Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Toilet Terrors, Hygiene Horrors

In the fall of 2008, students returned to campus to find manual soap dispensers replaced by automatic soap dispensers and automatic toilet flushers replaced by manual toilet flushers. These changes, intended to make bathrooms more environmentally friendly have in my personal experience dealt a one-two blow to personal hygiene.

When using a toilet that flushes automatically, I don’t need to touch an icky green handle that everyone else on my floor’s poopy hands also touched. The “green” toilets leave me with the option of jumping or stomping on the handle or going barehanded and trying to wash off all the grossness later. A study by The Daily Princetonian shows that the handle maker’s claims that the handles are coated to protect against germs is an exaggeration at best. When flushers are too high to stomp on or I am feeling uncoordinated, I risk getting all the germs in the middle petri dish in the aforementioned study on my hands.

Flash forward to the soap dispenser. Approaching the soap dispenser, I stick my hand under and – nothing. Maybe the light blinks. I wave my hand in front, around, try waiving one hand while holding the other one under. Still, nothing. Maybe the dispenser makes a dejected noise but doesn’t give me any soap. Based on personal experience, I would say that this happens about 15% of the time. In contrast, manual soap dispensers are pretty reliable. There could be no soap, so you slide the bar left. If you get really desperate, you can always open the dispenser and squeeze some of the soap from the bag on your hand.

This issue may not concern you as much as it concerns me, but it should.

By Mendy Fisch, Executive Editor for Opinion.


Anonymous said...

This makes no sense. I hope that you wash your hands after you use the toilet - if you do so you will immediately wash off all the grossness that you might get on the finger you use to press the green handle.

But ok, so you don't like touching things that other people have touched after they used the toilet - so why do you want to touch a manual soap dispenser? It seems that this would be just as germy and "poopy" as the toilet flusher, unless you think that the quick rinse of water before you soap up your hands gets rid of the germs from touching the toilet flusher. And if you do think this, then why is it such a problem to touch that handle, if a quick rinse of water sanitizes your hands?

Julianne said...

haha "poopy hands." I think I really hate the new soap they have now. It's basically just soap suds and I feel like it does nothing. Also, the toilet in my hall uses so little water that I'm always flushing even the smallest amount of toilet paper twice (with a "number 2" flush). Princeton is crossing the fine line between saving energy/money/whatever and being dumb.

Mendy Fisch said...

In response to Mr. Anonymous:

I do wash my hands after using the toilet. Unfortunately, the automatic soap dispensers are often broken.

This is my procedure for using a manual soap dispenser: I push the bar, getting a good blob of soap on my hand. Then, I rub the soap all over my hands, covering the area I used to push the bar.

I hope this clears up any confusion as well as helps improve your manual soap dispenser technique.