Is Soap Self-Cleaning After All?

Today in News You Can Definitely (Please, for the sake of Tiny Baby Jesus and potential Stephen King’s The Stand-like pandemic illness ) Use: Soap.

Specifically, the soap study that was the subject of a New York Times article last Friday.

Can A Bar Of Soap Transmit Infection?

The simple answer: “No.”

The more complicated answer: “The most rigorous study of this question was published in 1965. Scientists conducted a series of experiments in which they intentionally contaminated their hands with about five billion bacteria. The bacteria were disease-causing strains, such as Staph and E. coli.

The scientists then washed their hands with a bar of soap and had a second person wash with the same bar of soap. They found that bacteria were not transferred to the second user and concluded: ‘The level of bacteria that may occur on bar soap, even under extreme usage conditions (heavy usage, poorly designed non-drainable soap dishes, etc.) does not constitute a health hazard.’”

TL;DR: Soap is soap regardless what physical form it takes.

Oh yeah? Tell that to literally any person ever who watched Friends in the 90s.

Remember this scene?

Of course you do.

And if you’ve never seen that episode, you will now never see soap the same way again.

“Next time you take a shower, think about the last thing I washed and the first thing you washed.”

— Joey Tribbiani, changing lives one bar of soap at a time

Every liquid soap manufacturer who didn’t use this line as the surefire way to sell their soap in 1996 missed a golden opportunity to cash in on the profound, and not infrequently, debilitating fear of having someone’s ass on your face.

In case you didn’t know, handwashing is the best way to combat germs. But it’s not the soap or hot water that does the trick.

The real secret to clean hands? Technique.

Not unlike, say, the folding of egg whites into cake batter or oral sex, if you’re doing it wrong, your results may vary.

Yep. There is a technique for handwashing — and no, you’re probably not using it.

Here you are:


Yep. Your mom taught you wrong because she obviously doesn't give a crap about you or anyone else to whom you might transmit a communicable disease. 

This is a whole class in nursing school. The instructor (a matronly former RN who still wears a bacteria infested cap attached to her head with 731 bobby pins) covers your hands with some goo that is detectable by black light (so… something like either blood or semen). She sends you off to the sink to do your best to wash it off. When you’re done trying, she puts your hands under the black light to show everyone in your class how terrible of a person you are and prove you probably have literal shit all over you.

Two gripes I have with this (WHO produced) video:

  1. Dude. Water is precious mother frickin resource. TURN IT THE FRACK OFF. These people have clearly never lived in California.

  2. This man’s voice — which isn’t exactly drone-like but definitely close enough to make me want to stab myself in the ear with a chopstick.

Anyway, gripes aside, you’re welcome. Just doing my part to stop the spread of e. Coli into your food.

Good news: I know how to wash my hands.

Bad news: I never actually spend an ENTIRE MINUTE washing my hands (well, except in nursing and before assisiting in heart surgery).

You do it. Seriously.

Go right now. Time that shit and discover what an absolute failure you are as a human being.

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