How often should one clean one’s bathroom drinking cup?

July 9, 2007 | By | 5 Replies More

I raised this question at a recent family gathering, because I see it as my role to raise such questions:

Assume that you’re living alone. How often should you clean the drinking cup you use in at your bathroom sink?

The first answer came from a brother-in-law who cautiously answered in the form of a question, “Every three months?”

The next answer, from another brother-in-law who was more confident: “I didn’t know that there was any time requirement.” A third brother-in-law chimed in too, “Yeah, I hadn’t thought that you actually had to clean that.

One of my sisters gallantly added: “I think it turns orange to let you know when it’s time.

We then moved on to discuss how often one should wash one’s bed sheets.

Cleanliness is such a personal thing, of course. I work with two guys who represent two extremes regarding germs. The first fellow commonly uses anti-germ gel and preaches the need to use a paper towel to grab the handle of the door when exiting a rest public room. Germs, you know.

A second fellow, formerly a teacher (which might or might not explain anything), says “Bring it on! He proudly grabs the door handle while leaving public rest rooms and knows that he is thereby exposing himself to germs that will, in the long run, immunize himself from even worse germs in the future. His approach reminds me of Nietzsche’s “What does not destroy me makes me stronger.”

I also mentioned this rest room door handle issue at my family gathering. One of my brothers-in-law revealed his strategy: “I don’t use a paper towel, but I grab only the very top of the door handle with only the tips of two fingers; it’s the part no one else touches.”

I intervened, “But that’s exactly my strategy! People like you are contaminating the exact part of the door handle that I grab. Further, people like you–how many of you are there?–are concentrating your germs on that one square inch I had believed to be safe territory. We are risking each others’ lives!”

I know that this is all perhaps a bit too revealing, but there it is. If anyone else would like to weigh in on any of these critical issues, here’s your chance.


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Category: Health, Humor, Psychology Cognition

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (5)

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  1. Erika Price says:

    I lie somewhere on the "bring it on!" end of the spectrum, though short of where things get potentially disgusting. I don't get sick very often, but that doesn't prove that exposure to more germs has made me more immune, of course. Perhaps I just had a decent immune system in the first place, and would have resorted to more conservative cleanliness measures had I a more vulnerable system.

    Though I can tell you, having outspoken relatives in the dental field, that you should pitch your toothbrush and drinking cup if you use it while sick.

    RELEVANT "NEWS": The New York Times just looked at another pressing issue- should each family member have their own bar of soap? the answer awaits you right here.

  2. Ben says:

    Well, I *never* get sick anymore. One of my secrets is brushing my tongue. Not the tip of it, but the part further back that, near the gag reflex. Many years ago, I used to get an occasional sore throat, but no longer, not since I incorporated tongue brushing into my daily hygiene.

    I don't make a habit of drinking from bathroom cups, we don't even have one. The closest thing would be the mouthwash cap, which is community property, but the mouthwash kills the bad germs (I hope). I usually wash my hands twice. That is: water, soap, lather, rinse, soap, lather, rinse. That method seems to get any oils off and I feel confident that my hands are clean. (That is what really counts, isn't it? Believing that your hands are clean?)

    I guess I would fall in between the Nietzche and the OCD guy. I think that some germs in moderation are okay (even beneficial in the sense of innoculation), but there is no good reason to expose yourself to abnormally large quantities of germs, imo. In terms of the handle of the door, it probably gets cleaned as much as it gets contaminated, in other words, people are probably picking up germs from it as fast as they are leaving new ones. The number of germs on any specific part of the handle probably stays relatively constant.

  3. Erich Vieth says:

    What percentage of people actually wash their hands in public places? Here's an article that gives you lots of stats.

  4. Erich Vieth says:

    OK, so how well do hotels clean those drinking glasses? Here's a hidden camera investigation.

  5. That's so digusting, Erich.

    My brother once worked in a restaurant. He was washing dishes when someone told him to knead a dough. He said he was doing the washing up and that his hands were full with dirty dishwater. He got told that it didn't matter and that she should do it. I never went to this place again.

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