As most of us near the midway point of our first year in a dorm, we quickly realize that despite trying your hardest to avoid germs, they’re everywhere. I know in the case of my floor, there are people I always see leaving the bathroom…without washing their hands. Needless to say, this lack of hygiene strikes fear into my very soul.
In the case of the dorms, due to Penn State now being a school that is “going green,” I no longer have access to paper towels that I would usually use to open the door after washing my hands. I am by no means a Germaphobe, but the idea of the germs I end up encountering right after washing my hands is a little daunting. My alternative to the lack of paper towels, has evolved into the use of my shirt sleeve as my hand’s germ shield when opening the door. So, after looking at one of the pop quiz articles we read entitled, “Do Paper Towels Thwart More Germs Than Air Dryers,” I began to question just how clean using my shirt sleeves are in comparison to the use of my hands when opening the door.
After a bit of research, the biggest types of bacteria found on doors are “staph, E. coli, Enterococcus and sometimes Salmonella” (“Silver Coating Kills Bacteria…). According to Forbes, the Restroom door sis the 6th most germ infected location, which leaves a high probability that these rather disgusting types of bacteria might just be on the ones in your dorm.
Many know all too well that the common cold and variations of it seem to run around campus looking for their next victims every second. According to the National Health Services in the United Kingdom, (Cold viruses) “can survive on countertops for up to six hours, on cloth and paper for 30-45 minutes and on skin for up to 20 minutes” (“How Long Do Bacteria and Viruses Live outside the Body?”).
If this information is true, it would mean that the best option is to, to my dismay, use your hands to open the bathroom door, due to the fact that the bacteria will live for a shorter time period on your hands than on your clothing. The main problem with assuming this, however, is that different bacteria can live on clothing and other surfaces for a longer period of time than others. These different forms of bacteria prove to be third variables that could definitely impact that conclusion, and make it so that the use of a sleeve or other part of your clothing to open the door is the best option.
There is truthfully not enough information that supports this claim to prove that the use of your clothing or hands is the better (and cleanlier) option, and to say that simply opening the door with your hands is the cleanest option, could be considered a false positive in the eyes of science. Yet, according to this study, the use of your hands might be the safest bet, but to me the lack of information leaves this conclusion to still be up in the air.
(Here are some ways that people go about “avoiding germs” in bathrooms.)
Cohen, Jennifer. “10 Worst Germ Hot Spots.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 12 June 2012. Web. 12 Oct. 2014.
“How Long Do Bacteria and Viruses Live outside the Body?” How Long Do Bacteria and Viruses Live outside the Body? Gov.UK, n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2014.
“Silver Coating Kills Bacteria on Campus Door Handles.” Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. Pennsylvania State University, n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2014.