It’s the cause of just about every sickness we’ll ever have – sloppy hygiene that leaves us open to infection.
Sure, Great Unwashed is not a handle any of us like.
But it’s accurate, however much we may be in denial.
And if we think about it for more than two seconds, we’ll recognise the truth – and ourselves. Being the Great Unwashed is the downside of this fast-paced life we live, stampeded into Go-Go-Go! all the time.
Yeah, we’re unwashed – and here’s the dirt on us – the Never-Never society – never wash, never clean, never healthy:
- 95% of people NEVER wash their hands properly.
- 62% of men and 40% of women NEVER wash their hands after going to the toilet.
- 78% of people NEVER wash their hands before eating.
Pretty gruesome, hey?
Because somehow our culture is all screwed up – we expect to bathe and groom regularly, but there’s so little focus on washing hands.
Start with your own home. Nice shower, nice bath – the indulgence of getting clean, symbolic for so many of us in washing away the day, soaking away our troubles.
Style isn’t everything
But how about the loo? Not how stylish it looks, or the indulgence of its heated seat – but how far is it from the basin? How easy is it to clean your hands after a major session and you need to get rid of the yuck?
Kind of OK if you’re about to have a shower or bath. Not so good if you’re ready to go to work and on your way out of there.
Because what’s the first thing you do after using the toilet paper? Pull up your pants, right? ‘Cos you can’t shuffle to the basin tied up like a chain-gang con. But you haven’t washed your hands yet, so whatever’s on them is transferred to your pants – and any other clothing you might fix at the same time.
Ew! Which brings us to another gross-out:
- 26% of people have faecal matter on their hands – poo on their paws – all the time.
So somehow you make it to the basin and you hit the taps – yuck on your clothes and now on the handles. Will you remember to wash them off? Make that a maybe.
It’s easier though, if the basin is next to the loo. With any luck, you might be able to scrub up while sitting on the hopper. Not easy, skewing yourself around – but do-able if you’re determined.
Exactly the opposite if you have a separate loo. It’s a whole mission to get yourself back on your feet and ready to move, so chances are you forget about the whole business and get the heck out of Dodge.
Puts a whole new complexion on the “guest’s cloaks” you have under the stairs, doesn’t it? If it’s just a toilet and no basin, visitors will just have to sit down at your dinner party as if everything’s OK.
Which is exactly where our problem starts.
We THINK of ourselves as a clean society and we THINK we’re OK. Our hands LOOK clean, so we ASSUME they are. No visible germs, so it never occurs to us that there are any.
AND WE GO THROUGH THE WHOLE DAY LIKE THAT!
All the time we have the mind-set that because our hands look clean, there’s no need to worry. Which is how come it’s possible we might sit down to dinner in a restaurant with no soap and water coming anywhere near our hands since before breakfast. Don’t you love curry, all that touch-feely eating-with-your-fingers stuff?
And never mind how clean your hands started out, what have you touched during the day that might have added to the invisible nasties that are already there? What did you pick up? What did you throw away? Who did you shake hands with? What did you have to wipe off?
How about money? Well for a start, the shock merchants will sound off that 90% of US dollar bills are contaminated with cocaine. But worse, paper money can easily carry more germs than a toilet – e. coli, enterobacter, salmonella, acinetobacter, staphylococcus aureus, bacillus, streptococcus pneumoniae, norovirus, take your pick.
Uh huh. Then how about credit cards, ATMs, mobiles, supermarket trolleys and the rest? When do they ever get cleaned? And yet we think they’re safe – well sure we do, because why don’t we wash our hands after touching them?
Do you know where it’s been?
But do you know what we touch more than anything else – dirty hands or whatever? Our faces, 2,000 – 3,000 times a day. Our most sensitive, vulnerable places – eyes, nose and mouth – every germ’s favourite way into the body.
Remember norovirus? Extreme cramps, vomiting, diarrhoea, the works – the Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease, probably the best proof yet that we’re The Great Unwashed.
We don’t think of ourselves as that, but we are. And until we wake up and do something about it, all kinds of horrible things can happen to us – and it will all be our fault.