Washing Hands After Using The Toilet (Overrated?) | Toilet Travels (2023)

We’ve all seen the guy exit the bathroom without washing his hands. Have you ever wanted to yell “hey get back here sir”?

Washing your hands after using the toilet is something we’re taught as young children. It’s an important practice to avoid getting sick and spreading germs but is washing your hands after using the toilet overrated?

We’ll get to the bottom of this question and analyze the practice from multiple perspectives. You might be surprised that in some cases you might be better off not washing your hands after using the toilet.

The Importance Of Washing Hands

Western culture has become extremely clean, almost too clean! Is “too clean” even possible? Yes, it might be a problem.

Western cultures are witnessing a spike in autoimmune disorders like allergies that some medical professionals believe is due to being too clean (washing and also an overuse of antibiotics).

However cleanliness is more important in certain situations that it is in other instances.

For example, washing your hands after petting your dog is much less important than washing your hands after using the toilet.

Similarly, washing your hands is more important after shaking hands with an office full of colleagues than it is after swimming at the beach.

Knowing when to wash your hands is a judgment call and very important to consider when you’re in a bathroom.

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Here are a few facts about washing your hands:

  • Washing reduced the number of people who get sick from diarrhea by 31%
  • Reduces diarrhea sickness for people with weak immune systems by 58%
  • Reduces general sickness by 16-21%

Washing your hands in a bathroom is much more specific. Not all bathrooms are created equal. Is washing your hands in your bathroom at home as important as washing them when using a public bathroom? Let’s explore this more.

Can Not Washing Hands After Using the Toilet Spread Disease

Feces can spread germs like wildfire. You’ve probably heard of Salmonella and Ecoli. These two germs can be easily spread when someone doesn’t wash their hands after pooping.

Norovirus also spreads quickly and causes extremely gastrointestinal sickness (it’s painful and intense). Two lesser-known ailments, adenovirus and hand-foot-mouth disease can be spread after using the toilet or changing diapers.

Lastly, Hepatitis can also be spread after using the toilet and not washing your hands.

  • Salmonella
  • Ecoli
  • Norovirus
  • Adenovirus
  • Hand-foot-mouth disease
  • Hepatitis

In most cases the germs are spread through shaking hands, but in public restrooms, there may be germs on the toilet, door handles, and faucets. Touching these things, then touching one’s mouth, eyes, or nose allows the germs to enter the body and make you sick.

Washing Your Hands After Peeing Vs After Pooping

As you can imagine washing after peeing might be more/less important that after pooping. For guys, this is very true but might be less true for women because they are usually seated in both instances.

A guy can often pee without touching anything on the toilet and barely have to touch himself for clean up. If using a urinal a guy could be in an out with little chance of carrying germs.

I’m not positive how this works for women but I’d expect it requires a more hands-on approach.

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When pooping both sexes will have to get down and dirty. This doesn’t mean that clean up is messy – in most cases there is little mess, but it’s not always about hand contact with your own body, it’s also about hand contact with the toilet seat, the toilet paper, the flusher, and the stall door.

As mentioned earlier, these things will carry a ton of germs.

Let’s outline peeing and pooping (for men).


  • Peeing can be done standing
  • No need to touch anything
  • Often no need to flush (depending on location)
  • Little germ transfer when peeing


  • Requires touching stall door
  • Requires cleaning
  • Requires touching TP and toilet seat
  • Could get messy

Why You Might Not Want to Wash Your Hands In A Public Bathroom

If you’re like me you might think twice before washing hands or touching items in a public restroom. Why you ask? Well, public restrooms accommodate hundreds if not thousands of people and aren’t always cleaned on a regular basis.

With so many more patrons, public restrooms become a cesspool of bacteria. I’m sometimes hesitant to wash my hands because I feel that touching the faucet or flushing the toilet might give me more germs that what’s currently on my hand.

You share the faucet and the soap dispenser with 1000’s of people. How many hands have touched the faucet after using the toilet and how often is the faucet sterilized? These are real things to consider.

Even after you thoroughly wash your hands you have to touch the faucet again to turn it off. I’m extra careful in these public restrooms:

  • Airports
  • Parks
  • Theme parks
  • Beach

When using the bathroom at these places I’ll often try to use the toilet without touching anything with my hands (minus myself).

I’ll use my foot for the flush and toilet seat and I’ll only touch fresh toilet paper without touching the fixture. When I exit the bathroom I feel I have as much germs as I did when I entered. If I have antibacterial gel I can use that as well.

How Often Do People Wash Their Hands After Using The Toilet (Statistics)

According to a study by Michigan State University

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  • 50% of men and 78% of women use soap to wash their hands
  • 85% of men and 93% of women wash their hands after using the toilet
  • 95% fail to wash their hands long enough to effectively kill bacterial
  • Dirty hands are attributed to 50% of all foodborne illiness (CDC)

How To Tell Someone To Wash Their Hands After Using The Bathroom

Reminding a friend or family member to wash their hands is a no brainer and something we won’t hesistate to do. But how about telling someone you don’t know to wash their hands? How about at a public restroom, is it ok?

Reminding someone you don’t know to wash their hands could be helpful but it could also cause unwanted tension. Most people stay out of others business but if you can’t resist informing someone they should wash their hands then we’ve got a few ways to approach the interaction.

  • Friendly Guy

The friendly guy smiles before he/she speaks and let the stranger know there’s no hostility. The friendly guy might wink or laugh before saying “hey partner, don’t forget the soap”. This is likely done in passing without an approach.

  • The Jokester

The jokester always has a witty comment on-hand to share. A jokester might say “don’t wanna shake your hand” as he/she is leaving the bathroom. But it’s all done in jest so there’s no ill will on either side. The jokester makes the person second guess themselves on the way out.

  • The Stat Man

The Stat Man knows his numbers and facts and is always wanting to drop knowledge on anyone willing to listen. The Stat Man doesn’t even have to talk directly to someone.

He/she can talk into the mirror while washing their hands and remind everyone using the toilet why they should wash their hands.

  • The Bully

The Bully uses his/her size and presence to make others feel uncomfortable. In regards to hand washing, the intent is good (to keep germs from spreading) but the approach lacks tact. The Bully is confrontational and this could lead to conflict.

  • The Evil Eye

The Evil Eye is the most common approach people take in the bathroom. Often the person leaving the bathroom without washing their hands will look around before they dash to the exit.

The Evil Eye will let the non-washer know they are witness to this grotesque act. The Evil Eye has made people turn in their tracks and return the sink to wash their hands! Mission accomplished!

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The Right Way To Wash Your Hands After Using The Toilet

So what’s the right way to wash your hands after using the toilet? According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) hand washing should last a minimum of 15-20 seconds (most people only wash half that).

While washing, it’s important to lather up with soap, scrape the nails in the hands to get under the fingernails, rub between the fingers, on the outside, and on the palms of the hand and thumb area.

Switch hand positions often while rubbing them together as simply rubbing them flat, back and forth, won’t remove all the germs.

Rinse your hands off and if possible grab a paper towel before touching the faucet to turn it off. Paper towels are great to reduce contact with the faucet and the door handle on the way out as both are home to tons of bacterial that aren’t frequently cleaned.


Is washing your hands after using the toilet overrated? After reading this article the answer is certainly “NO”.

Washing your hands is extremely important and I bet you’d be surprised how often we touch our eyes, nose, and mouth (imagine doing that after using the toilet).

Hand washing is a good practice but may be more important in certain situations. It’s polite to wash your hands often at work when you may be shaking a lot of hands. It’s also appropriate to be weary of public restrooms with high traffic.

It’s not always wise to touch handles, faucets, and door knobs in public bathrooms so be careful and use towels to reduce their contact with skin. If you have hand sanitizer you can side-step the faucet!

We hope this article highlighted some of the pros and cons of hand washing after using the toilet. Toilet Travels explores all things about the toilet. Visit our homepage for more funny and informative articles. Be sure to leave a comment!

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