Wednesday, September 10, 2014

50 Shades of Gross

Haha, had to share this.  I know it's bad form to just cut and paste what others have written, so I will try to paraphrase from here as best I can. 

The author of this short piece, Katherine Dahlhausen, has dug up 50 "germ-phobic" tactics people use to avoid getting nasty microbes on them.  I'll admit, I still do a few of these.  I think that the underlying point here, though, is that we shouldn't have to be so 'anal' about avoiding germs.  In fact, avoiding all of these stray microbes has probably led us to the shape we are in.  Here's her many do you do?  

  1. Pretend to look at yourself in the mirror and wait for someone else to open the door to a public restroom so you don’t have to touch the door handle.
  2. If riding public transportation, use a toilet plunger suctioned to the ceiling to hold on to instead of touching the bars.
  3. Lysol spray your dog and/or cat.
  4. Wear 2 layers of socks through a TSA checkpoint, so you can throw out the outer layer before putting your shoes back on.
  5. Make sure that your child is the first child of the day to sit on Santa’s lap, only after confirming that his Santa costume was recently washed.
  6. If something has E.Coli on it, it HAS been pooped on.
  7. Just. No.
  8. Decorate your home with fake flowers because real flowers need standing water, which breeds terrifying germs such as malaria.
  9. Designate one side of a pillow for when you have just washed your hair, and another for when you haven’t.
  10. When throwing a party, provide individualized snacks to avoid any double-dipping situation or multiple hands reaching into a bowl.
  11. Bring your own pen and stylus to avoid touching any public pens or electronic signature pads.
  12. Take antibiotics any time you or someone in your family thinks they are sick.
  13. Always have a moisturizing hand sanitizer with you, because your hands get really dry after scrubbing them with antibacterial soap.
  14. Use a clump of toilet paper to lock the door behind you when you use a bathroom stall. Repeat with a new piece when you need to unlock it.
  15. Bring disposable gloves with you everywhere you go for instances such as when there is only an air dryer in a single occupancy public restroom.
  16. Bring disinfecting wipes with you everywhere you go for instances such as when someone else uses your keyboard.
  17. When bathing at a friend’s house or a hotel, place a towel in the bottom of the shower so you don’t step on the floor of the shower.
  18. Always have a pre-wrapped straw on hand in case you are eating out at a venue that doesn’t have them.
  19. Wear a surgeon mask when in densely populated public places, especially in airports.
  20. Avoid shaking peoples hands, and have emergency hand sanitizer ready in case it’s unavoidable.
  21. Squat and hover.
  22. Sort mail with tweezers and wear gloves to avoid touching anything that has traveled through the postal system.
  23. Take your own condiments with you to a restaurant with you so you don’t have to touch the same dispensers as other people.
  24. Never use cash and sanitize your credit cards often.
  25. Dispose of any and all dishes that a dog has ever licked.
  26. Use a produce bag on each hand while shopping at the grocery store to avoid touching the shopping cart.
  27. Never set your purse down anywhere in a restroom, but if you must, lay out sheets of toilet paper to set it on.
  28. Use your elbow to get paper towels out of a non-automatic dispenser.
  29. Irradiate your vegetables with a UV lamp.
  30. Only read electronic books on your own personal device because used books (especially library books) are absolutely disgusting.
  31. Use a touchless toothbrush holder that sanitizes with UV light when toothbrush is not in use.
  32. Use only antimicrobial laundry detergents.
  33. Add toilet paper to the water of a public toilet to minimize the chance of any splashing.
  34. If you are at a friend’s house, use the back of a hand towel to dry your hands, as most people will just use the front.
  35. Avoid bar soap, but if you have to use it, only use it once.
  36. Clean out the washing machine with a disinfecting wipe after each use.
  37. Run your washing machine at a high temperature with several disinfecting chemicals once a week.
  38. Press elevator buttons with your elbow.
  39. Use your own purse hook (preferably disposable) to avoid setting your purse down on any public surface.
  40. Bring your own toilet paper everywhere you go…hmmm, BYOTP.
  41. Only drink bottled water.
  42. Over boil, bake, microwave, and/or grill all food.
  43. Demand disposable clips at the dentist for the plastic bib they put on you.
  44. Home school your children to avoid the possibility that your child will play a wind instrument in music class.
  45. Bring disposable bags, extra pre-wrapped silverware, and/or tupperware with you everywhere you go in case someone wants you to share your food with them.
  46. Hold your breath after flushing the toilet until you are at least 5ft away to avoid breathing in airborne particles of germs.
  47. Bring a plastic bag to the gym for your dirty workout clothes so they don’t touch the inside of your gym bag.
  48. Never accept hand-me-downs or shop at goodwill.
  49. Do not lean against any public walls.
  50. SHARING IS NOT CARING. Never share razors, water bottles, food items, cell phones, shoes, bags, towels, or air with anybody else

At the end of the article is a short paper, Imagine a Sterile Human Life.   It's well-worth clicking on and reading!

The first step is to remove all the bacteria from the inside and outside of your body.   This is going to require massive doses of multiple antibiotics so expect to be really sick during this process.  And hope you like diarrhea because without your gut microbes… you’ll probably have it for the rest of your (possibly short) life.  The removal of all of your gut microbes is also going to dramatically affect what you’ll be able to eat.  Most plant matter probably requires help from some of your gut microbes so you may be eating a whole lot of meat.  Actually the jury is still out on that one… microbes may be required there as well.  In fact it’s possible you’ll be able to eat very little at all and that an IV is going to be the best way to get nutrients into your body.   So liquid in and liquid out.

Normally if you remove all the microbes from your skin you’re going to make yourself much more susceptible to something like a fungal infection, but in this case we don’t have to worry about that since you won’t be exposing yourself to any new microbes.   I’m guessing multiple showers in various germicidal substances will be required… probably over the course of many days to ensure you get them all.

Be kind to your microbes!


  1. I'm quite proud to say I only do two of these things, although I am pretty paranoid about putting the toilet seat down before flushing after reading about fecal matter being sprayed around the bathroom when a toilet is flushed.

    On a related gross note (though not about microbes) is the fun fact that just about all of us have harmless mites living in our hair follicles, mostly on the face:

    "Recently, a study of twenty nine adults (eighteen and over) in North Carolina, USA, found that 90% carried mites, and that all adults over eighteen (n=19) carried them."

    Apparently, it's impossible to get rid of them so we have to learn to accept their presence. Yuck!!

    1. There was an email going around with a picture of a strawberry magnified 10,000X or something...had a couple of mites on it. People's reactions were hilarious!

  2. I try to be very germ-free in public bathrooms, but very germ-welcoming in my own home and worm bin composting, organic veg garden, eat fruit and produce right off the vine with dirty hands. Also, my lab tests came back that I was clean of parasites, after years of doing this.

  3. Surprisingly, after going through this list, I do or did none of these things.

    HOWEVER! I am guilty of something that the list is not mentioning:

  4. None here too. Pretty wild some of them. You would have to be fairly anxious.

  5. I'm still pretty grossed-out in public restrooms. I always lift the seat and flush with my foot. I never 'sit' in one unless I absolutely have to.

    At home, the only time I'm really anal about cleaning is after handling raw meat, especially chicken or pork.

    1. i try not to use public restrooms ever. one time i had to go to a McDonald's restroom and there was crap on the wall and used toilet paper all over the floor. no thanks.

    2. I am guilty as charged, always flush with my foot and build a throne if there are no seat covers. I will occasionally squat over the toilet. Public restrooms, YEECH!

  6. Do you ever watch "Naked and Afraid"? on Discovery. They (the man and woman) try to survive in the wild for 21 days. Both are filthy-dirty after only one day, and like our paleo ancestors, they always ate with dirty hands. Dirty hands handling food each meal. That's our genetics, really. Also, the 'flies' that land on the food with every meal. Enzymes, yum...

    1. Hey, I've been naked and afraid!

      Actually, though, true story: I was on a hunting trip with 4 guys in '87 and we got stranded by weather on Montague island in Price William Sound, Alaska, for 5 days with no food.

      We were deer hunting, but it was too warm to store deer meat. We had killed 2 deer and ended up cutting away rotten, fly-egg, maggot infested outer layer to get at edible meat below. We killed a couple geese and ate everything but the feathers and bones, and even gnawed the bones and bit. We was HONGRY. Lots of blueberries, too, but they are not filling at all. None of us knew much about living off the land at that time, there was kelp all over the beach, mussels in the rocks, and probably a hundred other edible foods around...

      There is a story of a pilot who crashed in this area and survived for months on mussels and seaweed mainly.

      Living off the land is tough work! You definitely don't worry much about hygiene when your belly is screaming for food.

  7. OMG! One time I shared my chewing gum after I'd chewed it for a few minutes. Someone was desperate for chewing gum and that's all I had.

    I always hang my bag on the hook on the back of the door of the bathroom stall. Putting your handbag on the floor anywhere is bad luck.

  8. On an episode of Dr. Oz, they tested all parts of a public restroom for germs. The cleanest place was the toilet seat. The reasoning is that, as it is covered during pooping, it's the one place that is protected from spray. The faucet handle and door knob were the most contaminated.

  9. I started reading this but stopped, because I hadn't thought about a lot of these ways to get dirty. I'm paranoid enough. Funny thing is, when I was dancing - partner dancing, linty hop, which is a fast and furious dance and both people are sweating bullets, you are sweating with many total strangers - I got used to sweating on people and having them do it on me (worse, because men sweat more - well, usually). Now, since I'm older and crazier and stopped dancing, I've become one of those fearful people, even though I know it's stupid and all wrong. But, look at ebola! They keep telling us to wash wash wash!

    - Debbie

    1. The ebola thing is just fear mongering. There is something every couple of years that the media jumps on.
      Remember N1H1? The Chinese authorities told everyone to eat kimchi and you'll be fine. Western authorities laughed at them. Says everything right there.

    2. arent there hundreds of people dying from ebola right now? and it kills about 75% or so of those infected? doesn't sound like fear mongering to me.

      also the illegal aliens are bringing in a new "polio-like" disease as well tuberculosis from what i've heard. but the gov't is looking out for you and making sure you is safe, lol.

    3. Yes people are dying. I didn't mean to imply that they aren't. Sorry about that! (though I do still think that the media also gets hysterical - but maybe that is just me!)
      What I did mean to say is that approaches to prevention vary greatly, and maybe it is gut bacteria rather than washing which is key.

  10. I meant to write LINDY HOP.