured the pressure to be "neat" around people you know would be worth something.

    Apparently not.

    Still, yeah, guys are terrible about handwashing. Makes you think twice about shaking hands...

    By Blogger thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy, at 9:28 PM  

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