World Toilet Day: Why you must wash your hands after going to the bathroom

Updated on Nov 19, 2018 06:39 PM IST
World Toilet Day 2018: Bathrooms are teeming with bacteria. But do you actually need to wash your hands every time you use the bathroom? Read on for some facts that will change the way you use your toilet forever.
World Toilet Day 2018: Find out what not washing your hands long enough after using the bathroom means for your health. (Shutterstock)
World Toilet Day 2018: Find out what not washing your hands long enough after using the bathroom means for your health. (Shutterstock)
Hindustan Times | By

Around 60% of the global population –- 4.5 billion people –- either have no toilet at home or one that is not safe, according to a report by the United Nations. World Toilet Day, celebrated every year on November 19, since 2013, focuses on taking action to ensure that everyone has a safe toilet by 2030. In fact, the bathroom is one of the most used rooms in our home, but it’s also the place where a lot of germs live. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a leading national public health institute of the United States, says in a report that washing our hands properly is a highly effective way to prevent the spreading of infections and illnesses. However, we’re usually in a rush when we wash our hands so we don’t actually get rid of all the nasty stuff that’s lingering on our fingers. After you lather up, you’re supposed to scrub your hands for a full 20 seconds, according to CDC.

That brings up an important question: Are you one who walks right past the sink after using the bathroom?

Neither plain water nor alcohol hand sanitisers are effective at killing bacteria in faecal material found in the bathroom. (Shutterstock)
Neither plain water nor alcohol hand sanitisers are effective at killing bacteria in faecal material found in the bathroom. (Shutterstock)

According to Dr Sanjay Aggarwal, a general physician at Holistic Healthcare Centre in Delhi, it actually doesn’t matter what you do in the bathroom when it comes to keeping your hands clean. “The rationale is that when in a toilet, it’s possible to have faecal material and faecal bacteria get onto your hands. So it’s wisest to always wash with soap and water even after urinating. Neither plain water nor alcohol hand sanitisers are effective at removing faecal material or killing bacteria in faecal material,” says Dr Aggarwal.

He added that washing hands after using the toilet can also keep one from coming in contact with E. Coli and hepatitis. Moreover, Dr Aggarwal says this is especially important for men to bear in mind, because of perianal sweat. “This type of sweat forms around the perianal area, which is the patch of skin outside the rectum. It can then spread to one’s underwear and to other parts of the body. The point is that simply directing your urine flow can be more than enough to transfer harmful microbes to your hands, and then on to your food,” says Dr Aggarwal.

In the end, we should all realise that bathrooms are teeming with bacteria. Door handles, sink handles, counters, walls, and basically everything else in this area are fair game. That’s why hand-washing can literally come in handy.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Sanya Panwar is an online journalist with Hindustan Times. She writes on health, wellness, travel, fashion, relationships, films and pop culture.

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